Among other legal requirements to successfully petition for your foreign-born fiance or spouse*, meeting in person within the previous 2 years before filing the K-1 or CR-1 petitions is a legal requirement that must be satisfied.
Using Skype and Facetime to communicate with your foreign-born fiance, though great technology, does not rise to the level of “meeting in person”for U.S. immigration purposes.
However, some U.S. citizens have serious, permanent medical issues that may prevent international travel. The need for medical equipment or medical treatment that can only be obtained or properly administered in the U.S. can make travel to some countries impossible.
You may have U.S. citizens who owe past due child support and as a result have had their passports revoked or a passport application denied. In other cases you may have U.S. citizens who are prohibited from leaving the United States because they are on probation or parole. You may have U.S. citizens who simply can’t afford international travel. Finally, there are some U.S. citizens whose religious beliefs prevent the meeting of a marriage mate prior to the actual wedding day.
So as you can see, what appears to be a simple requirement—meeting in person– can be quite difficult to satisfy.
Naturally, the next question is “why doesn’t the foreign-born fiance travel to the United States to satisfy the requirement?” Easier said than done for most. The cost of international travel can be cost prohibitive for some foreign nationals. Or the fiance, too, may have serious, permanent medical issues. Further complicating matters, certain fiances may not be able to immediately satisfy United States immigration standards to receive a visitor’s visa. Even more problematic, the fiance may be permanently banned from traveling to the United States due to past immigration fraud.
So how do you overcome the meeting in person requirement? Short answer. You can’t. Here’s the long answer…
Unless you can demonstrate to the government that you have a serious, permanent medical condition (a well-documented fear of flying is considered) or your religious beliefs will not allow you to meet prior to marriage, travel you must.
Waivers are available for permanent medical conditions and religious beliefs. But keep in mind that the burden is on the U.S. citizen to prove that a medical or religious waiver is warranted. The U.S. citizen must plead his or her case.
Claiming financial hardship alone will probably not get a U.S. citizen a waiver. The government is aware of the expense of international travel and that many people would simply like to avoid the cost.
Travel restrictions like a revoked passport due to unpaid child support or being on probation or parole will probably not get you a waiver. The government views such restrictions as self- imposed consequences due to the U.S. citizen’s negative behavior.
But in spite of the above, a U.S. citizen can submit a waiver application. However, a waiver application will result in lost time. And most likely will be denied. Appeals are allowed, but can take months to decide. Save your money, literally. . .
If you can travel to meet in person with your foreign-born love: Plan. Save. And just do it!
Of note, U.S. citizens do not have to meet in their fiance’s home country to satisfy the requirement. If the country is besieged by war or on the U.S. State Department’s Travel Advisory list, you can meet in a neighboring country.
If you can’t travel due to probation, parole or past due child support or your fiance can’t obtain a visitor’s visa, please contact me and we can discuss legal, real life strategies to overcome this red-flag issue.
*Marriage by proxy is recognized in the United States. However, the marriage must be consummated. In some cases I only referred to a “fiance” in an effort to keep this article brief and manageable.
The Fiance Spouse Visa Lawyer,