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Bring your Partner to the USA on K1 Fiance or CR1 Spouse Visa

This video is for those who have not quite decided yet, which path is best for them. You are still trying to decide whether to get married first and apply for a CR1 spouse visa, or stay engaged and apply for the K1 Fiance Visa then marry once your partner arrives to the USA.

I am going to talk about both paths side by side, so you'll understand what happens with either, and hopefully this will bring you closer to decide one way or the other.

And by the way last year there were about 40 thousand spouse visas issued, and also about 40 thousand fiance visas issued, so there is not a clear cut favorite, in answering the "which is better question"

Your partner needs permission from the US government to allow her or him to enter the USA. If you are just married, this is called a CR1 Spouse Visa, if you are planning to marry after arrival to the USA, this is called a K1 Fiancee visa.

First we work together to produce a thick packet of forms, evidences and civil documents. This is required to demonstrate that you are eligible to apply, and that your true agenda is a genuine life together, not immigration fraud.

The application itself looks pretty simple. It asks for "name, rank serial number". This often leads to overconfidence. Couples who really don't understand what all will happen, fill in the blanks themselves, submit the petition and usually end up shooting themselves in the foot.

This typically results in the leading cause of denial, failure to convince the consular officer who interviews your partner that your relationship is genuine, is "bona fide".

Sadly, US immigration has had bad experience in the past, with this type of "romance" visa. Many who were not eligible applied for fiancee or spouse visa's. In reality they were not seeking a life together in the USA, but only seeking admission to the USA. Their relationship was not real, it was a "sham"

Gold diggers, gigolos, con-men even terrorists have used fiance or spouse visas as a back door into the USA. Normally in USA one is considered "innocent until proven guilty".

But because of the bad apples who have abused the immigration system ahead of you, and have basically "poisoned the well" , now when you apply for a visa for your partner, regardless of whether you are married now, or plan to latter, Sorry, but, NOW immigration takes the attitude you are "guilty until proven innocent"

This is how a lot of couples get in trouble. They sadly end up shocked at what happens at the interview.

Because they are "IN LOVE", because they are sincere, because they may have already Made their vows, they assumed no special, no extra effort to prove their situation was needed.

They assumed the consular officer would right away recognize their sincerity, and say "yes, visa approved."

So, they filled in the forms themselves, filing in basic "Name, rank and serial number" or they hired a cheap online form printing service.

Those cheap "bare bones" applications, are usually enough to get one's "foot in the door". It's usually enough to get your partner sitting opposite a officer for the consular interview.

Sadly, HOWEVER, just having your "chance at bat", chance to interview, is rarely enough to win approval. It is too often, not nearly enough to demonstrate "to the OFFICER" that your application is "bona fide".

Now without enough information laid out in front of him, the consular officer, must stretch, must dig, must ask a lot of questions, to hear what he wants to know.

Unfortunately, once you start down the path of multiple questions, the interview can easily deteriorate into an interrogation, Until the officer FEELS he can make a yes or no decision.

Well, If he is short of time, or impatient or close minded or in a bad mood, or if your partner is not fluent in English, or fast enough to provide convincing answers, the simpler course for the officer, the safer course that does not risk his career or professional reputation is to deny.

My signature philosophy at VisaCoach is we get achieve success by "doing the consular officers job for him".

The consular officer has been doing his work for a while at the consulate. He has been trained. He has experience. He "Knows", at least in his mind, what a NORMAL, and eligible couple should look like.

He expects an honest couple will have done certain things, in certain ways. And on the flip side he also has strong ideas of what signs indicate they may not be honest.

So, the CLOSER your situation matches his positive expectations, then the closer your case is to being approved.

So when I work with a couple, I first discuss with them what they have been doing, then I explain what the consulate they will be interviewed at expects. Then I suggest what actions the couple should take, to do "the right thing".

Just Doing the right thing however is not good enough.

Next we need to DOCUMENT that the right thing was done. I teach my clients ways to create evidences that show what happened. And I review them to pick and choose the most relevant and effective ones.

But having evidences that the right thing was done still isn't good enough.

Last, we have got to make sure the officer sees the evidences.

And that is what a VisaCoach front loaded application is.

We include with every application high quality evidences, specifically demonstrating that you have a bona fide relationship, we "front load" the evidences in the original application, because we know these evidences will get into the consular officers hands, before the interview starts.

We know that the consular officer ALWAYS reviews the original application materials before the interview starts.

My "front loaded" applications are crafted to do the consular officers job for him. During his review, before your partner sits down in front of his desk, the consular officer should have already seen and reviewed the type of evidences that allow him to confidently approve your visa. He should be very receptive to say yes, even before the interview officially starts.

The petition package is mailed to USCIS, the United States Customs and Immigration Service. Fiance Visa applications are originally sent to their offices in Dallas Texas, for sorting assignment to various centers around the USA for processing.

Spouse visa applications go first to Chicago.

