The INA requires K1 fiance visa applicants meet in person at least once to approve the fiance visa. May be waived if meeting would violate cultural norms, customs or some religious tenet. Extreme hardship waiver is available to the US petitioner. Approval of the waiver will depend on whether the extreme hardship factors are established. Meeting 1 time fulfill this requirement however whether it creates a bona fide relationship will depend on if there are red flag issues involved.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires K1 fiance visa applicants to have physically met the US citizen petitioner in person before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will grant the I-129F. This is simply one factor used to prove the bona fide or sincerity of the relationship between the fiancee visa applicant and the US citizen petitioner.
This in person meeting mandate flies in the face of modern time and high technology where couples meet on dating websites, online chats, and social network sites. With the advent of online dating, couples utilize video chat and instant chat, and Skype calls wherein it’s genuinely plausible that couples fall in love and have a bona fide relationship. Saying that though, virtual meetings do not meet the US law that mandates that the couple are in physical presence of each other at least 1 time.
US law does allow for extenuating circumstances where an in person meeting may be waived. This waiver is permitted when it is established that a meeting would be an extreme hardship for the US citizen petitioner, or it is not permitted due to cultural or religious traditions. As long as the religious belief is recognized, or the cultural tradition is sincere, then USCIS will waive the meeting requirement.
For the extreme hardship method, this is a waiver that the US petitioner submit indicating that visa denial based on meeting the fiancee in person mandate would place extreme hardship to the US citizen petitioner. Extreme hardship to the petitioner exists where the petitioner may have an extenuating medical disability or circumstances that warrants a waiver of the meeting in person requirement.
Oftentimes, couples have met and can fulfill the 1 in person meeting requirement, but whether it is sufficient to create a genuine and caring relationship with the visa applicant will depend on the couple’s unique sets of facts. For instance, the consular officers may scrutinize extensively whether a couple who spent 1 day together would be able to establish a bona fide relationship as oppose to 1 month. The 1 day visit may also contradict the traditional notion of a relationship where there’s sincerity and genuine care and affection if the couple commenced their relationship 1-2 months prior to filing the Fiance Visa Application. Nonetheless, a 1 month long visit may also be scrutinized if there are other red flag issues such as a wide age gap or multiple filings for the same applicant.
The US consular officers can glean from the meeting(s) and the evidence submitted whether it rise to the level of of creating a sincere and bona fide relationship.