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av8or1

CRBA Moscow Russia

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Following suit with TraumaDoc's excellent report on his experience in China, I thought I would make a similar report regarding my experience with the CRBA process at the US Embassy in Moscow, Russia. Let me say at the outset that at the time I write this post, we have not conducted the actual interview yet. Rather, it is scheduled and while some of the details regarding the preparation for the interview are still fresh in my mind, I thought I'd kick-off a thread that describes the process from inside the car, in the driver's seat, as I go down the road. This will be kinda free-form, so I hope everyone who is interested is able to glean the information they are searching for. And with that, here it goes:

In the abstract, and this may be way-obvious but I'll say it anyway, I think that preparation is fundamental to completing the CRBA process with as little pain as possible. I don't recall the man-hours spent in prep, but it's huge, I mean HUGE. The idea being that time well spent here will pay off later. We'll see. :-)

Ok. So prior to the actual birth, you won't have enough information to complete the DS-2029 (CRBA) nor the DS-11 (US Passport). But you can get everything else ready. I had some questions regarding Item #24 on the DS-2029 form; this item asks for the exact periods of physical presence in the USA. This was troublesome for me because I personally I've taken so many vacations abroad that I won't even begin to remember them all. And the majority of them were/are in my old passport, which I no longer have. So there would be no way to reconstruct all of that data. Therefore I emailed the embassy and asked what I should do. I also mentioned all of the other supporting documentation that I had prepared regarding the physical presence requirement. The long-story-short-version of their answer was that the purpose of Item #24 is to show that you have an aggregate amount of 5 years of physical presence in the USA prior to your child's birth. They also said that with the mountain of additional supporting documentation that I have that there shouldn't be any issue with meeting the physical presence requirement. The funny thing was that no matter how diligently I tried to nail them down to giving me a precise answer regarding this item, they wouldn't do it. Not too surprising I suppose when you think about it, I mean it IS the government, right? But it still gave me pause. Therefore I prepared two versions of the DS-2029: one that shows all of the cities within the USA that I have lived since birth, ending with my current city and "Present". The second version lists all of the dates that I have entry/exit stamps for in my NEW passport, which goes back about 5 years IIRC. I'll offer the first and see what happens, but have the second ready. Anyway, enough about that.

The US Embassy in Moscow wants you to complete the ONLINE version of the DS-11, which means that you go to the Dept of State website and answer a bunch of questions, then the form is auto-generated for you based on that information. It comes in a PDF that you can save and print later. I'm already in Moscow as I write this, so I had to save it, as we don't have a printer in the apartment. Anyway just Google "online DS-11" and you can get to the right place in short order.

Also at the time I write this the embassy conducts CRBA interviews only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This means that you could be facing a considerable delay in scheduling your appointment after your child is born. If I were to do it over again I might take the chance of scheduling something ahead of time, cancelling if necessary. As it is, I waited until AFTER we had the official birth certificate from the Russian government prior to scheduling the interview. The first available was a little over a week later, which I'm grateful for, because the website openly states that during peak times of the year you could be looking at a 3 week wait. Just something to consider. Other minor points about scheduling the interview. You make the appointment online. There is a link on the US Embassy - Moscow website on the CRBA page. Once you make your appointment, you will end up at a web page that describes that appointment in greater detail, complete with an appointment number, etc. It states that you should print this out and bring it with you to the interview. Holy schnikers! I did the appointment via my cell phone! So I left the page where it was and will download the information for printing later. Just beware that they also want you to print that page and bring it with you; I wasn't expecting that. Finally, they will require you to CONFIRM the interview 24 hours prior to the interview date/time. They openly state that failure to call or email will result in an automatic cancellation of your appointment and that you'll have to start all over again. Therefore I think I will do both: email AND call. Anyway, just something that seemed noteworthy.

Ok enough for the first post I think. lol


9/8/14 - I129F petition sent to the USCIS lockbox via USPS
9/11/14 - Petition received @ USCIS lockbox
9/11/14 - NOA1 Email and text message received
9/15/14 - NOA1 Official notice date
9/18/14 - NOA1 hard copy received
12/9/14 - "Updated" likely because of website repairs, like many of us received
4/20/15 - NOA2 text and email (221 days)

4/29/15 - Sent to the NVC (9 days)

5/8/15 - Arrived at the NVC (9 days)

5/13/15 - Left the NVC (5 days)

5/15/15 - Electronic version arrived at the embassy (2 days)

5/20/15 - Paper copy arrived at the embassy (7 days)

6/4/15 - Status changed to AP (which meant that we could schedule the interview)

6/16/15 - Medical

6/17/15 - K1 APPROVED!!!!

6/30/15 - Passport and sealed envelope delivered via courier

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Back to the stuff I've prepared. As I mentioned you might not know the birthdate of your child. If not you cannot complete the DS-2029 and DS-11. Therefore I could not print these out and bring them to Russia like I did with everything else. However I at least completed everything I could on those documents. So once our son was born, I just filled in the birthdate and they were ready to go. And of course don't sign these forms. You do that during the interview. Both of us plan to attend, so we won't need the DS-3053.

