The K-1 Visa for Fiancés: Three Strikes Equals a Home Run

By David North on September 23, 2020

There is only one U.S. visa that is totally extraneous (in that the alien can get the desired benefit in other ways).

There is only one in which the couple involved must, by definition, have three strikes against them.

Meet the K-1 visa for alien fiancés, which frequently produces immigration-related marriage fraud, as we have reported earlier.

If an alien and a citizen want to get married, and if the alien does not already have the right to live here on a permanent basis, they can do so without securing the K-1 visa. They simply have to get married and then the alien spouse becomes an immediate relative of a citizen, and the immigration law allows the alien to come to the United States legally, without the need for that visa.

Here are the three strikes needed to obtain a K-1 visa:

  1. The alien must not be in the United States;
  2. The alien cannot or will not obtain a non-marital visa to come to the United States; and
  3. The citizen will not fly to the alien's homeland, or to a third country, to marry the alien.

Under those triple negative circumstances, a citizen who wants to marry an overseas alien can apply for a K-1 visa; in fact, all applying, by definition, must meet those three criteria, which would not seem to create a setting that would encourage sound marriages.

I was reminded of all this the other day when I read about a case in which 150 people involved in K-1 visa applications filed a lawsuit against the U.S. State Department for failing to conduct visa interviews with the alien applicants, on the grounds that their travel to the United States was not "in the national interest" because of the Covid-19 problem. The article, by Law360, is partially covered by a paywall. It is in the federal courts in the District of Columbia, and though it is entered on the PACER system, no documents are (yet) available. The case number is 1:20-cv-02631.

I worry that the suit will succeed — after all, as my colleague Art Arthur has pointed out, another federal agency, DHS, has ruled that a trip across the southern border to buy some groceries is regarded as "essential travel".

The case, however, if won by the plaintiffs, has a long-term potential for utility to those of us who worry about immigration-related marriage fraud. The system would then have a list of 75 couples interested in obtaining the K-1 visas. In years to come someone, preferably the Department of Homeland Security on its own motion, or in reply to an FOIA request, will be able to count the number of failed marriages among the 75 by checking the list of self-petitioning green card applications for "abused spouses".

How many of these relatively elite, K-1-created marriages will collapse? I do not know; I regard them as a relatively elite group because the couples had enough wits and money to hire an immigration lawyer.