If you are a K-1 visa holder who recently married a U.S. citizen, you are most likely eligible to apply for a spousal green card, which will allow you to live and work freely in the United States. When applying for a green card from within the United States, you will need to go through the “adjustment of status” process. In this guide, we’ll explain the step-by-step process when transitioning from a K-1 fiancé visa to permanent resident status.
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In the following sections, we will refer to the non-U.S. citizen spouse as the beneficiary and the U.S. citizen partner as the sponsor or petitioner.
Before applying to adjust your status from a K-1 visa to a marriage green card, make sure to:
Get Married Within 90 Days
The sponsor and beneficiary must get married within 90 days of the K-1 visa holder’s arrival in the United States. After getting married, the foreign spouse is eligible to apply for a marriage green card.
Check for Impediments Ahead of Time
The foreign partner must check to see whether they are inadmissible for any reason and whether they have any “bars to adjustment” from a K-1 to a marriage green card — which might include previous violations of immigration law. Grounds of inadmissibility include:
- Having a communicable disease, as determined by the Department of Health and Human Services
- Drug addiction
- Having a physical or mental disability that has been linked to threatening behavior in the past and could pose a threat to others in the future
- Failure to present proof of required vaccination
If, for some reason, the beneficiary fails to satisfy one or more of these criteria, they may be able to obtain a waiver of inadmissibility by filing Form I-601 (officially called the “Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility”).
Applying for the Marriage Green Card
The beneficiary, in order to successfully change their status from K-1 visa holder to lawful permanent resident, will need to file Form I-485 (officially called “Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status”) and include various supporting documents.
The applicant will need to gather copies of the following documents:
- Arrival/Departure Record (known as Form I-94)
- The approval notice (Form I-797) for the initial petition (Form I-129F)
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate
- Passport page containing K-1 fiancé(e) visa
- Passport page containing the entry stamp given by border official
- Government-issued ID (must include a photo)
They will also need:
- Two 2×2 passport-style photos
- Form I-864 (officially called the “Affidavit of Support”)
- Form I-693 (officially called the “Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record”)
And in certain cases, they might need to gather:
- Court and police records pertaining to previous criminal infractions
- Form I-601 (officially called the “Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility”)
- Form I-212 (officially called the “Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal”)
- Documents pertaining to any current or previous J-1 or J-2 visas
The beneficiary may submit Form I-693 (the medical exam report) simultaneously with Form I-485 or at a later date. If the applicant has already received a medical exam as part of the K-1 visa process, they may be able to skip the examination, but they will likely still need to provide evidence of vaccination.
Many forms come with a filing fee. Form I-485, for instance, generally costs $1140, but other forms may also have fees attached. The beneficiary may, in some cases, be able to apply for a fee waiver. For more info, check out the Boundless guide on immigration fee waivers.
If U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves the application, they will grant lawful permanent resident status to the beneficiary. If, when the application is approved, the sponsor and beneficiary have been married for less than 2 years, the green card will be considered conditional. In this case, the non-U.S. citizen will need to apply to remove the conditions 2 years after the green card issue date.
To successfully remove conditions, the beneficiary and the sponsor will need to file Form I-751 (officially called the “Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence”) within 90 days of the expiration date. If the petition is filed too early, it will be returned. When petitioning to remove conditions, the married couple will need to supply evidence that the marriage is authentic. Proof might include:
- Joint bank account statements
- Photos taken during the 2-year period
- Deeds to co-owned property
- Birth certificates for children born during the intervening years
For more info, read the Boundless guide on the removal of conditions process. Once conditions have been removed, the beneficiary will receive a permanent green card, renewable every 10 years.