Adjustment of Status after K1 visa is issued does not happen automatically. Once your fiancé enters the United States and you get married within the 90 day period after entry, it’s time to file an adjustment of status application, using form I-485.
This can be a daunting process, as the adjustment of status form is currently 18 pages long. The adjustment of status form seeks answers to questions about the foreign spouse and not the United States citizen. The first few pages of this form ask for basic information about you, such as your full name, height and weight, date of birth, entries to the United States, address history, names of your children and your employment history. This is information that most people already know or can find out quickly without much assistance.
Inadmissibility issues with Adjustment of Status after K1 application
The latter pages are more complicated, depending on your background and life’s history. According to the way that United States immigration laws are written, some experiences that you have had may make you inadmissible. This means that you are unable to adjust status even though you were issued a K1 visa and you are married to a United States citizen. Some examples of issues that will prevent you from adjusting status are, if you have committed any crimes, if you intend to come to the United States to engage in unlawful activity, if you are relying on the United States government for public assistance such as food stamps and welfare benefits to meet your basic needs, if you have entered the United States illegally before or if you were previously deported from the United States. Also, if you plan to practice polygamy, which is having more than one wife or husband at the same time, then you would not be able to get the adjustment of status after K1 approved.
You will also be required to submit to a medical examination by a qualified immigration doctor to check whether your immunizations are up to date. If you bring your immunization record from your home country, you may be able to save on fees for vaccinations because your doctor will not have to give you a vaccine for a shot that you previously got. If you don’t bring proof, then the doctor will have to give you the vaccine, even if you got it previously. The doctor will also run tests for these diseases: tuberculosis, syphilis, gonorrhea, leprosy and physical or mental disorders, associated with harmful behavior. If you have any drug or alcohol abuse problems, the doctor will make a note of it on your medical record and you will have to give this information to immigration officials.
If you have any of the diseases or other inadmissibility issues mentioned before, in some cases, all is not lost. You may qualify for an I-601 waiver to forgive you for problems with your application.
Can I work while the Adjustment of Status after K1 is pending?
This is probably the number 1 question that I get in my practice from adjustment of status clients. Applications for adjustment of status are processed by the government and needless to say, the process is not quick. Average cases take 4-6 months, depending on the immigration officers’ caseload. Other cases take years to get an interview. Sometimes even after attending the interview, the immigration officer can take months to make a decision. This usually results in frustration while you are waiting. Fortunately, you can work and travel while you are waiting if you apply for a work permit and a travel document.
Evidence of Bona Fide Marriage
Carefully document that you and your spouse were married in good faith and the marriage was not entered into for immigration purposes. You must intend to establish a life together when you get married. You can prove that you have a real marriage by having a joint lease if you are renting an apartment, having joint bank accounts and utility bills. Pictures of the two of you together at family events are also god evidence of a real marriage. Sometimes, it is hard to get your spouse added to the electric, water or cable bill because he/she does not have a social security number. Add your spouse to whatever bills you can. Life insurance and health insurance are also forms of evidence that can be used to strengthen your case.
Cheryl Fletcher is an immigration and divorce attorney in West Palm Beach, Florida. She practices regularly before United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and has successfully gotten hundreds of K1 adjustment of status cases approved.