American men call me to tell me their story, sometimes it goes like this:
“I want her to come here first”
“I met this great gal online. She lives on the other side of the world. we haven’t met in-person yet, and I want to meet her face to face, but I am “too busy at work” or “afraid of flying” or “my health is poor” or simply “I want her to come here first”.
There is no Girlfriend Visa
Unfortunately for these guys, there is no such thing as a “girlfriend” visa. The closest alternatives are a Visitor visa (sometimes called a tourist visa) or a Fiance Visa.
But a fiancee visa requires that the couple has already met in-person, and not only that, but that they are dead serious to marry. The guys who called with their problem, aren’t quite ready to commit yet.
This leaves the B-2 Visitor visa.
The good news:
Applying for the B-2 visa only costs $160, and in a short month or two you have your answer.
The bad news:
To be approved, the consular officer must be convinced there is NO POSSIBLE CHANCE your girlfriend would overstay, or in any way try to remain in the USA permanently.
Maybe it is not yet on YOUR mind, but guaranteed, she IS thinking of a possible marriage and a life together with you in the USA. Her “intent to eventually live in the USA” makes her ineligible for the visa.
“Sorry, you applied for the wrong visa”
Most consulate officers response at the end of the interview would be “Sorry, you applied for the wrong visa. The fiance visa is the one you should apply for instead. Work out the eligibility requirements with your boyfriend first, then apply for the K-1 fiance visa, and I will see you here again at the end of that process”
Even though the Visitor Visa is very likely to be denied, many couples apply anyway, in hopes of winning the lottery.
And some, DO win and Do get their visas. It depends on the consular officer.
Follow the rules, you have got nothing to lose.
Being denied for a visitor visa, because she “applied for the WRONG visa” should not hurt her chances for any future visas.
Everything she says will be REMEMBERED
HOWEVER, everything she says is placed into her immigration record. She must be very careful to ALWAYS tell the truth. If she is ever caught making fraudulent statements to a consular officer, that may result in her being banned from getting ANY visa to the USA, FOREVER.
Where the temptation to lie is greatest, is when she is asked
“What is the purpose of your trip?”, “Who do you know in the USA?” or “Who is paying for your trip?”
If the truthful response is. “My Boyfriend, My Boyfriend, My Boyfriend.” She better say so.
Always tell the truth
When dealing with immigration, always tell the truth. Don’t volunteer information, but always provide honest answers. If the answer truly is “my boyfriend” or “my fiance”, then that is exactly what MUST be said.
In the majority of cases, she will most likely be denied the visitor visa.
Later, when she applies for a fiance or spouse visa, the chance of getting that visa should be high (especially when the couple hires me to coach them) HOWEVER, if she was caught lying to US immigration, even if it was for something as un-important as visitor visa, her chances of getting the LIFE-CHANGING fiance or spouse visa will be hurt.
Don’t expect a positive outcome if today while being interviewed for a visitor visa she denies knowing you, then a few months later, in front of the same consular officer she changes the story to tell him you have been a serious couple engaged for over a year.
I make the process sound simple. But its not.
If you want it done right. Guaranteed. I can help.
your Personal Visa Coach
Is your Case Denied or “On hold”
Consular officers are human too. Like us, they prefer to avoid ugly scenes and confrontation. Unfortunately this means that at the end of an interview where the visa has not been approved often the “wishy washy” statements made by the CO don’t let the applicant truly know whether he had been denied or is on hold.
Allow me to unravel the secret language of the consulate
“Administrative Processing” or “Sent back to USCIS”
If the CO says the “application is in Administrative Processing” or AP, this means your application is still in play. Either a document or evidence is missing, and the CO explains what it is and asks the applicant to submit it as soon as possible, or the CO plans to have something checked out. This could be a meeting with his supervisor, a phone call to confirm applicant statements, independent verification of police clearances, additional background checks, and so on.
