Petition Denied: What to do next? – January 11th, 2012

Petition Denied: What to do next?

I get phone calls from strangers, (strangers for they weren’t my clients, they prepared their petitions themselfs, or used an attorney), who call to share their shock and disappointment after hearing from their heartbroken fiancee that their petition was denied.  They ask: Can we sue the consulate? Can we appeal? Can my Congressman help? Yes, to all these questions. But going down that path is simply a waste of time and money, as none of these actions will bring your lover closer to reunion with you in the USA.

What can be done,  that is USEFUL?

Short answer:  Don’t get Denied in the first place.

The first time you apply should be the ONLY time you need to apply. Do your research, see why the consulate rejected couples in the past, then avoid repeating the same mistakes. If the consulate expects a formal engagement, or multiple trips, or a long courtship …. do what is needed before you submit your petition. And  make sure you provide abundant and believable proof that that there is no fraud, that you are a pure, genuine, ‘bone fide’ couple planning a future life together. While it is certainly inexpensive to prepare all  the paperwork yourself, I recommend you hire me to personally help you. My record is 100% approval. More info is at http://fianceevisaservices.com/ or speak with me at 1-800-806-3210 x702 to discuss.

Long answer:  Start Over

If denied, your only effective option is to start over, repeating the ENTIRE process again. You must do a better job this time. On the plus side: you have more longevity in your relationship, you have more evidences, and the fact you are persisting and trying again adds to your credibility.

Study your mistakes.

Sometimes, the consulate provides a letter, describing in detail why the petition was denied. This should be studied carefully and action taken to correct what you can. That which can not be directly corrected, can be generally overcome due to the fact that your relationship now has much more longevity (at least a year) the second time you apply.

Often however, the vague reason given for denial is ‘the couple was not found bone fide’. Basically that means that the consular officer’s intuition told him to deny. You don’t have any real solid facts to go on. However you should try your best to figure out what went wrong. Ask your fiancee to describe the interview in detail:  What questions were asked, what comments were made, what body language occured? Try to determine what was it that the consulate officer was concerned about, found suspicious or reacted negatively to? Did he ask a lot of questions about your ex-wife? details about the marriage proposal? wanted to know about finances? Who introduced you and why? Commented on the courtship going on before the divorce was final?  Whatever seemed to go wrong, that is something you will have to correct and address, for the next time.

Use addititional evidence to best advantage:

You should have done a full and complete job in providing evidences of your relationship when you filed your original petition. But many of the callers I get, mention they made the ‘rookie’ mistake of not providing adequate supporting evidences of their relationship. If you did not do that job well the first time, now is your chance to do it correctly. Or ask for my help. I strongly believe the most important aspect of the petition is the evidence of the ‘bone fides’ of your relationship, this is where I personally spend the most time and effort when working with clients. Helping them to tell their story in a logical and convincing manner. As your relationship is at least a year older then at the time it you first applied, you now have an entire years worth of additional evidences to add to your petition.  See my video On How to Prove a Genuine Relationship at http://fianceevisaservices.com/youtubegenuinerelationship.html

Enlist Support of your Congressman

You could ask your Congressman to help get an explanation of why you were denied. I have seen this done, but usually with no worthwhile results. Generally the answer obtained is ‘they were not believed to be bone fide’, full stop.

A better use of your Congressman is to contact him once your fiancee’s second interview is scheduled, tell him the details of your case, explain how sincere and bone fide your relationship is, and ask for his help.

This usually results in an email from his office to the consulate a few days before the interview, advising that the Congressman is personally interested in your case, and asking the consulate to advise the results after the interview. This is not a message from the Congressman endorsing your case. But it serves to put the consular reviewing officer on notice that should the case be denied, he will be expected to report a solid, documented reason. Many cases are rejected based upon the ‘intuition’ of the reviewing officer. The expectation that detailed written documentation will be needed in case of denial tends to influence the consulate reviewer to find a solid reason for denial, and if he is unable to do so, then to approve.

