Denied Fiance Visa 101: Starting Over
The final decision to approve or deny a Fiance Visa application is made by the consular officer who interviews your fiance in her home country. The CO’s job is not easy. Most standard visa applicants bring with them solid proof of their eligibility for the visa. For example, an applicant for a student visa, shows his acceptance to college, an applicant for a work visa has a job offer, an applicant for an investor visa has shows his bank accounts.
Anyone can say they are in love.
What is truly in a persons heart though is impossible to prove. The consular officer knows of, and perhaps has even been personally embarrassed by, some of the many well documented cases of fraud, that have slipped through the best screening efforts.
He is on the lookout for couples where the foreign fiance is scamming the American, or the American is willingly colluding with the foreigner, all for a chance to move to the USA Continue reading “Red Flags that Cause Denial”
During the past 2 weeks I got calls from THREE different couples (none of them previously MY clients) who had been denied for their K1 Fiancee visas at the consulate.
What were the common factors?
After President Trump came into office many changes were made at immigration. Two of these were implemented when the application for a K1 Fiance Visa, the I129f was last revised. The addition of two questions, a total of just 60 easily overlooked words, has caused many applicants expensive and time consuming extra work to demonstrate their eligibility for a fiance visa, and for those who did not correctly answer the new questions, some have gotten denied.
Under President Trump’s watch, major changes were made to the application form used for a fiancee visa. These modifications greatly changed the I-129F. Previously it was six pages long. Now it is 13.
Some of the new questions that have been added are sure to cause problems for many applicants.
Previously the American sponsor was asked whether he had been convicted for a few, but VERY serious crimes. Such as domestic violence, child abuse, murder, rape, or three or more drug or alcohol convictions. Those who had these convictions were automatically in-eligible to apply for the visa. If an American sponsor had been convicted of such crimes, he already knew he would have problems in applying. It wasn’t any surprise, they expected extra hurdles, and were prepared to address them. In in some cases we could apply for waivers and obtain approval of the fiancee visa regardless of the checkered past.
But, NOW, two new questions have been added. And these are often overlooked. And ignoring them may cause delays and denials. And addressing them is an extra hurdle to jump.
These two questions are:
#1. Has the American Sponsor EVER been the subject of any type of restraining or protection order?
#2. Has the American Sponsor EVER been arrested, cited, charged, indicted, convicted, fined or imprisoned, for any law, any ordinance, ANYTIME. ?
Let’s start with the first one, about Restraining or protection orders. These could be something serious from the past, however more often, I find that these were issued as part of contentious divorces as strategy versus real cause and need..
in many cases the ex-spouse’s attorney had advised to issue restraining orders in order to obtain leverage during negotiations for custody and property settlements. As our fiance visa sponsor wasn’t really a person who had done anything to merit a protection order, he may have tried to put the painful break up and divorce out of his mind, and forgotten the specifics of the divorce process.
Well if he does forget and fails to to answer the question correctly, his fiancee visa petition is in jeopardy of denial.
The second new question is even more all encompassing. ANY crime, any arrest, any convictions. This covers a lot of ground. That arrest for trespassing when you as a teenager skateboarded on school grounds after closing, the time you were removed from a bar after defending a friend who was in an argument, the time you were driving the car and a police search the police found contraband that belonged to your passenger, but you as driver got charged for, and so on and so on.
Of course most of these issues were probably forgotten, having occurred long long ago, sometimes many decades earlier. And often times a judge or lawyer or someone in authority said “don’t worry about it, this will not be on your permanent records, the records will be erased, or expunged”. Well, expunged, on or off the books, forgotten, no matter what, if it ever occurred, WHENEVER it ever occurred, in order to apply for a fiancee the answer must be given yes, and details provided.
If one innocently forgets and neglects to answer the question accurately, runs the risk that when the FBI with all of their resources and all of their oversight finds out that the answer should’ve been yes, but you didn’t admit it, your application is ready to be denied.
