K-1 visas are generally called fiancé/fianceé visas, and they allow a non-U.S. citizen to enter the United States for the purpose of marrying a U.S. citizen. The deadline for conducting the marriage ceremony is 90 days. Generally speaking, if the K-1 visa holder does not have the marriage ceremony, then the visa holder must leave the U.S. (and is subject to removal for that reason). Staying in the U.S. illegally -- beyond the 90-day deadline -- can have serious consequences for other efforts to become a U.S. resident/citizen (such as triggering the three-year bar or the 10-year bar on returning to the U.S.) Likewise, being deported can have serious consequences. So, in general, if you have arrived on a K-1 visa, it is important to conduct the marriage ceremony within the 90-day window.
But what happens if the K-1 visa holder does not want to get married? Maybe there is a change of heart or, for various reasons, the marriage is no longer desirable. What happens then? First, if you do not want to get married in that 90-day window but still want to stay in the U.S., you have a legal problem. So, you will need the help of top-tier immigration attorneys.
In considering options, the main questions are whether you do not want to get married at all, whether you need a delay in getting married, or whether you want to get married to a different person. Your options depend on the answers to those questions.
If you want a delay, there are a couple of options. First, you can return home and seek a revalidation or begin the application process for a K-1 visa again. Processing a K-1 visa application takes a few months, providing the additional time you need to prepare for married life. This is also the process if you have changed your mind about the person you want to marry.
A revalidation might be possible in cases of emergency. First, if you need a delay because of an emergency in your home country for which you must return, it may be possible to file Form I-131 seeking an "Advance Parole" travel document that will allow re-entry. Alternatively, once you are back home, the consulate office in your home country may also be able to revalidate your K-1 visa. This can be difficult, but if you can show the emergency was truly an emergency, revalidation might be a good option. This will save time and money versus having to restart the K-1 visa application process from the start. It is generally not advisable to leave the United States.
Another option if you need a delay is to conduct the marriage ceremony after the 90-day deadline. This is a risky legal strategy, so you must consult a good immigration attorney for advice and counsel. But, if you have married a U.S. citizen, your new spouse may file a Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) on your behalf.
If you want to marry a different person, the best option for long-term success is to return to your home country and seek a new K-1 visa. However, you CAN marry a different person, but that will prevent you from obtaining a green card. There are exceptions to this rule if you married the first spouse, but they did not file for your green card.
If you simply do not want to get married, then the only option is to find another method of staying in the U.S. legally. For example, you could seek asylum if you believe you will be harmed in your home country.
Contact Yekrangi & Associates Today
For more information, contact the Orange County Immigration Attorneys at Yekrangi & Associates today. You are not alone, and we will fight for you. Yekrangi & Associates works to meet a higher standard. Our first goal is your satisfaction. We can help and provide immigration-related legal services across the country. Contact us at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation or complete our convenient “Get Your Consultation” form here. We are located in Irvine, California.