With the use of the K-1 visa, also referred to as the fiancé visa, a U.S. citizen can bring their foreign fiancé to the country in order to get married. This procedure is started by the U.S. citizen who submits Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé. The couple must get married within 90 days of the non-citizen fiancé entering the country once the petition is authorized.
The non-citizen finacé can apply for lawful permanent resident status by completing an I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, if they get married within those 90 days.
But what if things don’t go according to plan, and the couple splits up? If you are a divorced K-1 visa holder, here’s what you need to know.
How Do K-1 Visas Affect Divorce Situations?
Please be aware that after being married to a U.S. citizen spouse, a K-1 visa holder must submit Form I-485 to USCIS, also known as the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. The foreign spouse will have two years to remain in conditional permanent residence status after Form I-485 is issued.
The U.S. citizen spouse must file Form I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence) in the 90-day window prior to the conditional permanent residence expiring in order to remove the restrictions on the foreign spouse’s right to live there.
If a K-1 visa holder divorces before obtaining lawful permanent residence in the U.S., the outcome may vary depending on the specific circumstances.
Divorce Prior to Filing Form I-485 While in K-1 Status
The likelihood of losing residence in the U.S. increases dramatically if a K-1 visa holder divorces their sponsoring spouse before filing Form I-485. The fiancé must leave the country, as there is no way to apply for a green card in this circumstance.
If you already reside in the country but misplaced your K-1 nonimmigrant classification before submitting Form I-485, you should speak with an experienced immigration lawyer right away to come up with a plan of action.
Divorce After Filing Form I-485 But While in K-1 Status
A divorce becomes more complicated if it occurs after Form I-485 has been submitted to USCIS. The divorced fiancé has a valid two-year conditional green card if the applicant submitted the application, underwent the interview process, and gained USCIS clearance prior to the divorce.
The permanent status of the divorced fiancé may be rejected by USCIS if the petitioner divorced prior to the interview and the couple was unable to attend it together. Rarely, applicants can receive a two-year conditional green card without having to go through an interview.
Applying for lawful permanent status as a divorced conditional resident requires a strategic approach. Seek professional legal guidance to apply for a waiver with USCIS and increase your success.
Divorce During K-1 Status Before Achieving Legal Permanent Status
Qualified K-1 visa holders are given a conditional green card good for two years. The pair must file a joint application with USCIS to lift the limitations on the foreign spouse’s green card after the two-year period has passed.
The former fiancé with conditional status is deemed to be “out of status” if the pair is no longer living together and cannot submit Form I-751 jointly. Deportation is a possibility for someone whose status is invalid.
Please be aware that a divorce does not necessarily result in the former foreign fiancé being deported. Divorced conditional residents are allowed to fill out an application with a waiver, according to USCIS.
What Happens You Already Have Unconditional Permanent Residency?
There are very few situations in which your green card would be revoked if you had already had the conditions on it lifted and then decided to get divorced.
Regardless of whether you have a valid green card, you may be deported if you commit a crime of moral turpitude, such as rape, theft, or fraud, which leads to the spouse who is a U.S. citizen choosing to divorce you. However, you are normally not at risk of losing your green card as a result of a divorce if you have obtained unconditional permanent residence.
Hire a Qualified Immigration Attorney
You’ll want to work with knowledgeable legal immigration pros, whether you are thinking about a K1 visa to green card changeover for the first time or have questions about divorce while submitting an application for legal permanent residence.
The lawyers at Pride Immigration would be delighted to assist you in navigating this complex procedure and securing your road to lawful permanent residency with the least amount of difficulty. Contact us today to schedule a consultation so we can review the options with you.
Beeraj Patel, Esq.
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