By Nikita Hernandez, Paralegal at Sumner Immigration Law
Way to Mess Up #1: Get married before or during the process
The K-1 petition and visa process is for a fiancee. Once you get married, you need to file a completely different petition with different documentation, filing fees, etc. Even a cultural marriage ceremony in your fiancee’s home country or simple wedding reception can be seen as a marriage and can cause major problems for your filing. By filing the I-129F, you and your fiancee are claiming you are both legally free to marry and intend to marry each other. You are also claiming that you are not yet married, so make sure that’s true!
Way to Mess Up #2 Skip reading the instructions!
Even if the form’s information seems self-explanatory and easy to follow, you should very carefully and thoroughly read the instructions. The smallest mistake on the form, forgetting to check a certain box, or filing at the wrong address, with the wrong filing fee amount, without the filing fee, etc. can be detrimental to your case and cause it to be rejected and returned to you, or can cause the petition to be delayed or even denied. There are so many small details but each one is critical!
Way to Mess Up #3 File without documentation, or without sufficient documentation
This goes back to #2 and carefully reading the instructions beforehand to fully understand what it required when you file. If you file only the form and nothing else, USCIS will likely deny the petition. Likewise if you file without sufficient documentation, USCIS and/or Department of State will request additional documentation, which will delay the case processing.
Way to Mess Up #4 Lie or withhold information
Truth is always the best policy when it comes to immigration matters. You should not give false information or conceal information on an immigration form. If you knowingly or willfully give false information/documentation, it will likely be denied and you may be denied other immigration benefits. In addition, you will face severe penalties and may be subject to criminal and/or civil prosecution. Likewise, and we hope this goes without saying, but do not file this or any other immigration petition for someone you do not intend to marry or are not in a real relationship with. Immigration fraud or marrying someone solely for the purpose of a green card is a serious matter that can result in disastrous consequences. The K-1 petition requires initial evidence of a bonafide relationship between you and your fiance to prove you both are engaged to each other and have a valid relationship. Failure to properly document your relationship with USCIS can result in denial of the petition as that is a crucial element. Typical evidence can include plane tickets from visits to one another, photographs, gifts given to one another, etc. Consular officers are very attuned to what a bonafide relationship looks like. Likewise, immigration fraud or misrepresentation can result in severe civil and criminal penalties.
Way to Mess Up #5 Assume that it’s just a form
Immigration law is highly complex and we are seeing significant policy changes almost every week. Filing any sort of immigration petition can impact multiple areas of your life you may not have considered. You will be subject to scrutiny from multiple government agencies regarding any criminal history, financial situation, past relationships, previous immigration filings, etc. The entire process can seem daunting and confusing, and a misstep can have serious long-term consequences. While some petitioners successfully file on their own, there are many nuances only an attorney can properly analyze. Having an experienced and compassionate attorney on your team to guide you through the maze can make an otherwise intimidating process more understandable, and less stressful.
This article is for educational purposes only and does not constitute as legal advice on any particular case. These are challenging times for those trying to navigate US immigration law. If you need assistance with a family-based or employment-based immigration matter, please contact our office today to see how we may be able to assist you. Emily Sumner is an immigration lawyer in Richmond, VA but we serve clients throughout the US and around the world. Please call us at 804-396-3412 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!