Everything You Need to Know About K1 Visa Adjustment of Status
Posted by Frank Gogol
The K1 visa allows the fiance of a U.S. citizen to enter the U.S. for the purpose of getting married. However, you cannot maintain K1 status for long: it lasts for a maximum of 90 days and cannot be extended. To stay in the U.S. after your K1 visa expires, you must get married within that 90 day period and file for an adjustment of status to permanent resident.
You should begin the process of adjusting your status and obtaining a green card as soon as you get married. This article walks you through each step of the K1 visa adjustment of status process.
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Can K1 Visa Holders Apply for Green Cards?
Yes, K1 visa holders are eligible for permanent resident status. If the K1 visa holder brought any dependent children to the U.S., then they are eligible for green cards as well. Once you adjust your visa status to permanent resident, then you can live and work permanently in the U.S.
K1 Visa Adjustment of Status Legal Requirements and Eligibility
You can transition from a K1 visa to a green card as long as you:
- Legally entered the US on a K1 visa
- Married a U.S. citizen within 90 days of entering the country
- Have a valid, unexpired K1 visa
The sooner you apply for an adjustment of status after you get married, the better. If you do not get married within 90 days there is no way to adjust your status and you may have to leave the U.S.
After the 90 day period expires, the K1 visa holder will be in the U.S. unlawfully. While it’s still possible to adjust your visa status while in the U.S. illegally, the process becomes more expensive, complicated, and time-consuming.
Documents Needed for a K1 Visa Adjustment of Status
Adjusting your status and becoming a permanent resident requires submitting a fairly large and complex packet with a range of forms and supporting documents. Here are the forms you must submit to obtain a green card:
- Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status: This is the green card application form, and you must be married to a U.S. citizen to submit it.
- Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record: You must undergo a medical exam to make sure you are not inadmissible to the U.S. on health grounds, and then submit the results of the exam in this form.
- Form I-864, Affidavit of Support: The U.S. citizen to whom the K1 visa holder is married must submit this document on their fiance’s behalf. Form I-864 demonstrates that the K1 visa holder has adequate financial support and will not become a public charge. The general rule is: the U.S. citizen must have an income exceeding 125% of the national poverty guidelines. If you and your spouse do not have the collective income to meet this standard then your application may require a co-sponsor.
The following documents are optional if you wish to travel or work in the U.S. before you obtain permanent residence:
- Form I-131, Application for Travel Document: Adjusting your status will take several months, so if you want the ability to travel in and out of the U.S. during this period then submit this document.
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization: Submit form I-765 if you want to work legally in the U.S. while your status adjustment is processing.
In addition to these forms, you will have to submit supporting documents proving your visa status, the validity of your marriage, and more. These documents include:
- Passport-style photos
- Copy of birth certificate
- Copy of U.S. government-issued ID
- Copy of Form I-129F approval notice
- Copy of passport page with visa or admission stamp
- Evidence that you were married within 90 days of entry
- Relevant filing fees
How to Apply for a K1 Visa Adjustment of Status
Collect all of the documents listed above and fill out the forms with the most complete information possible. Then, you can submit your petition to adjust status to the nearest United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) office. You will receive a notice to attend a biometrics appointment and an interview at your local USCIS office.
After attending these two appointments, if the USCIS has discovered no grounds for inadmissibility, then you will receive a conditional green card.
K1 to Green Card Biometrics Appointment
Foreign nationals in the U.S. on a visa must submit biometric information to the USCIS to become permanent residents. At this appointment, a USCIS official will collect fingerprints, photographs, and any other relevant identifying information. With this data, the USCIS will complete a background check and then print a green card with accurate information.
The K1 Visa Adjustment of Status Interview
People frequently use “green card marriages” to fraudulently take advantage of U.S. immigration laws and obtain permanent residence. The USCIS conducts interviews of all green card applicants to prevent this fraud. The K1 visa holder and U.S. citizen spouse must attend this interview at a USCIS office. You will have to provide documentary evidence proving your marriage is not fraudulent. You can do this by submitting:
- Photographs or video of your wedding
- Guests lists of your wedding
- Joint bank account statements
- Titles or deeds from jointly owned property
- Joint loan or credit card statements
Also, the USCIS officer will ask you and your spouse a series of questions about your personal history, close family and friends, when/where you were married, and more. The main goal of these questions is to ensure that the answers of each spouse align. You and your spouse should go over some basic questions and have prepared answers to make sure the interview goes smoothly.
Conditional Green Card
If your adjustment of status application is approved you will receive a conditional green card. Conditional green cards are another measure to prevent fraud from individuals who obtained permanent resident status through marriage. These cards last two years and grant the same rights and privileges of a regular green card.
You must submit a Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence within the 90 days prior to your conditional green card expiration date. This process requires you to again demonstrate the validity of your marriage. Once approved, you will receive a permanent resident card that lasts 10 years.
The process of adjusting your visa status from K1 to permanent resident is lengthy and complicated because of the prevalence of green card marriage fraud. Any green card obtained through marriage will be scrutinized closely by the USCIS. But as long as you and your fiance fill out all of the relevant forms accurately and are prepared for your interview, the process should go smoothly.
The K1 visa also provides a path to citizenship if you transition from K1 status to conditional green card to regular permanent residence. That’s another reason why it’s important to file for an adjustment within 90 days of entering the country: unlawful residence in the U.S. will damage your prospects of naturalizing.