Arrived On K1 Visa But Fiance Changed Mind About Marriage!
The K1 visa is granted for the purpose of marriage to the US citizen that petitioned you. If the marriage never occurs, this will cause you to be out of status after the 90 days are up. Although it is unfortunate, there is no legal requirement that your petitioner marry you once you arrive. I always recommend all couples have a long courtship to avoid this type of situation. If you arrived on a K1 visa and are considering marrying a US citizen – don’t just give up your entire life until you are sure you both want to get married.
Of course, this is easier said than done.
We all know the common phrase “love is blind“. This is true of any type of relationship but especially so in a long distance courtship. If you have any concerns about the honesty or intentions of the other person, learn as much as possible about them before moving. Break-ups and divorce as so common these days; don’t risk going through this journey to end up at a dead end.
No Marriage, No Adjustment of Status
Did you know that without filing for adjustment of status after getting married, you have no chance of getting a green card? This is a risk that a K1 visa holder takes when applying for the K1 non-immigrant visa. There is no guarantee that your US sponsor will actually marry you and file the AOS petition.
Remember, you have 90 days to get married. Consider using some of this time to go to counseling to repair your relationship. Couples may go through some adjustments after they live together; it can help to talk things through and find the real cause of your disagreements.
If you did go to counseling and it has not helped, it is best to consider your other options. The situation does get more complicated if there are children involved who arrived on a K2 visa. If adjustment of status hasn’t been filed yet, it’s probably best for you and your child to go back home where you have support from friends and family.
Now, if you do marry and file for adjustment of status (not yet approved); there are two things that could happen:
- You are asked to attend an interview. If your spouse does not attend, the AOS will be denied and you will be deported.
- Your spouse may pull the I-864 affidavit of support which will then void your AOS.
As you can see, this entire process needs the US citizen’s permission for you to gain a green card. This is why the K1 visa is so risky. The petitioner has all the power in deciding your fate so hopefully they are honest about their intentions.
The worst case scenario would be to overstay your K1 visa and then be deported. If you were in the US illegally for more than 1 year, you will receive a 10 year ban. If I were in this situation, I would immediately pack my stuff and move back home. It sucks to have to start your life over but it is better than having no legal status in a foreign country!
Have You Been Abused? Consider VAWA
Here’s where things get a little confusing. If you are a victim of domestic violence, you have the option to file for VAWA (I-360). The USCIS has created a way for immigrants that are abused to self-petition for their own green card. The only requirement for filing for VAWA is that you had a bona fide marriage.
Unfortunately, if you did not marry the US petitioner, you will not qualify for VAWA even if you were abused.
Don’t get me wrong, it is not easy to get approved for VAWA but it is the best option if you have been the victim of violence. Filing for VAWA is similar to other types of applications and you will need to gather evidence to support your claims. You must have a valid marriage (marriage certificate) and documented proof that you entered the marriage in good faith.
Learn about what documents are required when filing for VAWA and the application process.
VAWA petitions are not always successful, especially if you do not have enough supporting evidence. Even if you are denied – you will have the opportunity to appeal the decision or reapply with more supporting evidence.
Choosing to Leave The US
This is the last option that you have and it may be the best. If you did not marry the US petitioner, it’s best to leave the US so that you don’t accrue unlawful presence. This may seem like a blow to your ego but it may be a blessing in disguise. I have seen situations where the K1 fiance married their US petitioner but refused to file for adjustment of status. This then leaves the immigrant with no green card and no authorization to work or drive.
It blows my mind that someone would hold a green card over their spouse’s head! This is considered abuse.
In an ideal situation – you know the person you are marrying and they would never do this. But, people do change. You must protect yourself and know your rights when it comes to immigration. As tempting as it is to stay in the US and “work under the table”; don’t do it! You may not get caught but you will always be looking behind your back. Employers will also take advantage of you because they know that you fear getting deported.
Once you decide that you are moving back, pack all your things and buy a plane ticket. If you cannot afford a ticket, ask friends or family to help you out. There are also charities that may be able to assist you.
By leaving on your own it shows that you respect the legal immigration process. This will definitely help you in the future if you were to apply for another immigrant visa. I also want to mention that some immigration lawyers will tell you that you can avoid leaving the US. Be careful with bad advice because this can get you in real trouble with the USCIS.
If you did not marry the US citizen, you options are very limited.
Think of this situation as a learning experience – a cautionary tale that you can use to weed out untrustworthy people out of your life.
Ayan is the founder of the Migrant Academy community, the My Path To Citizenship Blog and Podcast.
After successfully navigating the hurdles of US immigration. She now dedicates her time to helping other couples achieve their goals of starting their new life together in the US.