US K1 Visa
Have you decided that the time has come to tie the knot with your Thai significant other? If you're ready to take your relationship to the next level and want to get married in the United States, the K1 visa is the best way to bring your Thai fiance back to the US with you.
The K1 visa allows a US citizen to sponsor their Thai fiance for a US visa. The application process usually takes 5 to 8 months to complete. Once the visa has been awarded, your fiance has six months to enter the United States. You then have 90 days from your fiance's arrival to get married. Once you are married, your new spouse can apply for permanent residency and receive a green card. If you do not get married within 90 days of your fiance's arrival in the US, they will have to leave or face deportation. If your fiance has unmarried children under 21, they may enter the United States with their parent using a K2 visa.
US K1 Visa Eligibility
Only US citizens can sponsor their fiance for a K1 visa. US permanent residents are not eligible to sponsor their fiance using this visa. You will have to prove your US citizenship using a passport, birth certificate, or certificate of citizenship. Both you and your Thai fiance must be free to marry. If either party was been previously married, they must show they are eligible to remarry with official documents showing divorce or the death of their previous spouse.
Unless religious tradition prohibits you and your fiance from meeting before marriage, you must be able to show that you met face to face within the last two years. You can prove this using pictures of you together, airline receipts, or passport stamps.Your fiance may be disqualified for a K1 visa if they've overstayed a previous US visa, submitted fraudulent documents on a US visa application, trafficked drugs, committed certain crimes or have a serious communicable disease.
You must disclose whether or not you met your fiance through a marriage broker, but it will not disqualify your fiance from receiving a K1 visa. If you have already applied for two K1 visas or had a K1 visa granted in the past two years, you will need special permission to apply again, which will be denied if you have been convicted of a violent crime.
US Visa: Income Requirement
In order to ensure that your Thai spouse will not require welfare assistance in the United States, you must demonstrate that your annual household income is at least 125% of the poverty line. If you and your spouse-to-be will be living in the 48 contiguous states and your household will consist of only the two of you, the minimum annual income (as of 2011) is $ 18,388. The more members of your household, the higher the minimum requirement will be. If your household consists of four people, you must demonstrate (as of 2011) an income of at least $ 27,938. If you and your fiance will live in Alaska or Hawaii, the required annual income is slightly higher.
If you make less than the minimum income required, you can make up the difference by demonstrating assets (real estate, stocks, bonds, bank accounts) that are at least 5 times the difference between the income required and your annual income. If you have an annual income of $ 17,288, for example, you can satisfy a $ 18,388 income requirement by showing that you have $ 5,500 ($ 1,100 x 5) in the bank. If you have no annual income, you can satisfy the income requirement by showing you have five times the required annual income in assets.
US Visa: Application ProcessSTEP 1: Filing an I-129F Petition
You start the K1 visa application process by filing a petition (Form I-129F) with USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services). It takes the USCIS two to three months on average to review the petition. If everything is in order and the petition is approved, your fiance's visa application is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). The National Visa Center then forwards the application to the US Embassy in Bangkok. This takes about a month.STEP 2: Gathering the Required Documentation
After the US Embassy receives the K1 visa application they will send you or your fiance a list of required documents and application forms. At this point in the process you have about two months to go. The documents required include but are not limited to your fiance's passport, birth certificate, and police records. If either of you was previously married, you will have to produce a divorce decree or death certificate to show you are free to remarry. The US Embassy's job is to detect fraudulent visa applications. You must submit enough proof of your relationship to convince the embassy that your marriage plans are legitimate. Telephone records, pictures, emails, and instant messages can all be submitted as proof of your ongoing relationship.STEP 3: Interview and Medical Examination
After you and your fiance assemble and submit the required documents, the embassy will schedule an interview with your fiance. Before the interview your fiance will be required to submit to a medical examination, which can be conducted at locations in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Your fiance may be required to undergo additional vaccinations. The final step in the K1 visa process is an interview at the US Embassy in Bangkok. This can take several hours. The visa officer will review your fiance's documentation and attempt to confirm that your relationship is sincere. If your fiance's K1 visa is approved, it should be available about two business days after the interview.
After the Visa is Issued
Your fiance then has six months to travel to the United States. Because the visa approval process is discretionary, you should not make travel plans before receiving your fiance's K1 visa. Once you fiance arrives in the US on a K1 visa, you have 90 days to marry. After your wedding, your new spouse can apply for their green card.