Understanding the K-2 Visa Process
A K-2 nonimmigrant visa allows the minor children of a parent with a K-1 fiancé visa to accompany them to the United States. The visa enables the child to live with their family, go to school, and apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EAD). They may also become a permanent resident once their parent marries a US citizen. However, they cannot change to another nonimmigrant visa status.
Follow to join
K-2 visas have a “follow to join” clause that allows minor children to delay their departure for up to one year. For example, a child may finish out the school year, then meet their parent in the US. In these cases, K-2 visa holders have a year to enter the country.
Applying for a K-2 Visa
File Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé, to apply for both a K-1 and a K-2 visa. K visa beneficiaries must be sponsored by a citizen of the United States. K-2 visas are dependent upon the parent’s K-1 visa status; you cannot apply for a K-2 visa without applying for a K-1 fiancé visa. However, the fiancé’s children do not have to be included on Form I-129F if they are not accompanying him or her to the United States.
Only a US citizen can file a petition for a K visa. K-1 and K-2 visas are only good for 90 days; you must marry your fiancé within this time frame. If you do not marry, both the K-1 and K-2 visa holders listed on Form I-129F must return to their country of origin.
To be eligible for a K-2 visa, the child must be under 21 years old, unmarried, and seeking immigration to the United States. If you will turn 21 during the K-2 visa process, let US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) know. They may be able to expedite approval to meet the age requirements.
The child must be the natural or adopted child or the stepchild of the fiancé seeking K-1 status. If the Form I-129F petitioner is not the natural parent of the child, the fiancé must have legal custody. They may also need permission to leave the country from the other parent. Talking to a Lawyer can help you determine the best course of action for your specific case.
Providing financial support
The K visa sponsor must prove that they can support both their fiancé and any minor children. They must fill out Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, and meet minimum financial requirements before the K visas are approved.
He or she must make 100 percent or above of the federal poverty level; exact amounts change frequently. Check USCIS Form I-864P, HHS Poverty Guidelines for Affidavit of Support, for current income guidelines.
Continuing the K-2 visa process
K-1 visa beneficiaries must submit to a physical examination with an Embassy doctor and an interview with consulate officials. Children may be subject to the same requirements, though very young children are usually exempt from them. Check with the US Consulate office, so you know what to expect.
A doctor on the US Embassy panel will perform a medical exam on the K-2 beneficiaries. This is a preliminary screening for medical conditions that are addressed by US immigration laws. Children age 15 and older must have a full physical exam, including x-rays and a blood draw. The doctor may also need to perform a head-to-toe skin examination as well.
Very young children may not have to attend the visa interview. However, the Embassy representative may want to speak to older children. Typical interview questions for children center around whether the child has met their future parent and how well they know each other.
Filing the application
Make two copies of your application packet before sending them in, including checks and money orders for fee payment. Except for your payment method, retain all original documents in case USCIS issues a Request for Evidence. Include these documents in your application packet.
- Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé
- A valid passport and official birth certificate copy for each beneficiary
- A completed medical examination report from a US Embassy doctor for each applicant
- Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, completed online
- A completed Form I-134, Affidavit of Support
- Visa fee payment for each beneficiary
Initially, the citizen sponsor only needs to include the child’s name in Part 2 of the alien fiancé petition. The consulate will send an extra set of forms to fill out for each child. Parents may complete these forms for young children. Include a note after your signature that includes “Parent of” and your child’s name.
Sending in your application
You cannot apply for a K visa online; you must mail your application to the USCIS Lockbox Facility in Dallas, Texas. Check the USCIS website for the correct address; regular US mail packages use a different address than express mail or courier packages.
Waiting for approval
If you would like an electronic notification that your application was received, fill out and include Form G-1145, E-Notification of Your Application. USCIS will send you a text or email when they receive your application.
Official receipt notice
You will also receive a form in the mail a few weeks after USCIS receives your application: I-797C, Notice of Action, Receipt Notice. If your receipt notice includes a Request For Evidence, follow the specific directions and make two copies of everything you send.
Reasons for denial
USCIS may deny the minor child entry to the United States for any of the following reasons.
- They have a criminal background
- They have substance abuse issues
- They have previously violated US immigration laws
- Their parent’s K-1 visa has expired because the marriage did not take place
- The medical exam reveals that the child has a Class A medical condition and they do not have a waiver for it
Working with a K-2 visa
Nonimmigrant visas like the K-2 do not automatically grant you the legal right to work in the United States. You must apply for Employment Authorization Documents. Although you can use a K-2 visa to apply for a work permit, the visa is only valid for 90 days. At this time, the process of getting work permit approval takes 90 days or more. It may be smarter to wait and apply for EAD at the same time you apply for permanent resident status.
Applying for adjustment of status
K-1 beneficiaries should file to become a permanent resident as soon as they are married. The K-2 child should also file for adjustment of status at this time. You will need Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Fill it out and submit it to USCIS.
How to avoid aging out
If you turn 21 while your Form I-485 is pending, you may need to take special steps to avoid deportation. The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) of 2002 may keep K-2 immigrants from aging out of the system while they are waiting for a status adjustment. However, these provisions only apply to certain immigrants.
Have your US citizen parent or step-parent file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. This adjusts your basis for status adjustment from K-2 status to being the immediate relative of a United States citizen. Since CSPA applies to immigrant visas related to a Form I-130 on file, you should be able to stay in the country until your Form I-485 is approved.
Get help when you need it
There are several time-consuming steps in the K-2 visa process. It is important to know what to do, especially if the K-2 visa holder is near their twenty-first birthday. If you are experiencing K-2 visa complications, talk to a Lawyer. They can provide advice and recommendations specific to your situation. Your one-on-one, anonymous conversation can be conducted from the comfort of your home.