CR1 Spouse Visa Timeline

2020 Spouse Visa processing times

 

From watching old movies, one gets the impression it is so easy, to fall in love, marry, then whisk your new spouse onto a Pan Am jet back to the USA.

Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. There are many steps needed to bring a foreign spouse to the USA and the just start after the honeymoon.

Before you decide on the spouse visa path, it is essential you understand just how long it will take before you make any irrevocable decisions or actions.

Many of my clients were shocked and surprised after they returned from their honeymoon to start the visa process to find out not only is the spouse visa slower than a Fiance Visa, but in fact the time it takes is measured in years not months or weeks.

Today I will share with you the actual facts.

Continue reading “CR1 Spouse Visa Timeline”

Spouse Visa Costs: CR1 + IR1

2020 CR1 or IR1 Spouse Visa Costs

 

 

$560 Spousal visa filing fee, when you originally apply to USCIS
$120 Affidavit of Support Fee, paid to Department of State (National Visa Center), about mid-way through process
$325 Visa application fee, paid to Department of State (National Visa Center), about mid-way through process
$350 – $450 Medical exam fee, immediately prior to consulate interview
$220 USCIS Immigrant Fee,  after consulate interview

Total = $1,575 to $1,675
By Fred Wahl
the VisaCoach

 

CR1 Spouse Visa Interview Questions

Sample Spouse Visa Interview Questions

Over the decades while helping couples achieve their dreams of spending lives together in the USA, after the interview is over, I always ask the couple to tell me about what their experience at the consulate was like. And I always ask what were the questions that were asked.

As time has gone by, this has allowed me to compile a detailed and accurate list of sample questions that are actually asked.

I use these to prepare VisaCoach couples for their interviews.

And now, you can review these too.

 

But first, lets review the basics.

If you are the foreign born spouse of an American Citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident, the final step before your visa is granted, before you can start your new life in America will be an interview at the US consulate.

There the officer asks questions about you and your spouse.

You must convince him, that you have an honest and genuine relationship. Only then, will he approve your visa.

Continue reading “CR1 Spouse Visa Interview Questions”

2021 Spouse Visa Income Requirements

2021 Income requirements for
CR-1 or IR-1 Spouse Visas

In order to successfully be approved for a CR1 or IR1 Spouse visa that allows your foreign spouse to enter the USA and take up permanent residence with you, US immigration must be confident that you, the US sponsor, have enough financial strength, to support and feed your future family. They must be convinced that there is no chance your new family would need public benefits such as welfare, or food stamps to survive.

The financial requirement is that your income must be over 125% of the poverty income level, based on the number of people you have to support, in the state where you live.

Each year the Department of Health and Human Services publishes their Poverty Guidelines. As announced in 2021 the guidelines have risen for a household of 2 persons by $ 225 from last year.

For residents in the continental US the Financial Eligibility requirements
for Spouse Visas are as follows.

Required Annual Income

$21,775, if 2 Persons in Family or Household
$27,450, if 3 Persons in Family or Household
$33,125, if 4 Persons in Family or Household

For each Additional person add $5,675

The Financial eligibility thresholds are lower for active military, and higher for residents of Alaska or Hawaii.

Proving your Income.

Normally you provide your most recent Federal Tax Return, 3 to 6 pay stubs showing ‘Year to date’ earnings, plus a letter from your employer confirming your job, and what your expected annual pay is.

Cash Assets can count as an alternate to income.

In some cases a your income may be low, but you have ‘money in the bank’. Cash assets, can be used as a substitute for annual income. ‘Cash’ assets are assets which can be easily converted (sold) to cash. For example: stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, cash in a checking account can be used. Other assets that can NOT be easily turned to cash with the EXCEPTION of equity in your home, are not useable.

$5 cash assets is the equivalent of $1 annual income

For example, if you are retired living in the continental USA, with NO income, and no dependents would need to have

5 times $21,775 or $108,875 of cash assets to qualify for the spouse visa.

Alternatively a combination of income and assets will work.

For example, if your income is $10,000 per year, that means your annual income is short by $11,775 so you will need to have 5 times that amount or $58,875 cash or convertible assets to qualify.

This is calculated by subtracting $10,000 from the annual requirement of $21,775. And then the difference of$11,775 times Five equals $58,875 of cash assets needed.

What if you don’t have enough income OR assets?

In that case you would ask a relative or friend to act as a joint-sponsor.

Just like buying a car, a second person
could ‘co-sign’ your loan. In this case he is a financial joint sponsor
to your application and he is guaranteeing, your household will not
need welfare or public benefits.

When a joint-sponsor is used the size of the household increases.
The combined household (for the financial calculations) would include the
household size of the sponsor combined with the household size of the co-sponsor.

For example, you ask your father to joint-sponsor.

Your household is just 2 persons, you and your new spouse. Your fathers
household is your father, mother, and the two siblings still living at home.

Thus the combined household would be 6 persons, and the combined income of both sponsor and joint-sponsor would need to be $44,475 or more to qualify.

This was Fred Wahl, The VisaCoach,
here to personally guide you on this journey.

How to Prove Bona fide Relationship

How to Prove “Bona Fide” Relationship

The hardest part for any couple who is embarking on applying for a fiance or spouse visa to understand, is that at the end of the day the decision made by the consular officer reviewing the case, by the interviewer who has the absolute power to approve or deny, is that he or she is making a SUBJECTIVE decision bases on the APPEARANCES of your situation. Does the officer FEEL that in his or her OPINION, you APPEAR to be a bona fide couple?. Does he or she feel you appear to have followed a similar path that other couples in your partner’s country have traveled before?. Does your courtship APPEAR to follow normal and reasonable practices, timing, and so on?

 

Sad but true, What is expected by the officer, may not match what YOU want to do. Continue reading “How to Prove Bona fide Relationship”

Visitor Visa Mistakes

Many Fiancee’s Attempt to Shortcut immigration by applying for B2 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.

 

What is the Biggest Mistake a Fiance Can make when applying for a B2 Visitor Visa

Todays topic is: What is the Biggest mistake your fiancee can make when applying for a Visitor Visa?

Continue reading “Visitor Visa Mistakes”

Visitor Visa for Fiance or Spouse

Obtaining a Visitor Visa for your Fiance: Avoid spoiling her chances?

