After you have obtained the K1 visa and have joined your U.S. citizen, the next step is getting married and applying for legal permanent residence (the green card) so you can live and work in the United States. For the foreign national spouse to obtain a green card, they must file for adjustment of status. In this article, we will provide a detailed step-by-step procedure for filing an adjustment of status application along with a list of documents needed, interview questions, and tips that will increase your chances of approval.
What is the K1 Visa Adjustment of Status?
Adjustment of status (AOS) is the process in which a person that is physically present in the United States applies for legal permanent residence without leaving the United States or having to go to a U.S. Consulate abroad. Generally, adjustment of status is reserved for people who are in the United States in lawful status and entered the United States upon being inspected by an immigration official.
Upon entering the U.S. on the K1 fiance(s) visa, the foreign national may stay in the United States for 90 days and must marry the U.S. citizen fiance(e) within that period. After the marriage, the foreign national spouse must file for the K1 visa adjustment of status to obtain permanent resident status. If marriage does not take place within 90 days, the foreign national fiancee must leave the United States. Foreign nationals who enter the United States on the K1 visa and do not marry within 90 days can not change or adjust status to any other nonimmigrant or immigrant visa category, except in very limited circumstances. If the K1 visa holder does not marry within 90 days and remains in the United States, they will be out of status and will begin accruing unlawful presence.
We advise individuals to file within the 90 day period of stay to circumvent the accrual of an unlawful presence. However, there is nothing, stopping one from filing the application after the 90-day window has expired. As long as the marriage to the K1 petitioning spouse takes place within the 90-day window.
Filing for K1 Visa Adjustment of Status
For the foreign national to obtain legal permanent residence, they must file several mandatory and supplemental forms with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Form I-485, K1 Visa Adjustment of Status Application (K1 AOS)
This and all the other applications along with initial evidence must be filed by the foreign national spouse after the marriage has taken place and only if it took place within 90 days upon entry. After that period their legal status will expire regardless of whether or not the marriage took place. Since there are no extensions, we advise that the adjustment of status application be filed before the end of the period of stay (before the I-94 expires).
It is important to note that a person who entered the United States on the K1 fiance(e) visa and married the United States citizen petitioner within the 90 day period will be allowed to file the adjustment of status application even after the 90 day period has expired.
Form I-864, Affidavit of Support
This is the only form in the application that must be submitted by the U.S. Citizen spouse. The Affidavit of Support is submitted with most family-based adjustment of status applications. This form shows that the intending immigrant, in this case the foreign national spouse, will not become a public charge. The U.S. Citizen fiance(e) submitted a similar form (the I-134 Affidavit of Support) for the K1 visa petition.
The U.S. Citizen spouse must show that they have enough income and/or assets to financially support the intending immigrant at 125% above the poverty guideline rate. In case the income and/or assets of the U.S. Citizen and the foreign national spouse do not exceed the minimum income, a co-sponsor is required. There is no limit on the number of cosponsors. It can be a household member (I-864A is filed by each co-sponsor) or any U.S. Citizen or legal permanent resident (I-864 is filed by each co-sponsor).
All individuals that submit the Affidavit of Support must also submit supporting evidence to prove that they have the income, funds, and/or assets stated in the Affidavit of Support, including the most recent tax returns and form W2’s.
Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record
This form is filled out and certified by a civil surgeon authorized by USCIS to carry out medical examinations for immigration purposes. This examination includes a full physical examination and a blood test for several communicable diseases. An applicant must also verify that they have received all the required vaccinations. The civil surgeon will administer any vaccinations that have not been received or verified by the applicant. The civil surgeon may not have to repeat the medical exam in cases where the K1 visa holder already had one before the visa interview. In that case, the civil surgeon may only certify and submit the Vaccination Record Supplement.
However, in case a foreign national spouse’s medical exam was more than one year prior to the application, or if there were any problems or issues with the first medical examination, a completely new examination must be conducted.
Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization Card (work permit)
Employment Authorization Card known as Form I-765 allows a foreign national spouse to accept employment in the U.S. since they are not authorized to work in the U.S. otherwise or until obtaining legal permanent residence. As a spouse, one may apply for the employment authorization document right after entering the country. Likewise, one may apply for a Social Security number without a need to wait.
Form I-765 covers topics similar to I-864 and I-485 with the addition of asking one’s eligibility criteria, alien registration number, and evidence of one’s most recent entry into the country. An applicant needs to submit a copy of their visa and I-797C, Notice of Action.
Form I-131, Application for Travel Document (travel permit)
This is the application for Advance parole and is not mandatory. Here are several important points to remember about international travel and the K1 fiance(e) visa:
- The K1 fiance(e) visa is valid only for a single entry. If the foreign national fiancee leaves the U.S. before getting married or filing the application for K1 visa adjustment of status, they will need to obtain a new visa to re-enter the U.S.