The new issue, is not “what the crime was” but whether or not you admitted it. To be found in accurate on any of the immigration questions, regardless of how apparently immaterial or irrelevant they may seem, can be grounds for denial
So be warned, that under President Trump, and the policy to restrict legal immigration, you will be faced with and booby traps like never before. Now more than ever in-experience can lead to mistakes that causes delays and denials.
The safest way to navigate the system to obtain your happy life in the USA that you and your loved one deserves, is by choosing someone who is knowledgeable to help you. Choose someone who Is always aware of any rule or policy changes, intimately aware of how the system works, where the traps and quicksand are, and who is here to help you successfully get visa approval. Of course I mean me.
By Fred Wahl
Today I am going to answer the question “Does prior visa denial hurt K1 or CR1 chances?”
This is important to know because most couples don’t really have any knowledge or experience with immigration and it is only after finding each other and falling in love that you find out that it’s not as easy as you had imagined to move from country to country. Often times you just jump right in and apply for whatever visa you think might be CONVENIENT. Maybe a visitor visa, maybe a student visa, maybe an au pair visa because it seems easy, appears to be fast, and could allow the two of you to maybe live together in the USA and to get to know each other much better, but still giving you a lot of flexibility and time before forcing you to make a decision whether or not to get married.
The problem with that, is that by rushing in, applying for the wrong visa, and getting denied, can come back to haunt you when you finally apply for the important, the life changing visa that you are actually eligible for, that actually has a chance of success, the fiance or spouse visa.
Eventually your fiance or spouse will be faced opposite a consular officer at the US consulate and there will be interviewed, sometimes interrogated. Continue reading “Prior Visa Denials”
USCIS recently announced new contracts given to companies to search through social media to collect data on Fiance and other visa applicants.
Collection starts October 18. If you have any “suspect” exposure, you have only a few more days to take it down.
One of VisaCoach’s clients has already experienced denial due to his Facebook presence.
This couple’s case was as near perfect as we have seen. They were young and in love. They had known each other for a few years and had met more than once. They were evenly matched by age, values and religion. Their “front loaded” petition was awesome and included many solid evidences of their bona fides.
The American sponsor even accompanied his fiancee to the interview to demonstrate his sincerity and support for the petition.
After a brief interview where the sponsor was not allowed to join in nor asked any questions before, during or after, the consular officer, denied the case.
The couple was devastated and confused. What could have gone wrong?
A consular officer who exhibits professionalism will state the reasons for denial in writing. And provide this to the rejected applicant immediately, often at the close of the interview itself.
You may not agree with the decision, but at least know what it was and then have a starting point for renewed efforts.
The officer refused to provide any verbal or written explanation.
All the couple had was the fiancee’s memory of the interview. I asked her to write a transcript of what happened, to recall exactly what was said and even what the body language was, so that we could study this in an attempt to reconstruct what MIGHT have been in the consular officer’s mind.
What seemed odd and out of context, was the consular officer made some comments about “conservative values” and what is a “woman’s role in society and in the home”.
Those comments seemed rather strange at the time and the foreign born fiancee had no idea where those comments came from.
Eventually it dawned on us. The American sponsor is active on FaceBook. He is outspoken and his views are somewhat “anti feminist”. He had posted on his social media pages, and entered into many online debates, his ideas on conservative values, and HIS ideas about a women’s role in the home and society.
He is not a bad guy. Not a bad husband. He was just expressing his free speech. He just had some strong views that are not popular, that are not considered “politically correct”.
The consular officer did her own internet search, found his activity and “Was NOT amused”, and denied, putting this loving couple’s life’s on hold.
Was it fair or reasonable that they were denied?. No, I don’t think so.
Happy end to the story. We took down his Facebook account, reapplied, and six months later they had their visa and began their married life together in Alaska.
One random consular officer searching on Facebook ended in a denial.
What will happen when ALL Fiance and Spouse applications are accompanied by a detailed dossier of one’s online statements, comments jokes, embarrassments, positive and negative feedback from friends or trolls?
Expect disaster. Expect many more denials, simply due to exercising a US Citizen’s right to free speech.
