A K-1 visa allows a United States citizen to bring their foreign fiancé to join them in the United States. However, the K-1 visa application process is complex as evident in the number of visa denials.
Department of State refusal statistics for the K-1 visa reveal that there are about 40,000 denials each fiscal year. This is a 40% visa rejection rate of the total number of K-1 visa applications. While many visa denials eventually overcome the initial denial, others do not.
What is the Difference between Visa Denial and Visa Rejection?
Visa denial and visa rejection seem synonymous but they carry different meanings in immigration law.
The K-1 fiance visa is typically processed in two stages:
- The first stage
- The second stage
In stage one, your visa application will undergo checks to ensure that all your information and supporting evidence are present and the filing fees are correct. Should your petition fail at this stage, it is “rejected.”
If it meets the basic requirements in stage one, it proceeds to stage two. Under stage two, an evaluating officer will determine your K-1 visa eligibility. This is done by assessing the information presented in your petition and visa interview to determine if you are a bona fide couple. Petitions that fail in the second stage are “denied.”
What are the Common Reasons for K-1 Fiancee Visa Denial?
Luckily, most K-1 visa denials can be averted with competent preparation.
It’s easier to offset 221(g) Immigration and Nationality Act visa denials on the US Citizen petitioner finances but harder when the relationship is not legitimate.
Here are some common reasons for K-1 visa denial!
Insufficient Evidence to Indicate a Genuine Relationship
Due to increased cases of fraud in K-1 visa applications, immigration services treat it with extra scrutiny. It becomes harder to get this visa category the moment a consular officer reads foul in your K-1 visa application.
Consular officers seek out a clear bottom line in your visa interview. Factors that could vitiate a genuine relationship include:
- A significant age difference between you and your fiancee
- Failure to give sufficient evidence of a bona fide relationship
- No common language
- Visa interview failures and contradictory statements
- Professing different religions
- A short courtship period before the K-1 visa application
- Publicly available information or social media reflects discrepancies
- No common religious, ethnic, cultural or educational background
- Suspicion that the US citizen received favors to bring fiance to the US under K-1. If the application is based on an immigration benefit and not a bona fide relationship, it’s likely to be denied
- No communication between the applicants after the K-1 petition
- Lack of visitation after submitting the petition. The consular officer might interpret this as a lack of commitment in the relationship
NOTE: These conditions do not necessarily mean an automatic K-1 visa application denial. But they are some of the issues that will require more evidence and diligence to prove.
No Proof of In Person Meetings
Not meeting your fiancee in person at least once in the preceding two years before the K-1 petition is a ground for denial.
You can provide evidence of these meetings using:
- Hotel reservations
- Flight tickets
Your proof must conform to K-1 visa application guidelines.
In cases where it is difficult or impossible to meet in person, you can seek a waiver of this requirement. USCIS may grant this waiver if:
- Your meeting violates either party’s strict cultural beliefs
- Your meeting puts the US citizen in extreme hardship
Failure to Satisfy K-1 Visa Sponsor Income Requirements
The K-1 sponsoring US citizen must provide evidence that they have the financial ability to cater for their foreign fiancé. To meet the income requirement, the sponsoring US citizen must swear an affidavit form confirming their ability to financially support their fiancee.
The affidavit form must demonstrate your ability to meet your needs, those of your fiance and any other family members of your household. You must at the very least meet the minimum requirement, which is 100% of the HHS poverty guidelines.
Income requirement amounts vary according to the number of people living in your home and where you live. To put it another way, the more expensive a state’s cost of living is, the higher the HHS income requirement.
Failing to Demonstrate Readiness to Marry in 90 days
USCIS requires that you marry your fiancee 90 days after they are admitted to the US under a K-1 visa. You must demonstrate readiness to marry through a signed statement indicating the intention to marry within the 90-day period.
Having supporting evidence to show intention to marry will bolster the chances of a successful petition. You can present evidence of:
- Wedding invitations
- Related receipts for a venue
- Any other documents to support your petition
However, you can request a waiver of the 90-day requirement. In this case, a qualified immigration attorney can help you find a legitimate reason as a justification for the delay.
You are Not Legally Eligible to Marry
You may have your visa denied if either of you does not meet the requirements to be legally married in the US.
