Help Proving a Bona Fide Relationship

Dear Phil,

I'm not yet ready to file an I-129F petition, but plan on doing so in the future. I've been learning about K-1 Fiance Visas for the last few weeks, and I'm concerned over the lack of evidence for our relationship. As it stands, all we have are e-mails and chats going back 6 months or so, as well as a couple of hand-written letters I sent her. I know there are still things we could do, such as talk on the phone, meet each other a couple times, and take some photographs...

The thing is though, there are a few things about us that may raise a "red flag". For one, there is a considerable age difference between us (she's in her 40's and I'm in my early 20's). Also, our world view is a bit different from the established norm, so there was no formal engagement, and no engagement ring. We also have no plans for any parties or reception, or anything like that. And due to religious reasons, we cannot marry in a church. I am also not close with my family and have not involved any of them in my plans or made my relationship known.

What can we do to prove that we are sincere? She's from the UK, if that makes any difference.

- John



Phil's picture

Hi John, thanks for the post.

Hi John, thanks for the post. I'm a bit bummed because I responded to this yesterday but must have failed to save the response or something because it didn't stick :)

In any event, you are wise to be thinking about this now. This is probably the most common reason that K1 visas are denied. Most of us are not accustomed to having to prove the legitimacy of our romantic relationships so it can be a difficult thing to do if you are not experienced in dealing with it.

Fortunately, the U.S. Embassy in London is much easier to deal with than some of the other posts which experience high levels of fraud in K1 cases such as Ho Chi Minh City, Manila or most of the posts in North Africa. It is also good because in the London you will be dealing with consular officers that live a very metropolitan city in a modern western culture so they are less likely to be concerned about relationships that don't exhibit all of the evidence of a more traditional engagement.

However, it is important that you provide a written explanation (along with any available documentary evidence) regarding why you and your fiance have chosen an engagement and marriage process that isn't exactly traditional. If you are up front about this and explain it in detail it is less likely to raise a concern.

I would just continue to carefully document your correspondence and any future visits. You should also think about obtaining affidavits from friends or other persons who have knowledge of your relationship.

Also, while the age difference does raise a bit of a red-flag I don't think it will be that big of an issue especially in the U.K. (However, I will say that often times a large age differences is more significant when the senior member of the relationship is the woman. It is sexist and I only have anecdotal to support this theory but I think there is some validity to it.)

Every case is different and cases like yours where evidence of a lot of the traditional manifestations of engagement and a bona fide relationship are not present are definitely more challenging to document.

If you would be applying in some high-fraud, difficult post I would be strongly warning you against trying to do this on your own. Even in the U.K. your case will be a bit more challenging and there's no appeal or other recourse if the consular officer denies the application so you should carefully consider getting some professional assistance given the current facts and circumstances of your case.

When you get to the point that you are ready to proceed with the K1 application please contact me if you decide you would like some help.

Dear Phil, Thank you for your

Dear Phil,

Thank you for your response.

If, over the course of the next 6-12 months, I can produce:

- Evidence that she visited me twice.
- Three or four photographs from each visit.
- Phone bills in my name that show us talking for up to a half hour once a week.
- E-mails and chat logs going back to November 2010.
- Three affidavits (one from a member of my family, one from hers, and one from a friend of mine).

Then what, in your professional opinion, would be the chances of us getting approved (especially if we have the assistance of a lawyer) given the facts of our case (age, lack of traditional customs, etc.)? Would our chances be good, and above average?

- John

Phil's picture

Hey John, I think that would

Hey John, I think that would probably be sufficient evidence to establish the bona fide nature of your relationship. However, that is only issue and there are others that can affect whether or not your case is approved. I have a fiance visa case evaluation form that you can fill out. If you do that it will give me most of the information I need to fully evaluate your case.

If you are sure you are going to proceed with this and certain you are going to retain legal counsel, it might make sense for you to do so soon. This will give you some assistance documenting the relationship. I have done this before with clients in cases that I knew were going to require a lot of strong documentation. I don't know about other attorneys but I don't charge anything extra for this since it actually helps me present the case and ensure success.

Dear Phil,Thank you, I will

Dear Phil,

Thank you, I will fill out the evaluation form soon, hopefully within the next day or so. I know though that I'm not yet ready to file the I-129F petition, and won't be ready for quite a while. I don't currently have the money to pay for the full costs of the visa process, nor do I have the money yet to pay for her two visits. I do have enough saved maybe for one visit, but I know I won't be able to pass the requirements for the affidavit of support. I figured it would be safer to wait until I can "pass" the AOS for me and her to meet, in case two years pass before I am making enough to "pass" the AOS. Is this the right thing to do?

- John

Phil's picture

This one is tough for me to

This one is tough for me to answer because it is really more a personal financial issue than an immigration law issue. Although it always makes a case stronger to have more the one meeting, you only have to show 1 previous meeting to meet the requirements of the K1. Regarding the affidavit of support, current income is the most important factor in this which you must establish with current pay stubs and employment letters. If your current income isn't sufficient maybe you can find some one who is willing to act as a joint-sponsor.

Dear Phil,Having to pay for

Dear Phil,

Having to pay for only one visit would definitely be easier for both me and her, and would allow us to move things along much quicker. But given the facts of our case (those facts you know of) wouldn't it look better to the U.S. Consulate if she visited me more than once? Or do you think they would be just as convinced if she visited me just once?

I do have someone who would probably be willing to act as a joint-sponsor. I'm not sure how it works though. Would it make a big mess out of my case?

Thank you for all your help Phil. I hope to use your complete services when the time comes.

- John

Phil's picture

More than one visit always

More than one visit always helps but isn't required. It really depends on the strength of the other supporting documentation. Its tough to say for sure but this doesn't strike me as a case that would definitely be a problem if there was only one visit.

A joint sponsor wouldn't complicate things at all. You just need to find someone who is willing to make the commitment to doing it.

Dear Phil, I filled out and

Dear Phil,

I filled out and sent the evaluation form. Hopefully that will help you determine what is necessary for us in regards to visiting each other in person.

I do have a family member who is definitely willing to be a joint sponsor, but I read also that there are no joint sponsors for the K-1 visa. Hopefully you can e-mail me and explain to me more how this works.

- John

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