Getting Fiancee or spousal visas for Vietnam is much harder than from most other countries. The consular officers in Ho Chi Minh City apply a higher standard before they accept that a relationship is genuine. They expect a petitioner to have made multiple trips, to have had a long engagement, and to be able to communicate well with his fiancee in vietnamese or english.
In addition they expect each petitioner to have celebrated a large, formal engagement party and banquet called "Dinh Hon" (but NEVER on the first trip).
Some of their "official" reasons for denial are:
Evidence of the relationship indicate that Petitioner and Fiancee have spent only a few days together. (This is "code" for one trip is not enough
It does not appear that the claimed relationship is continuous and on going. For example, Petitioner has not returned to visit Fiancee for one year.
Fiancee and-or Petitioner submitted evidence of only a small, inconsequential engagement ceremony without any US guest. This contradicts local social and cultural norms in which many family members and friends, including those in the US, are invited to engagement celebrations numbering in the hundreds of guests for families of even modest means. In contrast to Vietnamese social and cultural norms which mandate a lengthy and careful period of pre-nuptial arrangements,
Petitioner and Fiancee became engaged before meeting in person.
Often it appears as if the decision to approve or deny is made by the consular officer at the onset of the interview and his questions lead to confirm his impromptu decision. generally made by the consular officer This makes front loading your petition with persuasive evidence even more essential.
If the officer has decided to deny, he will ask very detailed questions about the "proposal, the petitioners home town or future wedding plans". Any answer the Fiancee gives will not be found "credible".
"Beneficiary's chronology of the claimed relationship is not credible. For example, Fiancee can not recall when Petitioner proposed to her. "
"Fiancee is unaware of basic facts regarding Petitioners location and or hometown (features, characteristics, etc). For example Fiancee was unaware of where Petitioner has lived for the past two years."
"Fiancee is unaware of the exact wedding plans, what church, or venue, when the marriage would take place."
If these issues apply to you, to be successful you MUST remedy them prior to submitting your Petition. And you MUST provide the supporting documents to irrefutably prove the remedies have occurred. Many petitioners have their second and later trips and engagement party after the fiancee visa petition has been submitted, then bring proof of the trips, etc to the Fiancee's consulate interview.
They leave dumbfounded when finding that their Fiancee who attended the interview alone, but with all the new supporting documents, was not allowed to present any of new evidences, instead was asked a few cursory questions then sent away, denied due to the weak initial petition documentation.
To have your best chance of visa approval at Ho Chi Minh
Don't rush to engagement or marriage, go slow Do take at least two trips to visit your fiancee. Do organize a Dinh Hon engagement Dinh Hon should never be during the first trip Cost of Dinh Hon should reflect your income. Don't skimp Do all the above BEFORE submitting the petition Include front loaded evidence with petition showing you have done the above
Finally, if communication in English is hard, enroll fiance in English language course
Ho Chi Minh is without doubt the must difficult consulate to get approval from. While I believe any couple applying for the fiance or spouse visa, no matter which consulate they are dealing with will benefit from hiring me to do the "heavy lifting" there is NO consulate where it is more important to have expert guidance in order to prevent denial. I do many cases for Ho Chi Minh each year, and so far all have been approved, even the ones when previously denied couples found me, to do the work for their second attempts.
By Fred Wahl
the Visa Coach