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About CatherineA

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  • Member # 197025

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  • Immigration Status
    Adjustment of Status (pending)
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    National Benefits Center
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    Costa Rica

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  1. You're fine you can stay and AOS. Even if USCIS is sure that you had intent, they can't use that as the only reason to deny AOS. I was only staying that I personally would not take this route because of what I've recently learned about security clearance adjudication. They can and do take their own opinion about intent into account when it comes to irregular immigration paths. But this is a pretty specialized concern which will probably not effect you and if it does you could talk to them about their concerns. Just pointing out that while getting through the border makes you ok for AOS, it can still create some problems down the road (which are solvable and if not, it's not the end of the world to be denied a security clearance anyway). Immigration wise you're fine.
  2. Congrats! And look, just two days beyond what VJ is showing as the average . (Ignore TSC and VSC-- there really aren't many if any people at those service centers right now. TSC is people confused thinking they're at TSC because of the reason you did. VSC is where some cases get referred to for reasons that I personally think have to do with more complex stuff than most of us will ever see).
  3. Personally, I wouldn't do it, and I'll get to why in a bit. But to answer your general question and to agree with most other folks on here--you're very likely to be ok for AOS. The reason that I wouldn't, though, as I recently learned while going through a security clearance process for a job, the rules about intent that USCIS has to follow do *not* have to be followed by the folks who give out clearances and they don't like any "irregular" immigration path. Whereas USCIS cannot ask you or make judgement calls about your intent at the border, these folks can and do. Now, this is specific to me and this type of job, so if you don't think that either of you will ever want a government job that needs a clearance, you can move right along. Also, just logistically, are you prepared to be stuck in the US for the next 3 to 6 months? Because you won't be able to go anywhere until you get Advance Parole and many people find it logistically impossible to not go home after a vacation.
  4. Your best resource for understanding the details of the next steps is right here on Visajourney. Each embassy has a slightly different process and there's 200 or more embassies in the world, and dozens of different visas which each will have slight variations in requirements. Plus, these can and do change. Even the best attorney in the country doesn't have the time to keep up with all of it. As I said before, use the DR portal here to find some folks who went through K1 in DR recently and see if they'll share the checklist with you or give you tips. Just little stuff like some embassies require translations others don't. Marriage certificates for CR1 need to be apostilled in some circumstances but not others, and that depends on the embassy. Some will let you get the medical appointment and police clearance *before* the embassy sends you the checklist, others won't. Some (most) allow the finances into the interview, others don't. The way you get stressed and confused is listening to someone who doesn't have a recent version of your embassy's checklist for your visa type in front of their face at that moment. That's how you waste time and money. The way you shave off time, is taking to someone who knows the most up to date and most specific information possible and those people almost always are people who are just a step or two ahead of you in the process. For what it's worth, if your attorney told you that you wouldn't be allowed in to the interview, I'd treat everything else he tells you as suspect. Trust but verify. I can only think of a handful of embassies where that is true so they really may not know too much about K1 or DR or either.
  5. We applied during a huge backlog in which the average wait time just for NOA2 was 7 months. It was nothing short of a miracle that we got ours in just under six months. There are other people who have delt with visa denials, and waivers and years of separation. It's hard, and we all know it. But 3 months is a blip, and you've probably got more wait time behind you than in front of you. And seriously, if you're going to go for that September wedding, you need to focus on that. Start figuring out exactly what needs to happen next and get ahead of the game. Not sure if your attorney can help on that front, or how much control you've given over to them (are forms going to be sent to you/your email or the attorney). Find a recent DR K1 applicant and see if they can share the "checklist" with you. See if you can start to make arrangements to do the things on the checklist soon (I'd still wait for NOA2 for a lot of those things because of different expiry dates etc). If you're fast and lucky, you can shave off two weeks of embassy processing time.