Request Waiver

The recent IMBRA laws restrict the use of Fiancee visas by American sponsors. Two restrictions are that an American is limited to two fiancee visa petitions in his lifetime, and they can not be submitted within two years of each other. So when applying immediately, the second time, for your Fiancee your petition will need to include a request for waiver from at least one of these IMBRA restrictions, even though you are applying for your SAME fiancee.

Fiancee or Spousal Visa

Either visa needs the same amount of evidences. If you are living together, getting married does look better than only staying engaged. However if the relationship is long distance, getting married but still living far apart only marginally makes your relationship appear more sincere. The spousal visa takes about 12 – 14 months to process while the Fiancee visa takes only 5- 7 months to process.  In general I recommend couples whose Fiancee Visa has been denied, to apply for the fiancee visa again as it is faster.

Will one way air ticket cause a problem at immigration? – January 4th, 2012

I am almost there on bringing my fiancee to the USA! Later this month he will have his interview in Telgucigualpa, Honduras. Do i have to buy a round plane trip ticket ?  Can buy a one way ticket only? Will i have a problem with immigration if a one way ticket is bought for his trip?

A one way ticket is fine.

US Immigration understands that the real purpose of the trip is to marry you and remain permanently in the USA.

No Photos of Face to Face Meeting with Vietnam Fiancee – December 10th, 2011

Comments: I met a lady who was a tour guide in The Mekong Delta for our group.  I did NOT have a photo taken of the two of us because I didn’t have a plan to bring her over here at that time.  Is it mandatory that I go BACK to The Mekong Delta in Vietnam to have ONE or more photos taken of us together?  This is NOT fraud…just circumstances as I would prefer to spend the air fare money to bring the lady here rather than for me to go back and forth myself.  Thanks for all the good work you do.  John 91320

The generic answer is, you could get the people who were on your tour to write affidavits and swear that you and her were on the tour together, and that they saw you spending time together. Such affidavits could be used in place of a photo to prove to prove you actually met in person.

The specific answer for Vietnam is: Vietnam is the most difficult post to get a fiancee visa from. The proof you must provide to have any chance of approval, is much more burdensome than just proving you and her were in the same place at the same time.

The HCM consulate reviewers expect you to make more than one trip, expect a long courtship before a proposal of marriage, and expect a formal engagement party, Vietnam style.

If you are serious about marrying this gal, or any gal from Vietnam you will have to put in time, effort and money.

Sorry to bring bad news, but I always tell clients  “like it really is”, even if it is not what they want to hear.

Assuming you choose to proceed (I can help you whether you take my advice more trips or ignore it)

Get more info at http://www.fianceevisaservices.com/

 

Fiancee Visa Timeline + Costs – November 11th, 2011

First: Couple has a genuine relationship (courtship). They have recently met face-to-face. They are both ‘free to marry’. They intend to marry.
.
The US Citizen submits the Fiancee Visa Petition to USCIS (Homeland Security).

Fee: $340

USCIS reviews the petition and the FBI conducts a background check.

Currently  USCIS takes 3 – 4 months (on average) to complete their review and approve the case.

The case is passed on to the US Department of State’s National Visa Center, in Vermont (NVC). NVC sends the US Citizen notice they have taken over processing, and have sent it to the US Consulate nearest the Fiancee.

It takes about 1 month from the time USCIS approves till the Consulate recieves the case.

Then the Consulate contacts the Fiancee via mail, telephone, or not at all (sometimes she is expected to contact them first). She gets additional instructions and more government forms to fill out.

Usually, the interview is scheduled 1 to 2 months later.

In Philippines the process is very efficient and fast. Interviews can be arranged as fast as 3 to 5 WEEKS after USCIS Homeland Security approves. In Vietnam it may take 2 to 4 months later before the interview is scheduled.

A week or so prior to the interview, she attends a medical at a clinic approved by the Consulate. The clinic fees vary between $150 to $200.

Also, prior to the interview, she pays to the Consulate a visa application fee of $350. This is typically paid at a local bank, post office or at the consulate.

