How to bring your Fiancee from Cuba to the USA
Your Cuban Fiancee needs permission from the US government to allow her or him to enter 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 fiance 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 fiance visa’s. In reality they were not seeking a marriage partner but only seeking admission to the USA. Gold diggers, gigolos, con-men even terrorists have used fiance visas as back door into the USA. Normally in USA one is “innocent until proven guilty”. Because of the bad apples who have abused fiance visas before you, now immigration takes the attitude “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”, they assumed no special effort to prove their situation was needed.
They assumed the consular officer would instantly approve.
So, they filled in the forms themselves, filing in basic “Name, rank and serial number” or they hired a cheap online form filling service.
Those cheap “bare bones” applications, are usually enough to get one’s “foot in the door”. It’s usually enough to get your fiancee sitting opposite a consular officer for the interview.
Sadly, just having your “chance at bat”, chance to interview, is Not enough win approval. It is not enough to demonstrate your application is “bona fide”.
Now the consular officer, must dig, ask a lot of questions, and it can easily deteriorate into what feels like an interrogation until he feels he has enough feeling about the case to make a yes or no decision.
If he is short of time, or impatient or close minded or in a bad mood, or if your Fiance is not fast and fluent 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”.
What that means is that, well, a consular officer starts with certain expectation of what an eligible couple looks like. If we show him proof that the couple’s situation matches his expectations, then we move the case towards approval.
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”.
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.
That’s what a bare bones DIY or cheap form filing service misses, a full set of well thought out, well selected, and properly presented persuasive evidences of a couple’s bona fides.
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 fiance 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 your fiance sits down.
The petition package is mailed to USCIS, the United States Customs and Immigration Service, to their offices in Dallas Texas.
In 2018 USCIS takes about 7 to 8 months to review and approve. This includes a criminal background check conducted on YOU, by the FBI.
This 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.
Fiance visa applications are held only briefly at NVC, usually a few weeks, just long enough for NVC to assign a new case number and forward your file via diplomatic pouch to the consulate in Georgetown, Guyana. Case numbers assigned to Georgetown begin with GUY
Recent history between US and Cuba has had its ups and downs. After 54 years of embargo, in 2015 the US restored diplomatic relations with Cuba, reopened the US embassy in Havana, and so it began that droves of US tourists, airlines, and cruise ships flocked to visit the country.
And, the fiancee’s of US citizens could have their visa applications processed and be interview at the US Embassy in Havana.
Two years later, the honeymoon was over. The US suspects that Cuba instigated some kind of “sonic attack” directed at the embassy compound, that caused headaches, brain injuries and hearing loss.
As a result all non-essential US diplomats were recalled from the Havana embassy and returned home.
Unfortunately the staff who processed and interviewed Cuban fiancees were all deemed non-essential, and so K1 visa interviews at Havana were discontinued.
A few months later, the State Department, chose the US Embassy in Bogota, Colombia to process all the pending fiancee cases.
This did not work out very well, as the Colombians required Cubans to apply for visas to Colombia in order to get to the country, and then to visit the US embassy. From 5 am, lines wrapped around the block of the Colombian embassy, and the 12 staff there were overwhelmed. In addition, the Colombians required each Cuban visitor to prove they had over $5000 cash in bank accounts before issuing a tourist visa to Colombia.
Finally, the State Department, changed plans, and assigned the US Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana to handle Cuban applicants. This so far has worked out well, as Cubans do not need visas to visit Guyana.
Once the case arrives at Guyana, the visa interview can usually be conducted in about 1 to 2 months later.
About the same time your case is on it’s way overseas, I update you on what the current procedures are at the consulate.
I guide you and your fiance on what needs to be done, how to schedule the interview, where to take the medical, what final fees are needed, and how to obtain required official documents such as Police Clearances and Certificates of Singleness or No Marriage.
I prepare the affidavit of support for your signature and I guide you to select which financial evidences are needed to demonstrate you are financially eligible to sponsor your fiancee
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, as even if a missing document is provided the following day, the consulate officers have already moved on to new cases, and they make it a very low priority to re-open a case to verify a case is complete after a late submission.
One to two weeks before the interview your Fiance must undergo, a thorough medical exam and review of his or her vaccinations conducted by one of two approved doctors whose clinics are both are located at St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital, Kingston, Georgetown
Finally your Fiance attends the interview at the US consulate in Georgetown.
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 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 Fiancee’s passport with visa are delivered, to her or him via courier, and then and your Fiancee has six months to start the trip to join you in the USA.
After arrival to the USA you have 90 days to marry.
Sorry, but even though, you have persevered and gotten the Fiance Visa, and your fiance has come to the USA, and you have had your wedding and honeymoon, US immigration is still not done with you. There will be two more times, we must apply to US immigration in order for your new Spouse to remain with you in the USA permanently.
We overcame their skepticism and convinced them that your relationship was bona fide so they issued the Fiance Visa. But I am afraid we have to do it all over again. And not once but twice.
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.
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, 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 Fiance Visa through to Conditional Green Card then Un-conditional Green Card and finally to US Citizenship
This was Fred Wahl, The VisaCoach