K1 Visa Without Meeting In Person Possible?
Ever considered an arranged marriage? Maybe even marrying someone you’ve never met in person? I’m sure you are wondering if you can file for the K1 visa without meeting your online partner in person.
The short answer is that it depends on your circumstances.
There is a reason that USCIS has this requirement to file the K1 visa. It’s to make sure that you both know what you are getting into in a way.
Knowing someone closely online is a little different than actually meeting them in person. You want to be sure that they really are who they say they are. The only way to truly know who you will be getting engaged to is to meet them in person.
So, is it possible to get the K1 visa without meeting in-person? Since USCIS requires that all applicants filing the I-129F submit proof of meeting in the last 2 years, there are few exceptions.
Luckily, in some specific situations, you can bypass this requirement for filing the I-129F petition. We’ll go into more detail on who can skip this requirement and who can’t.
Getting A K1 Visa Without Meeting In-Person
According to USCIS, there are some exceptions to meeting in person before filing the I-129F petition:
“Submit evidence that you and your fiancé(e) met in person during the 2-year period immediately before you filed this petition.“
I remember when we were submitting the I-129F petition for my own case, we submitted a lot of evidence to show that we both made trips back and forth to the U.S. and Canada.
We included boarding passes, itineraries, hotel receipts, photos and a letter detailing the first time we met in person as well as other visits.
Evidence of meeting in person include:
- a written statement from you and/or your fiancé(e) stating the circumstances of your meeting,
- a copy of airline tickets, passport pages, or other evidence.
But, if you qualify for an exception to this rule, you’ll be required to submit evidence to support your claim for exception.
“Julian has met the love of his life from Portugal but he hasn’t met her in person yet. He is 100% sure that he wants to marry her but can’t afford the trip to Europe as he is currently unemployed and living with his parents.
He wants to file the I-129F petition for this new fiancee but knows that they can’t prove they’ve met in person in the last 2 years. Julian will need to look at his circumstances and see if he can provide evidence to claim one of the exceptions to meeting in-person.”
For many couples, there are lots of reasons why they can’t meet in person. Some of these reasons are listed below:
- Extreme hardship
- If you can’t get on a plane or drive across the border to met your fiance in person, you may qualify for the extreme hardship exception. It will be up to you to prove that you meet this strict definition per USCIS.
- Social customs
- Finally, if meeting in-person goes against long-standing, strict social customs for the beneficiary, USCIS will consider this when deciding if you’ve met this claim.
Exception 1: Extreme Hardship For US Citizen Fiance
Okay, so let’s talk about extreme hardship and what exactly does USCIS mean by this? You would think that anything that is extremely out of the norm for most people would count, but it doesn’t.
For USCIS, extreme hardship almost means “physically impossible”.
So, let’s take a look at an example below that will help you understand what I mean by physically impossible.
“George is completely disabled and rarely leaves his home other than for doctors appointment. He is suffering for a neurological and muscular disease that has gotten worse over the last few years. He met his girlfriend, Juliette, online and they have fallen in love with each other.
George proposed to Juliette one night on the phone and she accepted. But, before they can file the I-129F petition for her, they must show that they qualify for the exception to meeting in person.”
In the case above, George would need to provide evidence showing that his physical disability is so extreme that it makes it impossible for him to travel. Then he will need to prove that his fiance can’t get a visa to visit him to help meet the requirement.
Exception 2: Violation Of Strict, Long-Standing Customs
Now, if you don’t meet the extreme hardship requirement, then there’s one more. It’s a waiver for violation of strict, long-standing social or cultural customs.
Sounds a bit confusing, right?
Basically this exception means that meeting your new fiance in person is not a cultural norm in the country of the beneficiary.
An example of this would be an arranged marriage. If you and your fiance(e) were arranged to be married without actually meeting in person, you would need to provide evidence of this.
It’s not as easy as this sounds. You must show proof that the culture of your foreign fiance absolutely forbids meeting in person before the actual wedding. This can be very difficult for most couples which is why I don’t see this exception being handed out so easily.
“Belle is engaged to Ruben who lives in India. Their engagement was arranged by his extended family and they have never met in person.
They talk on the phone and have gotten to know each other very well but Ruben’s social custom doesn’t allow him to see his fiancee until their wedding day.”
For Ruben and Belle to get the waiver for meeting in person, they’ll need to show proof that meeting in-person would violate long-standing customs in India.
If they can’t provide enough sufficient evidence, their waiver for meeting in-person will likely be denied and they will need to meet before submitting the I-129F petition.
Final Thoughts On K1 Visa Without Meeting
Alright, so now that we’ve discussed the two major exceptions to K1 visa without meeting, do you qualify? If you can meet either the extreme hardship or the violation of customs you can skip the trip and immediately file the petition.
The problem is that USCIS makes it so difficult to meet the requirement for the waiver, that most people just decide to meet in person before submitting the I-129F petition.
I totally get that meeting someone across the world can be expensive and time consuming but wouldn’t it be nice to hold your love in your arms?
In my own case, we visited each other several times before filing the petition because I wanted to get to know him in person. People are be really different from their online personalities.
Luckily for me, my fiance at the time was exactly who he said he was. I knew after meeting him at the airport that we were meant for each other.
If you truly can’t meet in person, work on submitting as much evidence of the exception you want to apply for. You may just get approved for the K1 visa without meeting.