K-1 Fiancé Visa for Canadians Moving to the U.S.
The procedure for applying for a K-1 fiancé visa to move to the U.S. is outlined in detail in our K-1 fiancé visa page. Once the U.S. citizen’s petition to sponsor the fiancé is approved, and the fiancé attends an interview at the U.S. Consulate in Montreal, they can then travel to the United States at which time they have 90-days to get married.
Can a Canadian apply for an EAD to work in the U.S. with a K-1 Visa?
Upon entry to the United States, the fiancé can apply for employment authorization (EAD). It is currently taking USCIS about 6 months to adjudicate EAD applications and the period of validity would only be for 90 days from entering the U.S. So it is not worth applying for employment authorization immediately upon entering. Instead, the couple should get married upon entry – and then immediately apply for adjustment of status. With an adjustment of status application, the Canadian citizen spouse can simultaneously apply for and EAD which would be valid until the green card is issued.
Can a Canadian apply for advance parole to travel outside the U.S. with a K-1 visa?
Once the fiancé enters the U.S. on the K-1 visa, they are not allowed to leave until they are approved for Advance Parole. Advance Parole is a travel permit that allows someone with a pending adjustment of status application to travel outside the United States and to re-enter without considering their green card application abandoned. Advance Parole can take several months to be approved, so it is recommended that the fiancé not make any travel arrangements outside the United States until it is approved.
Sponsor’s financial ability to support the fiancé
To qualify as a sponsor, the U.S. citizen must sign an Affidavit of Support that demonstrates his or her ability to meet a certain income requirement. The Affidavit of Support is required twice – at the K-1 visa application stage before the consulate interview (Form I-134), as well as later on at the adjustment of status stage (Form I-864).
Affidavit of Support
To sponsor the fiancé, the U.S. citizen must provide documents proving that they meet the income or asset requirement. The easiest way to satisfy the requirement is by showing the sponsor’s W-2 income. If the income meets or exceeds 125% of the poverty guidelines, the requirement is satisfied. If the U.S. citizen does not meet the income requirement, they can use alternate sources – including liquid assets (savings or real estate) or a joint sponsor.
What happens if the couple decides not to marry?
If the engagement is called off before the fiancé is scheduled for their interview at the U.S. Consulate in Montreal, then the U.S. citizen petition can submit a request to withdraw the petition to USCIS.
If the engagement is called off after the fiancé enters the U.S. with the K-1 visa, he/she must depart the United States as soon as possible – and before the maximum 90-day duration that they were admitted under. Otherwise, they will overstay their status and risk being banned from returning to the U.S. in the future.
Advantages of the K-1 Fiancé Visa
For Canadian citizens, the K-1 visa is a good option for those who are not yet married to their U.S. citizen fiancé but who plan to get married in the future. The visa gives the couple time to develop their relationship further as they wait for the consulate interview, and it also gives them 90 days after approval of the visa and entry to the U.S. to actually get married. If the couple decides not to get married within the 90 days, the Canadian citizen fiancé simply has to return to Canada before the visa expires.
A second advantage to the K-1 fiancé visa is that it allows the Canadian citizen fiancé to move to the United States sooner than the consular processing green card. While timelines will always vary, the K-1 interview is usually scheduled sooner than a consular processing green card case. Keep in mind that with the K-1 visa, you are only half way through the process after moving to the United States. You still have to get married and apply to adjust your status with USCIS.
A third advantage to the K-1 fiancé visa is that it allows the Canadian fiancé to enter the United States with immigrant intent. Immigrant intent applies when USCIS concludes that a Canadian citizen entered the United States in some non-immigrant status with the intent to immigrate permanently – in other words, apply for a green card. For example, a Canadian who enters the U.S. in B-2 visitor status must have the intent to return to Canada because B-2 status is a “non-immigrant” status. That means, you are not supposed to have the intent to apply for a green card if you are entering the U.S. as a visitor. For Canadians entering the U.S. with the intent to marry their U.S. citizen fiancé (or spouse), doing so in B-2 status may result in a finding of immigrant intent and a denial of the adjustment of status. On the other hand, entering on a K-1 visa would not result in a finding of immigrant intent.
Disadvantages of the K-1 Fiancé Visa
One of the primary disadvantages of the K-1 fiancé visa is that the entire process from start to finish can take a long time. That is because there are five distinct steps: 1) the initial petition by the U.S. citizen fiancé; 2) the National Visa Center Processing; 3) the interview at the U.S. Consulate; 4) entering the U.S. and getting married; and 5) applying for adjustment of status with USCIS. So it could conceivably take 1.5 – 2 years from the start of the process until the issuance of the green card.
A second disadvantage to the K-1 fiancé visa is that the Canadian citizen fiancé has to undergo two interviews; two background checks; and sometimes even two medical exams. The first interview is at the U.S. Consulate in Montreal when seeking the K-1 visa. The second interview is with the U.S. citizen spouse at a USCIS field office in the United States.
The Canadian will have to do an RCMP background check during the initial K-1 visa process, and also get biometrics done with USCIS during the adjustment of status phase. That means if the Canadian fiancé has a criminal conviction that makes him or her inadmissible, he or she will need to either apply for two waivers – one through the consulate, and the other through USCIS.
The Canadian will also have to do a medical exam prior to the K-1 visa interview at the U.S. Consulate. Once in the United States, the Canadian fiancé will have to submit the vaccination record from the first medical exam. If that report is unavailable, then the Canadian fiancé will have to undergo another medical exam in the United States.
K-2 visa for Canadian dependents
Children under 21 of Canadian citizens who are being sponsored for a K-1 visa are eligible for K-2 dependent visas. If the K-1 visa for the Canadian fiancé is approved, their children can accompany them to the U.S. on K-2 visas. Once married, the Canadian spouse and any children can all adjust their status with USCIS.