 

Visitor Visa for K1 Fiance

“I met this great gal online. She lives on the other side of the world. we haven’t met in-person yet.  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,  she should come to me, ….”

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.

Continue reading “Visitor Visa for Fiance or Spouse”

Apply Spouse Visa Outside USA

Must Expat return to US in order to apply for spouse visa?

Today we are going to answer the question “If I am living outside the USA, can I apply for a spouse visa, or must I return to USA then apply?”

If you are an ex pat, living and working outside the USA this is important because before you turn your life upside down, and set up separate households and start a long separation from your spouse and maybe children, you should know whether it is necessary or not.

 

Perhaps you’ve been living outside the USA, fell in love and got married. And now it’s time to return to the USA and bring your spouse back home with you. You can leave your spouse behind, go ahead of her or him to the USA alone, prepare the house where you both will live, get a job, and a wait for your spouse to eventually join you.

Continue reading “Apply Spouse Visa Outside USA”

How to Apply for CR1 Visa

Video Presentation on How to Apply for a CR1 Visa

I have on my calendar to record this video. In the mean time feel free to call me 1-800-806-3210 x 702 and I will explain to you personally how it works, and what I do for clients.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

Fred Wahl

Matchmaker

By Fred Wahl

Spouse Visa

How to Bring Spouse to USA

How to Apply for Visa to bring foreign Spouse to USA

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 have been married for two years or more it is called an IR1 Spouse 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 for other visas applied for 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 spouse visas as a back door into the USA.

Normally in the 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 how beautiful the ceremony and honeymoon were, even after all that, 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 disappointed 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 them, the consular officer, must stretch, must dig, must ask a lot of questions, to hear what they want to know.

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

Well, If they are 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 their career or professional reputation is to deny.

My signature philosophy at VisaCoach is we achieve success by “doing the consular officers job for them”.

The consular officer has been doing their work for a while at the consulate. They have been trained, have experience, they “knows”, at least in their mind, what a NORMAL, and eligible couple should look like.

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

So, the CLOSER your situation matches their 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 evidence.

And that is what a VisaCoach front loaded application is.

We include with every application high quality evidence, specifically demonstrating that you have a bona fide relationship, we “front load” the evidences in the original application, because we know this evidence 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 them. During their review, before your partner sits down in front of the officer’s desk, the consular officer should have already seen and reviewed the type of evidences that allow them to confidently approve your visa. They 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. Spouse Visa applications are originally sent to their offices in Chicago, for sorting assignment to various centers around the USA for processing.

In 2018, USCIS was taking about 7 to 8 months to do their part to review your case, including an FBI background check on the American sponsor.

Unfortunately, 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.

Once NVC takes over you I guide you on how to pay their fees, and help you assemble and submit a set of civil documents such as birth, divorce and marriage certificates, plus prove of the American sponsor’s financial eligibility.

Normally we submit all of these via postal mail. It is what I call the “mini-petition”. Currently NVC is 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 at the moment it is pretty confusing.

The spouse visa stays at NVC for 4 to 8 months, until NVC is satisfied after it’s review of all the documents and the consulate confirms it has a date available for the final interview. Then the case is passed on to the consulate and you get a notice advising what date the interview has been scheduled for. Usually this is about 2 months later.

At this point I update you on what the current procedures are being followed at the consulate.

I guide you and your partner on what needs to be done, where to take the medical, what final fees are needed, and what official documents need to be presented on the big day.

In the final run up to the interview, I provide a detailed, personalized checklist on what your Spouse must bring to the consulate on the day of the interview.

This is especially CRITICAL, as forgetting to bring even a single a required document can cause, weeks sometimes months 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 missing document has finally arrived.

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 MAIN 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, this 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 they find many good reasons why they should trust you and approve the visa. Even before they invite your Spouse to sit in front of their desk, we want them 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 Spouse’s passport with visa are delivered, via courier, and then your Partner has six months to start the trip to join you in the USA.

What are the two biggest mistakes that are usually made? Believing the following false statements.

1. Once married to a US citizen the foreign spouse can automatically travel to the USA.

2. Getting married, guarantees the visa will be approved.

Sorry, but neither statement is true.

There is no automatic permission.  Only once the wedding has taken place, can the process I have just described for applying for the spouse visa begin. Each step must be followed, each step done correctly, and only after 14 to 18 months (currently) can the foreign spouse join you in the USA.

And having a marriage certificate is NO guarantee of approval. The consular officer MUST be convinced of your sincerity and “bona fides”. Sadly your honesty is not assumed by the officer, you must PROVE it to them. That is what the VisaCoach “front loaded” petition is all about.

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.

But US immigration is still cautious, still skeptical. The Green card that was granted was 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, (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 is a lot to do, 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


Fred Wahl
The VisaCoach
Your Personal Immigration Consultant

2021 Income Requirements for Marriage Based Immigration

2021 Income Requirements for Marriage Based Immigration

Usually about 9 months in after applying for a fiance or spouse visa, or at the get-go when applying for green card and permanent residency, you will have to provide clear evidence of your income to convincingly demonstrate your future family will not need welfare or other public benefits. It is best to understand what the exact dollar requirements are early, before moving forward, so that you can make sure you have all that is needed, or if you are lacking so that you have time to find a financial co-sponsor.

In order to successfully petition for your spouse or
fiancee to come to the USA, or obtain a Green Card after marriage,
in the USA, you the US sponsor must demonstrate to US Immigration that you have
enough income coming in, to support your new spouse, and whole household.

The minimum financial requirement is that you must have income
equal to and preferably more than 100% of the poverty
income level where you live to be eligible to sponsor a
Fiancee Visa, and over 125% of the poverty level to be
eligible for Spousal Visa or Adjustment of Status.

And often, even when applying for a fiance visa the consular officer might
apply the higher 125% range, at his/her discretion. So its best whenever
possible to aim to exceed the higher standard.

Each year the Department of Health and Human Services
publishes their Poverty Guidelines.

As of March 2021, for residents in the
continental US the Financial Eligibility requirements
are as follows.

