I often receive phone calls from US citizens, unable to travel outside the US in order to fulfill the in-person meeting requirement for Fiance or Spouse Visa processing.
Meeting in person is generally required for either a fiance or spouse visa unless there is good cause to waive the requirement. Skyping or other forms of communication are not adequate. The idea is to avoid such things as mail order brides, a relic from the distant past. Given current technologies, people all over the world are able to have serious relationships without meeting. Even so, it is still generally necessary to meet in person before proceeding with US immigrant processing.
In the case of a spouse visa, a proxy marriage is a possibility. A proxy marriage is conducted without the parties being together in person, typically by phone. Proxy marriages are legal in the U.S. Even so, a proxy marriage is not valid for U.S. immigration purposes until the marriage is consummated. Consummation requires that the couple be together in person before filing the spouse visa petition with immigration services.
Some US citizens have serious medical problems and it would be quite dangerous to travel anywhere outside the U.S. In other cases, a U.S. citizen owes child support and had his passport confiscated. In still other cases, the US citizen is on criminal parole or probation and is prohibited from traveling outside the US. Finally, some claim their religious beliefs prevent them from meeting in person prior to immigration to the U.S.
Visiting the US
A major concern of an immigration agency is that the couple does not want to meet in person because international travel is expensive. They would rather simply have the foreigner come to the U.S. to meet and then remain in the U.S. to marry. The fact is that most foreigners from poor countries cannot travel to the U.S. easily. For more information about why this is so, go to this web page: B Visa for Visitors. In the end, the U.S. citizen is put on the spot to travel and meet somewhere outside the U.S. This is why they call me asking for a waiver.
The immigration agency USCIS is acutely aware that U.S. citizens want to avoid international travel due to the expense and so immigration agencies set a high standard of proof required to obtain a waiver of the in person meeting requirement. Financial problems is not a good excuse for not meeting if you want to immigrate a foreigner. Many waiver applications are denied because people pretend they cannot meet. Even the good ones often must go on appeal after the USCIS denies the waiver. The appeals process can take a year to adjudicate (process). The USCIS intentionally makes the waiver process difficult, so much so that if there were a way to meet in person, you surely would have done so.
Of the various waiver possibilities, the only one that is viable in my experience is a waiver due to a serious and permanent medical condition that prevents all travel. This can include fear of flying, for example. If you have a documented medical reason you cannot safely travel outside the U.S., please contact me to discuss further. For everyone else, you have to meet in person or the fiance or spouse visa will very likely not be granted.
In cases where the US citizen has travel restrictions placed upon him due to a criminal conviction or child support arrears, I suggest the couple try to meet at the US / Mexican border. Here is an example of a couple who married right at the PASO DEL NORTE BRIDGE between Texas and Mexico: Border Wedding Ceremony Highlights Immigration Battle.
This shows how creative couples can be in order to find a way to be together as husband and wife. In the article, the foreign wife is barred from the U.S. because she falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen. The situation is different than most cases because in her case, she can never travel to the U.S. since the foreigner violated immigration rules. In this discussion, it is the U.S. citizen who is having difficulty traveling abroad to meet. Even so, the same opportunity to meet and possibly marry right at the border exists where the US citizen is prevented from leaving the U.S. due to a problem he created and not one that is medical in nature.
Please contact me if you believe you cannot travel outside the US for good cause. For all others, you need to find a way like Valtierra and Edgar did when they married on the PASO DEL NORTE BRIDGE.