What is the K-1 Visa 2 Year Rule Waiver?

The K-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows a foreign fiancé(e) of a United States citizen to enter the United States, marry the United States citizen and later become a lawful permanent resident by applying for a green card. As such, this visa is most commonly known as the “fiancé(e) visa.” In this post, we will cover the K-1 Visa 2 year rule waiver .

Before we dive into the K-1 Visa 2 year rule waiver, we will discuss the various eligibility requirements for the K-1 visa and the 2-year rule. The 2 year rule requires the couple to provide evidence that they have met at least one time in person within the past two years.

The K-1 Visa 2 year rule waiver does not require having been in a relationship for two full years: it just requires showing proof that the couple has actually met in person at some point within a two-year period. It does not matter where this meeting takes place: it could take place in the home country of either fiance(e) or at a completely different and unrelated destination. The USCIS has also not said that the meeting needs to be for a certain length of time: all that matters is that it took place in person, within the two years prior to filing the application. 

What Is The purpose of The K-1 Visa 2 Year Rule?

The purpose of this rule is to help ensure the genuineness of the relationship, and proof that you and your future spouse have met in person as required by the 2-year rule can be supported by providing the USCIS with documents such as flight tickets to and from the destination, photographs of the two of you together and so forth. 

Can The K-1 Visa 2-Year Requirement Be Waived?

In short, yes: it is possible to get a waiver from the 2-year rule that requires that the couple have met in person within the 2-year period, but only under limited circumstances. Waivers to the 2-year rule are sparingly given, as the USCIS wants to encourage applicants to meet their future spouse “in real life” before committing to a marriage.

Are You Eligible For The K-1 Visa 2 Year Rule Waiver?

While there are ways to waive the 2 year requirement in a visa application, the USCIS has not given too much guidance as to when the waiver can be applied: This means that there is no set “rule” that tells us who can be granted a waiver and under what specific set of circumstances. However, it has been outlined that such a waiver can be granted under “extreme hardship” or showing that the meeting would be contrary to religious or customs of social practices or culture. 

Extreme Hardship

A waiver under extreme hardship can apply where complying with the 2-year meeting rule would cause extreme hardship on the petitioner of the application. The USCIS will base their decision on considering the totality of the circumstances, and may look to factors even outside of what the petitioner has provided, such as a country's current conditions. On example could be that the country that one of the fiance(e)s lives is under threat or traveling conditions are not safe or ideal, this may qualify for waiver. 

Medical Conditions

Another sometimes successful argument for a waiver under the extreme hardship category is when the petitioner can provide evidence that they have a certain medical condition that prevents the meeting. This will require not only proof that the petitioner has a medical condition that prevents the meeting, but also that the subject medical condition prevents the petitioner from traveling altogether. Any petitioner seeking a waiver under this sub-category should be prepared to submit ample medical documentation to prove his or her entitlement to a waiver.

Religious Reasons

The meeting would be contrary to religious or customs of either person’s social practices or culture. Certain cultures may have specific rules that would prohibit a bride and groom from meeting before the wedding.

This is a more difficult standard to meet, as if there is any precedent that the culture/religion in question has allowed in-person meetings, the waiver could very well be denied. For example, arranged marriages are allowed under the K-1 visa category, but many cultures that follow this marital arrangement still allow for in-person meetings before a marriage.

It is important that an applicant seeking a waiver under this category be well aware and informed of the customs and practices of his or her culture with respect to pre-marriage meetings. 

Showing extreme hardship is a high standard to meet: merely showing that meeting in-person would be inconvenient or expensive will not be enough.

How To Request A K-1 2-Year Visa Waiver

Along with your I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiance(e) and the required documents and evidence showing your both your intent to marry within 90 days of your entry and the proof of the genuineness of your relationship (aka Bona Fide Relationship), you will need to submit a truthful statement explaining why you are requesting a waiver to the K-1 visa 2-year requirement and submit substantial evidence with it (medical documentation, country condition report and/or any other evidence that supports why you cannot meet in person before your marriage for safety, health or religious reasons). 

Please take note that requesting a waiver from the K-1 visa’s 2-year requirement will ultimately make the process of obtaining your K-1 visa longer, as you will have to await a decision on the waiver. If you believe that you qualify for a waiver to this rule under one of the categories above, you should speak with an immigration lawyer to determine the best plan of action and allow them to assist you with filing for a waiver. 

If you are looking into the K-1 visa, make sure to read our post on K-1 Visa requirements.

Faqs About the K-1 Visa 2 Year Waiver

What documents are needed to prove a genuine relationship under the K-1 Visa 2 Year Rule?

To demonstrate a genuine relationship under the K-1 Visa 2 Year Rule, applicants should provide evidence of having met in person within the past two years. Acceptable documents include flight tickets, photographs together, hotel bookings, or any other proof of being in the same place at the same time. The aim is to substantiate the authenticity of the relationship.

Can the K-1 Visa 2-Year Meeting Requirement be waived for any reason other than extreme hardship or religious customs?

Sometimes waivers for the K-1 Visa 2 Year Meeting Requirement are granted primarily for reasons of extreme hardship or religious customs. However, each case is unique and may be considered on its own merits. Applicants should consult with an immigration attorney to explore if there are other exceptional circumstances that might qualify for a waiver.

How does applying for a waiver affect the processing time of the K-1 Visa?

Applying for a waiver to the K-1 Visa's 2-Year Requirement often leads to a longer processing time. This is because additional review and decision-making are needed to evaluate the waiver request. It's essential to be prepared for these potential delays when planning your visa application timeline.

Wrapping up Our Discussion

Understanding the intricacies of the K-1 Visa 2 Year Rule and its waiver process is crucial for couples who face challenges in meeting the in-person requirement.

While waivers are available under specific circumstances like extreme hardship or religious customs, it's important to remember that these are not granted lightly.

Each case is evaluated on an individual basis, and sufficient evidence must be provided to support the waiver request.

Applicants considering a waiver should seek legal guidance to navigate the complexities of the process and ensure all requirements are met comprehensively.

Remember, preparing a robust application with detailed evidence and legal support can significantly influence the outcome of your K-1 Visa application and waiver request.

If you have any questions about your K-1 visa 2 year waiver request, please contact a family lawyer at Shoreline Immigration. We have years of experience with the K-1 visa and would be happy to look over your case.