On a K1 Visa, in the background check, is it focused on the petition of the beneficiary or both?
Both the US sponsor as well as the alien beneficiary will receive separate background checks.
Sponsor Background Checks
During the first phase of the process, the USCIS filing, this process is mostly about the US sponsor. Background checks will be performed on the sponsor at this point. There is no point in trying to hide or cover up any past convictions or even expungements, as they have all the info already. You need to be straightforward and honest in your initial filing.
For the most part, crimes in the sponsor's background shouldn't affect your case unless it has to do with some harsh forms of sexual abuse or harassment. Please see IMBRA for more info on which crimes are affected by the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act. The bottom line with the US sponsor is, they are making sure you are not a danger to the alien. We've seen many people with certain criminal history be approved.
Some of the crimes we've seen people get approved in spite of are: DUI, mortgage fraud, grand larceny, and more. We've even had people convicted of manslaughter get approved. With you, the US sponsor, you're already in the United States, so as a country, we're already "stuck" with you here. Their primary concern is that you won't abuse or harm the alien or their children.
Alien Background Checks
The last phase, or the Embassy phase, is all about the alien. At this point, they'll need background checks/police clearances for all countries the alien has lived in for more than 6 months since they were 16 years old. At this point, the criminal record is scrutinized more closely. They will be stricter on the alien than the sponsor. There is no set list of absolute crimes that rule you out, but they want to make sure we're not letting in any criminals. The alien will be instructed on exactly which documents they need to bring to the interview by the embassy, closer to the interview.
As a disclaimer, we want to remind everyone that everything is up to the discretion of the consular officer. So despite the information in this post, you may be denied if the officer feels unconvinced that your history won't be an issue. c