Required Annual Income (For Fiancee Visa)
$17,420, if 2 Persons in Family or Household
$21,960, if 3 Persons in Family or Household
$26,500, if 4 Persons in Family or Household

For each Additional person add $4,540

Required Annual Income (For Spousal Visa or Green Card)
$21,775, if 2 Persons in Family or Household
$27,450, if 3 Persons in Family or Household
$33,125, if 4 Persons in Family or Household

For each Additional person add $5,675

The Financial eligibility thresholds are lower for
active military, and higher for residents of
Alaska or Hawaii.

Proving your Income.

Normally you provide your most recent Federal Tax Return,
3 to 6 pay stubs showing ‘Year to date’ earnings,
plus a letter from your employer confirming your
job, and what your expected annual pay is.

If your income might be low, but you have
‘money in the bank’ your cash assets, can be used as
a alternative for annual income.

‘Cash’ assets are assets which can be easily converted
(sold)to cash. For example: stocks, bonds, certificates of
deposit, cash in the bank

You may have a lot of other assets such as your car, boat, coin
collection, business or investment property but because these
can NOT be easily turned to cash immigration will not accept
them as alternatives to annual income.

The one exception to an asset that is hard to convert, but
CAN be counted is your home. If the market value of
your home is higher than your mortgage you may use
the equity just like a cash asset.

$5 cash assets is the equivalent of $1 annual income

For example, a retired Fiancee Visa sponsor living in California,
with NO income, and no dependents would need to have
5 times $17,420 or $87,100 in cash assets to quality for the Fiancee Visa.

Alternatively a combination of income and assets can work.

For example, if the sponsors income is $10,000 per year,
then his annual income is short by $7,420 so he should have 5 times
that amount or $37,100 cash or convertible assets
to qualify.

$17,420 – $10,000 = $7,420 x 5 = $ 37,100 cash assets needed.

This is calculated by subtracting $10,000 from the annual
requirement of $17,420. And then the difference of $7,420
times Five equals $37,100 of cash assets needed.

What if you don’t have enough income OR assets?

In that case you could ask a relative or friend to act as a co or joint-sponsor.

Just like buying a car, your joint-sponsor could ‘co-sign’ your loan.

When a joint-sponsor is used the size of the household increases.
The combined household (for the financial calculations) would include
the household size of the sponsor combined with the household
size of the co-sponsor.

For example, a college student petitioning for his fiancee,
asks his father to joint-sponsor.

Both the college student and the father would each complete an
affidavit of support. The student’s household is just 2 persons,
himself and his fiancee. The father’s household would be father, mother, and the two siblings
still living at home.

Thus the combined household would be 6 persons,

and the combined income of both sponsor and joint-sponsor
would have to be $35,580 or more.

A joint-sponsor can be used for any Spousal Visa or
Adjustment of Status petition, and can be used for MOST
Fiancee Visa petitions.
However, not all consulates allow the use of a joint-sponsor for a Fiancee Visa.

For example: Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Nigeria do not.

If you are applying for a Fiancee visa and need a joint-sponsor,
before filing the petition, best is to contact the consulate directly and
confirm whether the consulate’s policies permit the use of a
financial joint-sponsor or not. If they won’t allow a co-sponsor then
switch plans, marry then apply for a spouse visa, and your co-sponsor
can be used when needed.

This was Fred Wahl, The VisaCoach

How to get Social Security Number during Covid 19

You don’t realize how important it is to have a social security number until
you don’t have one. The SSN is required to open up bank accounts, get medical insurance, get a drivers license,
work, and even to be able to be charged lower income tax on a filing as married tax return.

It’s important, it’s necessary, but has been nearly impossible to get during the Pandemic.
Social Security requires an in-person meeting, to apply for the number. And as
Social Security closed offices to the public back in March, this puts your new
immigrant fiance or spouse in between a rock and a hard place.

Fortunately, I recently went through this process with a client of mine, and in this
video will teach you what I found out, so you can get an SSN for your fiance or spouse.

Now, lets talk about “How to get that elusive Social Security number while Social Security offices
are on Covid 19 lock down.”

Normally to obtain a Social Security number (SSN), after immigrating to the USA on a spouse,
relative, or fiancée visa, one goes in person to the nearest Social Security Administration
(SSA) office presents identification and receives the SSN a month later.

Unfortunately during the COVID-19 pandemic most Social Security offices are closed and not
allowing in-person visits. This has caused a lot of frustration and delays for new immigrants
who need a social security number in order to open up bank accounts, get insurance, and apply for work.

Fortunately, you can still get the SSN. Here’s how.

The procedure is not publicly described at their websites, so to find out exactly what to do and how,
you MUST make a few phone calls to SSA to find out how and what to do in your area.

That’s exactly what I did recently and now I will share my experience with you.

K1 Fiance Visa

A recently arrived K-1 fiancée visa traveler, is eligible to obtain a Social Security number
by applying between day 15 and day 60 after arrival. Even though publicly and officially SSA
is closed to the public and not conducting in-person interviews, in practice they are conducting
some interviews and currently WILL do so for your Fiance Visa partner.

The way to do this is as follows:

Step 1: Google search for the telephone number of your local Social Security office, Call them. Identify yourself
that you need a first time, Social Security number for a recently arrived K-1 fiancée visa holder.

The key words to emphasise are “FIRST TIME”. The first operator you call probably can’t help, but should redirect you to
another number, at another office. You may need to make a series of phone calls. Rinse and repeat until you
finally reach the single, there is always one, actual office in your area that is handling First Time cases.

Step 2: Over the phone, provide detailed information about your fiancé including his/her local contact information and telephone numbers.

Step 3: Eventually, few days, or weeks, you will be called back and your Fiance provided a date to come in for
an in-person interview. The caller ID will says “US Government”‘. But it is not a spam call. It is Social Security.
I almost blocked the call cause I get many spam calls claiming to be something they are not. But this is legit.

An appointment date will be set, usually for a few days later. Your fiancé should bring passport, a filled in SSN application
(https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf) and I-94. The I-94 is available online. https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/,

It’s also a good idea to bring original and a photocopy or a certified copy and photocopy of your Fiance’s birth Certificate.
Eventually the Social Security number will be issued.

If you are already married, and if your new spouse has changed last name to yours, also bring the marriage certificate and a photocopy.