  6. You can't get your deposits back but you may be able to get them to credit those deposits for a future date. This happened to us (snowstorm not visa issues). Your contacts may have that already built in and if not, a sympathatic vendor will probably do it for you if you ask sooner than later. I'm not saying that's what you *need* to do because September is still possible. Just throwing an option out there because I personally would NOT want that hanging over my head while going through this process (it's been over a year and I still have actual nightmares about wedding planning). Now, I say that September is possible assuming that you're within the similar timelines for NOA2 as the rest of folks here have been, and that embassy processing goes smoothly. See if you can check out threads for others from DR who have gone through embassy processing recently and get a sense of the timelines involved and how "tough" they are. It's not all about getting NOA2-- there are a lot more steps and each one can have its own waiting period (embassy doctors get backlogged at busy embassies for example). Only you'll know what feels the most comfortable for you. Most people would probably just ride it out at this stage and hope for the best, I'd probably work to reschedule/postpone now. Personal decision there
  7. You've got a lot of good advice here but two quick tips for the rest of your immigration journey: First: treat any information you see that is more than 6 months old as suspect. It is *likely* still right but things can and DO change all the time so it's best to double check with more current information. Example: the Dallas Lockbox (not Texas Service Center-- you were never there, although the Dallas Lockbox is in the state of Texas, they are not the same thing) has been sending new I-129f packets to only California Service Center for about two years now (my fiance and I have the dubious honor of being among the last ones processed by that miserable place), so the information you got about how they route packets based on what state the petitioner lives in is really, really outdated. Second: do not listen to anything that USCIS hotline says to you. They really, really don't know what they're talking about. It is counter intuitive, I know but trust me (and anyone who has dealt with them for any amount of time can confirm) they are useless. We call them the misinformation line. Example: They don't have any information beyond what is on USCIS's official processing time page ( Click on processing times for California Service Center. There you will see your "December 15". But also look in the gray bar above the chart. It says: "Field Office Processing Dates for California Service Center as of: March 31, 2017". So, that's saying that *ten and a half weeks ago*, they were processing December 15th petitions. Useless, huh? I am 90% sure that they not only report like this on purpose (and it used to be worse if you can believe it), but then they hide that "as of" information (and clearly don't train the Misinformation Line folks to see it.... or maybe they tell them to make it sound like that's the current processing time). Why? Because the longer you think the timeline is, the less likely you're going to call every day as soon as you're past normal processing time. Imagine that was accurate to-the-day. Everyone would be calling off the hook if they think they'd been skipped somehow. So, they release the processing times once a month "as of" 6 weeks previous, so those dates are always off by 6 to 10 weeks. Then they don't make it clear how out of date the dates are, effectively buying them between 6 and 10 weeks worth of petitions that don't have people calling because they feel like they got skipped. And if/when you call and they make it sound like they are taking seven months to process these, you're not going to call back until you hit seven months. You'll be sad and stressed and come complain on visajourney but they don't care. They just want to keep the phone calls to a minimum. Welcome to USCIS, this is how they operate. Stick to the VJ timelines, they're more accurate (but far from exact).
  8. Oh for goodness sake! Yes, yes, yes. The project management thing is a joke. Jooookkkeeee. And I *just said* that Geowrain seems like they're getting good service, in my opinion. And just because the cost is easily justified/understood, doesn't make it "cheap", does it? Justifiable does not also mean inexpensive. Tesla comes to mind, as an example. And, for the record, USCIS can and does make mistakes/mismanage things--the period of time we were applying is a good example of it. Long story short: CSC was processing I-129fs in 3 weeks,TSC was taking 7 months (tenfold difference), and we were all paying the same fees for very disparate service. Eventually, the White House intervened and fixed the situation going forward (after admitting that it was an oversight). And all because someone had failed to communicate a policy change to the Dallas Lockbox about a new system for referring incoming petitions due to staffing level changes at both centers, and yes I DO know all of this for sure because I work in a related field have have since gotten the scoop.So I don't need to "imagine" all the work. I'm beyond perfectly aware of it (and still consider USCIS to be among the least competent agencies in the government... and I am *far* from alone in that opinion). And when in the world did any of us imply that there's some sort of right to immigration? I think that it is reasonable to expect good service (not necessarily a guaranteed "yes" or expedited service, but good, competent service) from the government, especially when you are paying for said service ("good" as in not mishandling of paperwork, which happened during our AOS). I also think that most people agree, and if not, I wonder if they blithely accept accept lost/delayed/broken packages from USPS.
