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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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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.
You can transition from a K1 visa to a green card as long as you:
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.
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:
The following documents are optional if you wish to travel or work in the U.S. before you obtain permanent residence:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.