Social Security may or may not issue the SSN in the married name. Either way is OK, but is worthwhile to ask as it would save
you another trip later.. If they prefer to issue in the maiden name, and they regularly do insist on this because they
often only will issue the SSN to the name shown on the passport and I-94.

It is not a problem. Later once you get green card or work authorization return to Social Security, hopefully by then the pandemic is past,
and update to the new married name.

Regular Immigration (Spouse or Relative)

In the case of regular immigration, such as your spouse arriving on a CR1 or IR1 visa or a family member,
or diversity lottery winner, the process is similar.

Step 1: Google search for a local Social Security office’s telephone number Call and identify yourself that you
need a first time, Social Security number for a new immigrant. Emphasize “FIRST TIME”. The first person you call
probably can’t help, but should redirect you to another number, at another office. Rinse and repeat till you are
talking to the office in your area assigned to handle such cases.

Step 2: They will give you their mailing address and instruct your immigrant to mail them, passport and the filled in
social security number application form.

Step 3: Send to the Social Security Office,the immigrant’s passport, it show have his/her arrival visa,
and the social security number application form. https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf
Use certified mail with tracking. You don’t want to take any chance that your passport gets lost.

Step 4: Eventually the Social Security office will call, and schedule a time to go to the
designated office, meet with the clerk and be approved for the SSN. There the clerk checks your passport id page
matches the applicant. Passport is returned at that time. And social security number is issued by mail a few weeks later.

This was Fred Wahl, The VisaCoach

Effects of Biden Presidency on Fiancee, Spouse + Green card Immigration

President Trump promised a “Wall” to reduce immigration. While only partial progress on a concrete and steel wall was accomplished, great strides were made in limiting legal immigration via a paper wall of stringent policies that greatly increased the complexity and difficulty of passing through the immigration process.

President-Elect Biden has yet to take office, however I do expect that within the first hundred days of his taking office, deliberate executive action will be taken in an attempt to unravel the “Trump effect” on immigration.

This is GOOD news for Applicants.

Today I am going to forecast how I expect the Biden Administration’s occupancy of the White House to affect your application.

President Trump vowed to reduce immigration. And he was successful.  Over 450 executive and administrative adjustments, both major and subtle, were made to toughen immigration rules and procedures. He instituted extreme vetting, where all applicants are more highly scrutinized than ever before, Banned entire countries from being allowed visas to the USA, added tighter Public Benefits eligibility requirements which created a virtual “wealth test”, and instituted a pervasive organization wide culture change in the way that USCIS views and treats immigrants.

United States Citizenship and Immigration service (USCIS), once viewed immigrants as its clients, to be served. It’s officers traditionally believed they were following a pro-immigrant, humanitarian mission. The mission was to help refugees escape persecution, American Companies bring in needed talent, and reunify families with their loved ones.

Many officers initially joined USCIS in order to pursue that noble mission. In the recent four years many of these same officers, disillusioned, have resigned, as under Trump, the priorities changed from helping eligible immigrants come to the USA,  to finding ways to keep them out.

In 2018, under the Director selected by Trump, USCIS’s official mission statement was drastically altered. Removed were references to a “nation of immigrants” and to immigrants as “customers” whom the agency serves.  Now the mission statement basically reads “enforce immigration laws”. Immigrants are no longer customers, now they are suspects. USCIS’s Budget for fraud prevention and detection doubled between 2016 and 2020

Here’s my forecast of what’s going to happen after President-Elect Biden takes office..

#1 New USCIS Director

To reverse the current “anti-immigrant” culture at USCIS will require a top down management change. That will start when President-elect Biden  chooses a new director of USCIS, and assigns him or her the mandate to return USCIS to it’s prior mission of treating immigrants as clients, not adversaries, and working towards assisting them navigate lawful, and proper immigration. With new top down guidance, USCIS should relax it’s restrictionist “extreme vetting” and move to return to its earlier, more Humanitarian mission.

#2 End of Immigrant Harassment

While detailed and proper screening of applicants is reasonable, unfortunately in recent years the application review process has deteriorated from normal and expected due diligence into in essence, in many cases, deliberate  harassment. Requests for evidence ( RFE’s) were frequently issued for non-material reasons.

Cases were denied for similarly trivial issues such as leaving fields that were not applicable, blank. Or incorrectly writing not applicable as NA vs N/A.

Revised Forms with no real modifications,  would be announced and instead of giving adequate time usually one or two months for applicants to change over to the new versions, only One, single,  day notice was given. And the applications that were already in the mail which had used the earlier nearly identical version, and which was the correct one to use on the day of mailing,  were rejected.

Cases that previously would not require an interview, would be held and delayed many months awaiting availability of already overworked and limited interviewing staff.

For a few months this summer, even cases which had successfully gone through the entire tedious process, including interview and official APPROVAL, were put on hold, waiting many months for the printing of their approved work, travel and green cards. A long term contract USCIS had with the printing company had expired. And even though the contract’s expiry date, and need for replacement was known, long, realistically years in advance, no action on USCIS’s part to replace the contract and obtain alternative printing was taken, at least not until a court order forced USCIS to take proper action.

This change of attitude will rely on the New top management at USCIS. Their leadership will be critical to return USCIS to a culture of helping immigrants versus holding them back.

#3 Faster Processing

Less energy wasted by USCIS staff seeking excuses to delay individual cases, will result in more efficient, smoother and overall faster processing of cases.

#4 Lower Denial Rate

With restriction of immigration no longer being the guiding rule of the day, expect the cases that were previously denied due to trivial and non-material issues, or which were not given opportunity to clarify and justify misunderstandings now should receive a fairer hearing, and the approval rate should rise accordingly..

#5 Fee increase to be adjusted downwards

USCIS does not receive taxpayer dollars to pay for its operations. Instead it is self funded by the fees it charges immigrants. Originally to be effective on October 2, USCIS had requested an overhaul of its fee structure. The fees for some applications such as green cards and US citizenship went through the roof, they increased tremendously.

At the moment, this fee increase is temporarily on hold, halted by a court injunction.

