If you are in the United States on a fiancé(e) visa, you can technically apply to work during your initial stay in the country even before changing your visa status. However, when asking the question “Can I work on a K-1 visa?” there are a few key points you must understand regarding the constraints and timeframe of having a K-1 visa Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Before we discuss your options on whether or not you can or should apply for a work permit while on a K-1 visa, let’s review some of the basic components of the K visa and work permits.
The K-1 visa is the nonimmigrant visa for fiancé(e)s. If you are engaged to a U.S. citizen and are coming to the United States to get married, you will be admitted on a K-1 visa. The partner who is a U.S. citizen must be the petitioner who applied for the visa.
In order to be eligible for the K-1 fiancé(e) visa, you must:
The K-1 adjustment of status process is your path to obtaining a marriage green card in the United States. If approved, you will receive your green card and become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). It allows entrance into the U.S. so that, as a fiancé(e), you can get married.
To petition for a K-1 visa, your U.S. citizen partner must file Form I-129F, which has a filing fee of $535.
In order to work in the United States, you must obtain an Employment Authorization Document. You must have an EAD to prove that you are allowed to work in the United States. Your EAD will have a specific time frame in which you are allowed to work.
In order to have an EAD—also called Form I-765—you must apply by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
Your Employment Authorization Document is an identity card that is used to demonstrate that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) gave approval for you to work in the United States. Your EAD card can also be used to get your United States Social Security Number (SSN).
The average amount of time it takes to get a work permit is 60-90 days. Though this is typical, USCIS may take over half a year to issue an EAD. For updates on how long EAD applications are taking, take a look at the USCIS Case Processing Times page.
You are allowed to apply for an EAD while in the United States with your fiancé(e) visa, however, difficulties follow based on timing issues.
There is a minimal timeframe to obtain your EAD if you are applying under your K-1 visa. Your fiancé(e) visa only lasts 90 days, and an EAD typically takes 60-90 days to be issued. Though the 60-90 day issue time is typical for an EAD, it is not guaranteed, and could even take longer.
Recall that your K visa is only eligible for 90 days. With this overlap of processing time and K visa expiration, you may not be issued your EAD in time. Your K visa expiration is the date of your Form I-94 travel history. If you are issued an EAD, you may only have a short amount of time that you can use it to find any jobs for K-1 visa holders. Since your EAD expires when your K-1 visa does, your eligibility to remain in a job position may be jeopardized.
Even though you are able to obtain a K-1 visa work permit, you may find it more beneficial to apply for your work authorization after marriage.
If you choose to apply for a work permit on a K-1 visa, then you will file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
The fiancé(e) visa work authorization works just the same as if you are filing under a different visa, with the exception that, when asked about what visa you are applying on, you will state K-1 Fiancé(e).
When you have filled out the form completely, including signatures, you must send your form to USCIS as soon as possible so processing can begin.
The filing fee for Form I-765 is $410, plus an additional $85 biometric service fee, if applicable to your situation.
The eligibility category for K-1 visa holders is (a)(6). Speak with your immigration attorney about any additional questions you may have about filling out your I-765 form.
You can start working when you get your EAD. When your work permit is approved, you will be granted your K-1 visa EAD card. The expiration date on the EAD card will be the same as when your K-1 visa status expires.
When you arrive in the United States on your K-1 visa, you then have 90 days until the visa expires. In that 90 days, you must:
The following forms are needed for an adjustment of status from a K-1 visa to a green card:
In addition to these forms, you may also apply for your work permit using Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
We are often asked the question “How long after getting my K-1 visa can I work?” The answer is as soon as you are issued your employment authorization document.
The USCIS will issue your EAD. Though EAD timelines may vary, the typical wait time for your EAD will most likely be between two to three months. It would be worthwhile to file your Form I-765 along with your adjustment of status rather than after you begin your green card process.
While you await your green card, USCIS will issue you an EAD that will allow you to work during your intermediate period between your nonimmigrant visa and green card interview. Your EAD will come with an expiration date, so take careful note of the time constraints you are given for your work permit.
After submitting your adjustment of status documents, you still need to participate in additional steps before completing your adjustment process.
When your adjustment of status forms are approved, you will then attend an adjustment of status interview. During the interview, you must prove that you were married in good faith, officially called a bona fide marriage. When you go to your interview, your spouse will come with you. Your interview will most likely be the last step in your process of adjusting your status from your K-1 to green card.
Speak with your immigration lawyer about how to best prepare for your adjustment of status interview. If you have already been issued your EAD card, bring that along with you to your interview.
Once your initial adjustment of status has been approved, including your interview, you will be given a conditional green card. Valid for two years, your conditional green card has a time constraint to further prove that your marriage is lawful and bona fide. When the two years is up, you may then file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. When your Form I-751 is accepted, you will then be given your permanent residency card.
Due to the confined time frame of both the K-1 visa and EAD processing time, the chances of obtaining an EAD on a K-1 visa are slim. As a reminder, you are not legally allowed to work without an EAD in the United States.
Even if you are given a Social Security Number, you are still ineligible to work until you get clearance from USCIS via work authorization.
That being said, if you work illegally while in the United States on your K-1 visa, you would be in direct violation of your K-1 visa status expectations. You then risk your opportunity to adjust your status and will not be able to apply for or receive a green card. The risk of working illegally could result in the long-term consequence of being unable to adjust your status.
If you have any questions about diving deeper into the topic of working on a K-1 visa, contact our experienced attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C. With over 70 years of combined experience, we have been helping individuals with nonimmigrant and immigrant visas alike obtain work permits. If you are interested in obtaining a K-1 visa EAD or looking into the alternative of getting your EAD after marriage, we are here for you. We can help you through your application process for your visa and your EAD. Contact us at 312.444.1940 or through our online contact form today. We look forward to hearing from you.View Similar Articles