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How Hard Is It To Get a K1 Visa?

Posted on May 11, 2022
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By Heather Beliles, M. Ed.

While historic fraudulent marriages between a United States citizen and a foreign national have made it increasingly difficult for future applicants to obtain a K-1 fiancee visa, it is not impossible. The objectives for each applying couple are simple:

  • Provide evidence they are establishing a life and marriage together
  • Meet all of the K-1 visa required criteria and attend multiple interviews
  • Adhere to the K-1 visa application time frames and observe all other related, but strict deadlines
  • Provide adequate records of a bonafide marriage

Ultimately, it is up to the applicants to decide how difficult getting a K-1 visa for the foreign national will be. Even though there are many supporting documents required for obtaining a K-1 visa, if all requirements are proven and/or satisfied, the process itself will be simple. When a marriage is one of good faith, proving the union as such will not be as difficult as it may seem. 

The difficulty lies where the applicants must backtrack to retrace steps, milestones and records from within their relationship – and then compile it all into a neat package to present to the interviewing USCIS officer. 

To ensure your K-1 visa application gets processed properly and potentially serious mistakes are avoided, it is advised to work with an immigration officer. Contact an attorney here at Shoreline Immigration office today.

The K-1 visa status is a high-risk category, based primarily on fraudulent cases. For this reason, more than a fourth of all K-1 applications remain unapproved. It is the USCIS consular officer’s due diligence to scrutinize all applications, relevant documentation, supporting evidence, and all responses given to him or her during the interviews. They are, after all, trained in great measure to recognize fraudulent applications and marriages. 

If you were approved for a K-1 Visa and have already gotten married, you may ask yourself what happens to a K1 Visa After Marriage? However, if you are still working to get your K-1 visa approved, this post will cover common reasons why K-1 visas are rejected or denied.

K-Visa Rejection vs Denial

Though these terms seem synonymous, according to immigration law they differ greatly. K-1 visa applications are processed in this sequence:

  • Stage one – The K-1 visa petition is looked over by the evaluating officer to ensure all of pertinent information present, necessary documents have been filed and the fees are correct. If the K-1 visa petition fails in this stage, it will most likely be rejected. If it passes, then it will be moved to the next step.
  • Stage two – After information is gathered from the petition and through the interview, the officer will determine if the foreign national is eligible for a K-1 visa. If the K-1 visa petition fails in stage, it will be denied.

Preventing a K-1 Visa Denial

The main rule here can be condensed into two words – preparedness and authenticity. One is not sufficient without the other. There are many reasons a K-1 visa application can be denied, and should be kept in mind when determining whether a K-1 visa is right for the inquiring couple.

K-1 visa application can be denied by a USCIS consular officer as a consequence of the following:

  • Insufficient evidence of a true, bonafide relationship
  • A relationship seemingly kept in secret 
  • No concrete plans to get married within 90 days of the K-1 visa holder’s arrival to the U.S., such as no proof of wedding invitations, receipts, wedding venue reservations, etc.
  • Inability to provide evidence of a true relationship, either in the application or during the interview
  • Discrepancies in publicly available sites, such as social media, where recent pictures are of the fiancé or fiancée vacationing with another man or another woman
  • Showing a lack of commitment by either person
  • An otherwise suspicious relationship
  • Insufficient income by the sponsoring future spouse and their children – when applicable
  • Inability to pay K-1 visa processing fees
  • Only having a brief courting period before filing a K-1 petition – common situations include mail-order groom or bride, or prompt proposals after just one visit
  • The ineligibility of one or both parties to get married
  • Fraudulent applications from either or both of the applicants
  • Previous K-1 visa applications or receipt of a previous K-1 visa
  • Have certain medical conditions
  • Having a criminal record 
  • Failure to provide information about previous criminal convictions
  • Making inconsistent statements in the application and or interview
  • Inability to give reliable responses to the interviewing USCIS consular officer
  • Missing any USCIS appointments, interviews or deadlines
  • Incompetence of each other’s language, and the inability to speak to each other proficiently
  • Not having common backgrounds such as ethnicity, religion, culture, or education

Couples who have any of the conditions listed above are not necessarily subject to an automatic K-1 visa denial. They should keep in mind it typically raises suspicions when two people are in a relationship who do not have very many commonalities. Simply put, the couple must be more diligent when detailing proof of their bonafide union.

