A K-1 visa is a visa issued to the fiancé or fiancée of a United States citizen to enter the United States. A K-1 visa requires a foreigner to marry his or her U.S. citizen petitioner within 90 days of entry, or depart the United States.

There may be problems with this process, and I will try to help you understand them and what to do to fix them.

Reason #1 Insufficient evidence of a Bona Fide Relationship
These could be anything from your age difference to what vibe they feel during the interview.

Some items that may raise a red flag as to your relationship’s legitimacy:

  • Engaged a very short time after meeting
  • Huge age difference
  • Different religions
  • Severe difference in culture
  • No common spoken language
  • Very little physical time together
  • Poor interview – such as deceptive responses or inconsistency

Reason #2 Fraud or Misrepresentation
As the law states:

Here are some examples we’ve seen of fraud and misrepresentation:

  • Photoshopping or fake photos
  • Falsified affidavits from friends and family
  • Inconsistencies between application and evidence
  • Applying for the wrong type of visa to intentionally circumvent the immigration process
  • Not disclosing medical or criminal history
  • Falsifying income

Reason #3 Unqualified
Here are a few examples we see related to this one:

  • 2 year meeting requirement Applicant starts the petition qualified, but takes their time filling out the information, and by the time they file it 6 months later, they find , themselves out of the 2 year meeting requirement. Keep in mind the 2 year meeting requirement is from the date you file your petition with the USCIS.
  • Income requirement Either the petitioner’s income changes for the worse during the application, or the numbers just don’t add up via the evidence and the income requirement can’t be met.
  • Free to marry requirement Petitioner or applicant are in the process of a divorce or annulment when the application is submitted, however divorce or annulment isn’t finalized. If you’re already married, this disqualifies you from being eligible to marry.

What to do if you are denied for any of these reasons.

The first step is to figure out what went wrong which an attorney can help you. Sometimes no explanation is given especially if it is a subjective opinion of the interviewer. The most common is the lack of a bona fide relationship.

Here are the alternatives if denied either by USCIS or Embassy.

A. Appeal the denial at the USCIS Level.

Appealing the denial is one option provided that the denial occurs at the USCIS level. You have 33 days to file a form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion. There is a non-refundable $630 fee. Whether or not your denial is overturned, this fee will not be returned.

If your K1 Fiance Visa has been denied by USCIS, you have the right to an appeal. You must file your appeal with USCIS within 30 days of the date that your petition was denied. You will have to submit your appeal on form I-290B with the filing fee. The other option is to withdraw your first petition with a “letter of withdrawal” and then file again. For many reasons, costs being one of them, this is a good option.

If your case has already been returned to USCIS for further processing, you can USCIS to reaffirm their original approval and re-submit your application to the Embassy for a second time. Keep in mind, this process can take a very long time and for that reason, you may be best to simply withdraw your petition and then re-file.

B. Start over with the K1 visa process.

Wherever the denial stems, USCIS or Embassy, another common thing people do is start over from scratch by re-applying for the K-1 visa. Be aware that your previous denial could play into the whole scenario. If you do re-apply, you should do it with the knowledge of what went wrong so you can fix that this time around. Your goal is to leave no doubt in the government’s mind that your relationship is bona fide, and you are eligible for the visa.

I can help you to make sure you meet the government requirements. If you are truthful and we cover all the potential reasons for denial, we can get a good chance you’ll be approved. However, if you are from certain regions like western Africa or Jamaica, you may have a tougher time with the K-1 than the Philippines in my experience. We want you to succeed.

C. Get married and apply for a CR-1 visa.

Another route denied couples get is to just bite the bullet, get married outside the United States and apply for a CR-1 spousal visa. Getting married could overcome the challenge of convincing the officer that you are serious about your relationship. Perhaps the consular officers feel it’s less likely for people to commit immigration fraud on a spousal visa rather than a fiance visa.

Seeking a Waiver

A waiver is needed in the event that the petitioner is barred (i.e. a sex offense conviction under Adam Walsh Act). Here are the applicable sections of the K-1 law.

Extraordinary Circumstances Waiver. This is the waiver you will need if for example you were unable to travel/meet within the two year requirement. This may be due to illness or some extraordinary circumstance. In one case I had the US Citizen was in the Military and met his fiance while in the Philippines. They decided to marry after he left. Before they could arrange the travel he was stationed remotely where he could not bring his wife. The two year requirement could not be met for that reason and they got this waiver.

If you have ever been convicted of a violent criminal offense against a person or persons, USCIS will not grant a filing limitations waiver unless you submit evidence to demonstrate that extraordinary circumstances exist. In addition to evidence explaining the reasons for your multiple filings, you must also submit evidence of extraordinary circumstances. Examples of such evidence may include, but are not limited to: police reports, court records, news articles, trial transcripts reflecting the nature and circumstances surrounding your violent criminal offenses, your rehabilitation, ties to the community, or records demonstrating good conduct and exemplary service in the uniformed services.

Mandatory Waiver. If you committed violent criminal offenses against a person or persons, but were battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by a family member or intimate partner at the time you committed your violent offenses, and you were not the primary perpetrator of violence in the relationship, you may still be eligible for a waiver if USCIS determines that you violated a protection order intended for your protection; you were acting in self-defense; or you committed, were arrested for, were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to committing a crime that did not result in serious bodily injury and there was a connection between the crime committed and you having been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty. You must submit evidence explaining the reasons for your multiple filings, as well as evidence to support a finding that you qualify for a mandatory waiver based on being subjected to battery or extreme cruelty. Examples of such evidence may include, but are not limited to: police reports, court records, news articles, trial transcripts, evidence you acted in self-defense, evidence you were a victim of abuse or battery, evidence you violated a protection order intended for your protection, and any credible evidence that is relevant to your request for a waiver.

USCIS cannot approve your petition unless a waiver of the multiple-filing limitation is granted. *Obviously if you are in this category you need the help of an Attorney to ensure you get the best chance of waiver.

Ryan Barshop