The following article is meant to shed light upon the K1 visa process in the context of an intended marriage between a United States Citizen and an Indian National.
The K-1 visa process often starts at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) which is under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Those seeking a US fiancee visa must initially submit a petition to USCIS. After initial submission it generally takes some time for the petition to be adjudicated due to the heavy caseload that USCIS processes on a yearly basis. In the case of K1 visas for Indian couples another issue may arise which does not come to the fore in most visa petitions: the meeting requirement.
In most cases the couple to be wed has met at least once prior to filing for a K1 visa as the law requires that those seeking a K1 visa have met in person at least once in the two years prior to petitioning for the visa. For Indian Nationals it is sometimes required by local or religious custom that a couple abstain from meeting prior to marriage. This custom runs counter to the legal requirements which must be met in order to obtain a K1 visa. However, it may be possible to obtain a waiver of this requirement, but such waivers can be difficult to obtain and may require the assistance of a professional. Some are under the incorrect assumption that it is a formality to receive USCIS approval on a pending visa petition. This is simply not the case as USCIS adjudicators carefully examine pending visa petitions in order to ascertain if the legal requirements for visa issuance are met.
Once a case is approved by USCIS it will be forwarded to the US Department of State (DOS). After receipt by DOS the file will usually be placed in the hands of the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing. This office has the responsibility of initiating security clearances and forwarding case files to American Embassies or Consulates with proper jurisdiction over the presumptive beneficiary.
After receipt by an American Mission overseas, the Consular Processing period of the K-1 visa process can begin. Consular Officers situated at American Posts overseas are responsible for adjudicating visa applications. When a K1 visa application is submitted to a US Embassy or Consulate a visa interview is usually conducted shortly thereafter. In many cases, a visa is issued if the Consular Officer approves the application, but if further documentation is requested, then the Consular Officer may issue a 221(g) denial which is essentially a denial pending further evidence. If a Consular Officer finds that an applicant is legally inadmissible to the United States, then the visa application will be denied. A remedy may be available, depending upon the grounds of inadmissibility, in the form of an I-601 waiver or an I-212 waiver which must receive USCIS approval before a visa will ultimately be issued.