At the interview she will be asked to present identification documents, forms required by the consulate, an Affidavit of Support and income proof from her US Fiance (showing his income is sufficient) as well as proof of her ‘bone fide’ relationship with the sponsor. The consular officer asks various questions to confirm (in his opinion) that the relationship is genuine.

The decision to grant the visa is normally made ‘on the spot’.  Her passport and visa is returned by courier usually within a week of the interview.

The visa is good for 6 months. She must start her journey to the USA before the 6 months is over.

Once she arrives in the USA she has 90 days to marry her Fiance, or return home.

After marriage, the final step is to apply for Adjustment of Status to be approved for permanent residency. The couple submits yet another important petition to USCIS (Homeland Security).

Filing cost is $1,070.
Doctor’s review of her Vaccinations $100

After about 1 month she visits a USCIS office for fingerprinting and photo.

Finally, 3 to 6 months later, she gets her Green Card which proves she has permission to remain permanently in the USA.

Immigration for Children of your Fiancee or Spouse – October 6th, 2011

If your Fiancee or Spouse has young children, the question always is: Do we apply for Mother and child at the same time, or is it better to bring the Mother to the USA first, then apply for the children later? It costs extra money to petition for the children, and new couples want  ‘private time’.

Petitioning Later, is a much SLOWER process

What most couples do NOT know, is that petitioning for the children later, is a much SLOWER process. Currently the wait is 3 to 4 years. The time needed, is based on changing annual immigration quotas.  And until recently it was even slower: 4 to 8 years. What it will be next year is not yet known.

Don’t  separate Mother from Child

As a matchmaker I advise any new husband who hopes for a happy marriage,
to avoid separating a mother from her children for such long times.

The most important thing to know, is that if the children are eligible,  their permission to enter the USA will be approved JUST AS FAST  as the Mother’s visa is approved. If however, the  Mother enters the USA, and then the children are applied for, the time needed for approval for the Children is much longer. Depending on the the country they are coming from, the current delay is about 3 to 4 years, from the time the mother applies, which is AFTER she gets her Green Card.

The reason Mom and child together are processed much faster than Child alone is because of who is the official sponsor of the petition. If an American citizen sponsors his Fiancee and her child, or his new Spouse and her child, the US Government extends to the US citizen a ‘courtesy’ by expediting his request. Fiancee visas currently take 5 to 8 months, and Spousal visas take 12 to 14 months. For the husband and wife these seem like long times to wait. But as far as immigration is concerned these are quite fast processing times. The American citizen whether he appreciates it or not, is getting special treatment.

No Expedited Service for Legal Permanent Residents

After the mother has entered the USA, marries and receives her Green Card, she is now a ‘Legal Permanent Resident’. She is allowed to live in the USA
but she is not a US citizen. If the children are applied for later, it is NOT the
US citizen step-father sponsoring the petition, but it is the Mother who is THE official sponsor. Since she is only a ‘Legal Permanent Resident’, she is not entitled to ‘expedited treatment’. Her request is lumped in with all the other brothers, sisters, parents, cousins, etc from her country who want to immigrate to the USA. Each year quotas are set for how many immigrants from each country are allowed in. Each year the quota changes, and each year the processing delay time varies up or down.

Fiancee Visa Petition easily includes Children.

The Fiancee Visa petition is specifically designed to easily include dependent children (under the age of 21).  There is no extra charge when filing the I-129F petition to USCIS ($340 with or without children). The children get approved as quickly as it takes for the mother to be approved, only 5 to 8 months. The child does not have to travel immediately with the mother and can join her in the USA up to a year later.

Spousal Visa is NOT Child Friendly.

The Spousal visa CR-1 is a request for immigration, for one person only, the spouse of the US citizen. If there are also dependent children to immigrate (under the age of 18), the US sponsor must submit additional I-130 petitions,
one for each person (Mother plus each child). The cost is $350 to USCIS per individual. The petitions if submitted together, should be processed and approved together, in only 12 to 14 months. The child has 6 months after issuance of the visa to enter the USA.

I recommend:

Include the children at the time you apply for the mother. Don’t start your marriage off on the ‘wrong foot’ by separating mother from Child.

