Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘K1 visa application’

23rd November 2017

The following is a transcript of the video which can be found here: K-1 Visas from Vietnam

In this video we are going to be discussing K-1 Visas specifically in the context of cases that will be processed presumably through the US Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City primarily.

As can be heard from the preamble to this video, I’m an American attorney but we’re located here in Bangkok. Primarily we do the vast majority of our cases do involve Thai nationals though we do deal with cases regionally and I sort of thought about it the other day and I said that you know, I really don’t do enough videos talking about some of the other posts and other nationalities we deal with in the immigration context within the immigration practice here. So I went ahead and decided to do this video.

The way to look at the K-1 process specifically and the K-1 fiancée process is slightly different than dealing with other family based petitions. First of all, you have to be intending to marry an American citizen unlike marriage visas where you can be married to a lawful permanent resident and process a case that way for one of the preference categories. K-1 Visas are only between a foreign national and an American citizen. Both parties have to be legally free to marry, that’s rather important. This can come up and cause some confusion, and cause some problems in a lot cases because folks think “oh, we filed and now we can marry”. “No, you have to remain fiancées throughout the whole process!”  You have to be legally free to marry up until the fiancée, the Vietnamese fiancée comes to the United States at which point it is then possible to go ahead and get married in the United States and file for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence. In another video on this channel I discuss specifically adjustment of status. Adjustment of status is the process by which an individual comes to the United States, in this case in K-1 status, gets married and goes ahead and  lawful permanent residence attached,  aka Green Card Status. Another thing to keep in mind with respect to the K-1 specifically, the couple in question needs to have met physically in person within 2 years of the filing of the petition for the visa benefits.  There are exceptions to this rule but they are very, very narrow in scope and for that reason it’s best to effectively just go ahead and say “look, I have to meet in person. That usually means they are going to have to travel at least once to, in the case of a Vietnamese fiancée, presumably Vietnam and meet physically in person, the Vietnamese fiancée before filing can be perfected or at least before an acceptable filing can be perfected.

Some things to think about as far as how it works.  Well the case starts off over at the Department of Homeland Security, specifically USCIS, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. They go ahead and process the petition. If the petition is approved, the case moves to the National Visa Center which is under the auspices of the Department of State. The National Visa Center, they act as a sort of clearing house or sort of administrative hub for sending these cases out, making sure it gets from the approval at DHS and gets to the appropriate embassy or consulate. In the vast majority of cases involving Vietnam you’re  not going to be dealing with the post in Hanoi, in the vast majority of cases at least that we deal with, you’re dealing with the consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. It is a higher volume post, so processing can take a little bit longer. In Vietnam, as far as Consular processing goes, it can take a little bit longer when compared to other posts in the region, Bangkok included, but Bangkok is a pretty high volume post as well. Some of the other smaller posts, Cambodia, Laos definitely, even Yangon, don’t quite have the volume so things may move a little bit more quickly.  But that being said, it’s just the process you have to deal with and every case is sort of being unique and you have to deal with the circumstances as you take them.  So that being said, it will go to the Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City and at that point the case, the Vietnamese fiancée will be informed of the protocols that he or she needs to undertake to go ahead and complete the consular processing portion. In the cases where we have been retained to assist in these matters, we often assist with translations, compilation of documentation, filling out of various forms, both online and physical forms cases and in a lot of cases going ahead and submitting the request for the actual visa application interview.  And then on top of that we go ahead and assist in preparing certain questions or I really hate to say we provide the questions that they are going to ask, we don’t; we provide an overview with respect to how, what is the process looking for? What kind of due diligence is the Consular Officer likely to be interested in conducting? In most cases it’s ascertaining that the couple is a genuine couple, they are legally free to marry, they’ve remained legally free to marry, they adhere to the law, they adhere to the Immigration policy, they don’t have any legal grounds of inadmissibility and all the documentation relevant to the case that that officer feels is pertinent is present and accounted for with respect to the underlying application. That’s basically what they’re looking to do. It’s not an exercise in “stump the applicant”, it’s an exercise in due diligence. They want to make certain that the couple is bona fide.  So for that reason, that is sort of a general overview of what the interview process is like. If the officer requests further documentation, they can issue what is called a 221-G request for further documentation.

