Is the K1 visa an immigrant or a non-immigrant visa?
If you’re going through the K1 fiancé visa process, you are probably wondering how your case will be treated, whether it’s treated like an immigrant visa or a non-immigrant visa. There are all kinds of memos that are released about especially during COVID about how cases are prioritized, about the COVID vaccine, and the general logistics of the steps in the process that is causing people to ask this question if it’s an immigrant visa or non-immigrant visa.
Difference Between Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Visa
An immigrant visa is issued to someone who has an intention to live permanently in the United States or coming here to be a lawful permanent resident. An immigrant visa is also abbreviated as IV.
A non-immigrant visa is issued to someone who is coming to the United States on a temporary basis for a short-term reason. This could be a student visa, a tourist visa, an employment-based visa, or medical treatment.
The idea is that a non-immigrant visa is someone who does not have immigrant intent while an immigrant visa is someone who has immigrant intent.
What Category Does the K1 Fiancé Visa Fall Under?
If you go to the USCIS website, the K1 fiancé visa is categorized as a non-immigrant visa. This is confusing because if you have a K1 fiancé visa, the idea is that you’re coming here to get married. But the K1 fiancé visa is classified as a non-immigrant visa primarily because the objective of the K1 fiancé visa is that you’re coming with that limited purpose during a 90-day window to get married.
The unique part about the fiancé visa is that immigration understands that once you get married, you would file for your green card and live here but it is classified as a non-immigrant visa for that reason.
Another reason that immigration classifies it as a non-immigrant visa is because of the process in which a person goes through for the fiancé visa. It’s very similar to someone who’s applying for a tourist visa or other temporary non-immigrant visas. There’s a part in the process where you’re filing an online application called a DS-160 and an I-134, which is like an affidavit of support.
It’s a unique aspect of the K1 fiancé visa that differs from immigrant visas. However, even though it’s technically considered a non-immigrant visa on the USCIS website, it’s also considered an immigrant visa by immigration. It’s very common for immigration to have these conflicting responses and ideas.
If you go to the Department of State website, you’ll see that the K1 fiancé visa is listed under the immigrant visa category. If you go to the CBP website it will list it in one of the non-immigrant categories but then if you click on it, it’ll take you to the Department of State where it says immigrant visa.
Again, it’s really confusing. Immigration uses that interchangeably though they will call it non-immigrant and immigrant visa. But at the end of the day, the categorization of it doesn’t matter. A lot of people are asking because they’re wondering how their visa will be treated in terms of presidential proclamations regarding COVID.
The other main reason that people are asking this question is they want to know the process for their application. Will they have to submit documents in the CEAC portal like spouse visas? Will they schedule the interview or they themselves will pick an interview date?
That’s why individuals are asking this question and that’s why it’s great to have an immigration attorney. We are experts in understanding the nuances and how these terms are used interchangeably and how the process plays out.
If you’re wanting to learn more about the fiancé visa process, we have a free resource center and a free downloadable chart that goes through the steps that are involved in the fiancé visa process. If you’re asking this question, is it an immigrant or non-immigrant visa because you’re wondering the process, our chart should give you some clarity and help you out on what that process is.