In this segment, we answer 5 of your most frequently asked questions received on our social media platforms and our website. Please remember that every case is different and every immigration journey is unique. You should not compare your situation to anyone else’s. We hope that our answers will provide you with further guidance while you embark on your immigration journey. If you have any further questions, please call our office to schedule a free first time consultation. We serve international clients and domestic clients in all 50 states. We thank you for your continued trust in our law office. For more information on the services we offer please click here.
Q: I am a U.S. Citizen who is planning to marry a Moroccan citizen. I am interested in applying for the K-1 fiancé visa for him. The problem is that we have not met in person and it is hard for me to travel to his country because I am a single parent. I know one of the requirements for this visa is to meet in person. Are there any other visa options available to us since we have not met in person? I have heard of people obtaining waivers due to traveling hardships. Please advise.
A: Thank you for your question. This is a very common fiancé visa question. In order to file the K-1 fiancé visa you must meet the following requirements:
- You (the petitioner) are a U.S. citizen.
- You intend to marry within 90 days of your fiancé(e) entering the United States.
- You and your fiancé(e) are both free to marry and any previous marriages must have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment.
- You met each other, in person, at least once within 2 years of filing your petition. There are two exceptions that require a waiver:
If the requirement to meet would violate strict and long-established customs of your or your fiancé(e)’s foreign culture or social practice.
2. If you prove that the requirement to meet would result in extreme hardship to you.
As indicated above there are only two exceptions that would allow you to seek a waiver of the K-1 visa two-year meeting requirement. The first requires the petitioner to demonstrate that compliance of the two-year meeting requirement would violate strict and long-established customs of either your fiancé’s foreign culture or social practice or of your own foreign culture or social practice. While it is difficult to prove this, it is not impossible, however the couple should be aware that substantial evidence is required to prove that either your or your fiancé’s culture explicitly prohibits you from meeting the two-year requirement. Of course this element is largely at odds with traditional Western norms and practices, therefore it is extremely difficult to explain to an immigration officer why you and your fiancé cannot meet in person before you are to be married. This waiver should only be considered in very limited circumstances.
Secondly, a K-1 visa petitioner may seek a waiver of the two-year meeting requirement if they can successfully prove that the requirement would cause them an extreme hardship. USCIS has not clearly defined what constitutes an “extreme hardship.” In general, an extreme hardship is considered against the petitioner’s individual circumstances taking into account whether or not meeting the alien fiancé in person is within the petitioner’s control and whether the inability to meet the fiancé in person would continue for a period of long duration that is out of the petitioner’s control. Financial hardship clearly does not rise to the level of “extreme hardship.” The fact that you are a single parent also does not preclude you from traveling to your fiancé’s country to meet him in person, therefore given the facts you have stated above, you would not be able to obtain an extreme hardship waiver to waive the two-year meeting requirement. If you, your child, or your fiancé suffer from a serious medical condition that prevents the in person meeting from taking place, and is likely to continue to prevent the meeting from taking place for a period of long duration, you would have a more legitimate claim to receive the extreme hardship waiver, however this would require substantial evidence including the medical records, diagnosis, etc.
In short, it is very difficult to obtain a waiver of the two-year meeting requirement. Even in situations where an “extreme hardship” may be present, immigration is typically not convinced when the petitioner alleges that they cannot meet the person they plan to marry in person before filing the fiancé visa petition. It is difficult for immigration to reconcile how a relationship can be bona fide when the petitioner and alien fiancé have not met in person. If you cannot visit your fiancé in his home country, your fiancé can obtain a temporary visa to visit the United States. For more information, please contact our office for a consultation.
Q: My significant other is a U.S. Citizen and lives in the United States. I am a foreign national from Bangladesh. We plan to get married and have already filed the K-1 fiancé visa. I have attended my interview with the visa officer and my application has been refused because my fiancé did not meet the income requirements for the K-1 visa. What can we do?
A: Thank you for your question. I am sorry to hear that your K-1 fiancé visa has been denied. This is also a very unfortunate but common situation, especially in cases where the couple files alone without an attorney to review their case. I would recommend that you either re-file the K-1 fiancé visa with a joint-sponsor. Another option would be for you to marry in your home country. After the marriage, your spouse would then be able to apply for an immigrant spouse visa on your behalf. In either of these cases it is strongly recommended that you hire an experienced attorney. An attorney will be able to determine whether or not your fiancé meets the income requirement and recommend whether you will need a joint sponsor.
Q: I came to the United States two years ago and obtained my green card through the diversity visa lottery program. I have a sister back home that I would like to petition for. What are my options.
A: Thank you for your question. The fastest option would be for you to wait to petition for your sister until you become a U.S. Citizen. If you filed for your sister as a permanent resident, her case would move very slowly. Another option is to file for your sister and notify immigration as soon as you become a U.S. Citizen.
Q: I am a U.S. Citizen married to a foreign national. We are about to begin the I-130 consular process to immigrate my spouse to the United States. I am currently living with him in his country. I would like to know if the process would be faster if I applied for him from the United States rather than abroad. He currently does not have a visa to travel to the United States, and he has been denied for a visa in the past.
A: Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, because his intention is to immigrate to the United States, and you are not currently living together in the United States, he would not be eligible to adjust his status to permanent residence from within the United States. You are right in saying that the process of obtaining a green card is much faster when filing from the United States however, adjustment of status requires the foreign national and U.S. Citizen to be living together in the United States, and requires the foreign national to have entered the United States lawfully. Due to the fact that you are already married and he has an I-130 petition in process, as well as his immigration history (previous denial) he would not be able to obtain a visa to enter the United States. You should proceed with the consular process application.
Q: My husband has been undocumented for 22 years. He lied on his immigration paperwork claiming U.S. Citizenship. Is there any possibility for me to file an I-601A waiver for him?
A: Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, false claims of U.S. Citizenship are very serious and constitute a lifetime bar. We would not be able to answer your question without more information regarding his immigration past and reviewing his paperwork. It would be best for you to consult with our office directly on this issue.
Still have questions? Please contact us to discuss your immigration needs.