K-1 Visa Adjustment Status
Under a K-1 visa, also known as the fiancé visa, a foreign national engaged to a U.S. citizen may obtain a nonimmigrant visa. To obtain a K-1 visa, the applicant must intend to marry a U.S. citizen within 90 days of entering the country. This must be a valid marriage with both parties having a bona fide intent to establish a life together. Marrying solely to obtain a green card makes a marriage invalid. If the applicant enters a valid marriage within 90 days, they may apply to get their visa status adjusted to permanent resident status.
Adjustment to Permanent Resident Visa Status
Individuals who marry within 90 days of entering the United States on a K-1 visa may file Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to adjust their status to permanent resident. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will review the application and may require the married couple to appear for an interview. If the application is approved, the K-1 visa holder’s status will be adjusted to permanent resident. When the applicant has been married for less than two years at the time of the application approval, the issued green card will be conditional and valid for only two years.
Board of Immigration Appeals Ruling
Obtaining an adjustment of a K-1 visa status to permanent resident recently became more difficult for some individuals following a Board of Immigration Appeals ruling. Divorced K-1 visa holders seeking an adjustment of visa status now must file an Affidavit of Support from their ex-spouses. In a recent case, a K-1 visa holder from Cambodia married her fiancé, a U.S. citizen, within 90 days of entering the country. While her adjustment application was pending, the marriage ended, and her ex-spouse withdrew his Affidavit of Support. The applicant submitted a new Affidavit of Support from a family friend in its place.
Prior to the immigration court’s ruling, a K-1 visa holder could seek an adjustment of their visa status even if the marriage ended prior to filing the adjustment application if the visa holder entered a valid marriage within 90 days of entering the United States. Under the new ruling, even if the K-1 visa holder is divorced, they must submit an Affidavit of Support from their ex-spouse to apply for the adjustment. Without this required Affidavit of Support, or if the Affidavit of Support is withdrawn by the ex-spouse before the immigration ruling, the applicant will be deemed a public charge, which would result in denial of the adjustment application. Even if the K-1 visa holder can produce an Affidavit of Support from a different U.S. citizen, which fulfills the legal requirements by demonstrating a willingness and ability to pay for the applicant, the adjustment will be denied.
For those applicants who have contentious relationships with their ex-spouses, this becomes a difficult hurdle to overcome. Immigrant advocacy groups have voiced their concerns over this ruling, which they believe violates public policy and the rights of K-1 visa holders.
Philadelphia Visa Petition Lawyers at the Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. Assist Visa Applicants
If you have an immigration or visa concern, the experienced Philadelphia visa petition lawyers at the Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. can help. We will review your case and determine the best legal recourse. To schedule a free consultation today, call us today at 215-496-0690 or submit an online inquiry form. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.