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Can You Get a K-1 Visa if Your Fiancé Has a Criminal Record?

Can You Get a K-1 Visa if Your Fiancé Has a Criminal Record?


If you are a U.S. citizen and have a fiancé who resides outside the United States, you may have the option to bring him or her to the U.S. on a Fiancé Visa. The fiancé visa is specifically called a K-1 Visa. This is a visa designed for couples who are engaged to be married in the near future. If you are already married, you cannot utilize a K-1 visa. The K-1 visa is available for those who qualify. However, you may wonder whether you can get a K-1 visa if your fiancé has a criminal record. An experienced Chicago immigration attorney will help you through the process. 

Criteria for a K-1 Visa

A K-1 visa (fiancé visa) is an option to bring a fiance to the United States from another country. It is utilized when a U.S. citizen is engaged to be married to someone who lives outside the U.S. The visa is for couples who are engaged and plan to marry within 90 days. If the marriage does not occur, the fiance will no longer be allowed to stay in the United States longer than 90 days. Additionally, the couple must have a genuine marriage and cannot simply be marrying as a way to bring someone to the U.S. Both parties must be free to marry, and generally, they must have known each other for at least two years before the marriage. 


Some circumstances do not allow someone to enter the U.S. on a visa. When a non-citizen has a criminal record, it will trigger inadmissibility. Just about every crime, including minor misdemeanors, can trigger inadmissibility. If someone is inadmissible, they will likely be stopped from entry at the U.S. border. A criminal record will trigger inadmissibility, generally. However, you may be able to resolve the matter with a waiver of inadmissibility. This is a special waiver that removes the inadmissibility restrictions. 

What is a Sentencing Exception?

Most crimes trigger inadmissibility, but some crimes with low sentencing guidelines may be exempt from inadmissibility. If the maximum penalty for the crime is less than one year, you would be exempt from inadmissibility due to sentencing. This applies regardless of the sentence that was served. You would not require a waiver in this situation. Instead, you would be allowed into the country on a sentencing exception. It is important to note that the sentencing exception does not apply to drug crimes. 

Waiver of Inadmissibility

If your fiancé has a criminal record, he or she may be able to obtain a waiver of inadmissibility. This waiver relieves the problem of inadmissibility and allows the immigrant to enter the U.S. Many crimes can be resolved with a waiver of inadmissibility. However, some crimes are not eligible for a waiver. Some of these include drug possession, drug trafficking, murder, and crimes that involved torture. Some cases of possession of a small amount of marijuana may be allowed. It is helpful to discuss the matter with a skilled immigration attorney to determine whether your fiancé is eligible for a waiver. 

When you want your fiancé to get a visa, but they have a criminal record, you do have some options. In many cases, you may be able to obtain a waiver of inadmissibility that will allow your fiancé to proceed with their visa. To find out more about the K-1 visa and waivers of inadmissibility, contact our legal team at Sverdloff Law Group at (312) 238-9090 today.


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