“Freedom of Speech”, doesn’t mean freedom to get your visa. The prudent path is prior to applying for a Fiance or Spouse visa to make sure there are no skeletons in your online closet. Clean or temporarily remove, or make private, potentially controversial aspects of your online and public presence before proceeding with your visa application.
By Fred Wahl
Two to three times each week I get calls from distraught Americans, who are reeling in shock and disappointment after hearing from their heartbroken fiancee or spouse their visa petition was denied. I am sorry for their distress, but glad to say they were not VisaCoach clients. They attempted this process alone, or used a cheap online form filling service or used an unseasoned attorney or consultant. And now, after disaster, finally are calling VisaCoach. Too bad they did not find me sooner.
“The consular officer treated my partner rudely and unfairly”
“Can we sue the consulate? Can we appeal? “
Yes, all those actions CAN be taken. Unfortunately, none will bring your lover closer to reunion with you in the USA.
What can be done, that is USEFUL?
Don’t get Denied in the first place. The first time you apply should be the ONLY time.
In most cases winning or losing the visa occurs not at the interview, but in what is done before the application is actually submitted and how complete the application is.
The requirements for approval at each consulate are based upon the local culture and societal norms of the country where the consulate is based. Each has their own “sub rosa” (meaning secret and unpublished) guidelines for what a bona fide couple is expected to have done during their courtship and what proofs and evidences they should reasonably have. Some consulates require a formal engagement, multiple trips, a long courtship. Some consulates are hyper suspicious regarding red flags, such as significant age difference, multiple prior marriages, english fluency, how the couple met. A different consulates may not consider these as issues at all.
This is where the higher VisaCoach standard, for crafting “front loaded presentations” wins the day. The consular officer always reviews the case file before the interview starts. To the cursory review, he brings a blank pad of paper, where he plans to list areas that appear suspicious, so he can drill down on those issues during the interview.
The VisaCoach method is to start by advising you on what you should do to satisfy your consulates expectations on what makes a bona fide couple, and showing you how to document what you should do, and finally to include those evidences by “front loading” them into your visa application. I help you write a letter to describe your courtship, relationship and plans for a future together. And if there are any red flags the consulate may be concerned with we explain why they should be ignored.
The final result is that the consular officer during his review of the application, immediately before the interview begins, finds many good reasons why he should be comfortable to say yes, and approve the visa. When we convince him during his quiet review and deliberations that he should say “yes”, and have mentally prepared him to say “yes”, we have prepared the way for a short and friendly interview that ends with “Welcome to the USA”
What REALISTICALLY should be done If Denied?
Answer: Start Over
On denial, USCIS advises “you may appeal the decision”. In practice, appeals are rarely successful, as you must prove that the consular officer made a mistake in procedure, not that his intuition was wrong. Appeals typically take about 6 to 12 months waiting to get the final answer, which is most likely “no”. Filing the appeal costs $630, compared to $340 to refile for Fiance or $420 to refile for Spouse.
Once denied, in general your effective option is to start over, repeating the ENTIRE process again.
This time do a better job with VisaCoach’s help.
On the plus side, you now have hired VisaCoach to keep you on course, avoid mistakes, and to powerfully present your evidences.
What went wrong?
When working to resubmit a denied case, the first thing VisaCoach does is find out what went wrong. I review the evidences and documents that were submitted, the denial letter from the consulate and a detailed account and transcript of the interview.
Upon review of the evidences and interview I usually have a good idea on what was “on the consular officers mind”, and especially important for future success: what his suspicions were. Then I suggest an action plan for you to follow, on what you should do to develop additional evidences, proofs and timeline so that we can win your case.
The issues we can solve by action, we solve. The issues we can’t solve, I help you explain why they are not relevant and should be ignored.
VisaCoach Front Loaded Presentation
Once past mistakes have been corrected, we assemble, a compelling petition much stronger, and more believable than what the consular officer previously based his decision on. This time by telling your improved story in a logical and convincing manner and backing it up with well chosen evidences and proofs, your chances of success are greatly improved.