The time it takes for AP to be concluded (even if only a simple document was missing, and promptly produced) is open ended. It might be resolved in days, or many months. The best the applicant can do is quickly and completely provide any requested evidences, then wait for results.
Returned to USCIS = Denied
If the CO says “the application has been returned to the States”, or “returned to USCIS”. The application is denied. Dead Jim, dead. If the consular officer adds any comments, they usually are.
“You can always file an appeal”
“You can always file an appeal”. That is correct. You can. As consular decisions are rarely (read never) overturned, filing the appeal is a waste of both time and money. However the CO will say that, not so much as helpful advice, but mostly as a way to get the applicant out of his office without further fuss or delay.
What should you do?
First find out what is going on. The American sponsor should email the consulate and ask them what the status of the case is. Simply and directly ask: “is our case in administrative processing or was it denied?”
If the answer is “administrative processing” ask what you can do (if anything) to get the case back on track. Do it. Then wait. Its difficult to be patient, but that is the most realistic course of action.
Ignore the Platitudes and get back to work
If the answer is denied, ignore the platitudes “you can appeal”, “USCIS will review your case” and get started on your next visa petition. Nothing positive ever came of USCIS appeals or reviews.
Unless you plan to abandon your foreign love, you should reapply. This time make sure you do an overall better job, and especially pay extra attention to and correct the issues that caused the denial.
When couples come to me, after being denied, to help them for their second “at bat”, I first reconstruct what went wrong, then help them plan a winning strategy for a revised, second attempt based upon my help, guidance, and the effective use of the signature “front loaded” petitions that I craft.
Done Right, the FIRST time
If you get denied, you are welcome to call on me to help. The smarter choice, of course, in order to avoid extra costs, an extra year of separation, as well as frustration and heartache, is simply to is enlist my help from the onset, to make sure your petition is done right, the first time.
By Fred Wahl
During the last two months USCIS has been incredibly fast, consistently approving cases in only 2 – 3 months.
Congratulations Alan (USA) and Maria (Philippines)
USCIS I129F approval in 42 days ! July 17 to Aug 28.
Congratulations Aiden (USA) and Vatthana (Laos)
USCIS I129F approval in 4 months days ! May 1 to Aug 30
Congratulations Steven (USA) and Rengen (Philippines)
USCIS I129F approval in 32 days August 2 to Sep 3
Congratulations Cristopher (USA) and Amparo (Philippines)
USCIS I129F approval in 98 days May 29 to Sep 4
Congratulations Steve (USA) and Rosanna (Philippines)
USCIS I129F approval in 46 days July 25 to Sep 9
Congratulations Tuan (USA) and Lenneth (Philippines)
USCIS I129F approval in 60 days July 12 to Sep 10
Congratulations Terry (USA) and Apasanan (Thailand)
USCIS I129F approval in 67 days July 8 to Sep 13
Congratulations Harry (USA) and Mython (Vietnam)
USCIS I129F approval in 47 days July 31 to Sep 16
This compares to 9 months it took for most cases around this time last year, and the long term USCIS average of 5 months.
Most of the credit must be given to the new Texas Processing Center which is taking over delayed and pending cases from California and Vermont, as well as receiving new Fiancee and Spouse visa cases.
The National Visa Center (NVC) operated by the Department of State receives all the approved cases from USCIS, touches each case, and assigns and forwards them to the destination consulates or embassies that will conduct interviews and issue the visas.
Just like when a thunderstorm dumps inches of rain up-river, eventually a wave front, or flash flood, of tons of water eventually arrive downstream.
Apparently the wave front of approved cases from USCIS has overtopped the dikes at NVC. They are not able to process the cases as fast as they arrive and they are piling up. I am getting calls from clients now, whose cases should have quickly passed through NVC weeks ago, which NVC has NOT EVEN ENTERED into their database yet. One can imagine NVC’s mailroom is overflowing with new (unopened) cases, and more arriving every day.
