A U.S. citizen must file a K-1 visa petition for a foreign national fiance(e) if the couple plans to marry and remain in the United States. In fact, the K-1 visa only allows the foreign national fiance(e) to do just that: enter the United States and marry. Once in the United States, the foreign national cannot change his or her mind and simply remain in the United States by changing to another visa category.
To obtain the K1 visa, a couple must demonstrate that they truly mean to be married in the United States once the foreign national enters the country. Additionally, the K-1 couple must demonstrate that they have meet within the two years immediately prior to the filing of the K1 visa application. Let me say that again, a couple must demonstrate that they have meet within the two years immediately prior to the filing of the K-1 application.
This requirement is strictly enforced and many k1 applications have faltered because of the requirement. K-1 visa lawyer Chris Gafner recently reviewed a case where a couple was denied a visa because they had last met a mere eight days before the two year mark (He was not counsel to that unfortunate couple). Other couples have failed because they had not meet during the two year time period, but had met right after the k1 visa application was filed. Once a couple files a k1 application, it does not matter whether or not they meet afterwards – what is important to the USCIS is that the couple has met during the two year period immediately before the filing date. Other couples have failed because they had known each other for decades and didn’t think it was necessary for them to meet during the two year period. (This firm was not counsel to any of these couples).
A couple must not only meet during the two year period, they must be able to demonstrate to the USCIS that they have met during that time. K-1 visa lawyers know of many couples who have failed to obtain a k-1 visa because they failed to prove that they had met during the two year period. Often, these individuals actually claim to have lived with each other for part of the two year period. Unfortunately, claims are not enough for the USCIS, it is necessary to demonstrate that a K1 couple has met during the two year period.
The two year meeting requirement is rigidly enforced and a k-1 couple should not take lightly the need for proving that they have met during the required time. The only way to bypass the meeting requirement is to receive a meeting requirement waiver – a difficult task – and a topic for another post.