In some cases they may feel that the case is denied for various reasons. They have to give a legal reason why they are denying the case. In most cases that I have dealt when you get a denial, you are looking at a legal ground of inadmissibility, and a legal ground of inadmissibility is defined in the Immigration Nationality Act and in some cases it’s often possible to overcome that legal ground of inadmissibility through use of an I-601 waiver. There are various videos on this channel with respect to the I-601 specifically but to sort of just sum up K-1 visa processing through Vietnam, you’re looking at a matter of months; I think you are looking at probably 8 or 9 months with respect to the overall “door to door” process with respect to processing a successful K-1 visa, on average.  There are outliers on both sides. Every case is unique; it’s like a snow flake. But that being said, that’s kind of a general overview with respect to timeline, the thing to keep in mind, just sort of in sum. It’s a 3 part process. It effectively begins in the US, goes through various offices in the US, finally to wind up, generally speaking, at the US Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City where the matter will be adjudicated by the Consular Officer at the Immigrant Visa Unit. Again, K-1s are interesting because they’re a non-immigrant visa that has dual intent. You are actually a non-immigrant visa but to all intents and purposes, the consular section treats it as if it were an immigrant visa and you go ahead and undertake the interview and hopefully, presuming a successful interview, a visa will be issued shortly after the interview date.

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15th August 2010

Holiday closing schedules for US Embassies and US Consulates in Asia are routinely posted on this blog in an effort to forestall fruitless trips to US Missions abroad made by American travelers and expats in host countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The following holiday closing schedule was quoted directly from the official website of the United States Embassy in Papua New Guinea:

Listed below are Papua New Guinea and U.S. National holidays on which the Embassy is closed.

Holiday Date Observed
New Year’s Day January 1, 2009
Martin Luther King, Jr’s Birthday January 19, 2009
President’s Day February 16, 2009
Good Friday April 10, 2009
Easter Monday April 13, 2009
Memorial Day May 25, 2009
Queen’s Birthday June 8, 2009
Independence Day July 3, 2009
Remembrance Day July 23, 2009
Labor Day September 7, 2009
Independence Day September 16, 2009
Columbus Day October 12, 2009
Veterans Day November 11, 2009
Thanksgiving Day November 26, 2009
Christmas Day December 25, 2009
Boxing Day December 26, 2009

Papua New Guinea is 10 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and 15 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Americans as well as Lawful Permanent Residents traveling or living overseas often find that they need services that can only be provided by staff at an American Citizen Services section of a US Embassy abroad. The services which American Citizen Services provides include, but are not limited to: US passport issuance, addition of visa pages, notary services, and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad.

Those thinking of traveling to a US Mission abroad are prudent to check the Embassy’s official website in order to ascertain the operating hours of the Post as well as the Post’s holiday closing schedule. Furthermore, those with business at American Citizen Services may be able to book an appointment online thereby streamlining their service after arrival at the Mission’s facilities. In many cases, an online appointment booking can place the Consular Officers on notice of the services to be sought thereby allowing the Consular Officers the opportunity to prepare to serve the customer.

Those seeking a visa interview appointment in connection with a US visa application are well advised to check with the Visa Unit of the Post where the interview will take place as interview appointments are scheduled based upon a Post’s caseload. Often, non-immigrant visa applicants (those seeking visas such as the US Tourist Visa and the US Student Visa) are interviewed in a different manner compared to immigrant visa applicants, for purposes of interviewing and processing the K1 visa is often treated in the same manner as a true immigrant visa.

For information about Consular denial of a visa application please see: US Visa Denial. For information about possible remedies after a visa denial please see: I-601 waiver.

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12th June 2010

In a recent transcript from a news conference held by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) it was announced that USCIS may be increasing many of the fees associated with US Immigration petitions. The following is a direct quote from the aforementioned news conference transcript:

While we received appropriations from Congress, budget cuts of approximately $160 million have not bridged the remaining gap between costs and anticipated revenue. A fee adjustment, as detailed in the proposed rule, is therefore necessary to address that gap.

