The K-1 visa permits US citizens to bring foreign fiancés to the United States to get married within 90 days. Once the 90-day period expires, the K-1 nonimmigrant classification automatically expires. What happens if a K-1 visa holder divorces his or her US citizen spouse? Keep reading to find out.
What Happens to K-1 Visa After Divorce? – Assessing Different Scenarios
Different circumstances may result in distinct results for a K-1 visa holder who divorces before attaining lawful permanent residence in the United States.
Please note that once a K-1 visa holder marries his or her US citizen spouse, USCIS requires the foreign spouse to file Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status). Once Form I-485 is approved, the foreign spouse remains under conditional permanent resident status for two years.
To receive a permanent green card, the US citizen spouse must remove the conditions on the foreign spouse’s residence by filing Form I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence) in the 90-day period before the conditional permanent residence expires.
Divorce Under K-1 Status Before Filing Form I-485
If a K-1 visa holder divorces his or her sponsoring spouse before filing Form I-485, the chances of losing residence in the United States increase exponentially. As it is not possible to apply for a green card in this type of situation, the fiancé must leave the United States.
If you are already in the United States but lost your K-1 nonimmigrant classification before filing Form I-485, immediately consult with an expert immigration attorney to find a strategic solution for your case.
Divorce Under K-1 Status After Filing Form I-485
If a divorce happens after Form I-485 is filed with USCIS, the situation is more complex. If the applicant submitted the paperwork, went through the interview process, and received USCIS approval before the divorce, the divorced fiancé has a valid two-year conditional green card.
If the applicant divorced before the interview and the couple cannot attend it together, USCIS may deny the divorced fiancé’s permanent status. On rare occasions, some applicants are not required to attend an interview and manage to obtain a two-year conditional green card.
Divorce Under K-1 Status Before Obtaining Lawful Permanent Status
Successful K-1 visa holders receive a two-year conditional green card. Once the two years are over, the couple must jointly file with USCIS to remove the conditions on the foreign spouse’s green card.
If the former couple is not together any longer and cannot file Form I-751 jointly, the former fiancé under conditional status is considered to be “out of status.” When someone is out of status, that person is exposed to the risk of deportation.
Please note that a divorce does not automatically trigger deportation proceedings for the former foreign fiancé. USCIS permits divorced conditional residents to submit an application with a waiver.
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.