The new fees requested are calculated based on what USCIS feels is needed to pay for its operations. I expect that under the Biden Administration the future, “user friendlier” USCIS, will find that since less time and energy is wasted, deliberately trying to obstruct the immigration process, that their operations will be more efficient, and less costly. Once the cost accountants do the math again, the fee increases needed may be found unnecessary, or only a smaller increase is needed.

#6 End to “Trump” or “Muslim” Travel Ban

The so-called “Muslim ban” that bans the issuance of visas to the USA from citizens of 15 countries, Chad, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Myanmar, Nigeria, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Venezuela and Yemen will be lifted.

#7 Public Benefits “wealth test” Dropped

The most effective stumbling block to Legal immigration, to come out of the Trump administration was the broadening of the definition of what constitutes a public benefit. This new definition has been used to make it much more difficult for an immigrant to be deemed eligible to receive a green card and permanent residency in the USA. Not only are applicants required to prove that they never received public benefits, but must also convince the officer that in the future, no matter what happened, they would not possibly, conceivably, never, ever need public benefits forever into the future. This “wealth test”, and it’s extremely complicated resulting application paperwork will be removed or at very least greatly relaxed.

How Soon for these changes to happen ?

Immigration is not a hot-button issue for President-elect Biden as it was for President Trump. After the first few popular and headline grabbing executive orders are announced, namely dropping of the “muslim ban” and :”wealth test”, and appointment of a new USCIS Director, the rest of the job to reverse  the “Trump effect” will most likely be left in the hands of the newly appointed USCIS management.

We all hope President-elect Biden chooses the new USCIS Director well. This choice will determine how fast and how well the intricate unraveling of so many changes, procedures, policies and overall mentality that the Trump administration injected into US immigration takes place.

It’s going to take time. It may take years, and perhaps more than one administration to get back to where we once were.

Proxy Marriage for US Immigration

Does a proxy marriage make me eligible to apply for spouse visa?

A proxy marriage, is a ceremony that unites two people in marriage, while at least one of them is physically absent
from the proceedings. So instead of both of the intending couple being physically present, at least one of them,
and in some cases both are absent, and instead a proxy representative attends on his or her behalf.

It is often used for those in military service, imprisonment, or facing travel restrictions; or when it is difficult to
legally marry where one or the other lives..

Military personnel regularly avail themselves of proxy weddings, as it allows them to immediately access enhanced financial benefits
such as family medical, dental and vision insurance as well as increased basic housing allowances.

Now under Covid, with travel restrictions, and quarantines. As you are unable to keep to plans made before the pandemic happened,
you might be considering a proxy marriage.

The good news is that you can wed, right away. And you enjoy that pleasure of being married. You skip the long flights, quarantines,
health risks, and avoid the sometimes lengthy and rigorous formalities needed to get married outside the USA.

The bad news is that, for US immigration purposes, having that piece of paper showing you are now legally married, is not enough.
There is one more condition that must be met in order to be able to apply for immigration for your new spouse.

The condition is: that you must have “consummated” the marriage. That means, now or later, finally, getting on the plane and meeting
in-person.before you can apply for immigration.

So to clarify: The proxy marriage does work as a shortcut so you can be married right away. You can apply for some married benefits
right away, avoid the complexity of foreign marriage formalities, update your facebook profile.

But to accomplish the ultimate goal of immigration to the USA, you will still need to make that journey to spend time together in-person.

Once you are legally married, and “consummated” your marriage can the your application for spouse visa be submitted.

 

Philippines 9a Visa for USA spouses during Covid

If you have been keen to travel to the Philippines, now you can. 

Spouses of Philippine citizens are now allowed in. No longer banned from travel due to Covid 19.

So if you are married to a Philippine citizen and ready to travel, now you can.  

This really is great news. 

To the great frustration of all, since Covid quarantine started, nobody except Philippine citizens have been allowed to enter the Philippines.

Until recently.

Starting in August 2021, after 15 months of Tight lockdown, the Philippines immigration service finally announced that they would start issuing visitor Visas to American citizens who are married to Philippine nationals. 

This includes those who got online marriages and may not have even met in person yet.

For details on how to obtain an online marriage for $100 

The visa now available to allow American spouses travel to the Philippines, is called a 9a temporary visitor visa. 

To apply for it, reach out to the nearest Philippines consulate, fill in an application form, pay $30, and provide  supporting documents and evidence.

Last week, I got calls from two of my clients who had successfully accomplished this. They were on their way to the Philippines.

And of course, immediately on return To the USA,from this honeymoon trip we will apply for their spouse visas. 

Previously They had to put their plans to submit CR1 spouse visa applications on hold, because US immigration only approves spouse visa applications when there is proof that the couple has met in person, AFTER the wedding has taken place.

So not only are these couples on the way to their honeymoons, but are finally making progress to complete the necessary steps to have a Life together In the USA !!

For those who don’t know about online marriages, this is what they are and how an American can obtain one.. 

An officiant based in Utah can conduct a lawful marriage ceremony over a zoom conference. 

This is called a “web conference” wedding. It is not a proxy wedding. As a proxy wedding means one of the couple is absent and someone else is standing in as a representative, a “proxy” at the ceremony.

At the “web conference” wedding everyone is present, bride, groom, officiant, and witnesses all via a Zoom video conference.

The result of this wedding is a binding and acceptable marriage certificate. And it does not mention that the ceremony took place online. It reads the same as any marriage certificate proving a lawful marriage has been entered into.

And this proof of marriage is totally acceptable to the Philippines and can be registered in the Philippines at the PSA, the Philippines statistics authority.

But for US immigration purposes, you are not quite there yet. US immigration requires this piece of paper proving a lawful ceremony has taken place, AND on top of that also requires proof that the couple spent time together in person after the ceremony.

Due to Covid this in person requirement has been very hard to satisfy. 

Until now!

Here is how you you apply for your Philippines visa

Your marriage needs to be recognized by the Philippines government. If you married in the Philippines this should have followed as a matter of course. Obtain a certificate that confirms your marriage from the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA). 

If you married outside the Philippines then register your foreign wedding certificate at PSA and wait on them to issue their corresponding certificate.

Do a google search on what Philippines Embassy or Consulate location is responsible for handling cases from the State where you reside and download from the consulate an application form for the 9a Temporary Visitor Visa. Fill it in.

