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natashacanada

Brand new - lots of questions

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Filed: Timeline

Hi everybody,

I'm so excited to join this group! I actually discovered this website about a year ago and have been checking in every couple of months to read discussion boards and what not. My American boyfriend and I are getting very serious so it makes sense now to join and get all my questions answered.

I have been flip flopping literally almost every day lately between getting a K-1 or a IR-1 visa. I'm starting to think the IR-1 visa will make most sense once we tie the knot - still waiting for the ring but I know it will be coming soon :). It seems like there are more benefits to getting all the paperwork done with at the beginning and not having to worry about adjusting status, being able to travel freely back home, etc.

Now, here are the questions that I have:

1. Has anyone ever regretted taking the IR-1 route vs. the K-1 route? Or vice versa?

2. This is probably a rhetorical question but have any members used an immigration lawyer to assist with the process? We don't have a complicated situation so I don't think we need to spend the extra money (I recently got quoted over $4,000 for the lawyer to do everything!) but I wanted to double check that there wasn't extra value in having an expert take care of things.

3. What confuses me the most, is what happens logistically after you marry an American. Let's say we get married in the States (btw, I get asked ALL the time at U.S. Customs "Are you planning on getting married this weekend ma'am?" lol), can I just stay there for a while as we start the paperwork for IR-1? Or do I have to come home right after we get married? What happens if a customs officer asks me if I'm getting married and I say yes, will they not let me cross? I know I can stay there for up to 6 months if they allow me to but then I won't have a job anymore so pretty sure that doesn't show I have significant ties to back home without employment.

Or, if we decide to get married in Canada, can I go and visit my husband in the States for extended periods of time while the paperwork is getting processed? Or I can just go for long weekend visits?

4. I understand that we have to prove we have a bona-fide marriage, but do the banks let aliens sign mortgage documents or have dual bank accounts? I mean, I won't be an American resident/citizen just because I marry one right off the bat. How do you arrange to get your name on legal documents?

Ok I think that's everything for now. Thank you so much for your help in advance!

Natasha (L)

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Jordan
Timeline

IR-1 spouse visa is only used for couples who have been married more than 2 years, you would apply for the CR-1.. If your case is straight forward do not waste money on an attorney. If you use the guides here you can easily do it on your own. You should really check out the guides at the top of this page, they will answer all of your questions and help you on your journey.

Edited by mimolicious


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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Canada
Timeline

1. There's really only a couple reasons to go for a K1 over a CR1/IR1. One reason is that you simply want to get married after you immigrate- not out of practical concerns but just because it's more romantic or whatever, lol. The other reason is if you live in Western Canada. Before your visa is issued you have to be interviewed at a consulate. Montreal does the interviews for all CR1/IR1 visas in Canada- meaning, if you live in western Canada and apply for a spousal visa, you'll have to fly across the country to get it! On top of that Montreal is kind of a slow consulate. However, if you live in western Canada and apply for a K1 visa you get interviewed at the Vancouver consulate. Vancouver is much faster than Montreal. However the catch is with a K1 visa you spend a minimum of 2-3 months upon your arrival to the US unable to work or exit and re-enter the country (no visiting Canada) because your green card is getting processed. And that's IF you get married and AOS right away. If you have sick or ill loved ones in Canada, or need to be able to visit Canada at a moment's notice, the K1 is not the best option.

Even in eastern Canada the K1 is a bit faster than the CR1 but it's kind of pointless when you have to AOS after entering the US. My husband got laid off right after I entered the US and only recently got employment back, so even a year after I entered the US I still haven't AOS'd. I've spent the whole year sitting on my butt, unable to work legally or leave the country, because in order to AOS your spouse has to fill out an affidavit of support and part of that is proving they have an income/job (unless they have a ridiculous amount of assets but that doesn't apply to most people.) So I regret going the K1 route. I picked the K1 because I didn't find VJ before starting the process.

2. There is no reason to get a lawyer unless you have a complicated situation. A lawyer would be a glorified typist in your case. Not to mention many lawyers are behind on the immigration process, which changes frequently, and have given out bad advice to Canadian VJers in the past. No need to waste your money on one- you can find all the info you need online. The process looks daunting at first but it's actually pretty easy and straight forward once you get the ball rolling. Make sure to read the guides listed here.

