You can't help who you fall in love with, but when you fall in love with someone who is not a U.S. citizen, then life gets a little more interesting. A K1 visa is issued by the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS), and it allows a U.S. citizen to bring their non-citizen fiancee to the United States for marriage. As someone who is interested in pursuing the K1 visa, you are wondering if you can tackle the visa paperwork yourself or if you need the help of an immigration attorney. Here are three instances when you should seek immigration legal advice before embarking on the K1 visa process.

High-Risk Country

When considering whether to grant a K1 visa to the applicant, USCIS looks at the pieces of evidence which are lodged with the application. The onus is on the citizen and their fiancee to prove to USCIS that the relationship is a legitimate one. There are some countries, for example, the Philippines, where USCIS look very closely at applications because of the possibility of visa fraud. High-risk countries are ones where there is a lot of poverty and citizens are known to marry to escape their low standard of living. If your fiancee is from a high-risk country, and there is anything in the relationship which would raise a red flag with USCIS, then you should check your particular circumstances with an immigration lawyer.

Criminal Convictions

If you or your spouse have any criminal convictions in your past, then you should discuss those crimes with an immigration lawyer before you apply for the K1 visa. Some crimes are acceptable to USCIA, but others are not. Violent crimes or crimes which involve minor children will cause the K1 visa to be automatically rejected. A lawyer can look at the criminal history and give advice on your unique situation.

Previous K1 Visa Applications

USCIS only issues a K1 visa to applicants who are in a true legitimate relationship. If you or your partner have been on previous K1 applications which have been declined, then this is a red flag with USCIS. You may need to apply for a waiver so that your K1 visa application is not automatically declined. Again, discuss your circumstances with an immigration lawyer and get their advice on how to proceed.

An immigration lawyer, such as from The Ortiz Law Firm,  is a worthy advocate to have in your corner during the K1 process. Whether you have a one-off meeting with them or you use them to prepare all of your documentation, they will give you honest advice to help you on your journey.