From K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa to Green Card - The Ultimate Guide to Adjustment of Status on the Basis of a Fiancé(e) Visa [Updated]

What is an Adjustment of Status?

Adjustment of status is the process of obtaining a green card, which will change your status from non-immigrant status to permanent residence status. Assuming that you are in the country on a K-1 visa, this process is entirely handled within the U.S. and can only be done after your successful marriage. 

What is a K-1 visa?

The K-1 visa, known as the fiancé(e) visa, is a special visa that grants the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen the privilege to enter the United States, marry their U.S. citizen fiancé(e), apply for permanent residence in the United States and get their green card. On the K-1 visa, the couple must get married within the 90-day validity period. Furthermore, the adjustment of status must be filed before the end of the 90 days.

Who is Eligible for an Adjustment of Status?

Here are the general eligibility requirements for doing an adjustment of status on the basis of a K-1 visa:

  • You have successfully married your U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of entering the U.S. on your K-1 visa
  • You have a valid, unexpired K-1 visa
  • You are physically present in the U.S. when the Form I-485 is filed
  • You must have entered the U.S. legally
  • You cannot be inadmissible to the U.S. based on criminal convictions, health-related issues, etc.

It is best to apply for an adjustment of status as soon as you get married. Again, note that you must get married to your U.S. citizen sponsor within the 90-day validity period of your K-1 visa. Otherwise, you will be in the U.S. unlawfully and may need to leave the country.

Forms Required for K-1 Visa Adjustment of Status and Costs

Form I-485 (“Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status”)

This is the primary form used in the adjustment of status process. This must be completed by the K-1 visa holder. Note that there is a filing fee, but the cost varies anywhere between $750.00 to $1,225.00 based on your category and biometrics fees. See the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for more details. 

Form I-864 (“Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA”)

This form must be prepared by the U.S. citizen spouse to prove that they are financially capable of supporting the K-1 spouse and will indeed do so for the next ten years, regardless of whether or not a divorce takes place. 

While there are other ways to satisfy the requirement, a successful filing of Form I-864 will mean that the U.S citizen spouse has an income greater than 125% of the poverty guidelines. Supporting evidence such as most recent tax returns, Form W2s, and others must be submitted as proof. There is no filing fee.

Form I-693 (“Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record”)

As part of filing for an adjustment of status, the K-1 spouse must undergo an immigrant medical examination. The exam is part of the process to eliminate any health-related grounds of inadmissibility, ensuring that the K-1 spouse does not pose a public health risk to the U.S. population. There is no filing fee, but the USCIS does not regulate fees charged by civil surgeons for medical exams. 

Applicants who have already had their medical examination before the visa interview may not have to repeat the medical exam. In most cases, the civil surgeon will need to certify and submit the information.

Form I-131 (“Application for Travel Document”)

If applicable. Since the adjustment of status process takes several months, the applicant must file a Form I-131 for advance parole to preserve the green card application and allow re-entry into the U.S. after traveling abroad. There is a filing fee, but the cost varies based on your category. See the USCIS website for more details.

Keep in mind that the K-1 visa is valid only for one single entry. It is likely that USCIS will consider your green card application abandoned if the applicant leaves the country without advance parole.

Form I-765 (“Application for Employment Authorization”)

If applicable. Again, since the adjustment of status process takes several months, the applicant must file Form I-765 for employment authorization if they wish to work in the U.S. during this time. There is a filing fee of $410.00 and an additional $85.00 biometric services charge. However, you may be exempt from paying the $410.00 filing fee. Review the form instructions for more information.

G-1450 (“Authorization for Credit Card Transactions”)

If applicable. If you are not paying the required filing fee by check or by money order, you must file G-1450 to be able to pay with a credit card. There is no additional cost to pay with a credit card. USCIS does not accept credit cards issued by foreign banks.