As the previous poster said you would actually apply for a CR1 since IR1s are for couples who've been married for 2+ years. Minor note if you're wondering what the difference between CR1 and IR1 is: A CR1 is for a couple that's been married for less than two years. You'll get issues a conditional 2-year greencard that you have to renew when it expires. This process is called ROC (removal of conditions.) An IR1 gets a 10-year greencard.

I will answer your other questions shortly... In the meantime check out the very helpful guides on this website.

Edited by pocheros

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Before I started this process, I asked a US/Can couple I knew about their thoughts on the subject. They got married in Canada and went the K-3 (CR-1 now) route 13 years ago. Their biggest gripe was that they were married and could not live together.

There have been several people on here that have said that once they got married, the Canadian citizen was no longer able to enter the US until the CR-1 was complete. If the border believes that you intend to immigrate without a visa, they will stop you. It's that simple. So if you plan to come down, and you say "yes I am getting married", but you bring lots of evidence that you are returning, you might be ok. If they think you are going to get married and never leave, they will stop you. I understand you are legally allowed to 'visit' for 6 months, but the border has to believe that it is just a visit, and not intent to immigrate. It is all about convincing the border agents that you don't intent to move down until you have that visa in your hands.


2011-05-21: Matched on eharmony (clearly not in my 60 mile radius preference!)

2011-07-30: Met in Ottawa

2011-08-28: Day I knew I wanted to spend my life with her

2012-01-21: I proposed, outside in the freezing cold!

2012-02-06: Mailed out K-1 via FedEX

2012-02-10: NOA1

2012-08-01: NOA2

2012-08-17: Packet 3 received (email)

2012-09-10: Packet 3 sent

2012-09-12: Packet 4 received (email) with request for 2 photos

2012-10-29: Medical in Toronto

2012-11-06: Interview - Approved!

2013-04-05: POE Thousand Islands

2013-04-20: Wedding

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Filed: IR-1/CR-1 Visa Country: Canada
Timeline

ONE can visit during the CR-1 process!! I did it monthly---majority have no problems at all!! A person going the K1 route can be denied entry into the USA just as easy as anyone else.

Here is a comparison chart---do whats best for you, simple as that. http://www.visajourney.com/content/compare


Canadians Visiting the USA while undergoing the visa process, my free advice:

1) Always tell the TRUTH. never lie to the POE officer

2) Be confident in ur replies

3) keep ur response short and to the point, don't tell ur life story!!

4) look the POE officer in the eye when speaking to them. They are looking for people lieing and have been trained to find them!

5) Pack light! No job resumes with you

6) Bring ties to Canada (letter from employer when ur expected back at work, lease, etc etc)

7) Always be polite, being rude isn't going to get ya anywhere, and could make things worse!!

8) Have a plan in case u do get denied (be polite) It wont harm ur visa application if ur denied,that is if ur polite and didn't lie! Refer to #1

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Canada
Timeline

Personally, we are doing the K1. We picked this option because we want to live together after we are married. Don't want to spend any time apart after the wedding. This will provide us the ability to be together while we AOS. It also gets the major background checks/medical/police clearances out of the way for AOS so you only have to do a few more things. Its far easier I think. Thats my personal opinion. We just didn't want to spend the first year of marriage apart. That was the biggest thing for us.

K1 route is more expensive. Because you have to file the K1 paperwork before the AOS. Its like an extra step. But, if you're married and they deny your CR-1 you're kind of screwed in a way. Going K1, its rare to have AOS denied unless you're a fraudulent couple and only entered into marriage for immigration purposes. Immigration for us has been hard. We only live 7 hours apart though so I've made the trips to Canada every 3-4 weeks to see him. That has made it easier. For couples who live on different continents their opinions might differ from mine.

