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.
I’ve spent last few days helping two different clients with similar issues win their cases. Their problem is that they both met their fiancees and started their romantic relationships before their respective divorces were final.
Considering that the divorce or annulment process can last years, it is not that unusual for a modern couple to meet while one or the other is putting the final wraps to their previous failed marriages.
The problem lies with how strictly a consulate officer defines Good Moral Character.
The intention of the requirement, is to exclude those who are involved in crime, such as violence, drugs, sex trade. However some consulate officers will interpret a courtship that took place, before a failed marriage got its official court ordered dissolution decree as a reason to deny on moral character grounds.
A consular officer with more life experiences and maturity is more likely to understand and accept the realities of human nature and failed relationships. But an officer may have less world experience, and might have a strict family or religious background and be far less understanding of the situation.
Denial of fiance or spouse visas based on poor moral character demonstrated by “adultery” happens quite often at the consulate in Guangzhou China. The officers there frequently deny cases where in the opinion of the officer, the couple committed adultery.
Let me share this experience. One of my clients was an American university professor. He met his Chinese fiance as she was in an exchange program from her Chinese university and was a visiting professor at his Chicago campus. Before he met her, his divorce was already underway. He had already been separated from his wife. He had already filed for divorce. During the last three months of his Chinese fiancee’s visit to the USA, he and his fiancee moved in and lived together.
But his divorce was not yet final.
She returned to China. His divorce decree was eventually issued. Then they applied for her fiancee visa. At her interview in Guangzhou the consular officer found no problems with their application, EXCEPT that the American’s divorce was not already final while the couple were courting and living together. Their application was denied.
Full disclosure. They were NOT my clients when they were denied,but had done their own DIY application. They came to me for help AFTER denial.
That’s when they finally became my clients. I successfully helped them re-apply to get their fiance visa, conditional adjustment of status, and recently permanent adjustment of status.
Two University Professors are obviously intelligent and capable, But even they discovered that facing immigration ALONE can be a nightmare. That when they choose to rely on VisaCoach to get them through.
Fast forward to today’s couples. The two front loaded petitions I am working on are still on my desk. Both couples had relationships which began while the American was still married and both will be processed in China, the second toughest consulate of all the consulates, to get visa approval from.
Whenever I prepare a front loaded petition, I always include a warm letter for the consular officer to read which describes the circumstances, past, and future of the couple’s relationship. I tell the couples story in a persuasive and personal way. I want the officer to get to know and even “like” the couple before the interview starts. Often this letter is the tipping point to get visa approval.
In cases where there are “red flags”. This letter, is even more important. It is our best opportunity, to explain away and reduce the effect of any issues while the consular officer still has an open mind, BEFORE the interview begins.
Part of my VisaCoach process is as early as possible, I get to know the couple’s background and situation well, Then, I put myself into the mind of the consular officer, and think about what opinions he would have regarding their story and evidences. What would HE consider a “red flag” What issues would he be concerned about what hard questions would he ask?
Then I work on the couples letter, to create clear and persuasive text, that explains to the consular officer why the red flags (that I think he will identify) are not important and should be “forgiven” and ignored. And I help him move his focus away from the red flags, to instead to concentrate on the good reasons there are to approve the visa instead.
This well written letter, should detour him away from a line of confrontational questioning, and instead lead to a short, but sweet interview.
So in the case of the couples that were dating before their divorces were final, I worked with them to write a narrative that explained their marital and courtship histories in the most positive way. I rewrote and revised a few times before finally satisfied that I explained their circumstances as well as possible to give them their best chance of success..
If at all possible conclude your failed marriage before looking for new romance. But regardless of when you find your new love, VisaCoach is here to help make her fiance or spouse visa happen.
This was Fred Wahl, The VisaCoach
By Fred Wahl