This is common when one or both of you is still in another marriage. If you were in a previous marriage, ensure that you end it before the K-1 visa application.
Supporting documents that show legal termination of previous relationships include:
- Documents showing divorce
- Documents of annulment
- Death certificates or documents proving the death of previous spouses
Filing K-1 Petition after a Recent Divorce
Filing petitions immediately after divorce could raise suspicions with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Parties in such a bind must provide strong evidence to prove that their relationship is genuine.
Being in a Secretive Relationship
Immigration officers see red flags when your family and friends know little of your relationship. Genuine relationships leading to marriage typically involve family, friends, and colleagues. You may run into issues if the people closest to you don’t know about your relationship.
Making Contradictory Statements During K-1 Visa Interview
Many applicants fail immigration questions concerning their past and their fiancee’s personal information. Any contradictory information about your partner could spell denial for your K-1 visa classification.
During the visa interview, speak coherently and confidently to dispell any feelings that you are a dishonest applicant.
Noncompliance with the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA)
IMBRA came into force in 2005 to regulate K-1 visa fraud. This Act requires a petitioner to disclose their criminal record when applying for K-1 classification.
You will be required to disclose any cases of:
- Domestic violence or abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Substance abuse
Having a criminal record could lead to visa rejections.
Some of this information might be given to your fiance so they decide if they’ll marry you.
Previous K-1 Applications
Consular officers also look at the applicant’s previous visa applications. They will review previous K-1 applications to ensure you didn’t make any misrepresentations.
This is especially common when your fiancee has received a K-1 classification before. If the consular officer finds any information pointing to a misrepresentation, they’ll rule it a fraud under Section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) of the INA.
Other Reasons for K-1 Denial
Your K-1 application could fail when:
- There are errors in your K-1 application. Failing to adhere to the application’s legal requirements results in an automatic rejection
- You fail to adhere to K-1 visa timeframes and deadlines
- You have a criminal record
- You misrepresent information in your K-1 application
What are the Remedies for K-1 Visa Denial?
As you can see, you can have your visa rejected for a couple of reasons. Not even the sincerest of intentions guarantee your future spouse K-1 visa classification. In fact, poor planning and administrative errors could mean denial or longer waiting periods after application.
The good news is that you can avoid unfavorable consular decisions. Here’s how
Prepare Adequate Evidence
K-1 application success is never far away when you are well prepared. The more time you spend with your partner; the more you know about them and communicate. This gathers up more evidence indicating a genuine relationship and increasing chances of K-1 visa success.
Most applicants find the visa interview nerve-wrecking. The consular officer will dig into your past to determine whether you are bona fides. To prepare adequately, the fiancee should engage in mock interviews and review all documents accompanying the petition.
Show Strong Commitment to Each Other
Some unique circumstances might prevent the US citizen from visiting their fiance after submitting the petition. But the K-1 sponsor who is able to attend interviews and visit their fiancee depicts strong commitment. Besides, being physicaly present shows support to the fiancee who will answer the consul’s questions more comfortably.
Dealing with INA Guidelines
Incase the consular officer requests additional evidence to certify the relationship, the US sponsor must proactively address their concerns.
Whether the request is a formality or a a question of relationship status, it could tip your chances of K-1 success. Even if a request for additional information is not made, the petitioner can still submit more evidence to dispel potential concerns.
Denial on Grounds of Inadmissibility
If the consular officer finds your fiancee is inadmissible for K-1 classification for any reason, consider retaining an immigration lawyer. Your immigration attorney will assess whether the consular officer made a legitimate decision.
Remember that any misrepresentation in the past must have been material and willful.
Such decisions may be challenged with chances of success.
You can file one of the following motions for K-1 visa reconsideration:
- Motion to reopen. This is applicable when new evidence or documentation that could merit the application surfaces.
- Motion to reconsider. This is applicable when you want to challenge the legitimacy of your evaluating officer’s decision. For this, you’ll need an immigration attorney to challenge the decision through legal argument.
Legal motions require finesse. Only take one of these routes after you seek legal services from a law firm that respects attorney client relationship.
Going Through A K-1 Visa Denial? We Can Help
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