The 90 Day Fiancé
If you’re anything like me, you’ve seen “90 Day Fiancé”, a reality show depicting the relationships between U.S. Citizens and their fiancés abroad. Its clever name derives from the 90 day time slot petitioning U.S. citizens must marry their foreign fiancé after they enter the U.S. The show follows couples during those 90 days.
Strangely enough, the show is quite realistic. It illustrates the anxiety each petitioner experiences waiting for their fiance’s visa approval; the criticism from family members who believe the foreign spouse is using them for a “green card”; and the foreign fiance’s struggle with a new country and culture. Some stories end up better than others, but not one of them without their share of conflict.
At any rate, the show is entertaining. Although, it doesn’t go too much into the visa process and how long it can take. The K-1 Visa (fiancé) process can be a complicated one. The wrong step along the way can prolong the process, or worse, lead to a complete denial of your application.
The requirements include:
- The petitioner is a U.S. citizen. NOT a Lawful Permanent Resident;
- You intend to marry within 90 days of your fiancé(e) entering the United States;
- The petitioner and his/her fiancé(e) are both free to marry and any previous marriages must have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment; and
- You met each other, in person, at least once within 2 years of filing your petition (with possible exceptions).
In addition, there are still some other things you should keep in mind. We’ve seen and heard many stories of K-1 visas gone wrong. Beware of these pitfalls:
First, your fiancé may not be able to benefit from a K-1 visa if they are inadmissible. Being inadmissible means that you are not permitted by law to enter or remain in the United States. Health issues, a criminal background, prior removal from the U.S., or unlawful presence in the U.S. are some examples of what could make your fiancé inadmissible. A person may obtain a waiver for some grounds of inadmissiblity. Not sure if this is the case? Please seek the advice of a knowledgeable, licensed attorney if you believe your fiancé may be subject to one or more grounds of inadmissibility. Knowing in advance whether your fiancé will need a waiver will save you time because your attorney can submit the waiver at the same time as submitting the K-1 visa.
Second, you want to stay away from being dishonest on your application. Like marriage petitions, USCIS looks upon fiancé petitions with very high scrutiny. Keep in mind, USCIS automatically suspects fraud in these types of cases unless you prove otherwise. Therefore, you should always submit a great deal of evidence presenting your loving relationship with you fiancé. You should include items like: photos of you two together, phone bills indicating how often you speak, receipts from money sent, plane tickets for travel, a statement of how you met, etc.
Furthermore, some red flags that make USCIS suspect fraud include: age difference, language barriers, petition being filed soon after you met, history of U.S. petitioner sponsoring other fiancés or spouses, etc. Please seek the advice of a knowledgeable, licensed attorney for potential red flags in your case.
The International Marriage Brokerage Regulation Act
Finally, don’t be a serial visa applicant! If you have filed two or more K-1 petitions in the past or gotten one approved within two years of applying for another, you must seek a waiver.
The International Marriage Brokerage Regulation Act (IMBRA) is a law that was enacted to reduce domestic violence against visa recipients by their U.S. citizen spouses. This law limits the amount of petitions a K-1 petitioner may file or have approved without seeking a waiver. Additionally, IMBRA requires petitioners to submit information about any of his/her criminal convictions relating to a specific list of crimes (i.e. domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, and murder, among other things).
- Lawful Permanent Resident: Someone who has a Green Card
- USCIS: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
- Petitioner: A person who files an immigration petition or application.