- Once the Application for Adjustment of Status and the Application for Travel Document (Form I-131) is filed, the applicant (the foreign national spouse) should not leave the United States until the advance parole document is issued. Otherwise, leaving the U.S. will be deemed an abandonment of the adjustment of status application. In case of an emergency that would require the foreign national spouse to leave the country before the adjudication of the I-131, there are processes with USCIS and at the Field Offices that can expedite the issuance of the Advance Parole.
- If the foreign national spouse submits the I-765 and I-131 concurrently with the K1 visa adjustment of status application, the work permit and the travel permit will be issued on the same document. The card that the AOS applicant receives from USCIS will be valid for both work and travel. However, in certain circumstances, USCIS can still issue a separate advance parole document.
Supporting Documents Needed for K1 Visa Adjustment of Status
Below is a list of supporting documents one should submit in addition to the forms. Failure to submit these may delay the processing:
- Copy of the I-129F Approval Notice
- Copy of the foreign national souse’s biographic page of the passport
- Copy of the foreign national spouse’s K1 visa and I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
- Copy of the marriage certificate
- Copy of the foreign national spouse’s birth certificate
- Two passport-sized photographs with the foreign national applicant’s full name and A-number written on the back of each photograph with a pencil or felt-tipped pen (two additional passport-sized photographs should be included with the I-765 and I-131)
- Copy of any EAD cards previously issued to the foreign national should be included with the I-765 application
Mailing Addresses for Adjustment of Status Application
The K1 visa adjustment of status application must be filed with the Chicago lockbox. Once the application is submitted, the foreign national spouse should receive a receipt notice or I-797 Notice of Action verifying submission and receipt of fees for each submitted form (the I-485, I-765, and I-131). The foreign national spouse will also receive an Application Support Center (ASC) Appointment Notice. This will notify them to appear for Biometrics (the taking of fingerprints of all ten fingers and a digital photograph) at a local office or Application Support Center.
The K1 Visa Adjustment of Status Interview
The interview at a USCIS Field Office is usually the final step of the process. The U.S. Citizen spouse is also required to attend this interview.
The foreign national spouse will receive notification providing the time and the location of the appointment, as well as the instructions in case the appointment needs to be rescheduled. The notice also provides a general list of documents to bring to the interview. Here is the list of those documents:
- Interview notice
- Foreign national spouse’s passport (also carry previously held passports if, for example, the K1 visa was stamped in a previously issued passport)
- Foreign national spouse’s I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
- Original I-129F, Approval Notice and any and all previously held immigration documents or correspondence
- Foreign national spouse’s EAD card and Advance Parole documents
- Both spouses’ original birth certificates
- Original marriage certificate
- U.S. citizen spouse’s U.S. passport and/or naturalization certificate (if applicable)
- Updated documents to supplement the Affidavit of Support, including most recent tax return, Form W-2 and pay stubs
- Birth certificates of applicant’s children (if applicable)
- Original or certified copies of any divorce, annulment, and death certificates for previous spouses for both individuals
- Documentation evidencing the bona-fides of the marriage. This includes but is not limited to:
- Photographs showing a bona-fide relationship (this should include pictures from before, after, and the wedding itself)
- Joint leases and/or mortgage documents
- Bank accounts
- Utility bills
- Insurance policies (health, life, car…)
- Joint credit cards
- Proof of joint ownership of cars, homes, furniture…
- Any additional evidence you wish to be considered to establish a bona-fide marriage
What to Expect in the K1 Visa Adjustment of Status Interview
The questions asked at the adjustment of status interview are usually similar to those asked by the Consular Officer at the K1 fiance(e) visa interview. However, some additional questions may be asked regarding the activities of the foreign national spouse since entering the United States. This is usually done to ensure that they have not violated their status or committed any crimes in the interim.
The Conditional Green Card
Once the adjustment of status application is approved, the foreign national spouse receives the Form I-551, also known as the green card. If the marriage is less than two years old on the date of the approval, the foreign national spouse is granted conditional residence. This conditional green card is valid for two years, and in the 90 days preceding the expiration of the card the Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence must be filed. This form must be submitted before the card expires and, with a few exceptions, signed by both spouses. The foreign national spouse (who is now a legal permanent resident) will be eligible to apply for naturalization to become a United States Citizen after 3 years if all other eligibility criteria are met.
In case the marriage is at least two years old on the date of the approval of the adjustment of status application, the foreign national will be granted legal permanent residency with no conditions. This I-551 card (green card) has a validity of 10 years.
The process of becoming a legal permanent resident is very complex with multiple steps involved. Over the years immigration lawyer Chicago has maintained an impeccable success record. If you wish to secure a legal permanent residence, contact us, and schedule your consultation today.