  9. You missed the joke. Geowrain's profile caption says "Good, cheap, fast. Pick none." Though from looking at his timeline, 14 weeks from NOA1 to NOA2 with an RFE is pretty respectable. When we were going through it, we were a miracle case getting NOA2 just a few days shy of 6 months... 7+ was the norm... just to get to NOA2. What a nightmare. Although it's still certainly not "cheap" so even though you did fly through at 8 months, and it was smooth, they still charged you an arm and a leg
  10. Well done on avoiding the smarmy lawyer. They were basically going to charge you $5000 to hold your hand through a $1500 process after you and you alone took a giant risk (breaking the terms of your VWP/tourist visa). Think about it from that guy's perspective: if your fiance was turned around at the border, what's he got to lose? Heck, he'd probably still keep the money and help you with the new (and much more expensive) problem that he walked you right into! So, really win-win for him. You make it through after taking the risk, he gets $3500. You don't and he stands to get even more out of you. Gross. And when I say "turned around at the border", it's nowhere near that nice. You're found inadmissible and if there's not a flight available immediately, you're detained, like a criminal, and if you need to be somewhere overnight, apparently they take you to a real federal jail/prison of some sort. An Australian woman recently learned this one the hard way. I can't find any actual reputable sources for her story (because I think most real news outlets can smell that she's lying through her teeth about "just visiting")-- which explains why it's only sensational news organizations that picked this up. Here's the most reasonable story I could find. Elsewhere, I read that this resulted in a three year ban. From any visa, spouse/fiance included (you can apply to have the ban waived for "extreme hardship" reasons and *that* is where the lawyers get expensive!). For what it's wroth, in addition to quitting her job and "going away drinks" it appears that she was travelling with all of her important documentation-- car loan info and that kind of stuff. Of course, CBP cannot say what they found that proved well enough to them that she was intending to stay, but if she herself is admitting to quitting the job, having a going away party and travelling with unusual documents for you to bring along on a vacation... I can only imagine that they found even more proof. So this right here is the direction that that lawyer was pointing you towards. Hopefully he'd have at least provided you with $5k worth of advice on how to commit fraud and lie to immigration officers so that you don't get caught as easily as this woman did but.... yeah. No. Not worth it.
  11. This made me smile a bit. We all would. US immigration is sort of like that project management joke: You can have the project done Fast, Cheap, Good. Pick two. Except harsher. It's: move here "quickly" (6 months is "fast" in US immigration world) OR be able to work on arrival. At least for the family process. Even folks who bend (break) the rules in an effort to save time and sideskirt the visa process can't work any faster than those who go through fiance visa process can. Maybe you got seriously lucky with the possibility of an intra-company transfer. It stinks. I know. But you are in an awesome position-- fiance who can visit at will (a good half of people here have fiances/spouses who can't because of tourist visa requirements--- and the government generally not giving tourist visas to people in relationships with US citizens) and who has an additional option at her disposal (L visa-- not common generally or here). Quick word on that September wedding: if for whatever reason you're going to choose fiance visa (it makes literally no sense for you but hey anything is possible), don't book that wedding. It's too heard to try to thread the needle on timing of things. The rest of it could work-- wait for September to marry, then apply for CR1, see what happens with L, marry now and apply for CR1 and attend wedding while visa is in process. That third option is a bit of a risk but people can and do visit during the process as long as they can prove intent to return to their country.
