The K-1 Visa, also known as the Fiancée Visa, is used by United States citizens who wish to bring their prospective husbands or wives to the United States to conclude a valid marriage within ninety-(90) days of entry. Minor children of fiancées can also accompany them on the K-2 visa.
In order to petition for a fiancée, the United States citizen must have personally met the fiancée within two years of filing the petition, unless waived by USCIS on account of extreme hardship or long-established custom. The petition is filed with USCIS, then forwarded to the United States Consul where the fiancée will apply for his or her K-1 Visa. The fiancée must marry the United States citizen within ninety-(90) days of entry to the United States, and then he or she must file an application for adjustment of status to become a permanent resident.
The LIFE Act has added one additional category of person who may qualify for the K visa.
In order to address the severe backlogs in the processing of petitions for family members, the Act created the K-3 visa for spouses of United States citizens who are outside of the United States and waiting for the approval of an immigrant petition (I-130). Any minor children who are seeking to accompany the spouse are also provided protection (K-4). In this way, the spouse and minor children of US citizens can enter the United States before approval of the I-130 petition and processing of the immigrant visa application.
To qualify for this visa, the law requires that the US citizen file an Immigrant Visa Petition (form I-130) in the US, and then file the K-3/K-4 visa petition on United States immigration form I-129F. Once the I-129F is approved, it is sent to the US Consulate where the applicant can apply for the visa.
Note: today, the K-3 visa is rarely used on account of the processing time being equal to or greater than, the I-130 immigrant visa petition processing time.