If you don't have a printer immediately accessible, as we don't, then you'll want to research local FedEx/Kinkos type places near where you're staying to see if they have the ability to print documents as well as make copies. Not all "copy centers" do. Fortunately we found one that isn't too far away.

Ok so here's the rundown on the docs that I've prepared as supporting evidence for the CRBA:

DS-2029

ONLINE DS-11

Divorce decree (mine) - required if applicable

Copy of both passports - just in case, probably won't be needed

Copy of the I-129F that I filed - I will offer this as evidence of our relationship

Child's Russian government-issued birth certificate - and will have copies available, doubt they'll be necessary

Physical presence docs (will have copies of everything available:

* 3 years of tax returns and W-2 statements

* Employment letter

* 5 years of utility bills

* 5 years of bank statements

* Copy of the residential contract with which I purchased my house more than 5 years ago

* Copy of my current driver's license showing my current address and that dates back 4 years ago

* Copy of my previous driver's license

That's all I can remember at this point. I think that is all I have prepared. And of course my US passport will be used to prove citizenship and help with the physical presence stuff (via the entry/exit stamps).

A note regarding the Russian birth certificate: we found an office that wasn't too far from the apartment and went there, child in-tow. It was kinda funny because the lady who helped us asked if I knew what I was doing. LOL! In a way I could understand why she would ask that question, I mean there is a lot of fraud out there, but still it struck me as hilarious. I wanted to say "if you only knew what we've been through to get here" but didn't. She was just doing her job. :rofl:

Please note that according to the instructions, you need to present the ORIGINAL Russian birth certificate at the CRBA interview. When we went to the federal migration office to register our child for their Russian citizenship, they were going to keep that birth certificate. I said "hell no" and so we have decided to delay applying for the Russian citizenship thing until AFTER the interview.

Finally, your child will need some means to exit Russia, assuming that you intend to conduct your family life in the USA (or other country). They can do that with either a one-time exit visa that is placed in the mother's Russian International Passport or with their own Russian International Passport (for the child that is). Surprisingly, you won't need to establish Russian citizenship prior to applying for that international passport. At least that is the understanding that we are operating with at the moment. We plan to go either tomorrow or early next week to get a Russian International Passport for our child, so that they can leave Russia. And return later on (without the need for a Russian visa) to visit family of course! But I'll let you know how that plays out.

Ok that's it for now. I'm on infant-watch duty, so I better go see what's going on there, if anything....LOL


9/8/14 - I129F petition sent to the USCIS lockbox via USPS
9/11/14 - Petition received @ USCIS lockbox
9/11/14 - NOA1 Email and text message received
9/15/14 - NOA1 Official notice date
9/18/14 - NOA1 hard copy received
12/9/14 - "Updated" likely because of website repairs, like many of us received
4/20/15 - NOA2 text and email (221 days)

4/29/15 - Sent to the NVC (9 days)

5/8/15 - Arrived at the NVC (9 days)

5/13/15 - Left the NVC (5 days)

5/15/15 - Electronic version arrived at the embassy (2 days)

5/20/15 - Paper copy arrived at the embassy (7 days)

6/4/15 - Status changed to AP (which meant that we could schedule the interview)

6/16/15 - Medical

6/17/15 - K1 APPROVED!!!!

6/30/15 - Passport and sealed envelope delivered via courier

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Bank statements, driving licenses, utility biils, residential contract may sound good but are not really solid evidences that proves physical presence. You could have them even without living in US. But keep them as your secondary.

On the other hand the 3 best evidences i can think of and most officers look for (based on instructions from websites of consulates) are

1. Entry/Exit stamps in your current/old passport

2. IT returns with original W-2

3. Earnings statement from SSN office.

These will be my primary when i go about it hopefully next month.

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Yeah I kinda agree with that, however when I emailed the embassy to inquire about which information would be helpful, they indicated that the secondary information as you referred to it would be more valuable than your statement would suggest. But who knows. And I suspect that there could be some variance from embassy to embassy. And of course I already have the three that you refer to as primary, those are super-easy to get.

So we'll see. The Moscow embassy gives you a receipt that they want you to print and bring to the interview. Trouble was that I did it on my phone and don't have a printer in the apartment. So I need to track down some copy/print center and see if I can connect to their printer to get it done. Else I may have to do a copy-n-paste thing...lol


9/8/14 - I129F petition sent to the USCIS lockbox via USPS
9/11/14 - Petition received @ USCIS lockbox
9/11/14 - NOA1 Email and text message received
9/15/14 - NOA1 Official notice date
9/18/14 - NOA1 hard copy received
12/9/14 - "Updated" likely because of website repairs, like many of us received
4/20/15 - NOA2 text and email (221 days)

4/29/15 - Sent to the NVC (9 days)

5/8/15 - Arrived at the NVC (9 days)

5/13/15 - Left the NVC (5 days)

5/15/15 - Electronic version arrived at the embassy (2 days)

5/20/15 - Paper copy arrived at the embassy (7 days)

6/4/15 - Status changed to AP (which meant that we could schedule the interview)

6/16/15 - Medical

6/17/15 - K1 APPROVED!!!!

6/30/15 - Passport and sealed envelope delivered via courier

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