While some couples choose to marry outside of the United States, there are also couples who decide getting married within the U.S. is more desirable. In this case, there are procedures the foreign national must follow to adjust their K-1 visa status, obtain a Green Card, become a permanent resident, and ultimately receive American citizenship, if they so desire. If you are wondering what happens with a K1 visa after marriage, keep reading.
Upon the foreign national’s arrival to the U.S., through K-1 entry, he or she and the U.S. citizen must get married within 90 days. Once they marry, the K-1 visa holder must apply for an Adjustment of Status so as to keep legal status in the United States. After all, the K-1 visa holder is no longer a fiancé(e), but a spouse.
Failing to marry will result in the sponsored fiancé/fiancée losing their K-1 status. If the couple decides not to get married, the fiancé(e) will not be eligible to legally remain in the United States. Furthermore, the engaged partner of a U.S. citizen will be required to leave the country right away. It is imperative the couple follows the proper protocol to ensure a smooth transition for the foreign national to move from a K-1 visa status to permanent resident.
Within the first 90 days of the U.S. citizen’s significant other being in the United States, he or she must submit Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Receiving the Adjustment of Status allows them to legally remain in the U.S., as well as gain conditional permanent residency - a Green Card. This is conditional and is only valid for two years.
After two years, the married couple can now jointly file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. Upon acceptance, the Green Card holder will receive a lawful permanent residence card - without conditions.
K-1 applicants should note, nonimmigrant status automatically expires after 90 days of entry into the United States, and it cannot be extended. It is for this reason the K-1 holder must apply for permanent residency.
After two years, the married couple will be called in for an interview with a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services officer. He or she will ask questions regarding the couple’s personal background, each other, their relationship, vacations, and even details about their wedding and honeymoon.
When the officer determines the marriage is still genuine, the married couple can file their petition for the Green Card holder to become a permanent resident. Such status gives him or her the right to live in the U.S. indefinitely, without any restrictions.
In order to get an adjustment of status, the U.S. citizen as well as the foreign national must complete quite a few required forms. The following outlines which forms need to be filled out, and by whom.
Unlike other visas, the K-1 does not allow for a visa change to any other temporary visa, like an F-1 or H-1B, for example. Similarly, the foreigner cannot adjust their status from a K-1 visa to a Green Card, based on the marriage to someone other than the original U.S. citizen sponsor.
When a United States citizen plans to marry someone from another country, they must do so within the first 90 days of the K-1 visa holder’s arrival to the U.S. If the 90 days have passed, the fiancé/fiancée will be out of lawful status. Consequently, he or she (and children - when applicable) must leave the country right away. Failing to do so can potentially lead to being deported and a future ban from entering the United States.
After the couple marries within this 90-day timeframe, the foreign spouse must apply for and receive an Adjustment of Status. He or she will receive a Green Card issued by the USCIS and hence become a permanent United States resident. Such status gives the spouse of the U.S. citizen the right to permanently live and work in the United States.
An Adjustment of Status application packet includes quite a few forms that will need to be submitted simultaneously. The Green Card timeframe usually takes about a year to be approved by the USCIS and received by the foreign spouse. During this time, he or she is will receive employment authorization as well as the ability to travel abroad.
For information about Form I-485, possible ineligibility, grounds of inadmissibility and other bars to adjustment of status, see the USCIS website.
K1 Visa After Marriage FAQs
When a foreign citizen joins his or her significant other, and marries them within 90 days, he or she must apply for an Adjustment of Status. Their K-1 visa status will change to a conditional legal permanent U.S. resident. After 2 years, the married couple must attend an interview with a consular officer and show proof their marriage is still a bonafide one. Upon approval, the married couple should jointly file a petition to remove the conditions of sponsored spouse’s residency. Once approved, all conditions will be removed, and the foreign national will gain lawful permanent U.S. residency.
Several documents are necessary when applying for an Adjustment of Status. Firstly, File Form I-485 and all supporting documents. Others include Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, Form I-864 Affidavit of Support, Form I-131 – if there are plans to travel or gain employment prior to being a permanent United States resident, and I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
The Adjustment of Status processing times can be quite lengthy. This can take 10 months, and up to 16 months.