K2 Visa Follow To Join: Bring Your Children After Entering US On K1 Visa
Did you know that a K1 visa holder doesn’t have to bring their children immediately to the U.S. on K2 visas? For those of you who want your children to finish the school year abroad before moving to the U.S. there is the option for the K2 visa follow to join process.
The K2 visa follow to join option allows your child to move to the U.S. within a year of the K1 visa being issued to the beneficiary K1 parent. This gives the K1 parent the opportunity to move to the U.S. and get married before they are ready to bring their kids to America.
By choosing the K2 follow to join route when completing online form DS-160, you won’t need to pay for the K2 visa fees, complete your child’s medical exam or your child’s interview at the same time as your own.
Samuel applied for a K1 visa for his fiance Brandi and her two young children. After 5 months, her I-129F petition is approved and sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). She is sent packet 4 and completes online form DS-160 where she chooses the K2 visa follow to join option for her two children.
They decide that it’s best for her kids to finish the school year in the Philippines with their grandparents and then enter the U.S. at a later date. The K2 visa follow to join option allows Brandi to move to the U.S. and marry her fiance within 90 days and then have her children enter the U.S. when they are ready.
Even though the K2 visa follow to join option extends the time allowed to use the visa from 6 months to 1 year, it’s still important not to wait too long. The last thing you want is to wait until right before the K2 visas expire and some emergency situation causes your child’s visa to expire.
If this does happen, you will need to file a relative visa (form I-130, petition for alien relative) for them after adjusting status to become a permanent resident.
Learn more about adjusting status after entering on K1 fiance visa.
Benefits Of The K2 Visa Follow To Join
Okay, now that we know what the K2 follow to join process is, why should you use it? What are the benefits compared to just bringing your children with you when you enter the U.S.?
Obviously this will depend on your circumstances. There is no right or wrong choice here. The follow to join option is only for those families who want their children to enter the U.S. more than 6 months after the K1 visa is issued to the parent.
If you child will enter within 6 months of the K1 visa issuance, then there’s no need to file for the follow to join option. Remember, the K1 and K2 visas are both valid for 6 months without this extra option.
So why use the K2 visa follow to join option?
- Completing the school year.
- Your child needs to complete the school year but the 6 month visa validity period doesn’t allow for this. By applying for the follow to join option, it gives your child up to 1 year to enter the U.S. after the K1 visa is issued.
- K1 visa holder wants to adjust to life in the U.S. first.
- You and your fiance want to adjust to life in the U.S. without the children for a while. There is nothing wrong with doing this and sometimes can be the best option for both the parents and children. Sometimes, older kids don’t want to join their parents right away and would prefer to stay in their home country with friends as long as possible.
- Custody issues with the child’s other parent.
- If the biological father of the child is not cooperating with allowing you to take them out of the country then you will need to get the situation resolved as quickly as possible. Many countries will not allow a child to travel outside the country without written permission from the other parent. In some countries, you need to notify the other parent of the child’s travel plans whether you still speak to the parent or even know where they live. Be very careful when it comes to child custody issues, it can get really messy. I’d suggest speaking with a family law attorney.
- Other reasons a child can’t move to the U.S. right away.
- There are a lot of other reasons why your child may not be able to move right away. It could be finances (affording the extra tickets), family plans, or medical treatments. Whatever the reason, the K2 follow to join option is a great way to extend the validity of the K2 visa allowing you to take care of personal issues in a reasonable amount of time.
How To Apply For K2 Follow To Join
The K2 follow to join option allows any child that is eligible for K2 visa to apply for it.
- Child of a K1 visa applicant must be unmarried
- Child of a K1 visa applicant must be under age 21
Another requirement is that the child’s parent must qualify for the K1 visa themselves. This means that the child’s parent must be approved for the K1 visa after their interview before the K2 visas will be issued to the children.
Children are eligible for a K2 visa if:
- K2 visa fees are paid in full
- Medical exam is completed
- Police clearance is submitted
- Interview is passed
Note: Children may not be required to have a separate interview. This will depend on the consulate or embassy but many allow minor children to attend the same interview as the K1 beneficiary.
K2 Follow To Join Approval Timeline
Once the K2 follow to join is approved, your child will have 1 year from the date that he K1 visa is issued to enter the U.S. This sounds like a lot of time but trust me when I say this time will fly by.
Make sure that you plan ahead and book their flights as soon as possible. The last thing you want is to risk your child’s K2 visa expiring before you are able to bring them to the U.S.
This is especially true for those of you who have very young children that can’t travel alone. Remember, you will likely need permission from the other biological parent before your children can leave the country whether temporary or permanent.
Some consulates do require that you submit written permission or a court order before the K2 visa is issued to minor children. Haven;t you heard of those stories of children being “kidnapped” by their own parent because they left the country without permission from the other parent? You don’t want your story on TV now do you?
Learn more about the K2 visa processing timeline.
Bringing a Child To The U.S. On A K2 Visa (Follow to Join)
Step 1: Request Follow to Join Option
When you have decided that you do want to go ahead with the K2 visa follow to join option, you’ll have two ways to request it. First, you can submit the request on the online form DS-160 or you can request it at the K1 visa interview.
Adding a child after the original -129F petition was approved can be tricky. It will depend on whether the consulate will accept this new additional after the fact. They may review your case more closely and scrutinize your case more than someone who included a child from the beginning.