Although few seem to doubt the fact that USCIS has experienced a revenue shortfall, many seem to be perturbed by the announcement of fee increases. The following is quoted from the AILA Leadership blog:

Yesterday, due to lower than projected fee revenues, USCIS proposed a fee increase that will amount to an average increase of  10% across the board.  USCIS will issue the formal proposal on Friday and there will be a 45 day comment period.  This, in combination with the 66% fee increase that was implemented in 2007, constitutes a tremendous hit in the pocketbook for a variety of users of immigration services. For example, an I-130 petition for an alien relative will jump from $355 to $420, under this proposal, thus impacting those who want to be reunited with family members.  An I-131 application for a travel document goes up by $55, and an application for an employment authorization document increases by $40.  Adjustment of status fees will increase by $55.  Businesses will also bear some of the brunt, with I-140 petitions for immigrant workers increasing over $100, premium processing going up by $225 and a brand new fee of $6,230 to establish a Regional Center under the EB-5 program. And –perhaps the coup de grace—fees for filing I-290 Notices of Appeal will increase from $585 to $630, a $45 dollar increase that will allow us to continue to file appeals that take over 2 years to adjudicate and generally conclude with either a rubber stamping of the original decision, or as in a handful of recent AAO decisions, a tortured legal analysis resulting in increasingly restrictive interpretations of the law.

The tone of the above quote leaves some readers feeling as though the author is rather upset about the recently proposed fee increase. The following passages from the aforementioned post on the AILA Leadership blog leaves little to the imagination regarding some practitioners feelings with regard to the proposed fee increases:

Why do these fee increases feel like a punch in the stomach to immigration practitioners?  Because they come at a time when the quality of decision-making and the ability to correct even the simplest errors or address basic problems with USCIS are at an all-time low. A small sampling of the problems we have all experienced with alarming increased frequency over the past few years…Application of new extra-regulatory standards in case adjudication…Adjudication of issues not within the province of USCIS…A “pick and choose” attitude with respect to previously issued long-standing agency guidance…Lack of accessibility of agency officials and decision-makers…Lack of predictability in decision-making…Lack of respect for the role of counsel in various proceedings: Examples:  Practitioners report that they are sometimes not copied on RFE’s, and that district offices from time to time have barred attorneys from accompanying their clients to adjustment interviews.

Although USCIS adjudicates cases on an individual basis and no single practitioner can make a generalized statement about USCIS adjudication generally, there appears to be an increasingly common feeling among immigration practitioners that agencies associated with Immigration adjudication are becoming rather unpredictable.

Also of possible interest to those seeking certain family based visas such as the K1 visa and the K3 Visa is the fact that the US Department of State has recently raised the fees associated with such applications when adjudicated by US Consulates abroad. The previous fee for K visa applications was $131, but under the newly promulgated rules the K visa application fee has been raised to $350. Those seeking K3 visas are unlikely to be adversely impacted by the recent fee increase as K3 visa applications are currently being “administratively closed,” in many cases, by the National Visa Center. That said, those seeking a K1 Fiance Visa will likely be required to pay the increased fee in order to have their K1 visa application adjudicated.

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31st December 2009

For those with relatives overseas the immigration process can at times seem interminable. In most cases, the visa process involves multiple US government agencies and can be somewhat confusing as Immigration is an area in which different regulations overlap.

Currently, there is a Bill in Congress that would reform the United States Immigration system. Many practitioners of Immigration law as well as immigrants feel as though the time has come to reform the American Immigration system. On the American Immigration Lawyers Association Leadership blog there has been a recent posting about the current state of the Immigration system, ways it can be fixed, and how all of these issues impact Americans as well immigrants. To quote directly from the blog posting:

“The crises in family and employment immigration are chronic and pressing. The backlog in family and employment waiting lines is gravely dispiriting and undermines the long-held principle of family reunification. Immigrant Visa Numbers Hopelessly Encased In Amber. The situation is deteriorating every day with more detentions, more denials, more delays, more deportations and more defective decisions. ICE has now reported 105 deaths in civil immigration custody since 2003. More Immigrant Deaths in US Detention CommonDreams.org Now is the time to turn the tide of the culture of “No” pervading our immigration system. We need to unite families and we need to keep industry vibrant and competitive.”

At present, the K1 visa process for Thai fiancees takes approximately 6-7 months from K1 visa application submission until final decision at the US Embassy in Bangkok.

The K3 visa process generally takes approximately 8 months from initial I-130 submission until the the visa interview.

It now takes about 11-12 months to process a CR-1 or IR-1 visa if the petition is filed in the United States of America.

There are some who would argue that it takes too long to obtain a US visa for an immediate relative. Others find it rather odd that a fiancee visa takes less time to process than a marriage visa. This could be attributed to the fact the K1 visa does not provide the bearer with long term lawful presence in the United States of America, but instead only provides the visa holder with 90 days status in the USA and the opportunity to adjust status to permanent residence subsequent to marriage.