  12. This really complicates it-- but possibly in a good way (for you). There are work visas and there are family visas. Not many people have a clear path to both (which is why it's a bit complicated in your case). You just need to figure out what the priority is-- working immediately or moving in together quicker. Quick thing to get out of the way: visas are what let you cross a border for a particular purpose (Canadians do not need a visa to visit, but DO need a visa for everything else-- to work, to settle permanently etc). Status is what lets you stay (conditional//permanent residency= "status". AKA "green card"). Work authorization is what lets you work. All green cards come with work authorization. Not all work authorizations come with green cards. Work option: As an employee who could transfer, she'd be eligible for an L visa. The visa would let her cross the border with the intention to work (only for the company that sent her-- that's what the L work visas are. Others are a bit more broad). L visas do not come with green cards (conditional/permanent residency). For that, you'd need to marry and apply for her residency. L visas do allow dual intent (certain other work visas do not), so you'd be just fine going that route. Family option: Your choices are spouse or fiancee visa (CR1 or K1). Spouse means that you're married *first* and then you apply for the visa. You can get married in Canada or the US, or Mongolia. Doesn't matter. Just be married first. The whole process takes about a year and has a green card (so, residency and work authorization) from the day she arrives. Fiance visa means that she can cross with the intention to marry and apply for residency/ work authorization, but she is ineligible to work (and to leave the US!) until she gets it. The work/travel authorization after fiance visa takes several months after you apply for it. I'd conservatively allow for 6 months after her arrival before she'd be able to work/travel. From what it sounds like, fiance visa is the worst option for you. I'd look into the L visa, as those very well could be much faster but may have additional requirements or complications I'm unaware of. If her company is in a position to facilitate international transfers, they are likely the first best resource available to you. After that, it's wait until September to get married (sounds like there's already a wedding planned?) and apply for a CR1 visa and wait the ~year. She can visit during the process as long as she can continue to show ties to Canada. Or, you get legally married ASAP and apply for the CR1 ASAP, and treat September like your "real wedding". A lot of people do this. There's no way for her (or anyone) to come at whatever time works best and have work authorization right away. There's also no legal way for her to come and marry and stay whenever works best for you, work authorization or no.
  13. If it helps at all, a lot of "non-refundable" fees are not actually *refundable* but can usually be kept with the vendor and transferred to a different date (usually within a set period of months). Possibly with a little bit of a fee, but this early on, I would assume that any vendor would rather know NOW that they've got an opening in early September than find out at the end of August.It's not the easiest thing in the world because you've got to hope that everyone you've already paid will also all be available on the same day in the future but spoiler alert: happened to me moving from a late January wedding (dead wedding season) to a late April wedding (prime wedding season, complete with cherry blossoms in bloom) and they were literally ALL available. If you think about the economics of being, say, a wedding photographer. That one date, usually one of 52 Saturdays per year, of varying desirability (in reality, there's fewer than 25 days per year that are the prime wedding days, and most vendors need to compete for clients the other weekends), one date is worth, say, $3000. You are *working* much more than just that one day and part of the cost is precisely because people pretty much only have weddings on Saturdays, you can pretty much only make money on Saturdays that you're available. This makes makes those 52 dates per year very valuable and this explains the cost. Now, imagine things like brides booking 3 photographers on 3 different dates because they're waiting to see if their first-choice caterer will have an opening on the same day as their top-choice band (or other stuff like that) before really settling on a date. How many other brides did you just turn down because this woman was trying to keep her options open? Do you travel a lot? Ever notice how big standby lists can often get cleared really quickly? That's because a lot of people buy refundable tickets for the 2pm and the 4pm, hoping to make the 2pm. Standby list for the fully-booked 4pm is long. Until the 2pm takes off and those who made the 2pm cancel their booking on the 4pm, boom, everyone on standby on the 4pm gets on. Airlines compensate for this by overbooking flights and *usually* it all works out ok (even though it's overbooked, there's seats for everyone plus standby) but imagine a wedding photographer overbooks and