Step 2: Contact NVC/Consulate
When it’s time to file for the K2 visa, you should contact the National Visa Center at 1-603-334-0700 and request information on how to begin the follow to join process. Inform them of your intentions to have your child move to the U.S. after you enter on a K1 visa.
They will then review your case and confirm your eligibility as a K1 visa beneficiary. Either NVC or the consulate will let you know what documents to submit and the next steps of the process.
Step 3: Interview, Medical and Police Certificate
The rest of the K1 visa process remains the same. You will still be required to have your children attend a visa interview, medical exam and submit police clearance reports depending on their age.
The K2 visa interview is mandatory before a visa can be issued. Once completed, the K2 visa will be stamped in your child’s passport and they will have 1 year from the date that your K1 visa was issued to enter the United States.
K2 Visa Follow To Joint Interview Questions:
- How did your parent meet their fiance?
- What is your parent’s fiance’s name?
- How many times have you met your parent’s fiance?
The questions will differ depending on whether the child has been adopted by the U.S. citizen as well as the child’s age. Older children will be asked more difficult questions than very young children.
To prepare your children for the K2 visa interview, you should discuss some of the questions they may be asked. As long as they know the basics of your relationship, they should pass easily.
Problems and Delays For The K2 Follow
We all want our visa process to go smoothly and quickly, right? Well this may not always be the case! I personally had a delay with my own K1 visa journey which delayed processing by 3 months. It was not fun.
So, what types of problems or delays can you expect with the K2 follow to join option?
K2 approval within 2 year of K1 issuance.
- You will have exactly 1 year to complete the K2 medical, interview and consulate processing for your child to be eligible for the follow to join option. This seems like a long time but trust me when I say that it will fly by and there are many delays that you can’t see right now.
K2 child reaching the age of 21.
- If your child is close to the age of 21, you need to be really careful. This can result in your child “aging out” of the K2 eligibility and therefore no longer qualify. Contact the US consulate or embassy as soon as possible to request an expedite based on this reason.
Other parent refuses to allow travel to US.
- If the child’s biological parent refuses to allow them to travel outside the country or permanently move to the U.S. this will cause serious delays for the K2 visa issuance. The consulate may require that you provide evidence of authorization for your child’s travel to the U.S. before they will approve the K2 visa.
Child wasn’t listed on original I-129F.
- Sometimes the petitioner or beneficiary don’t include a child on the I-129F petition because they are sure their child will not immigrate to the U.S. but later change their mind. This is why it’s important to list all children of the foreign beneficiary on form I-129F petition whether they plan on living in the U.S. or not.
- Applying for a K2 visa at the embassy stage will cause delays because the immigration officer will want to know why they weren’t included in the first place. They may be suspicious of whether the beneficiary is biologically related to the child and can request a DNA test before the K2 visa is issued.
K2 visa expiration before a child can fly.
- This issue can be avoided by planning the child’s trip to the U.S. well before the K2 visa expires. If this isn’t possible or the schedule you are working with just doesn’t allow for this, then you must be sure to have them leave for the U.S. as soon as possible. If you let the K2 visa expire, you’ll be forced to file form I-130 for them which can take up to a year to process and approve. Not to mention the additional visa fees that must be paid to start over.
How Much Will The K2 Follow To Join Cost?
Although the total cost of the K1/K2 process is similar whether you choose the follow to join option or not, there is the cost of caring for your child back home while also having a household in the U.S.
- Cost of extra flights.
- Next, you need to think about how you will get your child to the United States, especially if they are very young. They may not be able to board a flight on their own so this could mean additional costs for you to fly back home to get them.
- I-131 processing delays.
- For a K1 parent to be able to leave the U.S. after entering, they would need to apply and be approved for advanced parole. This means that you would be waiting about 90 days after submitting the adjustment of status (I-485 form) before you can leave the country. Be prepared for this type of delay before making decisions on when your child comes to the U.S..
- Time off work.
- If the K1 parent can’t travel for one reason or another and the U.S. fiance/spouse has to make the trip abroad to get the children, then you should also include the cost of taking time off work to travel
- Filing I-485 jointly or separately.
- Finally, an issue that you may not have even thought about is filing for adjustment of status with or without your child. You can only include them on form I-485 if they are currently in the U.S. You would then need to either file without them or wait until they arrive in the U.S> to start your own AOS application. If you file jointly, there is no extra fees for the children. But if you file for them separately, you will need to pay the filing fee again.
Final Thoughts On K2 Visa Follow To Join
As you can see, the process for the K2 visa follow to join option can be complicated. There are restrictions on how old your child can be and how quickly you must be approved before eligibility is terminated.
If you follow the steps outlined above, you shouldn’t have too many issues applying for the K2 visa follow to join.
But, if the K2 visa isn’t approved in time or there are other problems that delay processing, you may need to look into the I-130 option for your child. This would be filed only after the beneficiary marries the U.S. citizen and becomes a spouse. The child will then be considered a step-child of the U.S. citizen parent and can qualify as an immediate relative.
Obviously, it’s best to go with the K2 visa route since it would be faster than starting over with the CR2 visa (I-130 petition) but sometimes your plans change and I understand that.
If you need help with your K2 visa follow to join case, consider signing up for premium case support. You would get one-on-one support through phone meetings, emails, document review and assistance through the entire process.
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.