The upcoming Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill will be an interesting thing to watch as it will likely have a dramatic impact upon future immigrants to the United States as well as some of those currently processing through the Immigration system.

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15th August 2009

The United States Visa process can be a time consuming proposition. In Thailand, we see many couples seeking fiance visas as well as marriage visas and for both types of visa the phase of the process which takes up the most time seems to be the approval process from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). In previous blogposts we have discussed the K1 visa process and the K3 visa process. After submitting a K3 or K1 visa application, the couple must wait for USCIS approval before the visa interview at the US Embassy in Bangkok.

The California and Vermont Service Centers of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) have recently updated their timing estimates for US family based petitions submitted by Americans seeking Immigration benefits for their Thai loved ones. Of note, is the fact that the estimates for K1 fiance visas seems to have dropped by approximately thirty days.

As a courtesy to all bi-national couples seeking information regarding USCIS approval times we try to post accurate estimates reflecting the current processing times for family based petitions. Below are the most up to date estimates taken from the USCIS website.

California Service Center Processing Dates as of 06/30/2009

I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-1/K-2 – Not yet married – fiance and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-3/K-4 – Already married – spouse and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 January 08, 2004
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 November 01, 2001
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister December 22, 1999
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for a spouse or child under 21 January 15, 2006
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 May 01, 2002
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months

Vermont Service Center Processing Dates as of 06/30/2009

I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-1/K-2 – Not yet married – fiance and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-3/K-4 – Already married – spouse and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 July 02, 2006
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 June 04, 2006
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister September 19, 2001
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for a spouse or child under 21 January 18, 2006
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 June 04, 2006
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months
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6th August 2009

As my Thai has begun to improve (slightly) I am beginning to see more and more layers of the tapestry that is Thai society. That being said, I did not expect to see something on the internet that would stop me in my tracks as much as the website www.usvisa4thai.com. This site is dedicated to assisting native Thai speakers with the United States Immigration process. It is setup as something of a forum and luckily for me the handy dandy Google translator has helped me navigate the site.

The author thinks this is a great idea because one of the major difficulties in dealing with US Immigration law and US visa obtainment in Thailand is the fact that often explaining the situation can be difficult. Some concepts in US Immigration law are difficult to grasp for a seasoned immigration attorney, let alone someone who does not speak English as their first language. In Thailand, explaining a concept that is as complicated as re-establishing domicile can be a very difficult task. This is where Thai paralegal staff comes in, but for those who opt not to retain an attorney I must imagine that understanding many US Immigration concepts is very difficult. Hopefully, USVISA4THAI will be used as a medium to clarify confusing issues.

Before learning of USVISA4THAI, we on this website made the decision to use our web presence in order to provide useful information. In that vein, we put up our own version of “us visa 4 thai,” by providing our United States visa information in both the Thai and English languages. Although certainly not as interactive as usvisa4thai, hopefully this information will be helpful to those who wish to immigrate to the United States of America.

An issue related to USVISA4Thai deals with issues involving the K1 visa interview at the US Embassy in Bangkok.  Many men in Thailand pose the question: “What if my Thai fiancee’s English is not that good?” Many people are worried about their Thai loved one’s ability with the spoken Thai language and whether that will adversely affect a K1 fiance visa application. In many cases a fiance visa application will not be detrimentally effected by a fiancee’s less than perfect grasp of the Thai language. A common misconception is based upon the idea that there is an English language requirement for a K1 visa. There is not an English language requirement per se. However, a bona fide relationship is a requirement of a K1 vsa applicant. Having an ability to speak with a loved one is strongly indicative of a bona fide relationship. Conversely, a lack of shared language could have a  detrimental impact upon a couple’s ability to obtain a K1 visa. Please note, that although we are talking about shared language, that language does not need to be English. It can be any language that the couple shares. Therefore if an American only speaks English and the Thai only speaks Thai, there may be problems showing a bona fide relationship because a lack of communication is a primary indicator of lack of bona fides in a relationship.

(This is not legal advice. No attorney-client relationship should be construed to exist between author and reader.)

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3rd August 2009

As the movement towards the eventual repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) continues, it appears that proponents of repeal may score a minor victory by enlisting Senator Russ Feingold to introduce repeal legislation.