needs to "bump" a couple (aka: not show up for their wedding). Not possible in that industry. Thus, the non-refundable thing. Also consider how many couples break up just weeks before? Why do YOU, the wedding photographer who only has the opportunity to make a living 25 days per year have to be out thousands of dollars THEY didn't think their engagement through? Those really are the reasons for most of the strict refund policies. TRUST ME, I got hit with this hard. Our wedding date just happened to be what became the "blizzard of the century" (I still think 2010 was bigger but eh). Even though the venue canceled, the band canceled and the caterer canceled (venue: refund, band: refund, caterer: future credit), the florist and the photographer said they could still show up. So if *I* canceled on *them*, I couldn't get a refund but rather a "future date credit" because of the "Act of God" clause. And on top of it, with the florist, because the flowers themselves had already been purchased by the florist for me (but not arranged which is a significant if not the biggest part of the cost), I owned the flowers and was free to come get them if I wanted. Thousands of loose flowers to keep in my apartment with my snowed-in in-laws and a frozen wedding cake. Ha. So anyway, if my whole wedding was cancelled with 3 days to go and it was considered by more than one vendor that *I* did the cancelling and I still got "future date credit", you can too. Plus, the end result was that we wound up having our legal ceremony in the lobby of the hotel that our families were snowed in at (right around the corner from our apartment), with just our families and whichever friends were able to trudge/ski over. That's my profile picture (we decided to have the photographer come and photograph the ceremony plus have a snowy photoshoot in our wedding clothes just in case she wasn't available for our rescheduled date). Made for an adventure, lovely photos and a very memorable story. Can't tell you how many (really beautiful) snow globes we've gotten as wedding gifts! Plus, basically everyone thinks that my husband and I are some sort of Zen master saints for handling it with grace and good humor. Sorry for the novel. TL;DR: non-refundable doesn't mean you're screwed. You can almost definitely negotiate for a future date. Rescheduled weddings aren't the end of the world and depending on how you handle it (and any accompanying stress your fiancee may experience), can actually win you points with the in-laws.
  14. Sorry, this is a difficult position. Unfortunately, the time to get any compensation for playing casually with your life was during the divorce and even then I don't think you could have gotten anything (blood from a stone etc). You took a big risk (fiance visa is risky for this exact reason-- the immigrant arrives completely dependent on the petitioner with the green card on the line) and it didn't work out. The only way to adjust status from a K1 is with the original petitioner, and that avenue sounds like it's closed (and honestly, it should be. You don't need to stay with someone who treats you like that). You're young and haven't been here that long in the grand scheme of things. If I were in your shoes, I'd cut my losses and go home and work on building a great life there. You're so young that you'll still be young in 10 years AND on top of it, the bans are waivable. Staying without status and no way to GET status is just going to push this problem further down the road and multiply it. The longer you stay and build a life here, the more you have to lose.
  15. Right, I realize that. The person I was replying to was reading Prystine's advice as a scare tactic against marrying, staying and adjusting. No one had pointed out, explicitly, that OP needs to really take into account the timeline and restrictions involved in this path (which is the easiest way to stay with the boyfriend, but might not be the easiest way overall depending on OP's circumstances). I personally think that Prystine was just looking out for OP's best interests and to make sure all bases were covered. So many times, we forget what it's like to be new to all this or to not know anything about the process. How many times do we get people on here with real and serious problems that were the result of "well, everyone told me that XYZ was ok". A lot of people just go with what they hear, either from friends or from VJ and then are surprised to encounter what (to us) are obvious results. In my time here (almost three years), I've seen a lot go wrong for a lot of people. I think it's only right to make things clear for newbies and let them make their own decision on what fits best for their circumstances, not just say "just marry, stay and adjust, it's best, fastest, you'll be fine", and totally leave out the "but you can't leave the country for the next several months" part, which can be a big downside, or even deal-breaker for some. Remember, a lot of newbies think that marrying is a magic wand and it's all automatic! I certainly did at first-- I actually pictured getting married on the beach in Costa Rica, going to the embassy with my passport and my husband and saying "ok we're married, now what" .