Slow, fast, whatever: the best way to endure the K1 Fiancee or CR1 Spouse Visa process is to do an awesome job in preparing a comphrehensive “front loaded” petition, then, then, exercizing patience.
The sooner we start working on your petition, the SOONER your lover gets their visa.
To get started TODAY. Call me 1-800-806-3210 x 702
Your lover needs permission from the US government to allow her to enter the USA. This is called a visa.
The visa your lover would be eligible for would be the K1 fiance visa (if you sincerely intend to marry once she arrives) or the CR1 spouse visa (if you are already married)
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 petition package is mailed to the United States Customs and Immigration Service.
USCIS takes about 4 to 5 months to review and approve.
USCIS then hands the case over to the US State Department’s National Visa Center.
Fiance visa applications are held only briefly at NVC, just long enough for NVC to decide which embassy or consulate should handle the case, and then send it there.
For spouse visas NVC gets more deeply involved requesting a second packet of forms and civil documents,and once satisfied, forwarding the case on to the assigned embassy or consulate.
Once her petition has arrived, your lover contacts the consulate to schedule her interview.
About a week or more before her interview date she undergoes a medical exam at a clinic appointed by the consulate.
Finally she attends an interview at the US consulate. She must demonstrate she is of good moral character and the relationship is bone fide.
One to Two weeks later she gets her visa, and can join you in the USA.
I make the process sound simple. But its not.
It is easy to make rookie mistakes that can derail the entire process.
If you want it done right. Guaranteed. I can help.
by Fred Wahl
Fiancee Visa Coach
The Fiancee Visa Interview is the final hurdle of the Fiancee Visa petition process. The consular officer asks questions
to confirm the engagement for marriage is “bone fide” and that you are of good moral character.
At the end of the interview the decision is made to approve or deny the visa.
It is a stressful time for you as so much hinges on making a good impression.
The secret to success? Preparation
Preparation for the interview starts BEFORE the petition for your visa is even submitted.
Encourage your American Fiance to include, ample and compelling evidences of your courtship and relationship, as part of the original petition package submitted to HomeLand Security. It should include photos, travel proofs, samples of correspondences,phone bills, affidavits from people who know the two of you as a couple,and whatever other proofs that show your engagement is “bone fide”.
I call including these materials “front – loaded” the petition.
A well prepared “Front – Loaded” submission to USCIS, helps convince the Consular Officer, as he reviews your case documents before the interview begins,
that your intentions for for a visa for marriage to you American lover is sincere and should be approved. When a ‘Front loaded” petition is done properly, your interview may be very short and sweet.
But don’t rely ONLY on a front – loaded petition.
Do your homework too.
Make sure you KNOW who your fiancee is. Get to know him well. Ask him to tell you about his background, his family, his work, his plans.
Encourage your Fiance to visit often and to spend as much time with you, as he can afford. The more “together time” you spend with him the better you know him, and the more first hand stories you can share during the interview, the easier the interview will seem.
Go to my website for a list of sample interview questions and practice them with your Fiance, until you your answers are relaxed and fluent.
Schedule your medical exam at the consulate designated clinic a week or earlier before the interview.
This avoids rescheduling your visa interview, in case the clinic takes longer than usual to process your lab test results.
The consulate gives you a a checklist of documents to carry to the interview.
Go over the list carefully. Make sure you have everything.
Do a final review of all of the documents and evidences. Read each carefully, familiarize yourself with what they say. Often the answers to questions the consular officer asks are right there.
Your verbal answers should be consistent with the written answers.
Arrange all documents, photos and evidences into a logical order. A document wallet works well.
Practice so that you know where everything is, and can without fumbling quickly find whatever you need.
Review the appointment letter, so you know where and when the interview is being held.
Double check any special rules or procedures, like no cell phones, which gate to use, etc.
Finally allow plenty of time to arrive on time.
by Fred Wahl
Fiancee Visa Coach
How soon can one submit the I-129F petition for Fiance Visa? FAQ#13
The simple answer is, before you submit
“Look around you and get an idea of what is normal”.
