Choosing Photos for Fiancee Visa Petition
Preparing a successful visa petition is both ‘Art’ and ‘Science’. The science is filling in the blanks correctly, and remembering to attach all the official documents that are needed. The ‘Art’ comes in when you choose what evidence to present and how much to present, in order to prove to a possibly unfriendly stranger that you are a bona fide couple.
One element of the rainbow of evidence, are photographs, of the two of you as a couple. Imagine this as if you were giving slide show, but you only have a few minutes to tell your whole story. Choosing the ‘right’ photos to show to immigration is very important.
To see samples of photos, and a video presentation that describes how to choose your photos go to:
1. To prove you have met ‘face to face’
Key purpose is your Opportunity
2. To demonstrate you have a ‘bona fide’ relationship
Easy to accomplish #1, #2 is more Art than Science.
You want to tell a story. The story should be about a genuine, ‘in love’ couple that wants to spend the rest of their lives together.
What should be in the photos?
Couple Should Be in the Photo:
This is all about the two of you, so both of you should be in each photo.
Positive Body Language:
Smiling, holding hands, leaning in to each
other. One of my clients took pictures of him and his gf on his first trip to meet each other. It was obvious from the photos that they were strangers, and a bit uncomfortable with each other. Her arms were always crossed across her chest, and they always kept as much distance between them as they could. I insisted that he go on a second trip, and get more photos and proof of the bona fides. And it worked just great. They ended up very happy to take more time to build their relationship and enjoy their engagement. The photos from the second trip showed a real couple, who were happy to be together and comfortable in each others company.
Another client gave me a bunch of photos of he and
his fiancee, taken when he was holding the camera at arms length away from his body pointing back at the couples faces. Such a photo accomplishes #1 that the couple met. but does nothing to prove bona fides.
Better the shot is taken at a farther distance and the background is easily identifiable. These close up face shots could have, and probably were taken all at the same time, which is a red flag.
Make sure there are easily identifiable landmarks
or events going on in the background. If a couple are trying to trick immigration and pretend a sham marriage in order to obtain a passport, typically the tricksters don’t spend too much time together. So there photos would usually be taken all at once, one afternoon. So instead you want to make sure it
is obvious you have spent a lot of time together and shared some travel and activities. So presenting a photo in front of downtown, another at the zoo, another at the aquarium, another at a historical site or in front of a ‘Welcome to Our town’ sign, for a town far away from the city she lives in, another in the countryside, mountains, lake, beach all add up to ‘tell the story’ that you have a genuine relationship.
Seasons, Events, Holidays:
If you make multiple trips. Try to vary the time of year you go, so that the background of the photos clearly indicate this was a totally different trip. For example if the fiancee’s country has winter and summer, some photos with snow in the background, or wearing heavy coats easily delineate from another trip taken during the heat of summer. If the seasons
look similar, try to find backgrounds that indicate a seasonal holiday. The background might have a decorated Christmas Tree, or a Happy New Years
banner, or show an independence day, Kings Birthday or other national holiday, or celebration.
Time of Day:
Vary the time of day. Choose some photos taken at day and some at night.
Having your camera automatically insert the month,
day and year onto each photo. Is the simplest, and most effective way to demonstrate when your photos have been taken and that they have been taken on different days. Another way to also show the date is to find a background that shows the date, a sign in front of a wedding party, or a sign in a hotel lobby often show the date.
Vary the clothing you wear. Again you want to dispel any suggestion that you are taking all the photos on the same day. So each day of your trip vary the wardrobe that you and your partner are wearing.
So each photo that you say is taken on a different day, looks consistent with another day.
Friends or Coworkers:
If a couple is genuine, one would expect the proud
fiancee to ‘show off’ and introduce her fiance to her friends or coworkers or fellow students. So a group photo at her place of study, work or leisure with
her peers is a good choice.
A serious fiance will meet his new ‘in laws’ and especially want to meet her parents or family elders to ‘ask for her hand’. A photo showing the couple together with her happy ‘on board’ family is a must.
Less is More:
Don’t be repetitive. One of my clients gave me 12 pictures of him and his fiancee at a single restaurant. Of course, every single picture was precious to him and his fiancee. But they should be saved for the
family album not used for the visa petition. One, possibly two pictures telling about a moment in your time together is interesting. 10 pictures repeating the same story is boring and not effective at all. Better to share 12 photos that each and every one tell of a
different activity or event that occurred while the couple was enjoying their time together.