The Washington Blade reports,

“[Senator] Feingold is an attractive ally to introduce a DOMA repeal bill because he chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Constitution Subcommittee, which hold jurisdiction over DOMA, she said.”

Concurrently, it would appear that Jerry Nadler, Democratic Member of the House of Representatives, is preparing to introduce a bill to repeal DOMA. Under the provisions of the DOMA repeal currently being considered, states would not be forced to recognize same-sex marriages conducted in other states, but the Federal government would be required to recognize these marriages and provide federal benefits.

Allison Herwitt, legislative director of the Human Rights Campaign, was quoted as saying, “You could, if you lived in Oklahoma, travel to Massachusetts, or one of the other [five] states get married and [go] back to Oklahoma,” she said. “The state would not have to recognize your marriage, but federal benefits would flow.”

Jerry Nadler is notable for having introduced federal legislation known as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). This proposed legislation would have granted US Immigration benefits to the same-sex “permanent partners,” of American Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (holders of US Green Card).

This proposed DOMA repeal would likely have the same effect as the provisions under the UAFA because it would theoretically accord the same sex spouse of an American Citizen the same privileges granted to different sex couples unde ramerican Immigration law. For example, if a bi-national same sex couple was validly married in Massachusetts and then the American Citizen filed an I-130 petition on behalf of his or her spouse, then the federal government would be compelled to recognize the marriage for the purposes of granting the Immigration benefit.

Further, one could argue that an American citizen could file a K1 visa application based upon the couple’s intent to travel to a jurisdiction in the United States which recognizes same-sex marriage and execute a valid marriage. It is thought that should this form of the DOMA repeal pass, then a fiance visa application filed for the above outlined purpose would be approved. That being said, as the bill has not been legalized and the contents are subject to change, it any analysis of USA visa implication is simply an exercise in speculation at this time.

(This is information provided for educational purposes. An attorney-client relationship should not be construed to exist between author and reader.)

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7th June 2009

The K-1 Application: Frequently Asked Questions

A very frequently asked question with regard to the K-1 Fiance Visa is: how do we apply for a K-1 Visa? US Immigration procedure is a somewhat difficult to understand for those who have never dealt with the application process. This post will briefly provide details about the K-1 application, where it will be filed, and use of an Immigration attorney.

A common misconception held by many American Citizens is that a visa applicant can simply apply for the K1 Visa at the US Embassy directly. It is easy to understand why people believe this particularly in light of the fact that this is essentially the procedure for obtaining a US tourist visa. In the case of K1 visas this, however, is not the case. One must first file the K-1 visa application with an office called the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, or USCIS for short. The application is then routed to the National Visa Center and remitted to the American Embassy in Bangkok.

There are so many forms, which should be used?

Many people are belabor under the myth that the US Immigration process is a very straightforward process. In reality, because US Immigration law is statute driven it can be quite complex to the point of being byzantine. The rules governing how and where things must be filed and the order in which petitions ought to be filed can be fraught with difficulty for the laymen. In the case of the K1 visa, the correct application form that should be used is the I-129f. This should not be confused with the I-129 petition form. Withing this application form, there are many questions that  a couple will need to confer about. Recent statutory changes like IMBRA and the Adam Walsh Act have created new restrictions with regard to who is allowed to petition for a K-1 visa.  The I-129f is the crux of the fiance visa application, but there are more government forms that must accompany this application along with supporting documentation that must be used to prove the legitimacy of the relationship.

Where do we file the K1 visa application?

The location that one should file a K1 application depends upon where the US Citizen’s residence in the United States is located. Another misunderstanding involves a belief that aK1 application can be filed at a local USCIS office. In most cases this is not correct. There are two Service Centers for US Citizens wishing to file a K1 application, one is in Vermont and the other is in California. The location for filing the application depends heavily upon the US Citizen’s state of residence.

Should we use an attorney to file a K-1 visa application?

Retaining the services of an attorney is a decision that each couple should decide on their own. That being said, a great deal of the administrative burden can be lifted by retaining attorney assistance. An attorney or law firm with an office in the home country of the fiancee can be even more beneficial because the attorney can deal with the fiancee’s issues at the US Embassy in real time.

(Nothing Contained herein should be thought of as an appropriatealternative to personalized legal advice from a competent attorney. No attorney/client relationship should be assumed to have been created by merely reading this post.)

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