Adjustment of Status
Why do K visa holders have to adjust status?
K visas are a special class of visas created to allow the fiancés and spouses of US citizens to unite with their partner in the US without having to wait for an immigration petition to be processed. As a result, when K visa holders enter the US, they are accorded non-immigrant status and must file for permanent residence status (i.e. green cards) after entering the U.S. K-1 visa holders must first register a lawful marriage within the statutory period and subsequently apply for permanent residence. The process of applying for permanent US residence is termed "Adjustment of Status".
How do K visa holders qualify to become permanent residents?
The immigration claim of K visa holders is based on marriage with the US citizen who petitioned for their visa. For K-3 marriage visa holders, this marriage occurred prior to their application for the visa. K-1 fiancee visa holders are required to marry their US citizen fiancée within 90 days of the arrival in the US or they must return to their home country within the statutory period.
When should K-1 and K-3 visa holders apply to adjust status?
For K-1 visa holders, applications for permanent residence status should be filed within 90 days of arrival in the US. As K-1 visa holders must submit a marriage certificate as part of the application process, marriage plans should be made with this deadline in mind.
K-3 visa holders may file for permanent residence status as soon as their immigration petition is approved.
Can K-1 and K-3 visa holders travel outside of the US?
The K-1 visa is a single entry visa. If K-1 visa holders have to leave the US while their permanent resident application is still pending they have to file for permission to travel, called "Advance Parole", or they will be considered to have abandoned their application for permanent residence by leaving the US.
The K-3 visa is generally a multiple entry visa and K-3 visa holders may leave the US while their application for permanent resident status is pending, and in certain circumstances, may file for permanent residence from a consulate abroad.
How many times do K-1 and K-3 visa holders have to adjust status to become permanent residents?
K-1 visa holders must file for permanent residence status within 90 days of entering the US. If the marriage between the K visa holder and their US citizen petitioner is less than 2 years old when they are accorded permanent resident status, they will be given conditional permanent residence status. Within approximately two years of obtaining conditional permanent resident status, K-1 and K-3 visa holders must apply to lift conditions on permanent resident status provided they are still married and otherwise qualified.
In most circumstances, both the visa petitioner and the K visa applicant must apply together to lift conditions. An interview with the USCIS officer is often required.
How does the adjustment of status process differ for K-1 and K-3 visa holders?
K-1 visa holders have to file for permanent resident status within 90 days of entering the country and apply to lift conditions on permanent residence status within approximately 2 years of obtaining permanent residence status.
K-3 visa holders may apply for adjustment of status when an immigrant visa number becomes available.
K-1 and K-3 visa holders immigration claim is made on the basis of their marriage to a US citizen. For K-3 visa petitioners, this marriage occurs before they enter the US and the immigration petition is filed prior to or at the same time as the K-3 visa petition. K-1 visa applicants, on the other hand, have to file their immigration petition in the US when filing for conditional permanent resident status.
Read more: K-1 Fiancee Visa FAQ; K-3 Marriage Visa FAQ; Immediate Relative FAQ