Other patterns potentially deemed as suspicious by the USCIS consular officer include:

  • Having a substantial age difference:
    • The male U.S. citizen is 10-15+ years older than his fiancée
    • The female U.S. citizen is 3-4+ years older than her fiancé
  • The U.S. citizen does not travel to visit his fiancée – after the couple submits their K-1 visa application 
  • Discontinued communication between the couple after they submit their petition
  • If the U.S. citizen has a criminal past or is serial petitioner of a K-1 visa, the officer may deny the application out of interest in protecting the applicant from the U.S. citizen
  • The amount of time the foreign national has spent in the United States
  • The foreigner’s former husband or wife now lives in the United States
  • A questionable visa background of the fiancée
  • If the first meeting between the two was arranged by an agency or any other third party
  • If the petitioner is a friend of the foreign national fiancé(e)’s family, this can often times be viewed by USCIS officers as suspicious:
    • As though the U.S. citizen has petitioned for a K-1 visa to bring someone to the United States in exchange for money from the family
    • As though the U.S. citizen is petitioning as a favor for their friend
  • If the foreign national is perceived to be an imposter, such as a green card scammer or someone who is only marrying the U.S. citizen for money 

Conclusion About How Hard Is It To Get a K-1 Visa

It can be quite daunting to cross-reference and find corresponding dates. The hard part is gathering all necessary documents by looking back through years of telephone records, emails, text messages, gift receipts, exchanged holiday cards, and photos of vacations and family gatherings, etc. In cases where the marriage is an authentic one, there should not be any reason such a strong case would be denied. 

While the couple knows how real their relationship is, the officer processing their application does not, so the couple must simply provide enough evidence to substantiate their petition. 

Conversely, if the relationship is either fraudulent, or if the USCIS consular officer suspects trickery from the either of the applicants, he or she will deny the K-1 visa petition – on the basis of a lack of sincerity between the petitioner and the beneficiary. Similarly, the officer could attempt to protect the petitioner from the beneficiary, if the officer finds him or her to have a criminal background, convicted of an offense against a minor, or has previously applied for multiple K-1 visa petitions.

Unfortunately, petitioners and beneficiaries alike use the K-1 visa status for bad intentions. Scamming the other party for money, citizenship, or returning a favor for a friend or family member, etc., this person has gained the other’s trust and has them fooled. While the unsuspecting person may think the scammer is sincere, a USCIS consular officer can identify such fraud within the first minutes of the interview.

Why do K-1 visas get denied?

K-1 visas primarily get denied because of fraudulent applications. The United States has immigration laws established so as to protect public safety. In K-1 visa cases, this is with respect to both sides – the petitioner, as well as the foreign fiancé(e) beneficiary.

How can I ensure my K-1 visa application will get approved?

Applicants should keep in mind that because this is a high-risk category, they should be as diligent as possible during the process. This includes, but is not limited to, filling out all K-1 visa-related applications, gathering and providing adequate evidence of a bonafide union, as well as giving truthful and sincere responses during their interviews with the USCIS consular officers.

If my U.S. citizen partner has a criminal background and does not tell me, will I still be told?

Yes. This requirement is set by the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA), which says the foreign national fiancé(e) is to be told whether the U.S. citizen has a criminal background, or has a history of filing multiple K-1 petitions. 

Similarly, if the petitioner has been convicted of an offense against a minor, the IMBRA requires a denial of the K-1 visa petition. Unless the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) determines, as an act of discretion, the petitioner poses no risk to the foreign visa applicant.

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