What you should Avoid:
You want to keep the Consular officer who is reviewing your petition and preparing to interview your fiancee, friendly and on your side, interested and feeling positively about you and your fiancee when he sees your photos. Each photo should bring him closer to identifying with you as a genuine couple. He may have strong moral, racial, religious and/s cultural biases. Be extra careful not to inadvertently offend him. If he feels offended, or that something is wrong, he will dig for problems until he finds justification to deny your case. Make sure your entire petition consistently leads him to be utterly convinced you are a bona fide couple
No Sexually Charged Images:
No Kissing or groping. My clients present me with a lot of photos with them kissing, hugging, the girl sitting on his lap, laying on a bed together or simply obviously in a hotel room. While none of these so far has been X rated, I am a liberal person, but I would be
uncomfortable if my daughter was in those pictures. Just show normal happy, friendly, comfortable couples.
No King Kong carrying Fay Raye, images:
When I see a 6 foot tall, 270 pound man, bear hugging while towering completely over a tiny 5′, 100 pound, girl. I can’t help but feel uncomfortable for her. Try to minimize size differences. Try mid range shots, or have both sitting down side by side, so their heads are about the same level.
Avoid Negative Body language:
Any negative body language by the couple obviously should be avoided. In addition look how the other people in the photo appear. I got one photo of a couple with her parents. The couple was smiling but the parents were scowling. Perhaps that’s the way the
parents always look. We will never know. But that particular photo made it appear they were not happy with the engagement. That could be a red flag.
Avoid Culturally Offensive Images:
I got a photo and the couple were in front of a statue of a character out of her countries cultural history. The couple made hand gestures like the character was wearing horns. Perhaps the CO would have thought that funny, like the couple did. Or perhaps he would have been offended. I would not take the chance.
Every week I catch one of my clients faking the dates on his trip photos. He took a few photos on one day, then falsely claimed they were taken on different days, so he could (he believed) tell a better story
about his trip. Ever CO carefully looks at the clothing the couple is wearing and the backgrounds in each picture. If told two pictures were supposedly taken a week apart, but the couple is wearing exactly the same outfit, the CO knows there is fraud going on. Don’t attempt to use photo processing software to fake photos. Once caught in even the smallest
misrepresentation, the entire petition is put in question. My clients were lucky I caught their ill advised attempt and stopped it before it could get
them into trouble.
My imaginary ideal of the timeline of a genuine romantic engagement
My ideal couple have been corresponding for 6 months or MORE. The man flys to meet her for the first time. They spend a week getting to know each other. She shows him her country. They are in love.
3 to 6 months later, he can’t bear to be apart from her any longer and flys back to her country. He stays longer this time. He meets her family. He gives her a ring. They have an engagement party. She shows him
more of her country.
Upon his return to the USA he submits the petition.
The photos this couple should attach to their Fiancee or Spousal, I-129F or I-130 petition are:
From First trip:
Photos of the couple together on different days, wearing different cloths, in various identifiable locations.
Same: Photos of the couple together on different days,
wearing different cloths, in various identifiable locations. Now added are photos with her family, and/or friends. An engagement party. She wearing the ring.
Certainly not everyone’s experience is like this ‘ideal case’. But the closer your courtship and engagement appears to be like that of other genuine
couples from her country and culture, the better.
When you choose the right photos, and tell a clear and compelling story, the more likely it is your petition will have smooth sailing.
To see samples of photos, and a video presentation that describes how to choose your photos go to:
Transcript of the Video
In preparing a fiance or spousal visa petition for USCIS it’s important to include some photos that proves that you and your life partner have met each other.
In addition you have the opportunity here to tell the story about your relationship and to to give the impression how sincere your relationship is. So it is important to choose the right photos and that’s what this presentation is all about.
My name is Fred Wahl and i am the Matchmaker and Webmaster at the Heart of Asia Romance Network.
We’ve been online for about fifteen years now and have helped thousands of couples usually from USA to overseas to Asia Pacific find each other and to get married and start families.
Almost everyday i get many phone calls from people advising the of their happiness, their success and asking questions about the Fiancee Visa process. It’s a bit complicated it needs to be done properly the first time. I’ve put together this presentation to help answer a lot of questions up front. I hope you enjoy and good luck in starting this adventure.I am not an attorney. I do not work for the US Government, I you need legal advice, please go to an attorney or to the Government.
What i provide here is practical, useful advice.
A successful visa petition is both art and science. The science is filling the blanks correctly and remembering to attach all of the required documents. The art comes in when you choose evidence to present that will convince even the most unfriendly and skeptical consular officer that you were a bona fide couple.