By Fred Wahl
What is the status of your case? is it “Administrative Processing” or “Sent back to USCIS” ?. 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
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. Continue reading “Denied or on hold, Administrative Processing or Sent Back”
Despite ones best efforts, sometimes the answer is “no”..
If that should happen to you, here are my suggestions:.
FIRST be sure to confirm, what is your status.
Are you REALLY denied, or just “on hold”. Continue reading “What can you do if visa is Denied ?”
The Fiancee Visa Interview is the final hurdle of the Fiancee Visa petition process. Sometimes, despite being terribly in-Love and ABSOLUTELY CONFIDENT you did EVERYTHING perfectly, and your fiance answered each question perfectly, sometimes, anyway, the answer is “NO !! Visa Denied”
A few times each week, I hear from couples who reach out to me, well, AFTER the damage is done. They call after the interview, usually in tears, once the unpleasant words from the consular officer have struck home, and the realization that their plans for reunion, wedding, honeymoon, and starting their lives together soon, have all been crushed. Continue reading “5 Steps to take after K1 Visa Denial”
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 Guangzhou Problems 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 Hon” (but not on the first trip).
Some of their “official” reasons for denial are:
Photographs submitted as evidence of the relationship indicate that Petitioner and Fiancee have spent only four or five days together.
(This 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)
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.
The 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”.
Beneficiary’s chronology of the claimed relationship is not credible. For example, Fiancee can not recalled 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 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.
Strategy 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 Hon” during one of your trips.
By Fred Wahl
Your Personal Immigration Guide
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.
By Fred Wahl
Your Personal Immigration Guide
Madeleine lives in Canada about 100 miles north of the US border. Joshua her American fiance lives in Buffalo. Because they both live so close to the border they have been able to spend many weekends together. Either she goes down to meet him or he drives up to meet her
Their happy courtship continued this way until one time when Madeleine was stopped at the border and asked by the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer what was the purpose of her trip ? This was after he had checked her computerize record of border crossings and he had noticed she had been making many frequent trips. She told him she has a boyfriend in Buffalo and they were just spending some time together. He said OK go on through. A few weeks later she was at The same border checkpoint embarking on another visit to her fiance, a different officer said You’ve been visiting the US so much its almost like you are living here. That is not the purpose of the visitor waiver you have been using. If you are serious about your relationship and possibly living permanently the USA you will have to apply for a fiancee visa or get married and apply for a spouse visa. Sorry but you cannot enter the USA today . Maybe in a few months later this will change but for now, please turn around go back.
The next day Madeleine and Joshua called for their free phone consultation. And the day after we started working on their fiance visa. As of this recording, we got her visa, they married and honeymooned in Orlando, and her adjustment of status for her Green Card has been submitted and is in process..
An often overlooked eligibility requirement for the fiance visa is that the foreign fiance must be of good moral character. As always, a consular officer’s decision to approve or deny is based on his own experience and intuition. He makes a “holistic” judgement that can be influenced by his own religious or moral beliefs.
The history of the courtship as well as history of previous marriages is always reviewed by the consular officer. Sometimes the timeline of courtships and previous marriages overlap. Depending on the officer, this overlap while dating when one or the other of the couple is still married could be understood as reasonable, or COULD be deemed an IMMORAL VIOLATION of the marriage vows, in a word, adultery. If the CO decides to take the strict moral view that the relationship was adulterous, the visa is denied.
Is it possible for Consular officers to be unfair ? Absolutely and it can happen at any time. The consular officer is trained to be logical and impartial. However the process in reviewing a petitioner to determine if that applicant is telling the truth is a complicated holistic exercise. The Consular officer often must eschew reason and depend on intuition and gut feelings to base his judgments. As such sometimes it is often impossible to definitively state how his decision was reached, allowing arbitrary decisions to slip in, without any challenge.
