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Bona fide but long distance marriage--how nervous should we be?

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Hi, I'm new here. American citizen trying to petition for my Korean spouse (currently here on an F-1 student visa) for permanent residency. We've finally finished most of our I-130 and the nightmare that is the AOS packet, but we're not sure how much evidence of a bona fide marriage to include with the I-130 petition.

We feel nervous about it because, although we are both in the US, we have not yet been able to live together. He has to stay at his graduate program (in another state entirely) for one more year, and I'm about to move with our daughter (not biologically his) to an even further state for my own graduate program. We only see each other every three months or so via expensive plane tickets, so we are worried our situation will raise red flags with USCIS.

We DO have documentation of shared finances (shared bank accounts, credit cards...he's the beneficiary of my retirement fund too), but we obviously don't have a shared residence or typically shared bills (such as insurance, which is cheaper for us to be insured separately). We have receipts of our plane tickets, including our wedding (which was held in Korea so I could meet his family), and our marriage certificate (translated, notarized, and apostilled).

We also have family vacation photos and thousands of emails (we are both writers and this is how we got to know each other initially). Is it appropriate to include this kind of evidence with the initial paperwork or does it seem desperate? Should we save it for the interview instead?

Other things we're considering: neither of us has an official will yet, so we could write them up naming each other; he's not on the title of my car, but it might be worth the money to add him if it can provide evidence; he wants to officially adopt our daughter someday but that's a whole other realm of paperwork and may take too long (we want to get this process started asap).

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!! How worried should we be?


Jong Whan (Calvin) & Danielle

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My husband and I were long-distance on and off until after he received his green card. I think they are relatively understanding that marriage doesn't look like 1 specific lifestyle. That said, include everything you can that shows you two are invested in each other.

Alissa (USC) married to Orri (Iceland)
Married 12-30-2011
Currently waiting in Iceland for visa approval
06/13/2012: I-130 filed
06/15/2012: USPS Confirms Delivery
06/20/2012: G1145 Email Received
06/18/2012: NOA1 Date
08/21/2012: NOA2 - Approved
09/14/2012: AOS Invoice Date
10/05/2012: AOS Marked as PAID
10/17/2012: IV Invoice Date
02/12/2013: IV Bill marked as PAID
02/13/2013: AOS Package Sent

02/28/2013: AOS Package Accepted
02/13/2013: IV Package Sent
03/06/2013: IV Package Accepted
03/06/2013: Case Completed

03/14/2013: Consulate Received Case
03/07/2013: Interview Scheduled
03/08/2013: Medical Examination
04/10/2013: Interview, Reykjavík Embassy - APPROVED!
04/13/2013: Visa Received

04/27/2013 - Immigrant Visa Fee paid
05/02/2013: POE- Denver
XX/XX/2013: Welcome Letter Received
XX/XX/2013: Green Card Received
Petition Approval Time: 68 Days
Time between USCIS and NVC: 25 Days
Total Start-to-Finish Time: 322 days

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I agree with the above advice..just include as much evidence as you can..just knowing each other well and the story of your marriage is all that matters. Save all plane tickets..know the number of times you have visited or she does..Just know your lives very important..good luck

09/02/14 sent AOS

09/05/14 AOS received

09/21/14 NOA received

11/16/14 Biometrics done

10/07/14 RFE for Birth Certificate

11/03/14 RFE received by MSC

11/05/14 RFE in reviewing process

11/12/2014 I-485: Status changed to Testing and Interview

11/26/14- EAD Mailed

12/3/14 EAD received.

02/14/15 AOS interview scheduled for 3/19/15

03/19/15 Interview...

03/19/15 Approved. Thank you God!

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Moved from IR-1/CR-1 Process & Procedures to Adjustment of Status from Work Student & Tourist Visas forum.

Our journey:


September 2007: Met online via social networking site (MySpace); began exchanging messages.
March 26, 2009: We become a couple!
September 10, 2009: Arrived for first meeting in-person!
June 17, 2010: Arrived for second in-person meeting and start of travel together to other areas of China!
June 21, 2010: Engaged!!!
September 1, 2010: Switched course from K1 to CR-1
December 8, 2010: Wedding date set; it will be on February 18, 2011!
February 9, 2011: Depart for China
February 11, 2011: Registered for marriage in Wuhan, officially married!!!
February 18, 2011: Wedding ceremony in Shiyan!!!
April 22, 2011: Mailed I-130 to Chicago
April 28, 2011: Received NOA1 via text/email, file routed to CSC (priority date April 25th)
April 29, 2011: Updated
May 3, 2011: Received NOA1 hardcopy in mail
July 26, 2011: Received NOA2 via text/email!!!
July 30, 2011: Received NOA2 hardcopy in mail
August 8, 2011: NVC received file
September 1, 2011: NVC case number assigned
September 2, 2011: AOS invoice received, OPTIN email for EP sent
September 7, 2011: Paid AOS bill (payment portal showed PAID on September 9, 2011)
September 8, 2011: OPTIN email accepted, GZO number assigned
September 10, 2011: Emailed AOS package
September 12, 2011: IV bill invoiced
September 13, 2011: Paid IV bill (payment portal showed PAID on September 14, 2011)
September 14, 2011: Emailed IV package
October 3, 2011: Emailed checklist response (checklist generated due to typo on Form DS-230)
October 6, 2011: Case complete at NVC
November 10, 2011: Interview - APPROVED!!!
December 7, 2011: POE - Sea-Tac Airport

September 17, 2013: Mailed I-751 to CSC

September 23, 2013: Received NOA1 in mail (receipt date September 19th)

October 16, 2013: Biometrics Appointment

January 28, 2014: Production of new Green Card ordered

February 3, 2014: New Green Card received; done with USCIS until fall of 2023*


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I would say many if not most of us were long distance before getting our green cards. Most of us are in different countries from our spouse before during and partway after the progress. This is not out of the ordinary.