Gather the documents and evidence needed for your application. Usually this includes your Passport, your PSA marriage certificate, proof of income, visa photo, and an invitation letter from your spouse. Unfortunately the application process is still in its early stages, and there is no uniform set of requirements yet. Each consulate appears to have slightly different requirements. So obtain the list of supporting documents that is needed from the consulate you will be working with and follow their individual procedures..

Send in your completed application package and include a self addressed prepaid return envelope.

Be patient.

Feedback so far is that it takes awhile for the consulate to process your application, And I have received multiple reports that the consulate’s seem to change the goal posts during the process asking for more materials than which were instructed to you at the start. Bear with it and eventually your visa will be on its way to you.

Once you receive the visa, Jump on a flight to the Philippines, and enjoy quality time with your spouse and her family in person. If you had married over the internet and this is your time to meet then also enjoy your honeymoon and collect and bring back proofs to apply for a CR1 spouse visa. Ideally you hired me and the VisaCoach staff to prepare your application.

This was Fred Wahl, The VisaCoach,  here to personally guide you on this journey.

Covid Vaccinations required for US Immigration

US requires Covid Vaccinations for Immigration

Starting October 1, 2021 Applicants for immigration visas to the USA such as CR1 spouse and CR2 Dependent visas and including those who arrive on a K1 fiance visas who after marriage apply for adjustment of status, to get Green Cards, must all have approved Covid vaccinations

Update: DOS has amended their policy. Now K1 visa applicants must show proof of covid vaccinations at their consular medical, not only after arrival when applying for adjustment of status.

And if multiple vaccinations are required,

all must be administered before the granting of Visa or Green Card.

Not only the Pfizer, Moderna Johnson & Johnson vaccinations approved for use in the USA will be acceptable but any covid vaccination that is approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO) will also be acceptable.

Alternative vaccines such as AstraZeneca,  Covishield and Covaxin, Sputnik, Sinopharm and Sinovac, among others are currently acceptable to meet the vaccination requirement.

If the appropriate vaccines are not available, or not age-appropriate, such as for children under 12, or are medically inadvisable due to allergic reactions or other medical issues, an automatic waiver is granted.

This will be handled by the Clinic providing consular medicals, or the USCIS civil surgeon in USA while confirming vaccinations.

If the application has moral or religious objections she or he will need to apply for waiver, which would be granted or denied at US immigration’s discretion

This was Fred Wahl, The VisaCoach,
here to personally guide you on this journey.

 

Spouse + Fiancee Visa Service for Ex-pats

VisaCoach’s assistance for American Ex-pats to apply for Spouse or Fiancee visas while remaining outside the USA during the process

If you are currently outside the USA, living together with your foreign partner and now are ready to relocate back to the USA and bring your partner with you.

I have good news.

You do not need to leave him or her, return alone to the USA, then apply for them to eventually follow. Instead you can apply for the fiance or spouse visa from outside the USA.
You don’t have to separate. You can remain together for the entire process.

I was an ex-pat living in Asia myself for about 20 years. I did this for myself and my wife Joyce.

I can help you too.

Most couples we help are involved in long distance romances. They communicate via webcam and text,
and only get the once in a while, rare opportunity, to spend in-person time together after long trips over
international waters.

But some lucky couples, like you, are not separated by international borders. Instead they live together, outside the USA.
And once they are ready to relocate to the USA, they ask :
“Must the American return to the USA alone to apply for a fiance or spouse visa? Is there a away they can avoid long separations?’

The happy answer is they Can remain together. No long separation is necessary.

Your visa application can be submitted while they remain outside the USA. And once your fiance or spouse visa is issued,  you as a couple, hand in hand, can together can board the flight to your future lives in the USA.

I lived as an expat, living outside the USA, primarily in Taiwan and Hong Kong for about 20 years. I am very familiar with that lifestyle and the issue of bringing one’s spouse and family back to the USA. In my case when my oldest child was 6 years old I knew it was time to return as I wanted to enroll him in kindergarten and public school in the USA.

I regularly help expatriate couples prepare their petitions while they are living together outside the USA. We work together using email, Internet (I provide a password access page for you where I post specific instructions and documents for your case), and by priority mail or courier.
This is the procedure VisaCoach follows for Ex-pat cases, that allows the you to remain outside the USA for the whole process.

1. After I get to know you and your partner I set up an account page for you online at VisaCoach.com. There I post a personalized checklist of all documents and evidence needed for successful preparation of your case. I also prepare all the forms needed for the application which require your signature.

2. You follow your checklist and collect the civil documents, evidence, photographs and various proofs of bona fides. You print out the documents that have been prepared for your signature and sign them. You combine all into a single envelope, then send to my offices via international courier such as DHL or Fedex.

3. On receiving your envelope, I carefully comb through it’s contents to prepare your application. If you were living in the USA I would mail the application directly to you. But as you are overseas that is not convenient, as it means two more times passing through international customs, to send the application to you, and then for you to send it back to USA to USCIS’s offices. So what we do instead is scan the completed application package into a pdf and post it at your VisaCoach account page for you to review.

4. If you find anything you wish to change, you let me know, and these changes are made immediately, posted online. Again for you to review. Finally, once you are 100% satisfied, we mail the approved application directly to USCIS on your behalf.

5. Eventually your case will arrive to the US State Department’s National Visa Center (NVC). I will guide you through that stage. This one can be done all online.

6. NVC will forward your case to the consulate assigned for your partner’s interview. In the run up to the interview I will guide you on preparation for the interview. Such as practice questions, final checklists and how and where to arrange the interview.

7. On completion of the interview, I guide you through arranging for your partners green card.

8. That only leaves it for you to settle your affairs outside the USA, book your flights and return to USA to start this next chapter in your lives.

For an ex-pat there are two important issues that need to be planned for the interview.

How can you pass the financial eligibility requirement?

and

How can you demonstrate your “intent” to relocate to USA

Financial Eligibility

An ex-pat you probably are earning your living by working outside the USA. Well, that means that once your partner gets approved for her or his visa, you are going planning to quit your foreign job and find a new one in the USA. This means that as far as supporting your family the foreign income goes away. You will have to show you are financially eligible by some other way.

