The purpose of non-immigrant visas that are issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is to enable individuals to come to the United States for a particular reason. If you wish to travel to the United States only to visit for vacation, then you would need a tourist visa, and upon the visa’s expiration date, you must leave the United States. The K-1 fiancé(e) non-immigrant visa has the purpose of providing a fiancé(e) living abroad the ability to enter the United States legally, and begin the marriage process to eventually establish permanent residence. Like other non-immigrant visas, the K-1 visa has an expiration date of 90 days, and if a marriage has not taken place between a United States citizen and a fiancé(e) from outside the United States, then the non-citizen fiancé(e) must leave the country.
Because the K-1 visa process is very specific, visa-holders are not allowed to travel abroad while they are in the United States for the 90 day period. For example, if you obtain a K-1 fiancé(e) visa, enter the United States, and then wish to go on vacation in a country or territory outside of the United States, you will not be able to re-enter the United States upon returning from your vacation. It can be a very scary situation if you are stopped at customs in the airport and told you are not allowed to enter. Perhaps you were not aware of the rules and you honestly did not know you were not allowed to leave the United States. This is a mistake that can be avoided if you initially seek the help of an immigration attorney to explain all processes and procedures related to the K-1 fiancé(e) non-immigrant visa.
What If I Absolutely Must Travel Outside of the United States?
If there are extenuating circumstances that require you to leave the United States while you currently have a K-1 fiancé(e) visa, you must submit an Application for Travel (Form I-131). This must be obtained prior to leaving the United States, so that upon your return you will have proof that you received permission and authorization to travel while having non-immigrant status with your K-1 visa.
While you may not necessarily need to prove that extenuating circumstances exist (i.e., death in the family, or very ill family member) that require you to leave the country, you should have a very good reason for leaving within the 90 day period after entering the United States, especially if your intent is to seek adjustment of status based on marriage. The bottom line is that if you are able to avoid leaving the United States while you have a K-1 visa, you should do so. Only in times of extreme need should you submit a Form I-131.
Contact the Immigration Attorneys of Geygan & Geygan, Ltd. Today to Schedule a Free Consultation
If you or your fiancé(e) has obtained a K-1 non-immigrant visa, or plans to obtain this visa, you must follow a strict set of guidelines in order to lawfully transition from being engaged to married in the United States. Not being able to travel outside of the United States while you have a K-1 visa is just one of many hurdles you are likely to face after you obtain the visa. To fully understand what you can and cannot do, you need the advice of an experienced immigration attorney who can answer all of your questions, and address any concerns you may have. At Geygan & Geygan, Ltd., our immigration attorneys put the time and effort into providing all clients with the one-on-one attention they deserve, as each case has its unique set of facts and circumstances. To schedule your free consultation, contact our office at (513) 791-1673.