Applying for a K1 fiance visa can be scary. All of your hopes and dreams are on pause while a consular officer reviews the documents you’ve submitted to determine if you have a “real” relationship. Having your K1 visa denied is a nightmare all K1 couples fear no matter how strong their evidence is.
I know for me personally, the thought of having my K1 visa denied was on my mind the entire time. It seems ridiculous now that I think about it because we had a very strong relationship and a lot of evidence.
But when you are still in the K1 visa process, all you do is worry. The waiting period is so long and you are both separated which makes things so much worse.
So, in this post, we’ll talk about what happens when your K1 visa is denied and what you can do about it.
The image below is directly from the Department of State website:
Matthew met April online 9 months ago. They began their relationship as a long distance couple but knew that eventually they wanted to be together in the United States. On Matthew’s first trip to the Philippines, he proposed to April who quickly said yes.
They gathered all the evidence they had and submitted the I-129F petition soon after. The initial petition was approved but after April attended her interview, she was given form 221(g) and informed that her case was under administrative processing. After 3 months of waiting, they finally heard back that their petition was being refused by the consulate and sent back to USCIS for review.
With the basic information you have in the case above, can you tell why they were denied? Okay, don’t worry because it’s unclear and you wouldn’t know unless you had the refusal letter as well.
The U.S. consulate abroad denies K1 visa applications for many reasons and we will discuss some of them in this post.
Common Reasons A K1 Visa Is Denied or Refused
There are several reasons a K1 visa can be denied by the U.S. consulate. USCIS requires that you meet some basic things before they will grant approval for the K1 visa.
Just knowing this requirement will avoid the majority of problems at the U.S. consulate stage. I’ve outlined the most common reason for visa refusal based on the cases I’ve seen.
It’s not impossible to overcome some of these but it won’t be easy. We’ll discuss what to do if you are refused the K1 visa later in this post.
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1. Not enough evidence of a bona fide relationship.
Proving that you have a bona fide relationship is probably the most important factor in whether your case will be approved. Why? Well, the K1 visa is based on your relationship so if you can’t prove you have a valid relationship, USCIS will assume you don’t qualify.
The term “bona fide relationship” just means that you are in the relationship for genuine reasons such as love.
USCIS will do their best to weed out couples who are trying to commit immigration fraud. Sometimes it’s just one person in the relationship that is lying about their intentions, sometimes it’s both.
The sad thing is that many real couples get caught up in this scrutiny by USCIS and are denied even though they have a real relationship. This is why it’s important to submit as much evidence showing you have a real relationship based on love.
2. Previous K1 visa petitions by other U.S. citizens.
During the K1 visa application process, you may be asked whether you have ever been petitioned for the U.S. before. It’s best to be honest with the consular officer so that you are not accused of fraud and misrepresentation.
USCIS wants to know if you have had multiple petitions for you (as the beneficiary) to see if there is a pattern of seeking out U.S. citizens for a visa or green card.
Remember, even if you have been petitioned before, as long as you had a valid reason for why it didn’t work out it won’t mean automatic denials at the interview stage.
3. U.S. citizens cannot meet the income requirement.
Meeting the income requirement is VERY important to USCIS. It’s one of the main requirements that will get you immediately denied if the U.S. citizen can’t meet it. Of course, you can overcome this by providing a joint sponsor but not all consulate allow a joint sponsor to be used.
Before completing the I-134 affidavit of support, be sure that you know what the income requirement is for the K1 visa. If you can prove that you currently make more than the minimum for your household size, there’s little chance of being denied for this reason.
However, if you don’t meet the income requirement there are a few things you can do:
- Get another job or supplement your income with a side business.
- Use savings and assets to help meet the income requirement.
- Find a joint sponsor that the consulate will allow.
4. The beneficiary has a communicable disease.
If the beneficiary has a communicable disease that will deem them inadmissible it may be a reason for K1 visa denial. This is because USCIS will only allow people into the United States that will not pose a health risk to the general public.
Most communicable diseases can be overcome with treatment but this would mean a delay in visa processing or having to apply again.
For a complete list of communicable diseases, take a look at this post.
5. The beneficiary or Petitioner has a serious criminal record.
Having a minor misdemeanor isn’t a problem but when you are convicted of a serious crime such as murder and child molestation, it’s likely you will be denied.