For us, proving a bona-fide relationship has been easy for the K1. Going CR-1 route you have to prove a bona-fide marriage. From what I've read, thats harder when you live in two different countries. For AOS, we will have to prove that, but my fiance (husband when that time comes) will be living here and we'll have time to get his name added to bank accounts, beneificary for insurance, added to my health insurance through work, add his name to my car note...etc. Thats a lot harder when he lives in another country and doesn't have a Social Security Number. But not impossible either I guess.

For each couple, the reasons are different why they want a certain route. In the end, our main goal is to be with the people that we are in love with and want to spend forever with.


K-1 VISA ADVENTURE:
04-01-2012: Engaged in Detroit, Michigan at Comerica Park!
USCIS
05-02-2012: Sent I-129F to Dallas Lockbox
05-14-2012: Received Physical NOA1
08-09-2012: Received Physical NOA2
Montreal Embassy
08-21-2012: Package 3
09-06-2012: Package 4
11-12-2012: Medical in Toronto, Ontario (Approved-Went Well! Tip: Make sure you have ALL of your vaccinations up to date when you go to your medical exam! It CAN delay things.
11-19-2012: Interview in Montreal (APPROVED!!)
11-21-2012: Received Passport and Visa Package Back From Montreal (DHL/LOOMIS OPENED OUR SEALED ENVELOPE! SENT BACK TO MONTREAL ON 11-23-2012 TO BE RESEALED)
12-04-2012: Recevied resealed Visa package from Montreal
12-23-2012: POE: Port Huron, Michigan (Everything Went Great!)
02-16-2013: Wedding Date! We're MARRIED!

AOS

06-18-2013: Sent AOS Package to Chicago Lockbox

06-20-2013: USPS Estimating Package Should Arrive in Chicago

06-24-2013: Received NOA Text and Emails for All Applications

06-27-2013: Received Physical NOAs for AOS, EAD and AP

07-16-2013: Biometrics Appointment

07-29-2013: I-485 Ready for Interview to Be Scheduled!!! YAY!!!! (No EXTREMELY Long Wait!)

08-02-2013: Received Mail with Interview Date!

09-03-2013: Interview in Detroit, Michigan (APPROVED!)

09-04-2013: EAD/AP Approved! (Even though it no longer matters because GC was approved the day before)

09-09-2013: Green Card mailed out via USPS 2-Day Air

09-11-2013: Received 2 Year Conditional Green Card in the Mail

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Filed: IR-1/CR-1 Visa Country: Canada
Timeline

Personally, we are doing the K1. We picked this option because we want to live together after we are married. Don't want to spend any time apart after the wedding. This will provide us the ability to be together while we AOS. It also gets the major background checks/medical/police clearances out of the way for AOS so you only have to do a few more things. Its far easier I think. Thats my personal opinion. We just didn't want to spend the first year of marriage apart. That was the biggest thing for us.

K1 route is more expensive. Because you have to file the K1 paperwork before the AOS. Its like an extra step. But, if you're married and they deny your CR-1 you're kind of screwed in a way. Going K1, its rare to have AOS denied unless you're a fraudulent couple and only entered into marriage for immigration purposes. Immigration for us has been hard. We only live 7 hours apart though so I've made the trips to Canada every 3-4 weeks to see him. That has made it easier. For couples who live on different continents their opinions might differ from mine.

For us, proving a bona-fide relationship has been easy for the K1. Going CR-1 route you have to prove a bona-fide marriage. From what I've read, thats harder when you live in two different countries. For AOS, we will have to prove that, but my fiance (husband when that time comes) will be living here and we'll have time to get his name added to bank accounts, beneificary for insurance, added to my health insurance through work, add his name to my car note...etc. Thats a lot harder when he lives in another country and doesn't have a Social Security Number. But not impossible either I guess.

For each couple, the reasons are different why they want a certain route. In the end, our main goal is to be with the people that we are in love with and want to spend forever with.

CR-1 is no harder or easier than a k1 FOR CANDIANS to prove a relationship! 99.999% of the time Montreal asks for no proof at the time of the interview(ie pictures,letters) In some countries that may be the case--but not for canada. As a Cdn still iving in Canada, one is still covered by the Cdn healthcare system, so no need to be covered on a USA spouses health care coverage. Its really not that difficult. Your making it harder than it truly is.


