The United States Fiancee visa (known in immigration circles as the K1) is a favored immigration method for many unmarried couples wishing to be together in the USA. In order to better understand the K1 process it is first necessary to understand some of its requirements.
At the same time, acquiring a US fiance visa is possible, but US immigration law imposes certain requirement before one may do so. Many stipulations can be circumvented, but others must be adhered to.
An inflexible regulation governing K1 visa law is the provision that both the K1 visa petitioner and beneficiary must have been in each other's physical presence before the USCIS, the descendant of the INS, will grant a fiance visa.
When they enacted the legislation promulgating the K-1 visa, the legislators made it very clear that the visa petitioner and beneficiary ought to have met at least once before a fiancee visa should be issued. Inherent in a K-1 visa application there is a requirement that the relationship between the parties must be genuine. One factor that tends to prove the bona fide nature of a relationship is the fact that both parties have met in person. Even in the computer age where a very genuine and caring relationship can arise between two people utilizing online chat, email, and two way video; US Immigration law still mandates that those in a bona fide relationship meet 1 time if a K1 application is to be granted approval. In extenuating circumstances a K-1 visa application might be approved by USCIS where the couple has never been together, but that scenario would be very out of the ordinary. Even still, the Immigration Service very rarely approves a K-1 application if the couple has never met each other in person. There are certain cultures and religious groups that will not allow an affianced couple to meet prior to the day of their marriage. As a result, USCIS has carved out a sort of niche exception to the K1 meeting requirement where the fiances' religious practices forbid meeting.
Further, there is an extreme hardship waiver that can be obtained that waives the meeting requirement for a K-1 visa. If one wishes to have the meeting requirement waived they must prove that a failure to grant a waiver would result in an extreme hardship by forcing the US Citizen to travel in order to meet his or her fiancee. In many cases, an example of this type of hardship exists where the US Citizen has some sort of debilitating illness.
This showing of extreme hardship is akin to an I-601 waiver of inadmissibility which requires a showing of extreme hardship in order for a finding of a legal ground of inadmissibility to be waived.
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