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What Happens if I Get Divorced After Getting a K-1 Fiancé Visa?

 Posted on February 12, 2024 in Immigration

Blog ImageGetting married is a significant milestone in life, and for couples who live in different countries, marriage may require them to navigate the complexities of immigration law. In situations where one partner is a U.S. citizen, and the couple wants to live together in the United States, the couple may need to apply for a K-1 fiancé visa. If an application is approved, the K-1 visa will allow the foreign fiancé to enter the country with the intention of getting married within 90 days. However, what happens if the couple gets divorced after obtaining the K-1 visa? An experienced immigration attorney can provide guidance in these situations, helping a foreign fiancé or spouse understand what options may allow them to continue living in the United States.

K-1 Fiancé Visa Overview

A K-1 fiancé visa allows foreign nationals who are engaged to be married to enter the United States for that purpose. The U.S. citizen fiancé(e) will file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The foreign fiancé(e) will be required to attend an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate, and once their visa is approved, they will receive authorization to enter the United States.

Marriage Requirements

Once the foreign fiancé(e) is in the United States on a K-1 visa, the couple must fulfill certain requirements within 90 days:

  • The couple must marry each other before the expiration of the foreign fiancé(e)’s authorized stay;

  • The marriage ceremony should be legally valid according to state laws; and

  • The marriage should be conducted in good faith without any intention of evading immigration laws.

Breakup Before Marriage

If a couple decides not to proceed with their intended marriage while the foreign fiancé(e) is in the U.S. on a K-1 visa, the foreign fiancé(e) will be required to leave the country, and they will not be eligible to receive a Green Card. By leaving the United States before the K-1 visa expires, the couple can prevent any potential consequences associated with getting married under false pretenses or violating immigration laws.

Divorce After Marriage

If a couple gets married and later decides to get divorced, this may have implications on whether the foreign spouse will be able to receive a permanent Green Card. After getting married while on a K-1 visa, a person will receive a conditional Green Card, which will be valid for two years. They will then be required to apply to remove the conditions on their Green Card. This is typically done by filing a joint petition to remove the conditions on permanent residence.

If the couple’s marriage ends within two years of obtaining conditional residence status, the couple cannot file a joint petition. However, the foreign spouse may be able to file a petition on their own, and they must request a waiver of the joint filing requirement. When doing so, they will need to demonstrate that they got married in good faith rather than for immigration purposes. They will need to provide copies of their divorce decree, evidence that their relationship with their ex-spouse was genuine, and any other relevant information about the end of the marriage. If their application is granted, they will receive a permanent Green Card.

If a couple remained married for at least two years after the foreign spouse received a conditional Green Card, and they successfully applied for the removal of conditions on permanent residence, a subsequent divorce typically will not affect the foreign spouse’s immigration status. The permanent Green Card the spouse received will remain valid, and they will be able to continue living in the United States.

Potential Consequences for Sponsor's Affidavit of Support

A person who files an application for a K-1 visa on behalf of their foreign fiancé(e) assumes financial responsibility by submitting an Affidavit of Support. With this affidavit, they will make the commitment to ensure that their partner’s needs will be met while living in the United States. If the foreign spouse remains in the United States, the Affidavit of Support will continue to apply even after divorce. The sponsor may still be required by law to provide financial support until their former spouse becomes a U.S. citizen, works in the United States for 40 quarters (about 10 years), or loses their permanent resident status and leaves the country permanently. The support obligation will also end upon the death of the immigrant ex-spouse.

Contact an Orange County K-1 Visa Attorney

If you are planning to apply for a K-1 visa, or if you have any questions about how divorce will affect a U.S. citizen sponsor or an immigrant who has come to the United States to get married, Vasquez Law Firm, PLLC is here to help. We will explain the laws that apply to you and your options for addressing issues related to marriage, divorce, and Green Cards. Contact an Orlando visas and Green Cards lawyer at 407-955-5000 and schedule a free consultation today.

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