One element of the rainbow of evidence sources you have are the photographs that you send in. Imagine this as if you were giving a very short slideshow of holy amended too and you’re using that opportunity to tell your whole story. Choosing the right photos to show to immigration is extremely important. The simple purpose
of the photo is to show that the two of you have met face to face that’s accomplished with one photo, but to demonstrate your bona fide relationship you need to tell a complete story and this is going to be about choosing which photos to tell the story and even more importantly to talk about which photos NOT to share, which would hurt your chances.
It may seem pretty obvious in the photos you send them both you and your fiance should be visible in the photo. Only choose those photos that show positive body language between you and your Fiance.
Look at the couple on the left. They’re both smiling. They’re both leaning towards each other. They are in body contact. They obviously by their body language, by their posture show they are a happy couple. Compare this to the picture on the right, where it looks like they just had an argument.
If you only have tight tonight close-ups on the couple’s faces, the story is very limited. It shows the two of you together but you’ve already said that
a hundred times, so better that you pulled the frame out a little bit. Take the photos at mid-range so that we can identify the couple together as WELL as where you were and what you were doing. This shows that you spent time together and most importantly shows that you traveled and you did activities together and you were happy in each others presence
while you were doing it.
Try to go on more trips to visit your fiancee and if possible go at different times of the year is so your photos will reflect different seasons, or the different events or festivals for holidays that are going on so that they will be very clear when the picture was taken.
Take photos at different times of the day to show that you spent a lot of time together.
Having your camera automatically insert the month day and the year into each photo is the simplest and most effective way to demonstrate when your photos have been taken and that they have been taken over more than one day.
Pick some shots with friends or co-workers. If a couple is genuine one would expect the proud fiancee to show off and introduce her fiance to her friends or co-workers or fellow students.
A group photo at her place of study, work or leisure with her peers is a good choice.
A serious Fiance will meet his new in-laws and especially would want to meet her parents and or family elders to officially ask for her hand.
Photos showing the couple together with her happy and “all on board” family is of value.
Don’t be repetitive. One of my clients keep me twelve pictures of him and his fiancee at a single restaurant. Of course, each one of these pictures was very precious to him and his fiance. He should have saved these for the family album, not used for the purpose of the petition.
One possibly two pictures that tell about a particular moment in your time together is interesting and effective.
The consular officer will be reviewing your petition and then sitting down with your fiance interview her about your relationship. You want to make sure the photos that he sees, keep him friendly, and interested on your side: that he has a positive feeling about you and your fiance.
This person may have strong moral, racial, religious or cultural biases. Be extra careful not to inadvertently offend him. Do not allow any suggestion of sex, NO MATTER HOW SUBTLE, into the photos few you choose. No hugging, no pictures in the bedroom.
Avoid looking like King Kong with a tiny Faye Ray. Organize the photos so that you don’t seem to be overwhelming and overpowering to your Fiancee. Try mid-range shots, perhaps with both of you sitting down together so your heads are side by side.
Avoid negative body language shown by the OTHER people in the Photo. I got one photo of a couple with her parents. The couple is smiling, but the parents were scowling. Perhaps that’s the way the parents always look. I will never know, but that particular photo made it appear that the parents were not happy with the engagement. Such a photo should be avoided.
Be sure not to be culturally offensive. I got one photo and the couple were in front of a statue of the character out of her country’s cultural history. The couple were making hand gestures like the character was wearing horns.
Perhaps the consular officer would’ve thought that was funny, like the couple did or perhaps he would have been offended. I would not want to take that chance.
And also don’t cheat.
I’ve seen many photos where people have faked the date stamps on the photos. This will always get caught. Please don’t even attempt this.
Everyone’s case is going to be different, but my imaginary ideal of a timeline of an authentically romantic engagement would be as follows:
My ideal couple has been corresponding for six months or more. The man flies to meet her for the first time. They spend a week getting to know each other. She shows him her country. They are in love. Three to six months later he can’t bear to be apart from her any longer and flies back to her country. He stays longer this time and he meets her family her friends. He gives her her a ring. They are formally engaged. She shows him more of her country and upon his return to the USA he submits the Fiancee Visa petition.
Now the photos I would like to see from the first trip are just simple photos of the couple together, on different days, wearing different clothing in various identifiable locations. From the second trip, somewhat the same idea, again photos of the couple together on different days, different clothing, different locations but also added would be photos with her and her family with their friends, with an engagement party, she wearing the engagement ring.
If you need assistance to prepare your petition come to VisaCoach.com
For do-it- yourselfers, I will review your package and give you my comments before you submit to immigration. and finally also for do-it-yourselfers I have a two e- books one for Fiancee Visa applicants and another for Spousal Visa applicants.
By Fred Wahl
Fiancee Visa Coach