Canadians Visiting the USA while undergoing the visa process, my free advice:

1) Always tell the TRUTH. never lie to the POE officer

2) Be confident in ur replies

3) keep ur response short and to the point, don't tell ur life story!!

4) look the POE officer in the eye when speaking to them. They are looking for people lieing and have been trained to find them!

5) Pack light! No job resumes with you

6) Bring ties to Canada (letter from employer when ur expected back at work, lease, etc etc)

7) Always be polite, being rude isn't going to get ya anywhere, and could make things worse!!

8) Have a plan in case u do get denied (be polite) It wont harm ur visa application if ur denied,that is if ur polite and didn't lie! Refer to #1

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For us, it came down to the question, are you okay not working for however many months this will take? Our answer was no, so CR-1 it was! We don't regret going that way at all. Personally, I didn't find living apart for the 8 months of marriage to be unromantic. We visited every month or so, and it actually gave me the time to plan a surprise visit, and the look on my husband's face when I surprised him in Canada was priceless. :)

Don't pay for a lawyer. It's not at all worth the cost, and they can potentially slow the process down. And there are plenty of ways to prove the authenticity of your marriage without joint bank accounts or leases (e.g. affidavits, photos, phone logs, chat logs, gift receipts, boarding passes, etc.). We had no problem with it.

The rules for visiting during the petition process are the same as before: you can come to the US if the border officer decides that you are not intending to immigrate. Having a spouse in the US means your intentions will be more heavily scrutinized, so it is unlikely that you will be permitted to cross with an open-ended date of return and no job. If you bring proof of ties, you should have no problem visiting for a week or two at a time. Maybe you could do a month at a time, but we never tried that, so I don't know. If they ask you if you are getting married on the weekend that you are crossing to get married, you'd better be prepared with some evidence that you are going to return. Clearly lying about what you will do on your trip a big no-no, but getting married in the US and returning to Canada is completely legal. Ultimately, no one can predict how any individual border guard will feel on any given day.

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Filed: Timeline

Thank you very much everyone for your insight. Honestly, this website (and its users!) is incredibly helpful and I've been staying up until the wee hours of the morning every night looking through all the guides, reading posts, etc. Definitely learned a lot in the last little while.

I do live in Western Canada so the idea of going to Vancouver for the K-1 interview would definitely be more cost effective (still involve flying and staying in a hotel though). My boyfriend's never been to Montreal so we can make a little vacay out of it when the time comes for the IR-1 interview :D

My boyfriend and I have been talking a lot about this lately and although it seemed out of the question before to be separated while being newlyweds, it seems to be the best choice for us moving forward. I would go crazy without working for months on end and being 'trapped' in the States waiting for the next batch of paperwork to be processed. The fact that we can make short trips back and forth (aka the exact same thing we do now) doesn't seem that terrible.

Definitely not going to entertain the idea of a lawyer. I would hate to have someone else screw up paperwork on my behalf and charge me an arm and a leg to do it. If they had a way to bypass the line, then I might pay a premium for their services lol.

One more question for your folks, do any of you have a Nexus card? I recently got mine and I'm wondering if it's helped you during the traveling while waiting for immigration stuff. The last couple of times I've flown to the States, there's been no line-ups at the airport so I haven't gone to the kiosks and unfortunately still have to talk to the customs officer. Just wondering if you seem more legit if you have a Nexus card? I know it doesn't show that you've got ties to Canada but it does show you've had an extensive background check done?

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Canada
Timeline

I've never personally had a Nexus card, but I think it will only be advantageous to you if your point of entry is normally busy. I have a couple friends who have been pulled into secondary with the Nexus card, so they will still process you at secondary if need be. Hopefully somebody who personally has had one on here will comment, though. I normally drive across the Ambassador bridge and I can normally drive right up to a CBP officer. Normally the nexus line is closed too! lol. Don't take my advice to heart though, cause I've never had one!

Always bring the proof of ties with you and you'll be just fine. Look the officer in the eyes, tell the truth, keep your answers short and sweet just like you probably do now and voila!

Edited by codygrace

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