What can a K-1 Visa Holder Legally do in the US while they wait for the EAD Card and Green Card?

Congratulations on arriving to the US on a K1 Fiance Visa!!! Hopefully, the Wedding / Marriage Ceremony was beautiful.

This post will focus on the most common follow-up questions associated to the K1 Period between (1) Entry to the US on the K1 and (2) Receiving either the Green Card or Employment Authorization Document.

In short, a Fiance should be ready to wait for the Green Card or Employment Authorization Document. The K1 Visa allows a Fiance to begin the immigration process, specifically the Adjustment of Status, after marrying the 1 petitioning US Citizen that has been patiently waiting to get married.

Below is a more thorough explanation for common questions:

Can a K1 Receive a Social Security Card?

Yes, a Social Security Card is very important for:

  • opening a joint bank account
  • filing taxes
  • receiving a driver’s license (mandatory in some states)
  • applying for work
  • attend college
  • opening a credit card

More information on “How” and “When” to apply for a Social Security Card can be found here: https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration/k-1-fiance-visa/how-can-a-k1-visa-holder-get-a-us-social-security-card/

Does the K1 need to leave the US after 90 days?

No, if the Fiance Marries the Petitioning US Citizen, they MUST stay in the United States and begin the Adjustment of Status process.

More info here: https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration/k-1-fiance-visa/my-k1-fiance-visa-is-expiring-do-i-have-to-leave-the-united-states/

What If I Marry After the 90 Day Period?

If you marry the petitioning US Citizen after the 90-day period, your I-129F would become invalid. However, the i-129F can be replaced by a new I-130 Filing.

If you married another US Citizen (usually after years of overstaying the K1 Visa), you would need to speak with an immigration attorney, as this situation is a little complex.

More information here: https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration/k-1-visa-holder-married-after-90-days-what-to-do/

Can I drive in the US with a K1 Visa?

No, not really, unless the state DMV issues the K1 Visa Holder a Driver’s License.

An International Driver’s License is generally NOT acceptable for an immigrant or someone now permanently residing in the United States.

If you did receive a Driver’s License, since you have a social security card and a current visa, the Driver’s License may only be valid for up to the 90th day of the K1 Visa. So, it may be extra work for very little return: a driver’s license for 1 to 60 days.

Can I work in the US with a K1 Visa?

No, until after receiving the Employment Authorization Document or the Green Card. A K1 Visa is NOT eligible for employment without DHS Authorization.

Can I work remotely for a foreign job in the US with a K1 Visa?

No, unless the foreign employment has the income being paid for a foreign bank account and there is no US Tax Filing. If transferring the money to the US, you should speak with an accountant or tax preparer. If the employment is paying to a US Bank Account or receiving a US Tax Filing, like a W2 or 1099, then it is not allowed and MUST await the Employment Authorization Document or the Green Card.

Can I attend College with a K1 Visa?

Possibly, however, that will be a determination on the Institution and the type of education.

Technically, a K1 visa is ONLY built to marry and start the immigration process. An F1 Visa is build for attending college. So, on the surface, a K1 is commonly told they are not eligible to attend college.

Although a K1 is a “non-immigrant visa,” it is also an “immigrant visa” that was handled by the Immigrant Division of the US Embassy or Consulate. (Related Posts here: https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration/k-1-fiance-visa/is-the-k1-fiance-visa-an-immigrant-or-non-immigrant-visa/) A K1 Visa Holder is in an immigration process (aka Adjustment of Status), you have an A-number (aka Alien Number or USCIS Number), you have a Social Security Card, and you are not allowed to leave the US.

If you are attempting to enroll in college for a Diploma, or Associates, or Bachelors, or Masters, or Doctorate, it may be best to wait for the EAD Card or Green Card. You would also need to consider the cost for attendance:

  1. whether you are eligible for financial aid (e.g. grants, scholarships, and loans)
  2. whether you would be paying in-state or out-of-state tuition (usually requires residence in the US for 1 year)
  3. whether you have a means to commute to classes, does your spouse have the time to take you to school, and will the school prevent you for working soon when you recieve the EAD Card

Some Colleges will accept/enroll a K1 Visa Holder without an EAD Card or Green Card. It may not be any issues at some colleges, but an issue at others. Community Colleges are usually easier to enroll in. Private, 4-year institutes, and Graduate / Profession School usually require US Citizenship, Lawful Permanent Residence, or Current Immigration Status.

For USCIS Purposes and the Adjustment of Status filing, attending college is not a “BAR” to receiving a green Card. An immigrant and an immigrant-in-waiting / pending I-485 can eventually work, travel, and attend college once authorized by USCIS. As long as you are honest with the college, you do not commit perjury, and you do not state you are a US Citizen on college or financial aid documents, you should be fine.

Again, a K1 is generally not eligible for financial aid UNTIL the Green Card is received and Lawful Permanent Residence is granted.

HOWEVER, If you are attending a “continuing education program,” which isn’t a degree or diploma program type of education, that usually does not require “actual enrollment in the institute” and:

  1. they can normally be signed up for same day as the program starts,
  2. some programs are free or at a nominal fee,
  3. the continuing education programs are not eligible for financial aid or use the “tuition” rates of the institute, and
  4. some programs are information on a given field.

Common continuing education programs are ESL (English as a Second Language) and Spanish in the Workplace.

Can I Volunteer in the US with the K1 Visa?

Yes, you can volunteer AS LONG AS it is a position that is NOT NORMALLY PAID.

Meaning, that you should not “volunteer” as a manager of a store, since that is normally a paid job. Some people try to “volunteer” and “get paid in a lump sum later, which invites a host of problems.

Can I get Divorced with the K1 Visa, but before I receive a Green Card?

Yes, you are NOT required to remain married if the marriage is not healthy or going well.

However, you may not be eligible for a Green Card, if you divorce before acquiring a Green Card. You would speak to an Immigration Attorney as this matter can be delicate and policies are frequently updated surrounding Green Card Eligibility and what is needed to do.

Can I File Taxes with the K1 Visa?

Yes, once you have a Social Security Card or an ITIN, you would be able to file taxes jointly with your US Citizen Spouse.

Can I get a Credit Card with the K1 Visa?

Yes, you will normally need a Social Security Number in order to apply for a Credit Card. You may also require your spouse’s co-signing, your Spouse’s Income History, and your Spouse’s Credit History in order to be eligible.

Can I give birth to our child and apply for Medicaid with the K1 Visa?

Yes, as long as it is being used solely for the Prenatal, Delivery, and Post-partum of the US Citizen Child, AND there is no fraud or misinformation in the medicaid application. Do not state you are a US Citizen, when you are not, and do not state an incorrect income amount or past tax filing amount / past AGI amount.

Can I Travel with the K1 Visa?

A super common question for K1 Visa Holders: can a K1 Travel domestically or internationally with the K1 Visa?

A K1 can always travel domestically, within the United States, with the K1 Visa, regardless if within the 90-day or after the 90-day period. The K1 permitted you to come to the US to marry, be with the spouse, and it does not “lock you down” to one location in the US. However, regarding international travel, the K1 Visa DOES NOT permit multiple entrees to the United States. So, you cannot travel abroad until you either receive the Green Card or Employment Authorization/Advance Parole Document (also called a Combo Card or Travel Permit).





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