Usually this means already having enough cash assets in USA financial accounts or equity in a your home located in the USA, or asking for help from a friend or family member living in the USA to be your financial joint-sponsor. If none of these methods are available, then you will have to consider returning to USA early and find a job there.

Intent to Relocate to USA

US immigration takes immigrating to USA very seriously indeed. And when approving your fiancee or spouse’s visa must be convinced that the visa is going to be used for the correct purpose, for relocation and permanent residence in the USA. Some expat couples only want to visit the USA temporarily, perhaps for shopping, meeting relatives, for an occasional “home leave” and would like to have the “green card” to make that possible. Sorry, but for that is not considered acceptable by US immigration. They MUST be convinced you plan to relocate permanently.

So you will be required as an expat to demonstrate your sincere intention to relocate to USA by presenting evidence of your plans to move home, such as correspondences on potential places to live, to work, or to attend school. US based bank accounts, proof of disposing foreign assets, transferring monies to your USA accounts, drivers licence, voting records and
quotations from moving companies are all useful for this purpose,

This was Fred Wahl, The VisaCoach

Expedite your K1 Fiancee or Spouse Visa

Expediting your Fiancee or Spouse Visa Application

Getting your case processed and getting your partner to the USA faster than average is not possible for most. 99% must wait in line like everyone else.

However in a few cases if a couple has a legitimate reason, US immigration will grant special treatment to expedite their case skipping to the head of the line.

US immigration may agree to expedite your case, for one of the following reasons:

Imminent US Military deployment

  • Medical Emergency
  • Imminent Danger
  • Fiancées Child in danger of ageing out
  • Extreme Hardship
  • Let’s talk about each in turn.

Imminent US Military deployment

If the American sponsor is on active duty, and has orders cut for deployment, or is in a category that faces immediate deployment on short notice, US immigration is willing to expedite the case so that the service man or woman has time to settle his partner in the USA before
deployment begins.

For such cases, we submit copies of deployment orders, or proof that the service men’s skill set was such even while no deployment was currently in the works, it might happen on short notice.

All imminent deployment type waiver requests we have submitted were granted.

Medical Emergency

What if you or your partner suffer a serious medical issue?

In some cases that would be deemed acceptable to allow expedited processing.

For example, perhaps your foreign partner has a condition that requires the type of medical assistance or expertise, only offered in the USA.  One of VisaCoach’s clients needed treatment at the Mayo Clinic and her case was approved for expedite.  And we have had cases where the US sponsor is hospitalized, and upon discharge needs full time home care
to aid in his recovery.

Imminent Danger

Imminent danger usually means that the foreign partner’s life is in danger.
This could be due to direct or indirect threats, civil unrest, and/ or natural disasters.

The more specific we can prove that the threat is personal to the individual, the better the chance the request for expedite will be granted.

Fiancées Child in danger of ageing out

When applying for a K1 fiance visa, the foreign fiancee’s children can be included in the same application. However the child is only considered a child until his or her 21’st birthday.  This means the application process must be complete, the interview held, the visa issued, and the child on the
flight to USA before midnight on the 21’st birthday.

So if a case has been in process and it appears likely that the child will “age out”, US immigration will put that case ahead of the others in order to allow the fiance parent and children to arrive to USA together. Last summer at the height of Covid quarantines shut downs in Vietnam, we successfully not only got the consulate to expedite our case, but to allow the interview while
officially the consulate was closed and not providing any interviews.

Extreme Hardship

Extreme hardship, is a catchall category, that allows US immigration to expedite a case, to alleviate the extreme hardship of either you or your foreign partner is experiencing.

Emphasis is on the word “extreme”. They do understand that being separated from your partner, with your life’s on hold waiting for the wheels of immigration to turn is a hardship. But that is a normal and expected hardship one accepts when entering into a long distance romance, not considered “extreme”.

As an sample of an “extreme” hardship that we have worked on was when
the home of my client’s Philippine fiancé was destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda. The entire town she lived in was declared a disaster area. We immediately submitted evidence of what was happening and her case was expedited. In another recent case, my American client was suffering extreme stress and anxiety attacks from being separated from his partner. We submitted his diagnosis and doctors recommendations and his request to expedite was granted.

I have helped prepare expedite requests for many VisaCoach clients.

In order to be successful, our requests had to be for legitimate and compelling reasons, that US immigration would understand and relate to, and each request had to be supported with solid verifiable evidence.

Do not submit a Frivolous Expedite Request

It is tempting to submit an expedite request, just to see if it will work, even
though the underlying reason and evidence really are not enough.

Well, submitting such a request is a bad idea. In good faith US immigration takes all requests for expedite seriously. On receipt of an expedite request,
a case is taken out of the normal processing line up and given to specialized reviewers. For example if the request was based on medical reasons it will be taken aside and reviewed by Medical experts.

If the request is legitimate, then all is well and the case remains outside the normal queue and zooms to the top of the processing pile.

But if the case is not found to provide acceptable reasons, then it is be returned back to the regular processing queue back to whatever stage it was in.

All the time needed, and this can be many months to evaluate a request basically ends up added to the the time the case would have normally experienced if left to process as normal.

So instead of saving time, a frivolous request ends up lengthening how long you are separated from your partner.

This was Fred Wahl, The VisaCoach,
here to personally guide you on this journey.

 

End to consulate backlogs:K1 Fiance Visa + CR1 Spouse Visas

US Immigration to clear K1 Fiance Visa + CR1 Spouse Visa Pending Interview Backlogs

Good News, the US Government is taking action to clear Fiance + Spouse Visa applicants who have been waiting on Consular Interviews. After 15 months of curtailment

of consulate services, US immigration has about 500,000 cases on hold pending interviews. To address this issue, $5.6 billion dollars is budgeted by Department of State and $345 million is budgeted by USCIS for manpower and facilities to help clear the backlog.

It has been a rough ride for the past 15 months for Fiancee and Spouse visa applicants.

On March 18, 2020 in fear of the spread of Covid 19, US Embassies and Consulates around the world
locked their doors to the public, cancelling all scheduled visa interviews.

Some of my clients had even traveled long distances to attend their interviews, and without
receiving any warning from the Embassy arrived in time for their interviews only to find the gates to the consulate locked
and were turned away by the guards.

