Top 5 Reasons for K-1 Visa Denials

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the top five reasons K-1 visas are denied and what you can do to avoid these common pitfalls.

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Imagine this, you have just finished your K-1 visa interview and the Consular officer hands you a letter stating your K-1 visa has been refused. You leave the interview asking yourself, what do I do now?

The good news is you’re not alone. In the majority of cases, applicants may cure any defects in their applications and continue with visa processing. However, it is important to know the application process ahead of time to avoid finding yourself in this situation.

Top Reasons for K-1 Visa Denial  

#1: Not having enough evidence of bona fide relationship

The most common reason for K-1 visa denial is where the couple does not provide enough evidence of a bona fide relationship.

A bona fide relationship is one that was entered in good faith and not with an intention to deceive. A fiancé visa applicant does not have a bona fide marriage if he or she entered the marriage solely to receive an immigration benefit from USCIS. Immigration officers are trained to identify fraudulent or “sham” marriages where either party or both parties have entered the marriage simply for the green card applicant to obtain his or her permanent residence in the United States, without any sincere intention to live together in the same household or form a marital bond.  Immigration officers search for inconsistencies in any answers provided by either party to the marriage, and carefully scrutinize supporting documentation provided by the couple with the initial I-129F filing.

What types of documents prove a bona fide relationship?

There are various forms of documentation that are strong evidence proving the bona fides of a relationship. Generally speaking, evidence of cohabitation, joint ownership of assets and joint responsibility for liabilities, and children are strong evidence proving that a marriage is genuine. In most circumstances the couple does not yet live together and owns few assets together. In lieu of this documentation, applicants can provide photographs taken throughout the relationship, especially with friends and family members, proof of constant communication (emails, text messages, phone records), copies of boarding passes of trips taken together, etc.

The type of documentation you may provide will vary depending on your situation, however the more evidence you can provide, the better for your case.

The important point is to make sure you have provided strong evidence of the bona fides of your relationship either with the filing of your I-129F petition, or at the time of the interview.

#2: The K-1 visa applicant was previously petitioned by another U.S. Citizen for a K-1 Visa

Another common reason for K-1 visa denial is where the K-1 visa applicant/beneficiary has been petitioned in the past by another individual either for a K-1 visa or any other type of visa. USCIS and/or the Consular official will carefully dissect the applicant’s background to determine whether the applicant’s true intention is to reunite with his or her fiancé in the United States for the purpose of marriage, or whether the applicant’s true intention is simply to immigrate to the United States.

In order to avoid any problems at the time of the interview, when asked K-1 visa applicants should be honest and explain that the prior relationship simply did not work. Otherwise, the applicant may seem suspicious in the eyes of the Consular officer.

#3: The U.S. Citizen petitioner cannot meet the income requirement to sponsor the fiancé

In addition, K-1 visa applicants are denied where the U.S. Citizen petitioning spouse fails to meet the income requirement to sponsor the foreign fiancé in the United States.

As part of the fiancé visa application process, the U.S. Citizen spouse must sign the I-134 Affidavit of Support, which is a legally enforceable contract between the U.S. Citizen and the government wherein the U.S. Citizen must sign under penalty of perjury that they have the adequate means to financially support the fiancé and the fiancé will not rely on the U.S. government for financial support.

What is the income requirement?

The minimum amount that the U.S. Citizen must make depends on his or her household size. In general, petitioners must make at least 125% of the federal poverty guidelines. However, exceptions exist for petitioners who are on active duty in the U.S. armed forces. Petitioners who do not satisfy the income requirement must apply with a joint sponsor, who must also sign a separate I-134 Affidavit of Support and provide evidence of financial ability. If the petitioner and joint sponsor do not qualify, the fiancé visa application will be denied.

To prevent this situation from happening petitioners must make sure well in advance of filing the I-129F application, that they either meet the income requirement, or that they can obtain a joint sponsor who is willing and able to sign the affidavit of support and provide the necessary documentation.

Please note: Certain consular posts dislike the use of joint sponsor applications. It is very important to consult with an experienced attorney to avoid any issues at the time of the interview.

#4: The K-1 visa beneficiary has a communicable disease

In certain situations, K-1 visa applications may be denied where the beneficiary has a communicable disease that is considered infectious and may be easily spread in the United States.

As part of the fiancé visa application process, applicants must complete a medical examination and prove that they are free of any communicable diseases of public health significance. Applicants who have certain communicable diseases are deemed inadmissible to the United States, until they have received the required treatment.

These diseases include but are not limited to:

  • Gonorrhea;
  • Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy), infectious;
  • Syphilis, infectious stage; and
  • Tuberculosis (TB), Active—Only a Class A TB diagnosis renders an applicant inadmissible to the United States. Under current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)guidelines, Class A TB means TB that is clinically active and communicable.

#5: The K-1 visa beneficiary has a criminal record

Lastly, K-1 visa beneficiaries are also commonly denied where the K-1 visa beneficiary has a criminal record involving serious crimes including sex offenses, child molestation, and other crimes of moral turpitude. Such crimes can make the K-1 visa beneficiary inadmissible to the United States.

Additionally, K-1 visa beneficiaries with multiple misdemeanor offenses such as multiple DUIs or thefts, can in combination result in a K-1 visa denial.

It is important for our readers to know that in most circumstances K-1 visa denials can be overcome. The first step in determining what to do when you have received a K-1 visa denial is to fully understand the reasons behind the denial. If you have applied for your visa on your own, it may be wise to seek the advice of an experienced attorney who can carefully go through the denial with you and discuss your options. In some cases, only the submission of additional evidence is needed, while in others it might be in the applicant’s best interest to refile the application altogether. Whatever the case may be, when in doubt always get a second opinion.

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