Due to its faster processing time, and its ease to include the children, I recommend getting engaged, applying for a Fiancee Visa, followed by marriage in the USA. If  ‘alone time’ is needed, the children can begin their trip to reunite with the mother up to a year after her Fiancee visa is granted.

Simple forms don’t mean Simple Process – August 23rd, 2011

Simple forms don’t mean Simple Process

Visit USCIS.gov.  The forms there make applying for a Fiancee or Spousal visa look as simple as applying for a drivers licence. Anyone can fill in his name, address, Mother’s birthdate, pay a fee and a few months later his bride arrives. Easy-Peasy.

Where most petitioners get into trouble is they do not notice that somewhere in the middle of all of these ‘fill in the blank’ questions, is one terribly important ‘essay question’.  This must be answered completely and well.  If not done right the entire petition may fail.

Provide EVIDENCE you have a genuine relationship

I got a call from a man who had just returned from Vietnam. He had spent a half year with his girl friend, was there for the delivery of their baby. But he did not provide enough evidence with his original petition, and apparently they did not believe they needed to bring much with the fiancee to the consulate interview. His petition was summarily denied. I am now working with him to submit a proper petition. (he had done his denied petition himself). I hope within a year, his fiancee and child will be reunited with him.

I also got a call from a gal, a naturalized American originally from India, her fiancee had just been given a blue slip in Mumbai. The blue slip asked the same critical question ‘provide evidence you have a genuine relationship’. They were lucky, as they were  given a second chance to provide it.

Most couples in similar circumstances just get denied.

I helped her assemble a proper package of  evidence, and convinced her to travel back to India with the ‘mini petition’ I had prepared to demonstrate by her presence, her sincerity in support of the petition.   It was approved and she and her fiance traveled together back to Los Angeles.

Petitioners who submit only the basic USCIS forms, plus the ‘usual’ suspects of identity documents, but who neglect to provide ample supporting evidence of the relationship, are putting their petition in jeopardy. Providing the bare minimum of documentation, then wishfully thinking, ‘my fiancée will be able to explain everything during her interview’,  gets couples into trouble.

A good petition ‘Prepares the beach’ with ample, well selected, compelling proof, so that the consular officer after he reviews the file prior to the meeting, starts the session with ‘a good feeling’ about the couple.

For specific details on what evidences to provide that ‘Demonstrate a Genuine relationship‘ watch this video http://fianceevisaservices.com/youtubegenuinerelationship.html

If enough good evidence is presented properly the girl should have a pleasant ‘soft ball’ interview.  If not, she could leave the consulate in tears.

No matter what, whether your fiancee can ‘think on her feet’, whether you assume it is ‘obvious to anyone’ your relationship is genuine, even if you plan to attend the interview yourself, make sure you provide  abundant and quality evidence in your petition to demonstrate the bona fides of your relationship.

Immigration Interview at US Consulate – August 4th, 2011

Below is my Youtube video that explains what happens when your Fiancee attends her Interview at a US consulate or embassy for a final decision on your Fiancee Visa petition for immigration to the USA.

Each applicant must schedule an appointment at the consulate, and convince the consular officer that theirs is a “bone fide” genuine relationship, and that the purpose of the Fiancee Visa application is solely for sincere marriage.




 

This video is for couples who are applying for a fiancee visa for immigration to the United States and who wish to prepare for the interview at the U S Consulate in the fiance’s country.

This information is general, not specific to any particular embassy and will provide an accurate idea of what to expect.

Should you be interviewing in Manila, I have recorded another video that describes the Manila interview process in exact detail.

My name is Fred Wahl I am the matchmaker from HeartofAsiaOnline.com

Over the past thirty five years I have helped thousands of couples find each other.

I’m not an attorney. I cannot give legal advice. I do hope however that you will find this video entertaining and informative.

Let’s talk about the chain of events so far. Aabout four to six months ago you submitted your I-129f petition to USCIS homeland security.

Eventually, USCIS approved the petition and sent you a notice telling you the good news. Also at the same time, they passed your petition on to the US Department of State, to their offices in Vermont called the NVC or National Visa Center.

