Every American desiring to bring a foreign national girlfriend or boyfriend to the U.S to marry must file a K1 visa petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and fulfill the following requirements. They must be legally able and willing to enter into the marriage in the U.S. and to enter into the marriage within 90 days.
The couple should also have met within the two years immediately prior to the filing of the K1 visa petition. A common question in the K1 visa petition process is whether there are any exceptions to the two year meeting requirement.
Two Year Meeting Requirement Waiver and Exception
More importantly, the couple must show with substantial and convincing evidence that they have a true and honest relationship and not merely a relationship designed to evade immigration law and obtain immigration benefits. Additionally, the K1 couple must demonstrate that they have meet within the two years immediately prior to the filing of the K1 visa application.
The two year meeting requirement is rigidly enforced and many K1 visa applications are denied or placed in 221(g) administrative processing because of the requirement. Keep in mind that it does not matter whether you meet after the K1 application was filed, what matters to the USCIS is that the couple met during the two year period immediately before the filing date. Other couples have failed because they had known each other for years and didn’t think it was necessary for them to meet during the two year period.
Additionally, not only does a couple have to meet during the two year period, they have to provide evidence that they have met. A couple cannot merely claim that they have met, they must show that they have traveled together, celebrated a birthday or holiday, and have documentary evidence of such a meeting. Couples are routinely denied a K1 visa because they fail to demonstrate that the meeting actually took place. Claims are not enough for the USCIS, it is necessary to demonstrate with documents and proof that a K1 couple has met during the two year period.
The meeting requirement is strictly enforced and a couple applying for the K1 visa should not take for granted the need for physical proof that they have met during the required time. Unfortunately, receiving a waiver or bypass on the requirement is a difficult task because exceptions are rarely made. For cases where it might be possible tend to be for cases where it would be physically impossible for the U.S. citizen to meet the fiance due to severe physical disability due to their medical condition.
U.S. Immigration law states that “if it is established that compliance would result in extreme hardship to the petitioner or that compliance would violate strict and long-established customs of the K-1 beneficiary’s foreign culture or social practice, as where marriages are traditionally arranged by the parents of the contracting parties and the prospective bride and groom are prohibited from meeting subsequent to the arrangement and prior to the wedding day.” INA § 214.2(k)(2). Waivers such as these are rarely granted by the USCIS because so few couples have been able to meet the stringent requirement of extreme hardship. For instance, being incarcerated or an inability to travel due to parole or a court order does not necessarily reaches the level of extreme hardship for the petitioner. Nonetheless, each case is evaluated on a case by case basis.
Due to the fact that extreme hardship is generally interpreted by the USCIS to mean something very close to “physically impossible,” it is generally available only to people who are so disabled that they can’t fly at all. As for the latter waiver, very few people qualify for this exception and those that do often have a difficult time proving it to the government’s satisfaction that meeting would violate a cultural norm or societal custom. In light of the advent of online technology, social media and dating websites, meeting the two year meeting requirement may be more and more difficult to fulfill.