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

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

A K-1 visa allows a foreign fiancé of a United States citizen to travel and enter the United States to be married to his or her fiancé. The K-1 visa holder can also obtain a green card after getting married to a U.S. citizen fiancé. At Kriezelman Burton & Associates, we have experienced immigration attorneys who help individuals in the Chicago area apply for and obtain this K-1 visa.

However, obtaining a K1 visa for a fiancé of a United States citizen is not automatic. Both the U.S. citizen and foreign fiancé must satisfy the requirements for the visa. For example, if the foreign fiancé has been arrested before the application for the K-1 visa is submitted, or if he or she has a conviction or other criminal record, the visa application may be denied. If that is your situation and you are wondering whether your fiancé will be given a K-1 visa, then you need the services of a good fiancé visa lawyer to help you.

Obtaining a K-1 Visa for a Fiancé with a Criminal Record

If your fiancé has a criminal record, then he or she is “inadmissible” under U.S. immigration law. To be inadmissible means one is not eligible to get a visa if any of the grounds listed as inadmissibility grounds apply. Having a criminal record is one of those grounds of inadmissibility. The ground applies even if the underlying conviction was expunged (legally removed) from someone’s criminal record.

However, your fiancé may still be able to get a K-1 visa in one of two ways:

  1. The fiancé was convicted of only one crime and meets certain other criteria for the “sentencing exception.” A sentencing exception is available and can be used to avoid being found inadmissible if your foreign fiancé was convicted of only one crime and the maximum penalty possible for that crime is less than one year. The exception is determined by looking at what the law says about the maximum sentence for the offense, not how much time a person was sentenced to. However, the sentencing exception does not apply to drug crimes.
  2. If your fiancé does not qualify for this sentencing exception, then they may still avoid being found ineligible for the K-1 visa by requesting what is known as a “waiver of admissibility.” A waiver of inadmissibility is an application asking the U.S. government to forgive someone’s criminal record so that they can be approved for a visa to enter the United States (or to receive some other immigration benefit). A fiancé who does not qualify for the sentencing exception might still be eligible to request a waiver of inadmissibility.

Learn How Our Illinois Immigration Attorney Can Assist You

If you are in the Chicago area and need help with obtaining a K-1 visa, contact our office today and schedule your initial consultation to learn how Kriezelman Burton & Associates can help you.