About a week or two later, NVC sent you a letter, telling you that they had received your file and are forwarding it to the US Embassy that is situated closest to your fiance.

The letter tells you that you should standby and wait for the embassy to contact her directly with further instructions.

The consulate attempts to contact your Fiance directly and provide her with instructions and government forms.

They usually send these via postal mail. Sometimes now, Embassies are also using email and refering the Fiancee to go to the Embassie’s website to download the documents from the internet.

Sometimes they try to reach her by telephone. In some countries the postal mail is terrible. Items regularly get lost or stolen. In some of these countries the only dependable solution is for your Fiance to physically go to the embassy and pick up the package of instructions in person.

If your fiance has not received an email from the consulate after a few weeks, you should contact the consulate directly to chase the status.

The packet (or packets there may be more than one) that she receives, picks up, or downloads should contain general instructions and checklist from the Embassy, government forms, details on where and how she should pay the visa application fee, details on where to get the medical at the clinic that’s been selected, approved, by the consulate and finally details on how to contact the Embassy and schedule her interview.

The required forms that she should fill and then bring with her to her appointment at the Embassy,
or sometimes mail to the embassy (if that is what they request): are the DS-157, DS-156, DS-156K.

There is some variety among the different Embassies and some Embassies also require the DS-230.

The instruction packet will tell her exactly what to do and will have copies of the blank forms within it.

Each Embassy requires that your fiance bring with her, her passport, and birth certificate. Also she must contact per local police authority and obtain a police clearance certificate. This basically should show that she has no criminal record. And if after she was sixteen years old she ever lived in any other countries she will also have to obtain a police certificate from each country that she resided in.

To be eligible for a Fiancee visa, the Fiancee and the american Fiance must both be free to marry.

If the Fiancee has been previously married she must bring with her an original or certified copy of evidence to prove that her previous marriage was terminated: such as a divorce or annulment decree or death certificate.

In some countries it is the practice of the local government to issue a Certificate of No Marriage. This document shows that the fiance has always been single. If your fiancee’s country issues such a document the consulate will want to see it.

And finally, in some cases the American Fiance is also asked to provide original proof that he is free to marry too.

The american sponsor must prove that his annual income meets the minimum income requirements to be eligible for a Fiancee Visa.

To do so he must give his Fiancee his signed affidavit attesting to his income along with proof of the income such as his recent tax returns, a letter from his employer confirming what his job is and what the salary is, and three to six recent pay stubs. She will bring all these along with her to the consulate.

There are still more items for her to bring to the interview. She received an appointment letter and that confirms the date and time for interview she needs this to get into the embassy on her interview day, plus a few visa photos and the receipt showing that she paid the visa fee.

It is also a good idea to prepare a letter signed by the Fiance as well as one signed by the American sponsor confirming that the couple is still engaged and still plan to marry once she arrives into the USA.

Finally, she should bring with her the various proofs she has gathered that show that the couple is a genuine, bone fide couple.

There are various proofes of a bona fide relationship. The Fiancee should bring in whatever she has: such as photographs, samples of correspondences, travel itinerary showing that her American sponsor came to visit her or the two of them traveled together, telephone bills, histories of emails or chat sessions.

If there was an engagement: proof of the engagement such as the receipt from buying an engagement ring, photos of the party, or invitations that may have been sent to relatives and friends.

If the proof is a bit thin, then perhaps affidavits from people that the couple know, ideally those in a position of trust such as ministers, politicians, employers that know both of the couple and can attest that they are sincere couple but really don’t have any reason for misrepresentation.

And finally, if the American sponsor has been sending monies to his fiance on a regular basis, proof of those transfers is a good item to bring to the interview .

Once the fiance has everything ready or can reasonably estimate when the final documents will arrive, she should contact the embassy, in the way that the embassy requested (that could be by mail or fax or telephone or in person) to tell them she is ready to have her interview.

Then they will schedule an interview and send her a document, a letter confirming exactly when and where.

