U.S. Citizen’s Guide: Japanese Fiancee and the K-1 Visa

Marriage is very beautiful and meeting the love of your life abroad can be difficult. The K-1 Fiance Visa process can be daunting. This post will discuss the specific needs to have a Japanese Fiance immigrate to the United States.

A US Citizen may not be knowledgeable about US Visa laws and how to start the process. This post is to guide the US Citizen after proposing. If you wish to consider the marriage in Japan route, the following post may be beneficial:

U.S. Citizen’s Guide to Immigrating a Japanese Spouse to the United States

In order to make navigation easier, the following items can be clicked for a drop-down to occur:

– What are the basic Steps of a Fiance Filing?

The Fiance Proces has three (3) Steps:

  1. I-129F Petition
  2. DS-160 Visa Application for the K-1 Visa
  3. I-485 Adjustment of Status, adjusting from K-1 to Green Card Holder

– What is a rough processing time estimate?

For the three Steps, processing times can be broken down as the following estimates:

  1. I-129F can take 4 to 8 months. You can see an up-to-date estimate from USCIS Here.
  2. DS-160 can take an overall 1 to 4 months. You can schedule the interview at the embassy or consulate once you receive the Embassy’s email. the passport would be returned in a few business days and travel to the US can happen days later.
  3. I-485 can take 3 months to 3 years. You can see an up-to-date estimate from USCIS Here.

– What are the Cost Estimates?

  • The I-129F costs $535, as of today December 7, 2020
  • The K-1 visa makes the DS-160 Cost $265
  • The Immigrant Medical for the K-1 Visa costs around ¥32,000 or more
  • The I-485 costs $1225, as of today December 7, 2020
  • You should also consider plane tickets and hotel costs for the time around the consulate interview and the flight to the US on the K-1 Visa

– What Documents are required?

Our office has an Immigration Checklist here: https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration-checklist/

– Are there any Consular Interview instructions?

Immigrant visas (CR-1/IR-1/K-1/K-3) to the United States are processed for citizens and residents of Japan at either the US Embassy in Tokyo or the US Consulate in Naha.

Tokyo Instruction Link: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/Supplements/Supplements_by_Post/TKY-Tokyo.html

Naha Instruction Link: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/Supplements/Supplements_by_Post/NHA-Naha.html

– Japanese Birth Certificate Guidance:

Japanese Birth Certificate for US Immigration Purposes

– What if a filing is already submitted, and taking too long, how can the average processing time be checked?

The below blog post helps locate the USCIS Tool to see up-to-date processing times. If a filing is taking too long, it is best to see if it is processing at the same pace as others.

How do I check USCIS processing times?

– What if there is a baby, child, newborn of a US Citizen?

Many believe the baby or newborn would need a visa to enter the US. However, any children of US Citizens may already be US Citizens and should use a US Passport for travel.

The CRBA Process (More info found here: https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration/children-born-abroad-how-to-get-citizenship-from-parents/) registers the birth in Japan, whichever US Embassy or Consulate is more convenient or available:

  • U.S. Embassy Tokyo
  • U.S. Consulate in Sapporo
  • U.S. Consulate in Osaka
  • U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka
  • U.S. Consulate in Naha

More Information found here: https://jp.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/child-family-matters/birth/

The CRBA Process provides the US Citizen child a US Passport, a US Social Security Card, and a proof of US Citizenship in the form of a CRBA Certificate that will never expire.

– Can a Spouse or Fiance just use ESTA and do Adjustment of Status in the US to get a Green Card?

Technically, No! ESTA is for a temporary visit to the US, and if avoidable, ESTA should not be used to permanently move to the US.

What if ESTA was used?

The Foreign Fiance or Spouse would experience many months of “waiting.” Adjustment of Status is slow, anywhere from 3 months to 3 years depending on the state. A long wait time, not having a driver’s license, and not being able to work can make the “ESTA USAGE” undesirable compared to just entering the US with a Green Card Visa.

Additionally, use of a “non-immigrant travel item” is 100% polar opposite to “immigration.” The US Government can bar and punish the misuse of ESTA, a non-immigrant item, when someone intends to Immigrate. CR-1/IR-1 and K-1 are immigration visas.

More info can be found here:

Tourist Visa and ESTA/VWP: Consular Processing Versus Adjustment of Status

– Can the Active Duty Military stationed in Japan have their dependants or fiance use ESTA to Adjust Status in the US after PCS-ing back to the US?

No. Make plans to start the Consular process at least 6 to 12 months in advance.

Misuse of ESTA is:

  • Risky (ESTA can be revoked mid-flight at a connection when passing through customs);
  • Possibly two to three times slower than a Consular process like the CR-1/IR-1;
  • I-601 waiver/fine may be imposed; and
  • More Expensive.

If you require assistance with the Fiance Visa process, please consider contacting our office to set up a consultation with our Immigration Attorney.




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