10 Important Points to Keep in Mind for Successful K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa Application
Finally, you are ready to sponsor your fiancé so that he or she can reunite with you in the U.S. It means that wedding is on your mind and you are making all the final preparations for the same. In all the excitement, you must not take the K-1 fiancé visa application casually. In recent years the denial rate for K-1 visas has greatly increased causing long delays and couples to be separated for longer than anticipated.
The statistics show that while the 90.5% of the K-1 visa petitions were approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the FY 2016, the percentage dropped to 66.2 a FY later. The visa program fell under scrutiny following the involvement of K-1 visa holders in the 2015 San Bernardino mass shootings. However, it was under the current Presidential administration that strict vetting of K-1 visa petitioners has been implemented.
In order to make the fiancé visa application and approval free of hassles, it is best to familiarize yourself with every important detail of the process. Here are some very useful things that will help you and your beloved become familiar with the process:
1. Know the Timeline
Are you planning to see your fiancé in the U.S. few months from now? Make sure you know the timeline and processing time of K-1 visa and file the application accordingly. In general:
• The USCIS may take 5-7 months before your case file is transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC).
• NVC processing sometimes takes an additional 3-4 months to complete the required formalities before the petition is routed to the U.S. Embassy in your fiancé’s country and scheduled for interview.
• The processing at the Embassy may take up to 2.5 months after interview for additional information or background checks to be completed.
Realistically you can expect up to 12-16 months of time period before the visa is finally issued and your intended can enter on their K-1 Visa. So, make your wedding preparations accordingly and be sure to have some flexibility. It is always upsetting when a couple has sent out invites, save the dates, and booked a venue based on their dream wedding date without planning for consular or travel delays. Such oversights can cost time and money.
2. 90 Days to Marry
At the same time, you must also remember that you would have 90 days (from the date of his or her arrival in the U.S.) to marry your fiancé. Failing in that, your fiancé would have to leave the country and go back to her home country after 90 days. So, be sure that you intend to marry him or her within the prescribed period before filing the visa petition.
3. Your Social Media Life under Surveillance
The USCIS, the U.S. Embassy or any other authority involved in the visa approval process may go through your social media profiles or those of your fiancé. According to the U.S. government’s policy, they are authorized to screen the petitioner’s and his or her fiancé’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram profiles and posts to decide the petition’s approval.
Be careful what the two of you (and also your social media connections) post about your relationship. These authorities may deny the visa approval if they find something not in accordance with what you claim.
4. Last Meeting with Fiancé
The USCIS requires that you must have met your fiancé personally or face-to-face at least two years before the date of K-1 visa application. Make sure that you have fulfilled this requirement and have enough evidences to prove the same. One great idea is to document your last visit to your fiancé well. Preserve the copies of flight tickets, restaurant bills, credit card statements, photographs and other possible proofs. Also, visit the common relatives and friends who may later attest the affidavits confirming the meeting.
5. U.S. Citizenship or Green Card
You must be a U.S. citizen to apply for a K-1 fiancé visa and sponsor your fiancé to enter the U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders) are not eligible to file the petition for fiancé visa program. If you are only a green card holder you must obtain the U.S. citizen status before starting the process of K-1 visa application.
6. Children of Your Fiancé
If your fiancé has children from his or her earlier marriage, K-1 visa doesn’t authorize them to enter U.S. with their parent. The Son or Daughter under 21 will have to apply for K-2 visa. Some important requirements for it are:
• The child/children should be below 21 years of age (till the K1 or K2 visa is approved).
• The child/children should be unmarried.
• Your fiancé should have the legal custody and permission to take the child/children out of the home country.
7. Are You Both Single?
Both the K-1 visa petitioner and his or her fiancé should be eligible for marriage under the U.S. laws. In other words, both of you must be single at the time of filing the petition for the fiancé visa. If you or your fiancé has a divorce pending, wait for it to finalize. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services will need to see documentation confirming that divorce is final at the time of filing. Remember that even if you are sure about the issue of divorce by the court of law, don’t take the decision to forward the visa application at this premature stage.
8. Sufficient Income Proof
Whenever a U.S. citizen sponsors someone from other country, he or she must meet the sufficient income guidelines as stated by the federal government. You must be aware of the fact that these guidelines keep on changing and you must be aware of the latest ones while applying for K-1 fiancé visa.
As per the present scenario, the petitioner’s income should be at least 100% of the federal poverty guidelines. It is to ensure that the applicant would be able to financially support his or her fiancé on arrival in the U.S. Once you get married and your partner applies for the green card, your income requirement increases and should be at least 125% of the federal poverty guidelines.
9. Multiple K-1 Petitions
If you had filed two or more K-1 petitions in the past, you must apply for a waiver to become eligible for a fresh K-1 fiancé visa petition. In case one of your past petitions was approved in the past two years, again you would need to apply for a waiver.
Requesting a waiver is very simple. All you need to do is write and application to the USCIS, providing details about the past petition. You would also mention that your relationship with the intended beneficiary didn’t work and the marriage was not pursued.
10. Know Your Fiancé
Lastly, make sure that your fiancé is absolutely eligible to be granted the K-1 visa. He or she should not have serious criminal records, drug addiction and serious communicable disease or dangerous disorder. He or she should not have committed any immigration violations to enter the U.S illegally in the past. The same goes for the U.S. Citizen as well. Certain laws will prevent the U.S. petitioner from sponsoring a spouse, child, or fiancé(e) if they have been convicted of a crime involving domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and neglect, dating violence, elder abuse, and stalking.
Rather than getting denied for K-1 visa due to any of these reasons, it would be appropriate to find a solution in advance to filing the petition.
It is better that you fill in the K-1 application after consulting with an immigration attorney.