For some embassys they have a system where the American sponsor can pay eighteen dollars using his credit card, that gives him the privilege of telephoning the embassy directly to talk to someone at their American Fiance hotline.

He can talk to the embassy three times if he wants, to answer and ask all his questions. The most important feature is he can sit down and talk with the scheduling clerk to put his Fiancee onto the the embassies appointment calendar.

This may be the best eighteen dollars any american Fiance has spent.

Once her interview is scheduled she should attend a medical at the clinic designated by the consulate.

This should be accomplished at least a week prior to the interview. When she goes to the clinic she should bring with her proof that she is a Fiancee Visa candidate. That’s usually the letter that the embassy sent her. Plus her passport, any vaccination records she may have, some visa photos, and she’ll probably need cash to pay the clinics fees.

When the big day arrives she should arrive at the embassy early, bringing with her all the documents and evidences that she needs.

There will be security checkpoints long lines and she should mentally prepare herself to stay calm and poised, for the potentially long and frustrating day.

Some consulates recommend that the American sponsor attends the interview if that is the case you should do so, but today many of the consulates, most even, perhaps due to terrorists, will not even allow the American in the door.

He’ll have to wait outside the embassy for his Fiance to return with the final results.

Eventually your fiance’s number will be called and she’ll be asked to speak directly with the consular officer.

Perhaps they will be together in a cubby or perhaps facing each other through thick glass panels.

The consular officer will ask about the time-line of your relationship and ask detailed questions about the courtship, proposal and about each other.

It is very important that you and your Fiancee discuss and practice at the questions and answers in advance, so that your Fiancee will be relaxed and knowledgeable.

And in case you are both separately asked the same questions, your answers will be identical.

I have put together about one hundred and twenty typical questions and if you want to get a free copy please visit Fianceevisaservices.com and subscribe to the free Fiancee Visa Secrets newsletter. The questions will be automatically sent to you.

Assuming the interview went well your Fiancee will be given a pink slip and advised that her visa will be ready a few days later. Sometimes she is instructed to return to the consulate a few business days later to pick up her passport or the passport is sent to her via a delivery service. She needs to fill out the delivery service forms before she leaves the embassy.

Once she receives her passport and visa she can start her trip to the USA anytime within the next six months.

Getting through immigration is one of the toughest obstacles most couples will face.

As a matchmaker my mission is to bring couples together as quickly and reliably as possible, by providing nurturing supportive responsive expert help.

If you’d like to speak about your situation please call me I would be very happy to speak with you directly.

No Photo Date Stamp: No Visa – July 14th, 2011

Photographic prints, showing the date when a photo was taken (Datestamping, normally on the bottom right corner), are increasingly hard to find today. While many generations of film cameras had this capability, most digital cameras do not. Even though datestamping is becoming rarer, it seems it is also becoming more IMPORTANT for immigration purposes.

Datestamping is Important for Immigration

One of my clients submitted photos without date stamps to USCIS. A few months later his petition was pulled from the processing que and an RFE (request for evidence) was sent to him. It read:

Though you have submitted photos of you with the beneficiary, they alone do not establish that you have met the beneficiary in person within the two-year period immediately preceding the filing of the petition. The photos are not electronically date stamped, so it is not possible to determine if the meeting was within the two-year period.

During the last 5 years he had made three trips to China. the first five years ago, another 3 years ago and the last one 1 year ago. His first face to face meeting with his fiancee took place during the last trip. So far so good. He submitted evidence of the trip from 1 year ago, the plane tickets, passport entry stamps, and the photos of he and his fiancee.

There are many eligiblity requirements to be approved for a Fiancee Visa.
One requirement, is that the couple has had a “face to face” meeting within the 2 years prior to submiting the petition.

The RFE was sent because immigration was not confident that the photos they received were actually taken during the recent (eligible) trip. They suspect that the photos may be over two years old, taken during an earlier trip. Since photos are really the ‘best’ proof of a ‘face to face’ meeting, we were in trouble. We had to scramble to find additional proof that the meeting really took place.

