K-1 Fiance Visa: Is A Face To Face Meeting Within The Last 2 Years Required?
You would think that meeting the love of your in person is something you look forward to, but some people aren’t able to meet before filing the I-129F petition. USCIS does require that you meet your foreign fiance at least once in person within 2 years of filing the I-129F form. There are some exceptions to this rule if you can prove that it is against your religion or that you couldn’t travel due to serious medical condition.
In most cases, you should definitely meet your fiance(e) to get to know them before you make a big life decision such as marriage. You may be surprised to learn that they may not seem exactly the way the portrayed themselves. I personally would not have gotten engaged to my fiance at the time without meeting him. Who knows, he could have been some crazy serial killer, right?
Long distance relationships are very difficult but moving in together can completely change your relationship. If you can, it is best to have multiple face to face visits for long periods of time to really get to know your future spouse.
Do We Have To Meet Face To Face Before Filing The K-1 Application?
You and your fiance(e) must show with real evidence that you have a genuine relationship and not merely a relationship designed to evade immigration law and obtain immigration benefits.
Additionally, you must show that you have met within the two years immediately prior to the filing the K1 visa application.
The two year meeting requirement is almost always strictly enforced and many K-1 visa applications are denied or placed in 221(g) administrative processing because of not meeting the requirement.
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Keep in mind that it will not matter whether you meet after the K-1 application was filed, what the USCIS requires is that the couple met during the two-year period immediately prior to the filing date.
Evidence Of Meeting Within The Last 2 Years Is Required For The I-129F Petition
Additionally, not only do you have to meet during the last two year period, you also have to provide evidence that you have met.
Couples are routinely denied a K-1 visa because of failure to prove that the meeting actually took place. Claims are not enough for the USCIS, it is necessary to prove with documents that a K-1 couple has met during the two-year period before filing.
Good evidence to show you have met:
- flight itinerary
- hotel receipts
- boarding passes
- photos together
There Is A Waiver Available If It Is Impossible To Meet In Person
In some cases, it might be possible to get a waiver for cases where it would be physically impossible for the U.S. citizen to meet the fiance due to severe physical disability due to a medical condition.
U.S. Immigration law states that:
“if it is established that compliance would result in extreme hardship to the petitioner or that compliance would violate strict and long-established customs of the K-1 beneficiary’s foreign culture or social practice, as where marriages are traditionally arranged by the parents of the contracting parties and the prospective bride and groom are prohibited from meeting subsequent to the arrangement and prior to the wedding day.”
Waiver Option 1: Extreme Hardship
Waivers in these situations are rarely granted by the USCIS because so few couples have been able to meet the stringent requirement of extreme hardship.
For instance, being incarcerated or an inability to travel due to parole or a court order does not necessarily reach the level of extreme hardship for the petitioner.
Due to the fact that extreme hardship is generally means something very close to “physically impossible,” it is available only to people who are so disabled that they can’t fly at all. You may also need to show that you fiance(e) attempted to get a visitor visa to come to the U.S. but was denied.
Waiver Option 2: Violation Of Cultural or Religious Custom
Another exception to the 2 year rule is that the meeting would violate a cultural norm or societal custom. This is even more difficult to prove to the USCIS that you cannot meet face to face due to specific cultural or religious reasons.
It will be next to impossible to prove that you or your fiance(e)’s religion or culture does not allow a meeting before the marriage can take place. Even many arranged marriages allow the couple to physically see each other before tying the knot.
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