Documents Required for a K-1 Visa Adjustment of Status

In addition to the forms listed above, you must prepare copies of the supporting documents, including:

  • Form I-129F (“Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker”) with the approval notice from USCIS
  • Birth certificate—submit an English translation if applicable
  • Government-issued marriage certificate
  • Two passport-style photos of the K-1 holder
  • Passport page with a visa or admission stamp
  • U.S. government-issued ID
  • Filing fees

How to Apply for an Adjustment of Status

Applying for an adjustment of status is a straightforward process. Below is a quick outline of the process:

Step 1. Submit Forms and Supporting Documents
Step 2. Attend Medical Exam and Receive Vaccinations (if Necessary)
Step 3. Attend Biometrics Appointment
Step 4. Attend Your Adjustment of Status Interview
Step 5. Receive Your Conditional Green Card
Step 6. Apply for Removal of Conditions

Step 1. Submit Forms and Supporting Documents

Start by compiling all of the documents listed under Documents Required for a K-1 Visa Adjustment of Status and completing the appropriate forms under Forms Required for K-1 Visa Adjustment of Status and Costs to the best of your ability. Consult an immigration attorney if you are unsure about what to submit for your specific application.

Keep in mind that the application cannot be submitted to USCIS in person. When you are ready to submit everything, you must send it to a USCIS office, referred to as a “Lockbox”. To get an updated address, visit the USCIS website.

Step 2. Attend Medical Exam and Receive Vaccinations (if Necessary)

Generally, you do not need to submit the medical examination, but you may need to submit your vaccination report. If you've already had your immigration medical exam and vaccinations administered during your K-1 application process, you may not need to do this step.

Immigration Medical Exam

You are not required to undergo another immigration medical exam as long as:

  • You filed Form I-485 within one year of the medical exam you received abroad
  • The medical exam did not indicate that you have a Class A medical condition
  • If you have a Class A medical condition, you have a waiver of inadmissibility

Vaccination Report

Even if USCIS does not ask you to complete a new medical exam, you are still required to demonstrate that you are in compliance with the updated vaccination requirements. To do this, you must confirm that DS-3025 (“Vaccination Documentation Worksheet”) has been properly completed and included as part of the original medical exam report you took abroad. If not, you must have your vaccination report signed by a civil surgeon.

If you wish to expedite the green card process, consider taking the entire immigration medical exam again. This will take less time as opposed to waiting for the U.S. consulate to forward your original exam to USCIS, which will typically take a while.

Step 3. Attend Biometrics Appointment

As a foreign national on a visa, you are required to submit biometric information to USCIS in order to become a permanent resident. After submitting your application, you will receive a receipt notice from USCIS. Some weeks or even months later, you will be called in for your biometrics appointment. At the appointment, a USCIS official will collect your fingerprints, photographs, and other relevant information that identifies you. USCIS will use this data to complete your background check and then accurately print your green card.

Step 4. Attend Your Adjustment of Status Interview

Months after your initial filing, you and your spouse will likely be required to partake in an adjustment of status interview at a USCIS office. This interview is similar to the K-1 visa interview. Bring all required items indicated in the appointment notice, including the following:

What to Bring to Your Interview

  • The interview notice
  • Original I-129F approval notice and previous immigration documents or correspondences
  • Your spouse’s eligibility documents for the Affidavit of Support, including their most recent tax return, Form W-2, and paystubs
  • Your passport
  • Your I-94 arrival and departure record
  • You and your spouse’s government-issued IDs
  • You and your spouse’s original birth certificates
  • Your spouse’s U.S. passport
  • The original marriage certificate
  • Your children's birth certificates (if applicable)
  • Your Employment Authorization Document card and Advance Parole documents (if applicable)
  • Original or certified copies of the annulment of any previous marriages, including divorces or death certificates
  • Documents that support claims of a bona fide marriage (similar to your K-1 application, include wedding photos and other recent developments)

At the Interview

At this interview, a USCIS officer in charge of your case will ask various questions to confirm that your marriage is indeed bona fide and is not just used for immigration benefits. As long as you are truthful and have a genuine relationship, these questions and answers will be simple. Here are some general sample questions to practice with:

Questions About Your Relationship History
  • How did you meet?
  • How long did you date before deciding to get married?
  • What is the story of your marriage proposal?
Questions About Your Daily Routines
  • What is daily life like for you and your spouse?
  • Which one of you does the cooking? Cleaning?
  • How often do you talk on the phone when you’re apart?
Questions About Your Wedding
  • What was your wedding like?
  • Who was at your wedding?
  • What did you do for your honeymoon?
Questions About Your Rituals
  • When is your spouse’s birthday?
  • What did you do to celebrate?
  • What did you get each other as gifts?
Questions About Your Kids, If Any
  • What are your kids’ favorite foods?
  • How do your kids get to school?
  • Do your kids play any sports? If so, which sports?