The consular officers are trained to seek fraud.
One way they look for fraud is to compare your story
with that of the other couples they interview.
The closer your courtship and timeline looks similar to
what is considered normal (for her country, for your cultures)
the less skepticism.
The further away from the norm, especially on the side
of cutting corners and rushing things, the more skepticism
your petition attracts.
Compare the timeline of your courtship, from your first date
to the day you proposed marriage, compare this with the
timelines of other average couples,from the same culture,and country.
If it is common practice to rush to engagement and elope after only a few
weeks, then your short relationship is consistent with the norm,
and therefore looks reasonable,
If common practice is to have long courtships followed by long engagements,
then your short relationship is NOT consistent with the norm,
time to slow down.
Each situation is different, each consular officer
applies his own experience and judgement.
by Fred Wahl
Fiancee Visa Coach
A group of Immigration attorneys who help prepare and submit Fiancee K-1 and Spousal CR-1 visas are rallying together to complain and lobby against apparent procedural problems at the US visa section, Guangzhou China.
In reviewing their in-house data, and then combining this data across the different firms, they believe their statistics demonstrate that the Visa Section in Guangzhou is denying an abnormally high percentage of K-1 and CR-1 petitions. The attorneys assertion is that the visa officers in Guangzhou are over zealous in applying a higher standard than is official State Department policy. They believe this has resulted in Petitions which routinely would be approved at any other consulate, being unfairly denied in Guangzhou. Based on their own review of the denied cases, the attorneys have intuited the following list of extra-ordinary reasons they believe K petitions were denied in Guangzhou.
No English, No Visa.
One Visit, No Visa.
Marriage on First Visit, no Visa.
Very Large Age Different, No Visa.
Three or More marriages by Petitioner, No Visa.
These are the apparent “Red Flags” when applying for the Fiancee or Spousal visa in China. It seems that these could also negatively influence the consideration of your petition in other countries as well. To “err” on the safe side, I would suggest to any couple to strengthen the appearance of their genuine relationship, by addressing some of the issues listed above.
Enroll the Fiancee in English School if her English is weak.
Take a second trip. Enjoy a second or third visit, spend face to face time together.
In the case of the denied petitions, true love finally won out. Each denied Fiancee couple, got married, in China, then applied again, this time for an IR1 or CR1 visa, and after long delays, these were granted.
by Fred Wahl
Fiancee Visa Coach
Avoid having your Vietnam Fiancee Visa Denied
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.
Like the consulate in China, see my other blog posting
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
(English no problem).
In addition they expect each petitioner to have celebrated a large, formal engagement party and banquet called “Dinh Hong” (but not on the first trip).
Some of their “official” reasons for denial are:
submitted as evidence of the relationship indicate that Petitioner and
Fiancee have spent only four or five days together.
is their “code” what it really means is “only one trip = no visa”. If
only one trip, it doesn’t matter how many photos you give)
does not appear that the claimed relationship is continuous and on
going. For example, Petitioner has not returned to visit Fiancee for
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.
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.
decision to approve or deny is generally made by the consular officer
before he meets with the Fiancee, before the interview. This is why
taking the extra effort to make a complete and convincing petition at
the start is essential to your success. If the officer has decided to
deny, he will ask her detailed questions about the “proposal, the
petitioners home town or the future wedding plans”. Any answer the
Fiancee gives will not be “credible”.
chronology of the claimed relationship is not credible. For example,
Fiancee can not recalled when Petitioner proposed to her.
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 multiple 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 documents, was not allowed to show
the proof, instead was asked a few questions and left, denied due to
the weak initial petition documentation.
Submit a stronger petition with more “proof of a genuine relationship”, UP FRONT.
Contrary to official statements, decisions to accept or deny a petition
are often made early, prior to the interview, while the consular
officer is reviewing your petition. The officer then asks pointed
questions during the interview in order to justify the decision he has
ALREADY made. Be sure to provide all proof of your genuine relationship
“up front” in the petition.
