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Review DCF process in Seoul, South Korea

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My DCF process has just ended with getting my passport back in my hands (in record time I think). When we started, it was overwhelming and it was hard for me to find information about doing it in Seoul. So i thought I'd leave an account so that others might be helped by my experience.

We started, of course, by filing the I-130 petition with the embassy. You need to send a request for an appointment to go and submit the documents by email. Their website is quite helpful. The appointments are usually only for 9:30, but we arrived at 9:00 so we were close to the front of the queue. As well as the I-130 forms being filled out, you need the biographical information form for BOTH people and photo's for both (they don't mention this on their website or in the appointment email). They do allow the beneficiary to go with the petitioner into the embassy but you don't have to. Also remember all your marriage certificates etc, but that information is in the email. It took 47 days to be processed and we were approved and received e-packet 3.5 by email.

I immediately filled out the DS230 part one and faxed it to the embassy, sending an email to confirm that they received it. Because I am a foreigner in Korea (not Korean) gathering my documents was a little hard. I had already ordered my Police Check and Full birth certificate from South Africa before approval because I know those take a long time. I'd suggest starting to gather your documents as soon as you have submitted the I130. The Korean Police Check is quite simple to get, you just need your (korean) alien registration number and they print out the paper for you. It's not very fancy to look at. It's free and they should put a red stamp on it. They didn't with mine and the embassy wasn't too pleased with me but they let it slide. I'd suggest pressing the police station for the red stamp (it's the official police stamp, so nothing too rare) because the embassy doesn't really specify that they need it, but of course they really do.

Because our visa's were going to expire in about 3 months from approval, we scheduled our interview before I had all of my documents in hand. This is not really a good idea because the embassy won't be helpfull if you ask to move the appointment or don't have your documents. We did it because we needed to get an appointment date (they're usually only available a month in advance) before we had to leave Korea. Fortunately it all worked out very well. I received my appointment email 2 days after sending the request.

For the medical, I went to St Mary's Hospital in Yeouido. It is easy to find if your an out of towner, the staff are very helpful on the phone and in the clinic. I had to go on a Saturday because we had to come in from out of town and I work on week days. This way, they can only do all the tests, blood work and vaccinations on the saturday. I had to go back on a weekday to receive the results and meet with the panel physician. The saturday medical things took about 2 hours and the panel physician meeting was about an hour and a half frm arriving until they handed me the envelopes.

The courier slip is available at the embassy, we used Hanjin because I have used them before, and they ask to be paid on receipt. :thumbs:

On the day, all interviews are scheduled for 8:30am. They allow the petitioner to attend the appointment. We arrived at 8am and went right in, of course showing the appointment email to get in (they take your cellphone, like most other embassies I'm sure). You need to go up to the third floor and take a number. Then we waited and they only opened officially at 8:30. When they called our number we went to the window to hand over our documents. Make sure the documents are in the order of the checklist given in packet 3.5. I had mine all nicely arranged in plastic sleeves, but took them out since they didn't need them. So advice would be to simply have them in the correct order, copies of everything paper clipped to originals. The consular worker will go through it, check things and give back the originals. Then asked to take a seat and wait for fingerprinting. I was called a little while later and they took all my fingerprints. The fingerprint guy was quite friendly and funny. Then some more waiting. I was called up a little later and asked to go to the cashier to pay the fee. They accept dollars, credit cards or won. At the moment, the exchange rate is terrible and in the embassy it's even worse so we just paid with my husbands US card. Then some more waiting. We waited for quite a while then. Our file probably took longer to go through because our circumstance is a little different (I suppose). The other couples, the husband was involved with the military, and we are not, we are english teachers. We also had a joint sponsor affidavit of support, so I'm sure there was a little more to look at. At the time, waiting, I was sure they were in some way discriminating against me as a non-korean or something, but I was just being paranoid haha.

I was called up to the window for the interview. My husband came with me but was asked to stand a few steps back, but we were expecting that (I warned him on pain of death, no to speak unless spoken to). I swore the oath, then the man asked some questions: How long had we been married? Where and when did we meet? Where did we get married? Why in South Africa? Have I been to the USA before? Where will we live when we go to the US? When do we plan to go? and Do I enjoy teaching in Korea? (that one was random, probably trying to make some sort of small talk) then he said well, your visa is approved, it will be couriered to be within 5 days. I was also told that my chest x-ray had to go with me to US and be handed in at immigration along with the heavy brown mystery envelope. We walked out at 10:20.

I recieved my passport and the envelope and instruction paper (they really say "congratulations for getting your visa" on the info sheet haha) today by courier, only 2 days after the interview. I am most impressed by how efficient they were.

So there it is. Our DCF took 104 days from filing I-130 to visa in hand. Not too bad I must say. Apparently seoul can be quicker, they said they were behind with their I-130 processing at the time. So if you're going through Seoul, you should have a smooth and easy ride. :dance:

As a non-Korean, I thought getting a US tourist visa in Korea was a mission. This experience has been a whole other story. After being treated a bit like a social outcast at my B1/B2 visa interview in 2007, I'm hoping they go easy on me for my CR1 interview... details to follow.

DCF - South Korea

04/09/2008: File I-130 at US Embassy in Seoul

21/10/2008: Receive email confirming approval of I-130 and E-pkt 3

23/10/2008: Faxed DS-230 (part 1) to Embassy

01/11/2008: Sent online request for interview to embassy.

03/11/2008: Received email notification of interview date (Dec 15)

08/11/2008: St. Mary's Hospital Seoul for Medical check and vaccinations

14/11/2008: Back to St. Mary's to meet with panel physician and receive x-rays and envelope.

21/11/2008: Finally heard from RSA home affairs; birth certificate is ready (8 weeks of waiting).

28/11/2008: Police check and Birth certificate in the mail... Mom is a rock star

02/12/2008: Police check and Birth certificate package arrives

15/12/2008: Interview - US Embassy Seoul and VISA APPROVED!

17/12/2008: Visa in hand! wahoo!

03/04/2009: POE: New York JFK

20/04/2009: 2 welcome letters arrive

24/04/2009: Green card arrives! Hurray!

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Filed: Country: South Korea

Hi there to all of you and great to read your experiences. I'm American and my wife is Korean. We've been married 6 years and will do the I-130 soon.

My question for any of you concerns the I-864 affidavit to sponsor your non-American spouse in order to get the green card. I did not see this part mentioned in any of your posts.

Could any of you please share your experiences with this portion of the green card process?

We have no children and we do have savings but I'm an English teacher here and do not have a steady job in the US. So I will have to prove some cash savings and/or assets.

Any info you can provide will be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance.

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