Keep in mind that these are examples of potential questions; you could be asked questions that are not on this list. Schedule a strategy call with a seasoned fiancé(e) visa immigration attorney for expert representation. Generally speaking, this interview is the final step. Try not to worry. Most applicants walk away knowing USCIS plans to approve their I-485.

Step 5. Receive Your Conditional Green Card

If your adjustment of status application is approved, your conditional green card will arrive some weeks later with a two-year expiration date. Keep this date in mind when you advance to the next step. If you applied for a social security number along with your green card, USCIS will send your information directly to the Social Security Administration to process your number. Note that while conditional green cards are a measure to prevent marriage fraud, they grant the same rights and privileges as a standard green card. 

Step 6. Apply for Removal of Conditions

Within 90 days prior to your conditional green card expiration date, your U.S. citizen spouse must file a I-751 (“Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence”). Filing this form will remove the conditions on your residence in the 90-day period before the second anniversary of the date you obtained your first green card. USCIS implements this process to ensure your marriage is indeed bona fide.

Once approved, you will be issued a 10-year green card. Provided that all other eligibility requirements are met, you will be able to apply for naturalization to become a U.S. citizen after 3 years. Congratulations!

K-1 to Green Card Processing Time 

The general processing time for an adjustment of status from a K-1 visa is 7 to 9 months. If your application is incomplete or if the USCIS is busy, the processing time may take longer.

How to Check Your Application Status

You can track the status of your application through USCIS’s website with your receipt number via Case Status Online. You will be able to see information and updates in your application.

Appealing an Adjustment of Status Denial

If your application is denied, the denial letter you receive will tell you how to appeal the decision. Typically, you will need to file Form I-290B (“Notice of Appeal or Motion”) within 33 days from the time you receive your denial to get your appeal to the USCIS. Send the completed Form I-290B to the same office that denied your application. Consult an immigration attorney to help you file your appeal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What if I didn’t file Form I-485 properly?

A. You will either receive a Notice of Action to reject your application or receive a Request for Evidence (RFE). Both notifications will add to the processing time of your case, which can be avoided if you work with an immigration attorney.

Q. If I am denied, do my application fees get refunded?

A. No, filing fees are non-refundable. Application fees are meant to pay for the process. This means that you are essentially paying for USCIS to review your case, not to give you a green card.

Q. Do my children also receive conditional green cards?

A. Yes, they do. As long as you as the parent K-1 holder receive a conditional green card, your children will also receive a conditional green card by extension.

Q. Will my children have to attend the interview?

A. Yes, if your children are doing an adjustment of status. They may choose not to interview very young children, however.

Q. If I am HIV positive, do I still qualify for a green card?

A. Yes, you are still eligible for a green card. HIV is no longer an inadmissible condition as of January 4, 2010, and is not required in the immigrant medical exam. Although forms will still ask you about HIV, you can legally answer if you are infected.

Q. When will USCIS cash my check?

A. USCIS will cash your check when they accept your petition. Upon acceptance, USCIS will scan your check, withdraw the fee from your account electronically within 24 hours of receipt and then destroy the original check. If there is an issue with your submission, they will return everything to you including the uncashed check. 

Q. Can I adjust my status if I married someone different than the person who sponsored me?

A. No, you cannot. You must marry the sponsor on your Form I-129F in order to be eligible to adjust your status. If you are married to someone else, you will need to leave the U.S. and have your new spouse petition for your return on a K-3 or a CR1 visa.

Q. Once I get my green card, can I travel outside of the U.S.?

A. Yes, you may travel outside of the U.S. However, if you plan on staying outside of the U.S. for more than a year, you will need a re-entry permit.

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