Regardless of whether it's a Fiance or Spouse applications, in 2018 USCIS takes about 7 to 8 months to do their part to review your case, including an FBI background check on the American sponsor.

Sorry, but this amount of time to process is vastly slower than in recent years, and is due to the executive orders issued by President Trump for USCIS to conduct more vigorous reviews, so called "extreme vetting" of all cases.

When finished, USCIS hands the case over to the US State Department's National Visa Center (NVC) based in New Hampshire.

This is where the paths between Fiancee and Spouse applications branch off from each other. Fiancee visa applications are held only briefly at NVC, usually only a few weeks, just long enough for NVC to assign a new case number and to forward the case via diplomatic pouch to the overseas consulate.

For a spouse visa application though, NVC gets really involved. They ask you to pay additional fees, these are paid online, and to submit the required civil documents plus proofs of your financial eligibility. Normally these are submitted via postal mail but NVC is currently experimenting with a new system that requires direct upload of evidences from the internet. Some cases are selected for the experiment, the others follow the traditional path. Either way it's pretty confusing.

So while the Fiance application went overseas fairly quickly, the spouse visa stays at NVC for 4 to 8 months, until NVC is satisfied, then the case is passed on to the consulate.

For a spouse visa NVC has already booked a date for the interview about 2 months later, whereas for a fiancee visa, once the case arrives at the foreign consulate it is up to you to contact the consulate to schedule the interview.

I update you on what the current procedures are at the consulate.

I guide you and your partner on what needs to be done, how to schedule the interview (if NVC has scheduled it already), where to take the medical, what final fees are needed, and what official documents need to be collected.

Finally in the run up to the interview, I provide a detailed, personalized checklist on what all your Fiance should bring with him or her to the consulate on the day of the interview.

This is especially important, as forgetting to bring a required document can cause, weeks of delays. Even if a missing document is provided the next day, sorry, but the consulate officers have already moved on to new cases, and for them it is a very low priority to circle around to re-open a case just to confirm a document has finally been presented.

One to two weeks before the interview your partner must undergo, a thorough medical exam and review of his or her vaccinations at a clinic appointed by the consulate.

Finally your Partner attends the interview at the US consulate.

This is the BIG event.

During the interview, the consular officer must be CONVINCED your the relationship is bona fide and not a sham for immigration purposes.

As previously mentioned, at the interview, is where the high quality VisaCoach "front loaded application" typically wins the day.

The consular officer always reviews the case file before the interview starts. We craft your application so that he finds many good reasons why he should trust you and approve the visa. Even before he invites your Fiance or Spouse to sit in front of his desk, we want him to have seen our carefully selected and presented evidences and be mentally prepared to say "yes".

Typically, the interview turns into a fast and friendly, formality. Most VisaCoach clients hear "Welcome to the USA" in just 3 to 4 minutes

One to Two weeks later your Partner's passport with visa are delivered, to her or him via courier, and then and your Partner has six months to start the trip to join you in the USA.

Here again is where the paths between Spouse Visa and Fiance Visas split up.

Arriving on a CR1 spouse visa, your spouse is already approved for permanent residency. Usually your partners Green Card, which proves permanent residency has been granted arrives in the mail in about 2 to three months. You are now temporarily done with immigration, however the new green card is conditional, only valid for 2 years. In two years we must go back to USCIS to upgrade it. More about this later.

Arriving on a K1 fiance visa, you have 90 days to "get to know each other better", if that is what you need, AND to marry. You don't have to marry, but if you do not, your foreign fiancee should leave the USA before the 90 days is up.

After the wedding your Fiance does not have to leave the country, she or he can remain with you as your spouse, IF you apply to US immigration for permission for her to remain in the USA as a lawful permanent resident. This is called Adjustment of Status. Your new spouse adjusts her or his status from that of a temporary 90 day fiance visa visitor to a permanent resident.

At the end of the Adjustment of Status application process your spouse gets what is known as the Green Card.

But US immigration is still cautious, still skeptical. The Green card that is granted is only "conditional". Meaning it is good for only two years.

Now the paths of Fiance and Spouse visas join again.

And from now on there no longer is any different treatment. In both cases you are married, living together in the USA, and holding Conditional Green Cards that expire in two years.

Before the two years is up we apply once again. This time it is called "Application for Removal of Conditions on Residence" We apply, it is granted and now your spouse gets a regular Green Card that does not have conditions.

A year later, (after a total of three years as a permanent resident) your spouse, is eligible to apply for US citizenship and get a US passport.

And don't worry. Even though there are many steps, VisaCoach is ready to help you through each and every step, from Visa through to Conditional Green Card then Un-conditional Green Card and finally to US Citizenship

And on a personal note, and it's not just because I want your business. You should not go this course alone. In today's atmosphere of extreme vetting, and, well, anti-immigration, It's too easy if you don't know what you are doing to mess up. I get too many calls with people in tears, who are now doing their research and reaching out to me AFTER THEY GOT DENIED. Don't let this be you.

By Fred Wahl
the VisaCoach

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