When applying for a K-1 fiancé(e) visa, being gay can add undue hardship to the process. Generally speaking, to qualify for a K-1 visa, one partner must be a U.S. citizen, both parties legally free and intend to marry, and that the partners need to have met each other in person within the two year preceding the filing of the I-129F petition. The process further requires that the foreign fiancé(e) file for a visa at their local embassy.
If the foreign fiancé(e) resides in a country that persecutes LGBT individuals, both the in-person meeting and the filing at the local embassy create problems. Luckily, as specified on the USCIS website, the need to meet your fiancé(e) in person can be waived if, "The requirement to meet your fiancé(e) in person would violate strict and long-established customs of your fiancé(e)'s foreign culture or social practice," or if the requirement would place extreme hardship on the applicant.
Having to attend a visa application at a local embassy can also be problematic if it forces the beneficiary out of the closet and places them in immediate danger. Furthermore, the I-129F requires family information and outing oneself to homophobic family can place strain on the ability of said person to obtain the necessary information.
The requirement to obtain a visa at a local county can also be waived by sending an email to the National Visa Center and stating the reason. The email will also need to suggest up to three alternate U.S. consulates, in order of preference, where their fiance would like to attend the visa interview." Unfortunately for someone of limited means, this restricts them to countries in the immediate surroundings.
Our office routinely handles these cases and can offer help.
by Molly Kleinman, Summer Intern