K1 Visa Marry Someone Else Other Than The Petitioner?
Getting engaged to someone you love is probably one of the best feelings in the world. But, what if you move to the U.S. and realize that the person your said “yes” to isn’t who they said they were? Can a fiance with a K1 visa marry someone else entirely?
This is the million dollar question. We’ll take a look at the K1 visa requirements and if you are able to marry someone other than the original petitioner.
When I received my K1 visa stamp in my passport, it actually had the name of my fiance right on it. It’s as if the petitioner is vouching for you to be able to enter the country.
In a way, that’s exactly what it is.
The petitioner is promising to marry your and financially support you once you enter the U.S.. This is what USCIS really cares about when it comes to granting you immigration benefits.
Amber arrived on a K1 visa from South Africa to marry her American fiance Thomas. A month after she arrives, she realizes that she made a big mistake accepting his proposal because they are just not compatible.
But, instead of leaving the US to go back home, Amber decides to stay in the U.S. and finds odd jobs in childcare and getting paid in cash. After a year, she meets Jason who she falls in love with and now is hoping that Jason can help her adjust her status to get a green card.
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The case above happens a lot more than people think.
You may be wondering “why would someone who arrive son a K1 visa marry someone else?”. Well, I’ll say that a long distance relationship is completely different than one where you live with someone 24/7.
If you had to leave your home country, quit your job and say goodbye to your family to move to the U.S. after months or years of waiting, how likely are you to just go back home? Not very.
Sometimes I feel like it’s just a matter of time before USCIS gets rid of the K1 fiance visa completely. Why? Because it’s just really easy to abuse this visa process.
You don’t even have to get married before applying so there’s very little skin in the game.
K1 Visa And Letter Of Intent To Marry
Remember that K1 letter of intent that you submitted with the I-129F petition? Yup, that’s a signed declaration you made promising to marry your American fiance when you arrive in the U.S..
Why do you think USCIS requires this letter?
It’s because there are a good number of immigrants that arrive on a K1 visa and then disappear without a trace. Sadly leaving their U.S. fiance devastated about the unexpected breakup.
K1 Visa Requirements To Mary in 90 Days
Now that you’ve promised USCIS that you will marry the petitioner when you arrive in the US, there’s also the 90 day requirement.
Basically, you are required to get married with 90 days of your entry into the United States. Even though there is a specific number of days to marry, it’s okay if you marry outside of this time-frame.
What’s important is getting married and then adjusting status.
I’ve seen K1 visa holders wait a year and marry their US petitioner and successfully adjusted status for a green card. I’m not saying that you should do this but it’s possible to overcome not getting married in time.
So, let’s take a look a someone with a K1 visa marry someone else and what the options are:
Alberto arrived on a K1 visa to marry his fiance, Stacey. After 2 months living together in Boston, Stacey decides that it wasn’t meant to be and that she wants Alberto to move back to his home country.
Unfortunately, Alberto left everything behind to start over in the US with Stacey and he isn’t willing to go back. He decides to use some of his savings to move in with a roommate. He can’t work so he decides to go to school instead and that’s where he meets his new girlfriend. After dating a year, they decide to get married.
Alberto now wants to apply for adjustment of status with form I-485 with his new wife.
What do you think? Will USCIS accept Alberto’s new wife as the petitioner for his green card application?
This scenario is very complicated.
- Alberto has overstayed his K1 visa by over 1 year and is subject to a 3 year bar if he doesn’t marry the original petitioner.
- He may not be able to adjust status with a new petitioner because the K1 visa was only valid to marry the original petitioner and not someone else.
K1 Visa Marry Someone Else Instead of Petitioner
Now that we know all the requirements of the K1 visa, can you marry someone else after arriving in the U.S.?
Simple answer is no.
Arriving on a K1 visa requires that you marry the original petitioner. If not, you must leave the U.S. and have your new fiance or spouse petition a visa for you.
This, of course, means that you’ll need to wait for the visa to be processed all over again before moving back to the U.S., but it’s the legal route back. It’s not worth the trouble to stay in the US to adjust status when it’s likely USCIS will deny the I-485 due to fraud.
Yeah, I said fraud.
USCIS looks at applications for a green card very closely. If it looks like you intended to marry someone to help you get a K1 visa but then you turn around and marry someone else in the U.S., your green card application will be denied.
Adjusting status requires that you prove your marriage is real. That will be kinda hard when you quickly move on to the next relationship after arriving on a K1 visa. I’m not saying your committing fraud by falling in love with someone else, but think about how it looks to USCIS.
Kate arrived on a K1 visa from Brazil to marry her fiance Jack. He is 32 years older than she is and have very little in common. She quickly falls in love with Frank who she sees at the local park while walking their dog. After a few months of chatting, she decides to leave Jack so she can be with her new love.
After 14 months, Kate and Frank decide to get married and adjust her status. Since Kate arrived on a K1 visa that was connected to Jack, she will not be able to adjust status with Frank as her new husband. Her only option is to go back to Brazil and have Frank file the I-130 petition so she can apply for a CR1 spouse visa.
If you’re thinking “is there any way around the K1 requirement to marry the original petitioner?”
The answer is no.
The K1 visa was intended to allow you to enter the U.S. to marry the person petitioning for you. If you choose not to go through with the marriage, you must go back to your home country and start a new application with a new American fiance or spouse.
Final Thoughts On K1 Visa Marry Someone Else
So, if your engagement has ended and you’ve decided to stay in the United States to start a new life, think about your options to adjust status. Since you entered on a K1 visa, you are stuck with the only option to adjust status with the original petitioner.
You have two options:
- Marry someone else and then leave the US for them to petition you for a CR1 spouse visa.
- Remain in the U.S. as an unlawful resident which may cause you to be banned from the U.S. if you leave.
Yes, I understand both of these options aren’t great but it’s always best to go the legal route. This means leaving the country and waiting for your petition to be approved with your new spouse.
Even if you do everything right and your new spouse petitions for you to get a green card, it won’t be easy. USCIS will question you on what happened with your first K1 visa and why you didn’t get married.
Be sure to answer truthfully and completely.
They’ll want to see that you didn’t just get engaged to come to the U.S.. You can explain that the relationship didn’t work out and you met someone else in the U.S.
Tell them you wanted to do the right thing and left the country so that your new spouse can petition for you.
Can someone who entered on a K1 visa marry someone else instead of the petitioner? Are you looking to adjust status with a new spouse? Let me know in the comments below.
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.