Cable network station TLC seems to have found a winning formula with their reality TV show “90 Day Fiancé” – a show that enters its sixth season in 2019, in addition to spawning spin-offs, special event episodes, and a web series. The series follows couples in real life as they pursue a K-1 Visa, allowing a foreign-born fiancé to come to the United States for 90 days before they get married to a U.S. citizen.
The resulting programs present a stone soup of love stories and melodrama, best served with a healthy side of disbelief — this is all about entertainment, after all. While some couples appear to just be in it for their 15 minutes of fame, some earnestly go through a process that will result in future together in the United States.
And believe it our not, there are some important lessons that can be learned about the K-1 Visa by watching the show.
You Should Only Apply for a K-1 Visa if you Have a Real Relationship with Your Fiancé
In today’s digital age, there are numerous ways to meet the love of your life – regardless of where they were born. Our immigration attorneys have worked with people who met in study abroad programs, people who met while travelling, and people who met on international dating sites, just to name a few. Regardless of how you meet your international fiancé, you will need to show evidence of a real relationship during your consular interview. Examples of evidence could include:
- Plane tickets to visit your fiancé
- Photos of you and your fiancé
- Social media posts of you and your fiancé
- Dated correspondence between you and your fiancé – letters, emails, and skype phone calls all work
Providing evidence for an interview is important, but it is equally important for you to have a real idea of who you are planning to marry. Talk about your future together and what you want your married life to look like. Make sure you have established mutual values and shared experiences that will inform the important decision to build a life together.
Your Family Should be Involved
There are clearly exceptions to this rule, but if your family and/or close friends don’t approve (or don’t know about) your relationship, think about the reasons. In 90 Day Fiancé, there are examples of racism and closed mindedness, but also examples of family members who are trying to protect their loved ones – the sponsors and the beneficiaries.
Don’t Ignore Red Flags
Many of the relationships of “90 Day Fiancé” are riddled with red flags that add to the drama of the show – but the fact is that during the visa application process, a fiancé visa will be evaluated to try to prevent sham marriages. None of these “red flags” are insurmountable – we have worked with plenty of people from diverse cultural backgrounds who have one or more potential warning signs. Your visa petition is taken as a whole, but if you have any of the following red flags, you will want to be prepared for extra scrutiny.
During your visa application process, immigration officers will pay special attention to the following red flags:
Significant cultural differences
Some of the most memorable couples we have worked with over the years have dealt with and overcome cultural barriers, to go on and have a happy marriage. But when there is no commonality – different religious, ethnic, cultural, social, educational or financial backgrounds, a red flag will be raised. Josh and Aleksandra overcame this obstacle in Season 3. Aleksandra, a former atheist and partier, converted to Mormonism. The couple spent time together in Prague, Russia, and in the United States before getting married.
Significant age differences
Age differences aren’t insurmountable, but they can put extra scrutiny on a K-1 visa application. It is especially important for couples with an age discrepancy over 15 years to show evidence of their relationship. David of Season 5 (48) showed his commitment to fiancé Annie (24) by moving to Thailand for a significant period of time prior to applying for the K-1 visa.
Timeline and length of your relationship
In matters of the heart, things can move quickly – just ask 90 Day Fiancé couple Justin and Evelyn, who met while attending the 2013 World Games rugby tournament. The couple said they fell in love after just seven days, and Evelyn moved to the United States to marry Justin. How did they overcome this red flag? Despite their whirlwind romance, they were able to show enough evidence of their relationship that their K-1 visa was approved and they are still married.
What to Do If You are Considering a K-1 Visa Petition
If you are considering a K-1 visa petition for your fiancé, it is important to be prepared for the application and interview process. In some ways, the K-1 petition is straightforward, but as is the case with all immigration law, it is important to be thorough and prepared. The best way to set yourself up for success is by hiring an experienced immigration attorney. Click here to schedule a complimentary consultation with senior counsel Aga Asbury (who happens to be a big fan of 90 Day Fiancé). Download our complimentary Guide to Family Sponsorship and Fiancé Visas here.