A Fiancé of a U.S. Citizen can obtain permission to enter the U.S. through a K-1 visa. Their children can enter the U.S. through a K-2 visa. Upon entry, most people that enter through a K-1 visa, otherwise known as Fiancée visa, want to immediately start working as soon as they find employment.
The question that I receive from many of my K-1 applicants or their spouse is whether they can start working upon their entry into the U.S. My answer is that they must first apply for an employment card. They can apply for an employment card, also known as EAD card, with USCIS. It takes anywhere from 30-90 days for that application to be approved and for the applicant to receive the employment card in the mail.
It is true that the USCIS regulations allow K-1’s to engage in employment pursuant to their status of a K-1 visa. However, according to a recent Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) liaison meeting on or about November 09, 2011, CBP made it clear that, “a K1 must apply …for an EAD.”
In the past, CBP officers would write on the I-94 card that work was authorized, and this was often used by K-1’s when they applied for work in the U.S. However, it appears that CBP has stopped this practice.
The bottom line is that K-1’s must apply for an employment card and wait for the approval of that employment card before they start working in the U.S. Of course, once the K-1 marries the U.S. citizen and files his or her green card application, the employment card can be filed as a part of that application.