IF the photos originally presented each had a date stamp, this would NOT
have happened. The process would not have been halted, not delayed, and no
‘cloud’ would have been attached to the petition.

Why are Date Stamps so rare?

In the old film days, most cameras came with a feature that could imprint a date stamp onto the photo. It was done by exposing the film with a small embedded LED display that could be turned on or off. Most digital cameras no longer have this function. However, date, time and other information IS retained. It is stored in the digital file ( .jpg, jpeg, gif) of the photo as embedded data, called EXIF tags. This means that the digital files of your photos STILL has the important information you need.

Digital datestamps can be resurrected

It is possible to extract the date from the EXIF tag, and then print it onto the
visible part of your photo, and it will look exactly as if you used an old film camera.

There are many software programs available to do this. The program can take each ( .jpg, jpeg, gif) , read the date information (EXIF tag), then paste the date onto the ‘front’ of the image, and finally save as a modified (.jpg, jpeg, or .gif) digital file. When your modified photo files are printed, the datestamp will be right where it belongs, where it can HELP your visa case.

All petitions benefit by datestamping

It is true that if you got your first passport, only ever traveled once, and that
was solely to meet your partner, date stamps would not be strictly necesssary. If you only were there one week in October, that MUST be when all photos were taken.

However you should take the ‘long view’ you should planning that photos will again be needed for the Green card application, and if ‘heaven forbid’ your petition is delayed or denied, and more ‘face to face’ meetings, would be needed. Having your photos ALL have date stamps, will guarantee your petitions to immigration will be more convincing and won’t raise red flags.

For those who have many trips overseas, or who are together for extended visits, datestamping is even more important. This is the best way to provide definitive proof of the course of your courtship, and to tell the story in a thorough and easily understandable fashion.

Professional Processing

There is much software on the internet that you can use to recover and print the EXIF data on your photos. With time, patience and savvy you can probably achieve this yourself. I did not have any luck myself. I spent a few frustrating hours trying different programs and finally gave up.

Financial Eligibility for Fiancee and Marriage Visas – May 25th, 2011

Last month I talked about the financial eligibility requirement for a Fiancée Visa, Spousal Visa or Green Card.

To recap:  The US sponsor must demonstrate he has adequate income (or assets) in order to convince immigration he can keep his wife and family off of welfare, or if his wife goes on welfare, he has enough wherewithal so the Feds could ‘bill’ him for the welfare expenses.

The beneficiary, Fiancee or Spouse, must submit to immigration the affidavit of support of her American fiancé or husband, with proof of his income.  The K1 Fiancee hand carries these to her consular interview. The CR-1 Spouse mails these to NVC. The Green Card spouse mails these to USCIS

As most US sponsors are regular full time employees, his income proof is most likely his recent Federal Tax Return 1040, 3 to 6 recent pay stubs (showing year to date earnings) and a letter from his employer stating the terms of his employment.

When the US Sponsor is a regular employee, and he has the standard proofs, the review of his documents is quick and simple.  Within a few minutes the reviewing officer ‘ticks off’ he has seen the required documents and confirms that the sponsor has demonstrated financial eligibility.

But there are also cases where is not so ‘cut and dry’ and a more intensive review and possibly a ‘judgment call’ by the consular officer may be needed.

Self Employed

When a sponsor is a sole proprietor, independent contractor and owns his own business the proof of his income is generally more complicated. This is due to the fact that a small businessman will try to avoid paying taxes by deducting as many expenses as he can. This is both legal and prudent but it usually means that his Adjusted Gross Income (line #38) shown on his 1040 tax return is as low as he can make it.. In presenting income documents the ‘trick’ is to keep your evidence simple and to explain in ‘easy to understand’ terms what your real income would be if you were an employee, not the owner. You want to present what your gross income would be if you were not the owner and not able to use the deductions that you did.  Usually this means enlisting the help of your accountant or bookkeeper to write a letter to clarify the evidence you provide.

Employed, Unemployed, Retired

When reviewing your income, Immigration attempts to forecast whether your income will be adequate not only today but will continue to be sufficient over the next TEN years.

