Adjust Status after Entry on K1 Visa
Updated on 10/07/2020
After you have brought your fiancé to the United States on a K1 visa, you might believe that your dealings with the United States Citizenship and Naturalization Services (USCIS) are over. Actually, after the vows have been exchanged and the wedding cake has been enjoyed, there is more to do to keep your new spouse in the country. You see, a K1 fiancé visa is a nonimmigrant, or temporary, visa. The next step is to adjust the status of your bride or groom to a conditional green card as the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen (USC).
1. Adjustment of Status explained
Adjustment of Status (AOS) is the term that the USCIS uses when a foreign national begins the process to become a permanent resident while already in the United States. Hence, in many cases an alien has entered the United States legally and is trying to change their status to an immigrant visa.
The requirements to adjust one’s status differ, depending on the basis for the green card. One important commonality; however, is that foreign nationals must be physically present in the United States to adjust their status.
2. Documents and forms to adjust K1 fiancé visa status
There are numerous forms that must be filed to successfully adjust a K1 visa status to a conditional green card as the immediate family of a USC, including:
The main form related to AOS is the USCIS Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. The instructions for completing this form apply mostly to anyone seeking a green card, but there are some differences depending on the immigrant visa category.
Spouses who arrived in the United States on a K1 fiancé visa would be applicants for a green card based on their being an immediate relative of a USC. A K1 visa holder must get married with the sponsoring USC within 90 days upon his or her entry to the United States. After wedding, he or she could file an I-485 adjustment of status application with the USCIS. Although it is not mandatory to file the I-485 application within 90 days upon entry, it is recommended to do so.
The complete Form I-485 should be accompanied by a filing fee of $1225 and persuasive evidence that a lawful marriage took place. Therefore, the AOS package should include a copy of the marriage certificate.
Other required evidence includes two passport-style photographs, a birth certificate, government-issued photo identification, the K1 visa stamp on the passport, and a Form I-94 Arrival and Departure Record. If a birth certificate is not in English, it should be accompanied by an English translation, as well as a signed certificate of translation.
Although an Affidavit of Support is not required for every green card category, it is mandatory for those adjusting their status from a K1 visa status. Foreign nationals who are obtaining a green card after marrying a USC must have their American spouse complete a Form I-864.
You may learn more about Form I-864 sponsor’s income requirement and required documentation in our article Income or Asset Requirements for I-864 Affidavit of Support.
The Trump Administration has included a new prerequisite to adjusting one’s status to lawful permanent residency. As of February 24, 2020, there is a new application that must be completed, called the Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency.
This new form is a declaration that the foreign national is not subject to public charge ground of inadmissibility. This means that they have not been receiving government benefits, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or public housing, on or after February 24, 2020. It also requires much documentation with the purpose to prove that the foreign national is not likely to become a public charge to the United States after he or she is granted lawful permanent residence.
You may learn more about Form I-944 and its documentation requirement in our article I-944, Everything You Need to Know about New Public Charge Rules.
Even though the new bride or groom is already in the United States, they still need to show that they have had a medical examination and have been vaccinated against potentially lethal or serious diseases. They may submit Form I-693 together with Form I-485, or just submit it at a later time when the USCIS asks for it.
The medical examination must be performed by a physician who is authorized by the USCIS. Click here to locate an authorized physician near you.
If you would like to know more about a medical exam report for immigration purpose, you may check our article What to Expect at an Immigration Medical Exam?
Before a new K1 visa bride or groom obtains a green card, he or she can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) through filing a Form I-765. Form I-765 can be concurrently filed with Form I-485, or filed anytime as long as the I-485 application is pending with the USCIS. With an EAD, people can work legally and apply for driver license in the United States. A Social Security Number (SSN) can also be issued.
The EAD is valid for one year only, but can be renewed without times of limits as long as the I-485 application is pending with the USCIS. To renew it, you may file a new Form I-765 up to 180 days prior to the expiration date of existing EAD.
A K1 visa on the passport is valid for less than 6 months while the processing times for I-485 application ranges from 3-24 months. Thus, if a K1 visa bride or groom has a plan to travel abroad prior to receiving a green card, he or she had better file a Form I-131 to apply for a type of travel document, namely Advance Parole (AP). Any international travel without a valid Advance Parole made prior to the adjudication of I-485 application will cause the application gets denied by the USCIS.
However, in some circumstance, travel with an AP could still jeopardize an I-485 application. Learn more about it in our article Advance Parole Travel While I-485 is Pending with USCIS.
Similar as an EAD, an AP is valid for one year and a K1 visa bride or groom can reapply a new one up to 180 days prior to the expiration date of existing AP. If a Form I-131 and Form I-765 are filed together with the Form I-485, an EAD/AP combo card will be issued.
3. What to expect after filing an I-485 application based on K1 visa?
1). Receipt notices
2). Biometrics appointment
Approximately 3-6 weeks after filing adjustment of status applications, K1 visa spouses will receive a biometrics appointment notice in the mail. Biometrics appointment is just a fancy word for fingerprinting, photo taking and a background check. Learn more about it in our article Biometrics Appointment FAQ.
3). RFE and/or EAD/AP
2-5 months following the biometrics appointment, K1 visa spouses will receive an EAD/AP if they file a Form I-765/I-131 at an earlier time and no initial evidence missing in their initial AOS application. If any of initial evidence missing like insufficiency documentation in Form I-864 Affidavit of Support, the USCIS will issue a Request for Initial Evidence. Applicants normally have 87 days from its issuance to respond such request. Delay or failure to respond such request will result a delay in the issuance of EAD/AP or denial of the entire I-485 adjustment of status application.
4). USCIS interview
Later, K1 visa spouses will receive an I-485 interview notice which requires the newlyweds to appear at an interview. A USCIS adjudicator will interview them to ensure that they have entered into a bona fide marriage rather than just marrying to get a green card. If they well prepared the interview and everything goes smoothly at the interview, the USCIS officer will approve the AOS application and the K1 visa spouses will obtain a green card in the mail within two weeks. Learn more about how to prepare a marriage-based I-485 interview in our article I-485 Adjustment of Status Interview FAQ.
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4. Conditions on the green cards of K1 fiancé visa entrants
When the K1 visa bride or groom finally receives their green card, it will be conditional if the marriage is less than two years when USCIS approves their I-485 application. This means that for the next two years their lawful permanent resident (LPR) status will have conditions.
Within 90 days of the expiration of the conditional green card, the married couple should complete a Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. This form should be sent to the USCIS with further documentation that the bona fide marriage is still continuing. Learn more about how to prepare a Form I-751.