Recently I helped a couple whose case was perfect. They were young and in love. They had known each other for years and had met more than once. They were evenly matched by age, values and religion. Their petition was spotless and had ample evidences of their bona fides. The American sponsor was even able to accompany his fianc� to the interview to show his support for the petition. After a brief interview where the sponsor was not allowed to join in nor asked any questions before, during or after, the consular officer, denied the case. She did not provide any verbal or written explanation.
The couple was devastated and confused. What could have gone wrong?
A consular officer who exhibits professionalism will state the reasons for denial in writing. And provide this to the rejected applicant immediately, often at the close of the interview itself. You may not agree with the decision, but at least know what it was and then have a starting point for renewed efforts.
All the couple had was the fiancee’s memory of the interview, as she attempted to recall what was said and what the body language was in an attempt to reconstruct what MIGHT have been in the consular officer�s mind.
One thing about the interview stood out. The consular officer had made some, in retrospect, out of context comments about conservative values and a woman’s role in society and home. Those comments seemed strange at the time and the foreign born fianc� had no idea where those comments came from.
What we think happened is that the American sponsor had made public some very outspoken conservative and chauvinistic views that he had posted online at his Facebook page. The comments made by the consular officer seemed to indicate she had read his online statements and apparently was offended by them.
A sponsor’s political views and value system (as long as not immoral) should not have any bearing on the outcome of his visa petition. But, that is EXACTLY what we believe happened in this case. The consular officer, offended by the sponsors political views, arbitrarily punished the couple by denying.
What is the couple�s Recourse: none Unexplained, based on intuition, consular decisions can’t be successfully fought and overturned.
1: No matter how strongly you believe immigration should OBVIOUSLY, recognize how much in love, you and your fiance are, and should then easily approve your case, prepare for skepticism, and make BEST EFFORTS to overcome it.
2: “Freedom of Speech”, doesn’t mean freedom to get your visa. Make sure there are no skeletons in your online closet. Clean or temporarily remove, or make private, potentially controversial aspects of your online and public presence before proceeding.
By Fred Wahl
There are plenty of difficult cases out there. That have numerous RED flags, such as significant age differences, criminal histories, short relationships, adultery, too brief face-to-face meetings, previous denials, coming from a country known for visa fraud, and so on. Even with all of this going on, CAN you still win your case?. With VisaCoach’s help I believe the answer is yes.
“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, afraid of flying, got no time, don’t like travel, don’t travel well, too expensive, It is better that she should come to me, ….”
Unfortunately there is no such thing as a “girlfriend” visa.
The closest alternatives are a B2 Visitor visa (sometimes called a tourist visa) or a K1 Fiance Visa.
But a fiancee visa requires that the couple has already met in-person, and not only that but that they are serious and want to marry. Often the guys most eager to pursue a visitor visa, aren’t quite ready to commit.
This leaves the B-2 Visitor visa.
Couples who REALLY need Fiance or Spouse visas sometimes attempt to game US immigration by applying for a B2 Visitor visa. This could lead to disaster. Here the Visa Coach warns about the worst mistake a fiance can make, which could destroy future chances to get any type of visa to the USA.
Todays topic is: What is the Biggest mistake your fiancee can make when applying for a Visitor Visa?
Administrative Processing is when an application for a visa is put “on hold” by the consulate that is adjudicating the case. This describes the status of the case, while the consulate is waiting on further documentation and evidences, or is conducting its own research, or is conducting internal reviews of the application, or is waiting for answers and confirmations from various police and government authorities.
Administrative Processing (AP) may last from a few days, to a few years.
Administrative Processing is the label used by the State Department to describe the situation when a case has had its interview, but visa issuance is delayed.
The Consulate General is unable to issue a visa to you because you have been found ineligible under the following section (s) of the U.S. immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 221(g) of the Act prohibits the issuance of a visa to anyone who has failed to present documents required in connection with the visa application or who has failed to submit sufficient credible evidence to support the claimed petitioner relationship.
This was on the letter Belinda’s fiance sent her after his failed K1 Fiance visa interview in Havana, Cuba.
One of the scariest moments your fiance might have is when she is handed a letter with the above message during or immediately after the visa interview at the consulate.