Income was under the requirement last year, but OVER this year

Your present income has the most weight. If your income was low last year (you were a student, unemployed, disabled) it really won’t negatively effect you, as long as this year you have a solid permanent employment, have been on the job at least three months, and    your income to date (shown on your pay stubs)  shows you are on track to earn in excess of the eligibility requirement by the end of this year.

Income over the requirement last year, but UNDER this year

If the reverse is true: your income was good in previous years but now you are unemployed or a student, etc,  you have a ‘Hard Sell’ to convince immigration you  meet the financial requirement.  If you do not want to use a co-sponsor, or are not permitted to use one, then the best you can do is adjust the timing of when you submit your petition.

Immigration Financial Eligibility Requirements Raised for 2011 – April 17th, 2011

In order to successfully petition for your spouse or fiancee to come to the USA, or obtain a Green Card after marriage, the US sponsor must demonstrate to Immigration that he has enough income coming in, that he could support his wife, and household.

The threshold financial requirement is that the sponsor must have income equal to and preferably more than 125% of the poverty
income level where he lives.

Each year the Department of Health and Human Services
publishes their Poverty Guidelines. In 2009 and 2010 the guideline numbers did not change. So the eligibility thresholds (after adding 25%) were $18,300 per couple plus $4,700 per additional household member.

The new Poverty Guidelines published at
http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/11poverty.shtml
have risen about $100 per person. So todays eligibility thresholds (after adding 25%) are now $18,400 per couple plus $4,800 per additional household member.

The way the financial eligibility calculation works:

The sponsor must have sufficient income or assets to indicate that he is financially able to support the fiancée in order to prevent the fiancée from becoming a ward of the state. The sponsor’s annual income based on the number of dependents his combined household will have, should be at least $125% of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) poverty guideline for his state. As of January 2011, for residents in the continental US the Financial Eligibility Thresholds for K1, CR-1 or Green Card are as follows.

Required Annual Income
$18,388, if 2 Persons in Family or Household
$23,163, if 3 Persons in Family or Household
$27,938, if 4 Persons in Family or Household
$32,713, if 5 Persons in Family or Household
$37,488, if 6 Persons in Family or Household

For each Additional person add $4,775

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

How to prove your Income.

The way to demonstrate his income, the US sponsor
normally provides his most recent Federal Tax Return,
3 to 6 pay stubs showing ‘Year to date’ earnings,
plus a letter from his employer confirming his
job, and what the annual pay is.

Cash Assets count as an alternate to income.

In some cases a sponsors income may be low, but he has
‘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
such as equity in real estate, are not useable.

Cash Asset Equivalents

For a Fiancee visa. $3 cash assets = $1 annual income
For a Spousal Visa or Adjustment of status (green card)
$6 cash assets = $1 annual income

For example, a retired Fiancee Visa sponsor living in California,
with no income, and no dependents would need to have $55,164
in cash assets to quality.

3 x $18,388 = $55,164

Alternatively a combination of income and assets will work. For example, if sponsors income is $10,000 per year, then he should have
$25,164 cash or convertible assets to qualify.

$18,388 – $10,000 = $8,388 x 3 = $ 25,164 cash assets needed.

Using a Financial Co-sponsor

If the sponsors income or assets are not enough to achieve the
eligibility threshold, the sponsor can ask a relative or friend
to act as a co-sponsor. Just like buying a car, a second person
could ‘co-sign’ your loan. In this case he is co-sponsoring
your petition.

When a co-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 co-sponsor. Both the college student and the father would each complete an affidavit of support. The students household is just 2 persons, himself and his fiancee. The fathers 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 co-sponsor would have to be $37,488 or more.

A co-sponsor can be used for any Spousal Visa or Adjustment of Status petition, and can be used for most Fiancee Visa petitions. Not all consulates allow the use of a co-sponsor for a Fiancee Visa.
Philippines, Vietnam, Nigeria do not.

If you are applying for a Fiancee visa and know you will need a co-sponsor, before filing the petition, best is to contact the consulate to confirm whether the consulate’s policies permit the use of a financial co-sponsor.