There isn’t much you can do about a serious criminal conviction but it’s in your best interest to talk with an immigration attorney before applying for K1 visa.
How To Avoid A K1 Visa Denial
Okay, so let’s say that your K1 visa was denied at the consular officer, what should you do next?
Well, the first thing you need to do is find out why your K1 visa was denied. Review the above list of denial reasons to see if you can overcome the reason and apply again.
Provide as much evidence of your relationship as possible.
If your K1 visa case was denied due to a lack of relationship evidence, the simple solution is to gather stronger evidence. What is considered stronger evidence?
- Multiple visits to see each other
- Lots of documented communication
- Time spent with each other’s family
- Long-lasting relationship
Basically, USCIS wants to see that you are both serious about the relationship and to show this you must show strong evidence.
Find a joint sponsor if U.S. citizen doesn’t make enough money.
A joint sponsor is needed when a U.S. citizen is denied the K1 visa because they don’t meet the income requirement. Take a look at the income requirement list below and see if your income meets this amount based on your household size.
You can calculate your household size by adding everyone in your household who relies on your income. This can include minor children, parents that live with you or anyone else that you support.
Get treatment for your communicable disease.
Having a communicable disease doesn’t mean that you will never be able to immigrant to the U.S. It just means that the visa process will be delayed until you can prove that you have successfully completed treatment.
Your doctor must provide evidence of the treatment they gave you so you can bring it to the K1 medical exam. Then the USCIS panel physician will review it and make a decision on whether your treatment is complete.
What To Do If Your K1 Visa Is Denied
If your K1 visa is denied, you’ll have 3 options available. The first is that you appeal the denial and it’s best used if you believe that the consular officer made a mistake on your case. The second is starting over with a new K1 application and the third option is to get married and apply for the CR1 spouse visa.
Let’s go into detail with each of your options…
Appeal the K1 denial.
If you feel that the consular officer made a mistake by denying your K1 visa, you should appeal the decision. Do not appeal if you have no additional evidence showing that you are eligible for the K1 visa but you were mistakenly denied.
Sadly, a lot of people appeal the decision, not know-how and find out months or years later that their appeal was also denied.
Before considering an appeal, you should consult an immigration attorney or do so some research about the process. If you need guidance on what the process entails, consider signing up for premium case support here. I would then be able to help you understand the process and what’s required of you.
After you receive the K1 denial letter, 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 appeal is approved or denied, this fee will not be refunded no matter what.
Start the K1 visa process again.
Okay, so you may not want to start over but it’s definitely an option.
I recommend resubmitting the I-129F petition if you were denied because something was missing that was critical. What I mean by this is that you forgot to include a document or made a mistake on the forms which then caused you to be denied.
The great thing about starting over with the K1 visa process is that you know what to expect since you’ve gone through the process before. However, the previous denial will play a part in the decision the second time around.
Although it doesn’t mean that you will automatically be denied, get ready to answer questions about your first visa application at the interview. Your goal is to convince the consular officer that you are eligible for the K1 visa and that your relationship is bona fide.
If you aren’t sure why you were denied the first time and need help determining how to put together a strong case, sign up for our premium visa support service to get 1-on-1 support.
Get married and apply for a CR1 visa.
Finally, getting married and applying for a CR1 spouse visa is another option if your K1 visa is denied.
This would require another trip by the U.S. citizen petitioner but it would show stronger evidence that your relationship is bona fide. There are a lot of countries that are suspicious of the K1 visa route and believe that it’s more prone to visa fraud.
So, if you are applying from a high fraud country, you may want to consider getting married before submitting the I-130 petition. For more information about the CR1 spouse visa process, review this guide.
Not sure if you should go this route? Read this post to help you decide if you should apply for the CR1 visa after getting married.
Final Thoughts On K1 Visa Denial
The K1 visa process can be very difficult and stressful.
Trust me, I know because I’ve been through it. But, the good news is that if the K1 visa is denied, you do have some options.
Which of the three options you choose will be based on the K1 visa denial reason. That’s why it’s so important that you know exactly why you were denied before trying to find out what to do next.
Remember, if you need help understanding the K1 visa process or how to appeal, request premium case support now to get 1-on-1 support fast.