K-1 Applicants Must Apply For Their Employment Card

A U.S. citizen’s fiancé can get permission to come into the country with a K-1 visa with the children entering the country with a K-2 visa.  When entering the U.S., the majority of people who have a K-1 visa (also called the Fiancée visa) will start looking for work right away.

Of course, one question K-1 applicants and/or their spouse ask if they can actually start working when they enter the country. Actually, they must first get an employment card (EAD) - i.e. Form I-765. They get this card from the USCIS and can take up to 90 days for application approval and to get the card.

One thing to consider in this process is that timing. As with any other government process, it always takes lengthy process time for one case is completed. Getting a work permit would easily take anywhere between 45 and 90 days from the time it was submitted, it would be already end of allowed period for the fiancé to marry the U.S citizen who invited the person. If that's reality, then you would rather go for marrying and start the process of adjustment of status instead. What you can do is to include the Form I-765 as part of the application packet, while you are still only in fiance visa. That way you can save a separate fee and wait on two processes with one application submission.

In case the fiancé was unable to marry the U.S. citizen and the status gets expires automatically after 90 days, there is no way it can be extended. If the marriage didn't happen during those 90 days of period, then your fiancé should leave the United States otherwise he or she will be in violation of U.S. immigration law, thus resulting in deportation and impacting future eligibility to re-enter the U.S.

The USCIS regulations do make it possible to look for employment before they get the status of their K-1 visa.  But, a recent meeting with the Customs and Border Patrol stipulates that a K-1 must ask for an EAD.  Previously, CBP officers would stipulate on the I-94 card that a person was permitted to work in the country, which something K-1’s would use when they looked for U.S. jobs. It looks as if this practice is no longer being applied.

Any K-1’s who wants a job need to ask for an employment card and wait for its approval before they begin working in the country.  Once the marriage between the K-1 and U.S. citizen takes place and they file for the green card application, the EAD can be attached to the green card application.