As you know, the K-1 visa comes highly recommended if you’re looking to bring your fiancée to the U.S. However, the K-1 visa process is delicate, complicated, and can be stressful. Immigration officials will assess your relationship information and marriage plans before granting the K-1 visa. For this reason, you must avoid the common mistakes K-1 visa applicants make.
Common Mistakes During K-1 Visa Process
The most common pitfalls with the K-1 visa process are:
• Administrative errors – errors and omissions when filing the requisite forms.
• Failing to give honest and accurate information.
• Non-compliance with the International Marriage Broker Act.
• Not meeting the eligibility requirements.
• Failing to prepare well for the K-1 interview process.
• Exceeding the 90-day marriage deadline after receiving K-1 classification.
1. Minor Mistakes with Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé
Immigration law requires the citizen fiancé petitioner to file Form I-129F on behalf of their foreign fiancé to the U.S. so they can marry. Upon K-1 classification, the alien fiancé immigrates to the U.S., and the couple has 90 days to marry and apply to adjust to permanent resident status.
Due to many cases of K-1 visa fraud, USCIS is very strict with its criteria for awarding classification. Your K-1 visa petition could be denied for minor administrative errors or omissions. These include:
• Failure to append your signature on the Petition for Alien Alliance (Form I-129F)
• Failure to duly fill out the forms.
• Failure to give detailed and honest answers.
2. Failing to Give Honest and Accurate Information
The biggest mistake applicants make is giving inconsistent or dishonest information. USCIS will scan each petition for red flags before deciding whether you have a bona fide relationship. Provide honest and transparent answers to better your chances of K-1 success.
3. Non-Compliance with the International Marriage Broker Act (IMBRA)
IMBRA offers a regulatory framework to avoid marriage fraud. The Act prevents K-1 visa process abuse by:
• Limiting the number of K-1 visa petitions a U.S. citizen can make. This prevents U.S. citizens from making several K-1 petitions for foreign nationals with false intent.
• Setting the age for marriage eligibility at 18 years.
• Requiring applicants to disclose their criminal history.
• Requiring a background check for the U.S. citizen applicant.
Any IMBRA violations in your K-1 visa application could lead to an automatic denial.
4. Failure to Meet Eligibility Requirements for K-1 Classification
One of the biggest mistakes that lead to denial is failing to meet USCIS’s eligibility criteria.
USCIS will look at the following to determine eligibility:
• The petitioner and U.S. citizen must demonstrate intent to marry within 90 days after the K-1 classification.
• Must be in a bona fide, good faith relationship leading to marriage.
• The petitioner and foreign national must be legally free to marry. Make sure any previous relationships were ended through annulments, divorce, or death.
• The petitioning citizen must be a U.S. citizen, not a lawful permanent resident. Legal permanent residence is a status given to immigrants who can legally live in the United States forever. Permanent residents gain this status through green card applications.
• The foreign national and the petitioning citizen must have met in person in the last two years. If you haven’t met, you can apply for a waiver based on the following grounds: 1) that the meeting would cause extreme hardship to the petitioner; or 2) that the meeting is against either party’s unique cultural beliefs. Requests for a waiver must be accompanied by supporting evidence.
Meeting USCIS eligibility criteria does not guarantee your K-1 success. You must provide evidence and supporting documents to increase your chances.
5. Exceeding the 90-day Marriage Deadline after Receiving K-1 Classification
After receiving your fiancé visa, you have 90 days to get married after your fiancé enters the country. Exceeding this 90-day requirement could have far-reaching ramifications such as:
• The foreign national must return to their home country after the expiry of the 90 days.
• You might be banned from applying for the fiancé visa for up to ten years.
6. Failing to Prepare Adequately for Your Visa Interview
The foreign national must attend a visa interview as part of the K-1 process. The interview establishes that you are eligible for K-1 classification and that you and your partner have a bona fide relationship. Therefore, you must prepare adequately for the interview.
During the process, consular officers look for any signs of visa fraud. Some of the issues they might look into include:
• Not enough evidence of the relationship
• Whether there is a significant age difference between the couple
• Whether you have a short engagement period
While these grounds do not mean your K-1 will be denied, they double as potential red flags in your application.
As I promised, here’s some bonus information that you may not know about:
Why your K1 visa petition was denied may dictate the best steps to take to ensure you can enter the United States to marry and live with your fiancé. There are various reasons why a consular may deny a K1 visa petition, including but not limited to:
• The petitioner does not meet the necessary requirements.
• The foreign national does not meet the necessary requirements.
• The relationship seems suspicious or fraudulent.
• The U.S. citizen does not meet the required income requirements.
• The couple has not met within the past two years.
Depending on the reason, if you have been denied a K-1 visa, I strongly recommend speaking to a licensed immigration attorney.
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