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Can a Felon Get a Fiancée Visa?

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After being released from prison, felons are trying to re-establish their lives. Sometimes, they may meet someone who visited them while in prison. Or, they may be introduced to a new person after their release. They spend time together, get to know each other, and end up falling in love.

Sometimes they fall in love with an immigrant who is new to the U.S. and who wants to remain in this country. This blog post will cover the question of whether or not a felon can get a fiancée visa.

  • What is a Fiancée Visa?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Recommended Action

What is a Fiancée Visa?

There are a number of categories considered for a green card that are required for a foreign-born person looking to remain in the United States. One of these is for those who are planning to marry a U.S. citizen and then reside in America. This requires a K-1 visa, a temporary non-immigrant visa that allows a foreign-born person to remain in the country for 90 days after marrying.

A United States citizen who wants to bring a fiancée to this country to get married must file a petition for an alien fiancée. This is the first step in obtaining a K-1 nonimmigrant visa for a fiancée.

To be eligible to bring a fiancée to the U.S. on a fiancée visa, the following requirements must be met:

  • Petitioner is a U.S. citizen
  • Intention to marry within 90 days of the fiancée’s admission to the country
  • Both the applicant and the fiancée are legally free to marry

The applicant and fiancée must have met each other in-person at least once during the two-year period before the petition was filed. If the couple marries within the 90 days, the fiancée may then apply for a green card to remain as a lawful permanent resident of the United States.

The process for bringing a fiancée to the U.S. involves the USCIS, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. customs and border protection. During each step of the process, a background and security check may be conducted on the applicant and his or her fiancée. This will include checks of various databases for national security and criminal history.

The following convictions must be disclosed at the time of the application:

  • Domestic violence
  • Assault and battery
  • Elder abuse
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Stalking
  • Three or more convictions of alcohol or drug abuse

A fiancée may be ineligible to enter the United States for any crime of moral turpitude including:

  • Fraud
  • Making false representation
  • Larceny
  • Receiving stolen goods
  • Robbery, burglary, or theft
  • Transporting stolen property
  • Intent to harm persons
  • Arson
  • Blackmail
  • Embezzlement
  • Extortion
  • Forgery
  • Malicious destruction of property

The impact of a United States citizen having a criminal record is different for a fiancée visa than for a spouse visa. Any violation of the Adam Walsh Act, which is a law against sexual felonies against children, will result in automatic petition denial for a fiancée.

An Opportunity for Felons?

If a felon’s criminal record includes anything related to past immigration fraud, the petition could be denied because the USCIS suspects the current relationship is also fraudulent. Multiple felony convictions won’t lead to denial unless the convictions come under the Adam Walsh Act.

A felon citizen is required to answer three specific questions about his or her conviction to determine if it was related to an International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA). If so, a felon is required to submit court records associated with the related convictions.

Simply having IMBRA-related convictions is also not a reason for the petition to be denied. IMBRA’s criminal record provisions exist for the purpose of making sure the foreign fiancée is fully informed about the related person’s criminal record.

The IMBRA-related petition questions ask if a felon citizen has ever been convicted of any of three general categories of crimes:

  • Domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and neglect
  • Homicide, murder, manslaughter, or rape
  • Various crimes related to a controlled substance or alcohol

These questions must be answered even if records were sealed or otherwise cleared.

It’s important to be honest when filling out an application for a K-1 visa. If a felony isn’t disclosed but is found on a background check, this constitutes fraud and is punishable. It’s a crime to falsify an application, which could result in being sent back to prison.

In order to be successful in getting a fiancée visa, it’s essential for felons to be honest about their background. They are already seen with negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.

Recommended Action

It’s a big challenge, but it might be worth it for a felon wanting to get a fiancée visa. Documenting any training programs or additional education could make the essential difference in demonstrating good moral character.

Having support from family, friends, or previous employers can make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. We are defined by how we recover from our mistakes, not from the mistakes themselves. He or she can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get a fiancée visa with a felony? What was that like for him or her, and how did he or she achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.

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