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Top Five Challenges to Gaining a K-1 Visa

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on January 15, 2016

The total number of K-1 visa applications in 2015 was just under 44,000. 31,000 of these were approved. So, a majority of K-1 visas are granted, but a significant amount are denied. Fortunately, nearly 7,000 were approved on appeal. What are the reasons that these are denied, and how can an applicant increase the chances of having the visa approved?

Approvals on the Decline

In 2013 and 2014, about 88% of all K-1 fiance visa applications were approved, including waivers and appeals.  However, in 2015, this number dropped to 86%.  While the State Department does not break down the refusals by category, there are a few main reasons why these applicants are refused.

  1. Missing proof of daily contact. Most engaged couples speak, phone, text, or have some other form of contact on a daily basis.  If the immigration official does not see the proof of this in the form of phone records, chat transcripts or dated photographs, the relationship could appear to be fake.
  2. Low income levels. If living in the lower 48 states, the sponsor must show that he or she can provide for their fiance. For a household of 2 in 2015, this was a minimum of $19,912 in provable income. This is equal to 125% of the U.S. poverty level.
  3. Big age differences. It’s not uncommon for a couple to have an age difference of ten or twenty years, but the average for the U.S. is two to three years. If the age gap is significantly more than this, it is a good idea to add in extra proof that the relationship is authentic.
  4. Previous sponsor applications. If a sponsor has applied for a K-1 visa before, they should wait two years before they apply for another one. A waiver should be filed otherwise.
  5. No shared language. If the couple don’t both speak at least one of the same languages, this can be grounds for refusal.

If a consular official doubts that the relationship is genuine, an investigation can be launched. This can result in a delay of six months or longer. When a couple wants to be together and begin their life as a married couple in the United States, this could seem like an eternity. Couples should consult an immigration lawyer who specializes in the fiance visa to make sure there are no roadblocks to being together.