See my video on How to Prove a Genuine Relationship
to successfully petition: Immediately take extra care to ensure that
your “paper trail” is solid, and put at least two trips to meet her
into your plans, sign her up for English lessons if her conversational
English is not good, and celebrate your “Dinh Hong” during one of your
If you are using a prepaid phone card make sure it
provides you with itemized call records. These are the best proof that
you are making regular and frequent contact. If your current phone card
does not give you an itemized call logs
petitions generally get approved faster than average. This is due to
the professional way I assemble your petition package, including
extensive, but very necessary efforts needed when applying for a
Vietnam fiancee, to prove the “bona fides” of your genuine committed
by Fred Wahl
Fiancee Visa Coach
When one of the couples I was helping was going through the medical at St. Lukes, the American let me know that this was a very stressful time for his fiancee, and he suggested that it would be very helpful if more information was provided for the gal before the medical. So here goes.
Thanks to Gerald for his suggestion and help in putting this together.
In order to approved for immigration to the USA each foreign born applicant must undergo a medical examination. This is to demonstrate that the applicant is NOT ineligible for immigration due to public health, mental health or drug abuse issues.
All applicants being processed in the Philippines have their medical’s at St. Lukes Medical Center in Ermita, just a block away from the US Embassy.
Below is a detailed description of the process.
St. Luke’s Medical Center Extension Clinic (SLMCEC)
1177 J. Bocobo Street, Ermita, Manila
Telephone Numbers: (+63 2)521-0020, (+63 2)521-8647
Working Days/Hours: Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. and from 1:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m. (Closed on Philippines holidays)
The medical takes 2 days.
Day 1 consists of all the tests
Day 2 is immunization and collection of results.
$ 213.25 – 15 years and older
$ 185.35 – less than 15 years old
Each Applicant should bring the following
- Original Passport and 1x photocopy of passport Info page
- 3x recent 2×2 pictures. Ears are visible, and no earrings.
- Appointment Email or Letter, plus 2x photocopies
(if appointment has not been scheduled, instead bring NVC letter with MNL case number)
- St. Lukes Online Registration form + 1x photo copy
- Vaccination Records
- Cash to pay fees
- Annulled or divorced applicants bring proof of marriage termination
- Eat a hearty breakfast (it will be a long day)
- Bring Drinking water, in clear container
- Bring a black ink, ballpoint pen
- Bring envelope or portfolio to contain your documents
- The best timing for Day #1 is Wednesday or Thursday.
(Monday and Tuesday are most busy, and arriving Friday means having Day #2 after the weekend on Monday)
- Don’t wear any metal jewelry
Recommendations for female:
- You may not undergo exam during your menstrual period. Best to schedule one week after last period is over.
- Remember the date, of the first day of your last period. You will be asked this.
- Wear loose clothing, that can easily be removed. All UPPER garments will at one point be removed.
- There is little privacy so better to avoid wearing full dress.
- Bring something to tie long hair with.
1. Doors open at 6:00am. People start queuing much earlier.
2. Present documents to guard. He gives you a number.
3. When staff calls the number, queue at her counter.
(Filling out the registration form online the night before speeds this part.)
Staff confirms all required documents are present, photos are acceptable, and scans finger prints.
4. Pay medical fees on 5th floor, on right, beside the elevator.
5. Proceed to the 3rd floor for X-ray. Fill in more forms, change into hospital gowns. No upper garments, bra, or necklace allowed.
Hair should be tied up.
6. Proceed to 4th floor, for Blood sample collection.
7. Proceed to Urine Collection (also 4th floor).
8. Proceed to 5th floor to “USA Counter” located on right. Present documents.
9. Proceed to Visual Exam Room. There for measuring of body weight, height, and vision.
10. Proceed to Vital Signs Room, for blood pressure and pulse rate.
11. Proceed to Physical Exam rooms. (Applicants are assigned same gender doctors.)
Doctor first inquires about medical history, such as previous pregnancies, last menstrual period, surgeries and diseases experienced. Then change into a hospital gown and on to examination table. Doctor examines ears, throat, neck, breasts, wrists, arms, abdomen, anus, privates.