And very sadly some of these clients, who at that time were at their very end of their application process and had only the
interview remaining are still waiting even today.

Normally with a Fiancee or Spouse visa case once it leaves USCIS it goes to the State Departments
offices in New Hampshire called the National Visa Center or NVC. The cases usually don’t stay at NVC
for very long, before being forwarded overseas to the destination consulate for the interview.

Well due to Covid 19, instead of NVC being just a short layover for a case, NVC has become a warehouse.

Cases are being held, stockpiled at NVC awaiting good news from consulates advising that they have resumed normal operations
and are open to the public for interviews.

Some consulates reopened within a few months. some consulates still remain closed..

In February 2017 at the beginning of President Trumps presidency,
there were almost 3,000 cases in process, temporarily on hold at NVC.

this February 2021, due to Covid 19’s throttling down of consulate operations, there are now roughly100 times more, about 300,000 cases
on hold, warehoused at NVC.

So what can be done?

Well, good news. Plans are in the works to address the problem.

And this is the same problem and the same solution we have all experienced at our local grocery store.

You’ve done your shopping and you want to pay. Well the checkout line is long,
and it’s taking forever to finish your transaction and get out of there. So what
does the store management do. Do they let customers leave without paying? No.
What they do is put another cashier on the till and open another checkout line.

US immigration is going to do the same thing. They are not going to let applicants
skip the interview, but what they are going to do is open up more facilities, and
hire more officers to conduct interviews and issue visas.

President Biden’s current budget proposal is to grant the US state department
$5.4 Billion to hire 1,200 officer and expand facilities. Also added to the budget
is $345 million for USCIS to address their backlog as well.

So far already, the State Department has doubled up on interview availability in
Mexico, by now opening up the US embassy in Mexico City to also conduct visa
interviews in addition to the consulate in Juarez, which previously had be the
only location were immigrant visas were issued. I expect that this trend
will continue where additional secure locations are found to help add more
“check out lines” for visa interviews to take place.

This was Fred Wahl, The VisaCoach,
here to personally guide you on this journey.

Ways to satisfy in-person meeting requirement during Covid

How to satisfy in-person meeting requirement during Covid

 

If you are like most couples planning to apply for a Fiancee or Spouse Visa
you probably have been stymied, stopped, halted, prevented from moving forward with your case, due to Covid-19 and the world wide travel restrictions and quarantines that have kept you home, and your partner also stuck in her or his home.

You have been unable to travel, unable to meet in-person, and because you are unable to satisfy this critical in-person meeting requirement of immigration, you have been stuck. Well I have some good news for you,
and some suggestions on how you may be able to “think outside the box” and can move your case forward and bring forward the happy day when your partner is FINALLY able to join you for a happy life together in the USA.

During 2020, most couples had their lives on hold, unable to apply to bring in their fiancé or spouse because they were unable to travel, unable to meet, unable to meet US immigration’s requirement for a recent in person meeting.

But now, we seem to have come around a corner. A lot of countries seem to have loosened up their quarantine restrictions. Perhaps this is because vaccinations are on the way, or perhaps it’s simply Covid fatigue. But regardless of the cause, now, much more than at any time since Covid came on the scene last year, more and more people are traveling.

Certainly not all countries have yet opened their borders, but many have,
and many that have opened currently have relaxed or no quarantine requirements.  For example Brazil, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Turkey have very relaxed quarantine restrictions.

What this means is that couples with partners from those countries could meet, pursue their relationships, and apply for immigration without delay.

This opportunity to meet does not need to be restricted only to those couples with a partner physically present and living in an “open” country.


Many of my couples are thinking “outside the box”. Instead of waiting to meet when their foreign partner’s country opens, instead they push their cases forward by meeting somewhere else. They meet not in their respective home countries, but in a third country.

Often they meet in a country neither has ever been to before. They explore a new country, and have a new experience together, touring, sightseeing and most important, getting to know each other. At the same time they satisfy the final immigration requirements needed before submitting their applications.

Yes, it is certainly true that I always counsel my clients that the best way to demonstrate bona fides is by meeting where your partner lives, works, has ties, has family and while visiting to make the effort to meet everyone important in your partner’s life  (while at the same time taking date stamped photos).

But today’s situation, under Covid 19 is unique. And frankly “needs must”.
So, If it appears to be many, many, many, more, lonesome months before a trip to your partner’s country is likely, then I suggest you immediately “think outside the box”. Go and find an alternate location where you both can meet.

What about the interview? Won’t the officer deny because I didn’t meet my partner’s family?

Well, I think the officer will understand. And my philosophy when working on your case, is that we don’t want to leave anything to chance. So we want to make sure that the officer does understand EXACTLY what you did and why you did it. For each of my applications I always help clients write a history of their courtship. How they met, why they are a good match and what their plans for the future are. We present them to the reviewing officer
as an honest and sympathetic couple.

I also take advantage of this letter, to include clarification on anything about your case that appears out of norm. We ensure the officer understands why you did not meet the family,
by getting ahead of his doubts by presenting your reasonable explanation that you wanted to do this,
but due to travel restrictions during Covid 19 you were unable to.
This defuses the situation before it becomes a problem.

Where can you meet?

In choosing an alternative destination country you have two considerations.
“Which country will allow your partner to enter, either visa free or with an easy to get visa?” and “Which country has relaxed quarantine requirements?”

As always these days, start with Google. Search for countries that allow an American as well as, your foreign partner to travel to with either no visa, or an easy visa to acquire.

Then do a search on countries with relaxed quarantine restrictions.
Compare the two lists for matches. Then choose the country most convenient, and enjoyable for the two of you.

For example when I search for “where can Philippines go without a visa”
a website listing a few dozen countries that welcome Filipinos and don’t require visas.

Then I searched “where can I go without quarantine” and found another website listing many countries that offered easy travel.

I discovered that both Colombia and Brazil would allow a Philippine partner to travel without need for a visa, and have no quarantines. Both appear attractive as destinations, and I have many VisaCoach clients who have recently been traveling to these countries and have already submitted
their applications. More are currently in process.

So I suggest, you take control of your destiny, and if currently unable to travel to your partner’s country, widen your travel choices, think outside the box, and bring your partner to join you life together sooner than later.

This was Fred Wahl, The VisaCoach