Question: I am a U.S. citizen. My girlfriend lives in China, and I live in the U.S. As a result of Covid, I have not seen my girlfriend in over two years. She wants to travel to the U.S. so we can get married and start a life together. Can I still apply for a K-1 visa for her?
Answer: One of the benefits of being a U.S. citizen is that you can submit a K-1 visa to allow your foreign fiancé(e) to travel to the U.S. However, to qualify for a K-1 fiancé(e) visa, you and your fiancé(e) must have met in person in the two years prior to filing the K-1 visa application. If Covid-19 has prevented you from meeting your fiancé(e) in the past two years, you may be ineligible to apply for a K-1 visa.
What are the requirements to apply for a K-1 fiancé(e) visa?
To obtain a K-1 Visa, you and your fiancé(e) must be able to satisfy the following qualifications:
- You are a U.S. citizen.
- You both intend to marry one another within 90 days of your fiancé(e) entering the U.S.
- You are both legally able to marry in the United States (you have legally terminated any previous marriages).
- You and your fiancé(e) have met each other in person at least once within the 2-year period before you file your application.
How can I show proof that we have met in person in the last two years?
One of the most important eligibility requirements for the K-1 visa is being able to show proof that you and your fiancé(e) have met in person within the last 2 years before filing the petition. To prove that you have met in person, you should submit:
- Photographs of you and your partner together.
- Hotel receipts indicating the dates of travel.
- Airline tickets.
- Copies of passport stamps showing admission.
Can I still apply if I have not seen my fiancé(e) in over two years?
USCIS strictly enforces the two-year requirement. Some waivers of this requirement are available, however the USCIS will only grant these waivers in extremely limited circumstances. Some circumstances include if traveling results in extreme hardship to the petitioner, or if meeting in person violates strict cultural or social practices. Even though these waivers exist, the approval rates for obtaining them under any circumstances is very rare.
Although Covid-19 is a global pandemic that has prevented many people from seeing each other in a long time, Covid-19 is not a valid reason for waiving the two-year requirement of the K-1 fiancé(e) visa.
If you cannot satisfy the two-year requirement, you might want to consider other options. You may either meet somewhere before applying, or you might want to consider getting married and submitting a spousal petition.
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