If you are a U.S. citizen starting the process of petitioning your foreign-born fiancé to come to the U.S. for your wedding on a K-1 visa, realize that you will need to do much more than just fill in the blanks on Form I-129F. (That's the fiancé visa petition that starts the process). The U.S. government wants additional written proof of two issues:
There are also some miscellaneous requirements for what to send with the K-1 petition, such as photos and fees. We'll review all of these below.
As a general way of proving that you have met and plan to marry, you should attach (or include in "Part 8, Additional Information") a personal statement drafted by the U.S. citizen petitioner. This should explain how the two of you first met or communicated, when and where you have since met in person, and at what point you decided to get married. There is no need to include private, intimate information. But do include enough detail and narrative to make it convincing.
Assuming you and your fiancé have met in person, look for documents that will prove this fact. Documents from a neutral, outside source such as an airline or landlord are best. Some possibilities include:
These aren't the only possibilities. What you come up with will depend on the facts of your personal situation.
If you and your fiancé have not met in person, and do not wish to do so for religious reasons or because it would present extreme hardship to the U.S. citizen, include documentation that will prove this. For example, this might include:
Again, you'll want to tailor the documents to your personal situation. But the more authoritative and independent the source, the better.
Your plans to actually marry are a crucial part of showing the you qualify for a K-1 fiancé visa. A simple statement signed by both fiancés will often be enough. If USCIS asks for more proof (perhaps after you've filed the I-129F petition, in the form of a Request for Evidence or RFE), some possible documents to present with the petition are:
Photocopies are mostly enough, though if you could spare an original printed wedding announcement or invitation, it might avoid concerns that this was a cut-and-paste job.
If the two of you are adults who have never been previously married and are not blood relations, you might not have to attach any documents proving your ability to marry. In many couples, however, one of the two people has been previously married, in which case you will need to prove that that marriage was legally ended. To do so, attach copies of such documents as:
Don't take the risk of trying to hide an existing marriage. If the bigamy is discovered, this could ruin the immigrating person's chances of qualifying for a green card or U.S. citizenship. The reason is that bigamy is considered a "crime of moral turpitude" under U.S. immigration law.
Your fiancé visa petition will also need to include:
If the U.S. citizen petitioner has ever been convicted of any violent crime, sexual assault, or a crime involving domestic violence or substance abuse (a more complete list of crimes is provided in the instructions to Form I-129F), you need to include certified copies of all police and court records showing the outcome.
Under the Adam-Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (the "Adam Walsh Act") U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who have certain criminal convictions cannot petition for family members to receive K-1 visas. (See I.N.A. §§ 204(a)(1)(A)(i) and 204(a)(1)(B)(i).)
This information is required even if the criminal records were sealed or otherwise cleared. All of this information (except for victim's names) will be passed on to the immigrant during the consular interview. Get a lawyer's help in this instance.
To prevent abuse of immigrants, the law limits the number of times a U.S. citizen can petition for a K-1 fiancé. If the U.S. citizen has filed two or more K-1 petitions for other immigrants in the past (no matter how long ago that occurred), or had a K-1 petition approved for another immigrant within the past two years, the U.S. citizen must request a waiver (official forgiveness) from USCIS.
To succeed with the waiver request, your best bet is to show unusual circumstances, such as the death (by natural causes, of course) of the prior immigrant. If the U.S. citizen has a history of violent crime, the waiver will be denied.
The procedure for requesting a waiver is to attach a signed and dated letter to Form I-129F, along with any supporting evidence. However, we strongly recommend getting a lawyer's help with your waiver request.
Because of the complexities and the need to not only provide basic documentation but convincing items, hiring an experienced immigration attorney can be well worth the cost.