12. Proceed to 2nd floor for Immunization Interview. Doctor asks about medical history, prior diseases, prior vaccinations, then prescribes which immunizations would be required.
13. Proceed to Ground Floor. Check out at reception. Staff returns documents, plus a Receipt to be used when returning on following day.
1. Arrive for 9:00 am.
2. Guard inspects Receipt, and refers to his computer.
3. If previous days exams were satisfactory, the receipt is marked immunization and you go to 2nd floor for vaccinations.
A copy of exam results are given to you. (you will hand these over when arriving to the USA, at US border control)
and a sealed copy of your exam results is sent directly to the US consulate.
For Most applicants this is the final step prior to the consulate interview.
4. However, if your x-ray showed a possible TB infection, then the receipt is marked sputum and you proceed to undergo a sputum test to confirm if this was a false positive or sign of a real infection.
The doctor gives case specific instructions which normally include requesting a follow up exam at St. Lukes a few months later, to review the sputum results. St. Lukes contacts the consulate directly to postpone your interview. A new interview can be scheduled only after St. Lukes provides clearance.
by Fred Wahl
Fiancee Visa Coach
Fiancee or Spousal visa Red Flags Consular officers review each Fiancee or spousal Visa case to decide if, in the officer’s opinion, the couple has a genuine relationship and is worthy of visa approval. There are some factors that will raise the consular officers suspicions. So called ‘red flags’. These will not necessarily cause denial, But serve to ‘raise the bar’ resulting in the reviewing officer applying greater diligence.
Some of these ‘red flags’ are:
Foreign Fiancee’s Background
- The foreign fiancee is from a ‘Hi-risk’ country
(where rate of visa fraud is higher than average)The foreign fiancee has been petitioned for by a different American
The foreign fiancee has two or more previous marriages
The foreign fiancee has a history of failed visa application attempts
American Sponsor’s Background
The American sponsor has petitioned for other foreign women.
The American sponsor has two or more previous marriages.
Who performed the Introduction
The couple were introduced by a relative of the foreign fiancee.
The trip to meet was arranged, escorted by, and/or paid for, by the fiancee’s relative
The couple met using an online website specializing in introducing foreign women to American men. A so called ‘International Marriage Broker’
Speed of relationship’s progress
The couple became engaged/married after only knowing each other for a short time
The couple became engaged PRIOR to their first “face to face” meeting.
The couple submitted their petition after only knowing each other for a short time
Quality of Relationship
Limited ongoing and regular communications, or limited EVIDENCE
of ongoing and regular communication
The couple has only spent brief “face to face” time together.
The couple has not met “face to face” for an excessively long time
A significant age difference between the couple
They can not communicate fluently in a common language
(they rely on human or electronic translators)
If you have have many ‘red flags’ don’t despair. In general they can be resolved by direct action. Moving too fast?, slow down. English weak?, language school. Too little ‘face to face’ time, fly. Paper trail non-existent, start saving.
Can’t ‘fix’ a red flag.
You won’t be able to fix all. Can’t change your age, or the past actions. But
what you CAN do is improve the quality of your case by having more shared experiences, more longevity, and as much ‘face to face time’ as time and money permit.
Submit a ‘Front-Loaded’ Petition
When ready, submit a well prepared petition that includes a thorough ‘front-loaded’ evidence package that tells your story, to its best effect. Prove your case with the original petition, so well, and so completely, that the consular officer who reviews the petition package immediately prior to your gal’s interview, will be so impressed, that the interview becomes a relaxed and brief 5 minute formality, instead of a 15 to 30 minute ordeal.
- by Fred Wahl
Fiancee Visa Coach