This one gets a surprising number of people. The rule is pretty simple. You need to have met your fiance in person sometime during the 24 month period ending on the date you file your K1 visa request (I-129F). The actual language is from Section 214(d) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. 5 1184(d) and reads in part that a fiance petition:
…shall be approved only after satisfactory evidence is submitted by the petitioner to establish that the parties have previously met in person within two years before the date of filing the petition…
This seems pretty clear cut, but a surprising number of K1 Visa applications are denied because the sponsor has not met the beneficiary in the two year period. Here is a recent example from a couple who were denied, appealed and were denied again on June 4, 2009:
On August 13th, 2008 the U.S. citizen filed his K1 Visa application with the USCIS. This means that he would have had to been with his fiance at least one time in the period between August 13, 2006 and August 13, 2008. Pretty simple to figure out. Of course you need to submit proof of the meeting so the petitioner sent copies of his airline ticket receipts. The receipts were for travel to Iran on July 27, 2008.
So far everything sounds good, right? July 27, 2008 is definitely within the two year period in question. Nevertheless, the application was denied. The petitioner then appealed the denial complaining that the adjudicator obviously didn’t look at his airplane ticket receipt.
On appeal the California Service Center’s Administrative Appeals Office again denied the application. They stated that having a receipt for an airplane ticket does not prove having met. It does not even prove you got on the plane, only that you purchased the ticket. In this case, the petitioner also provided copies of every page of his passport and there were no supporting stamps indicating he had been to Iran on these dates or any other dates during the two year period.
The lesson here is that you must have conclusive evidence of having met during the two year period prior to filing your K1 Visa petition. That proof is best when it is not something you could have easily faked. For example, a photograph that you claim was taken on a certain date is not likely to be proof. A photograph with a camera imprinted date is better, but may not be conclusive. Photos do help prove your relationship, but you can’t count on them alone to show you have met during the last two years.
While there are no hard-fast rules about what the USCIS will accept as proof of having met during the required period, you should always make sure you have entry and exit stamps on your passport. A passport carries a lot of weight with the USCIS. Pictures are important to establish the relationship does exist, but alone they don’t carry a lot of weight.
The meeting requirement is often a reason used by the USCIS for rejecting K1 visa petitions. If you have not actually met during the required period, it is unlikely you will be able to fake your way through this requirement.