Coming to the United States on a K-1 visa can be an exciting time. As you prepare for your marriage, you are also starting on your path to becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the United States. After arriving with your K-1 visa, you will then go through the process called adjustment of status.
The K-1 visa is also known as the fiancé visa. It is a nonimmigrant visa made specifically for those who are engaged to a U.S. citizen and are coming to the United States to get married. To petition for the K-1 visa, you must fill out Form I-129F. After you are approved for the fiancé visa, you have 90 days to get married.
Once you have been married within 90 days of admission into the United States and upon approval of your K-1 visa, you need to then apply for an adjustment of status. A K-1 visa adjustment of status is the process of obtaining a green card in the United States. When the adjustment of status process is complete, you will be an LPR in the United States. After meeting the requirements for the naturalization process, you are one step closer to your path to citizenship.
If you have come to the United States on a K-1 status and have not been married within the 90-day time frame, you must exit the U.S. and return to your country of origin. If you do not, you will start to accrue unlawful presence, consequently leading to potential bans into the United States.
In order to apply for an adjustment of status for your K-1 visa, in addition to the primary adjustment of status form, you will need to fill out multiple additional forms. We will review all of the forms below, but first, here is a comprehensive list of all forms needed for your adjustment of status K-1 process:
Along with the forms needed to complete your K-1 adjustment of status, you must submit supporting documents, including copies of the following:
Filing for the K-1 visa adjustment of status involves the forms listed above. Each must be filed in full and signed, or else the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will reject your application. Let’s review the forms required for your K-1 visa adjustment of status.
You, the foreign national spouse, will file Form I-485 after you and your spouse have married. Again, the marriage needs to take place within 90 days of your arrival in the U.S. It is advised that you file Form I-485 before the 90 days is up because that is when your I-94 expires. You are allowed to file the adjustment of status visa after the 90-day time window has expired, but note that your legal status will have expired. Your legal status will expire with the K-1 visa — regardless of your marital status. One of the requirements for Form I-485 is to show that you have maintained lawful status in the U.S.
The filing fee varies depending on your age and if a biometrics service fee is required. The prices ranges from $750 to $1,225. If you file Form I-486 and you have been admitted to the U.S. as a refugee, you are not required to pay a fee. You do need to submit your form at a direct filing location, which exact location depends on where you live in the United States.
The Affidavit of Support must be filed by the U.S. citizen spouse. This form is submitted to show that they, your U.S. citizen spouse, can support you financially. They must show this to prove that you, the foreign national, are not going to rely on the U.S. government for financial support.
In order for the application to be approved, your spouse must show they meet or exceed the minimum income required to sponsor a family member. The minimum income is determined by the household size and poverty guidelines. You can find the HHS Poverty Guidelines for Affidavit for Support on the USCIS I-864P webpage.
There are multiple I-864 forms that may need to be filled out depending on your circumstances. Discuss your options and requirements with your immigration attorney to make sure all necessary I-864 forms are submitted.
In addition to the form itself, supporting documents must also be provided to demonstrate proof of income, including W2 forms, tax returns, a copy of each Form 1099, pay stubs, a letter from your employer, and other documents showing income that may support your case.
There is no fee if you file your Affidavit of Support to USCIS or if your form is filed to the Department of State (DOS) from abroad. If you file to the DOS domestically in the U.S., you will be charged a fee.
Your Form I-693 must be filled out by a USCIS authorized medical professional. You must have an appointment and be given a full physical exam, including:
Because the authorized medical professional will need to review your medical history, be sure to bring any supporting medical documents from your past. This may include copies of X-rays, medical charts, treatment plans, and your vaccination card. If you are not up to date on your vaccinations, you will receive the required vaccines at your exam.
If you had a medical examination for your K-1 visa interview, you may not have to have another medical exam. You will still need to submit your Form I-693 for vaccine purposes. If your medical exam happened more than one year before applying for I-693, K-1 visa adjustment of status, or if there were medical issues, you will need to undergo a new medical exam.
Your Form I-765 allows you to seek employment in the United States. You are not authorized to seek employment until receiving your legal permanent residency. You can submit this form right after you enter the United States along with evidence of your admission, such as a copy of your Form I-94 and a copy of your K-1 visa. You must also submit a copy of your I-797C, Notice of Action.
The filing fee for Form I-765 is $410, not including biometrics. Upon acceptance of your application, you will receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD card).
The Application for Travel document is an advance parole travel document. Though it is not a mandatory application, it is beneficial to submit Form I-131. If you leave the United States before your marriage or filing for K-1 adjustment of status, you will need to re-start your whole process of obtaining a visa if you wish to re-enter the U.S. This is because the K-1 visa only validates a single entry, meaning you cannot leave and come back into the U.S. on the same K-1 visa.
Even if you file Form I-131 and leave the country, your form and the rest of your adjustment of status forms will be considered abandoned.
In addition to Form I-131, you need to submit information about your travels, including:
If you are applying for advance parole documents, your filing fee will be $575. If you apply for a re-entry permit, your filing fee will also be $575, but you may have to pay an additional biometrics service fee of $85. You will submit your Form I-131 along with Form I-485 and Form I-765.
After all of your forms have been approved, you will be asked to attend a K-1 adjustment of status interview with USCIS at one of their field offices. This is typically the last step in your change of status from K-1 visa to United States resident. The purpose of the interview is to confirm that your marriage is bona fide, or in good faith. Your U.S. citizen spouse will attend the interview with you.
USCIS will notify you about the time and location of your interview. You should bring the following documents to your interview:
In the interview, you will also need to provide proof that your marriage is lawful and in good faith. You can prove this by showing your interviewer documents such as:
Your immigration attorney can aid in preparing for your K-1 adjustment of status interview.
Once you have completed all of the above steps and have been approved for your adjustment of status, you will receive your conditional green card. Your conditional green card is only valid for two years. This is for the USCIS to ensure that, after two years, your marriage is still bonafide and lawful. After the two years, you and your spouse are allowed to file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, which you will file jointly as a couple. Upon acceptance, you will be granted your legal permanent residency card with no constraints or conditions.
The K-1 visa adjustment of status process is a complicated one, as it includes many forms to fill out and an interview to prepare for. The process can also be intense, so having the guidance of an experienced immigration attorney can help alleviate any stress that may come with your K-1 visa adjustment of status application. The experienced Chicago attorneys at Scott D Pollock & Associates P.C. can be with you every step of the way through your K-1 visa adjustment of status process.
With over 70 years of combined experience, our lawyers are well-equipped to provide insight, guidance, and support as you start your journey to United States residency. If you have any questions about your immigration pathway, please call us at 312.444.1940 or fill out an online form today. We look forward to hearing from you!