2012-10-30: FedEx delivered I-130 to Chicago Lockbox Mail Room
2012-11-01: NOA1 by email - MSC
2012-11-02: $420 (x3) debited from our account
2012-11-05: NOA1 hard copies received, Priority Date 2012-10-30
2012-12-11: NOA2

2013-01-02: Rec'd case#, IIN, BIN & OPTIN emails for EP sent
2013-01-03: Submitted DS-261 (x3)
2013-01-07: AOS bills invoiced and paid & OPTIN for EP accepted for each of us
2013-01-08: AOS bills appear as paid & AOS packages sent by email
2013-01-08: IV bill invoiced & paid (kids' only)
2013-01-09: IV bill appears as paid (kids' only)
2013-01-09: IV Package emailed & DS-260 submitted online (kids only)
2013-01-11: AOS received -notified by email
2013-01-11: IV bill invoiced & paid (for me)
2013-01-14: IV bill appears as paid (for me)
2013-01-14: IV Supporting Docs received for kids - notified by email
2013-01-14: IV Package emailed & DS-260 submitted online (me only)
2013-01-18: IV Supporting Docs received for me - notified by email
2013-01-18: Son#1 CASE COMPLETE - Son#2 checklist - saying $ on I-864 don't match tax return (but they do)-resubmitted
2013-01-23: AOS 2nd submission for Son #2 received - notified by email
2013-01-25: My CASE COMPLETE
2013-02-06: Packet 4 Received by email

2013-02-13: Medicals 2014-12-17: Delivered to California Lockbox 2015-12-15: Delivered to Phoenix Lockbox
2013-03-06: Interview 2014-12-19: 1 I-751 + 3 Biometrics Fees debited from our account 2015-12-16: Fees charged to Credit Card
2013-03-08: Visas in-hand 2014-12-22: Received NOA1 by mail. Receipt Date: 2014-12-17 2015-12-17: NOA
2013-03-12: Paid USCIS Immigrant Fee 2014-12-24: Received Biometrics Appointment Letter 2016-01-02: Biometrics Letter 2016-01-11: Biometrics
2013-03-14: POE 2015-01-06: Biometrics 2016-02-15: In Line for Interview 2016-02-19: Letter
2013-03-25: SSNs arrived 2015-05-27: Approved 2016-03-22: Interview
2013-04-01: Green Cards arrived 2015-06-03: New Green Cards arrived 2016-04-15: Oath Ceremony

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Korea DPR is North Korea, and I'm sure you are not marrying North Korean

since they won't allow anyone to leave the country. :no:

You want to select "South Korea" instead.

Not cohabiting together probably does raise little more risk,

but certainly not automatic denial. I think it all depends on

couple's circumstances.

In your case, it's the respective schools that's causing the separation,

and I think you should be able to overcome with clear explanation,

but I do suspect they will question you guys on this.

Even putting the spouse visa to the side, and just thinking of your marriage,

is there a way to join together at a same school? Or at least

live in the same place but go to different schools?

How many more years of school is left? And what happens after one graduates...

I'm sure they will ask about when and how you guys are going to live together

and you should have a really clear plan.

10-04-2013 We met online
11-21-2013 We met in person in Shanghai for 2 weeks

12-13-2013 I-129F packet sent via express

12-19-2013 USCIS NOA #1 (text and email) received

12-24-2013 USCIS assigns Alien Registration Number
12-31-2013 USCIS NOA #1 hard copy received
06-02-2014 USCIS web site shows NOA #2 approval
06-06-2014 USCIS web site shows case sent to NVC

06-xx-2014 Fiancee acquired birth, marriage, and police certificates from local police station (wrong)

06-16-2014 NVC creates case with GUZ### number

06-19-2014 NVC sends case sent to Guangzhou, China
06-24-2014 Received packet 3 express mail from embassy
06-25-2014 Completed DS-160 and paid K1 visa fee

06-26-2014 Mailed packet 3 response back to Embassy

06-26-2014 Requested police certificate from Russian embassy

07-08-2014 Received packet 4 email from Embassy

07-17-2014 Picked up Russian police certificate

07-25-2014 Fiancee medical exam (received MMR & Varicella, but they missed required TD shot)

07-31-2014 Picked up medical exam reports

08-01-2014 Request (correct) birth, marriage, and police certificates from Notarial Service (GongZhengChu)

08-06-2014 Picked up birth, marriage, and police certificates from Notarial Service

08-14-2014 Passed Interview Guangzhou embassy

09-01-2014 Received passport, visa, & sealed envelope

09-13-2014 POE

09-17-2014 Went to CBP office to get (US entry) I-94 updated correctly

09-18-2014 Applied for Social Security Card
09-19-2014 Applied for Marriage License (via online)
09-25-2014 Received Social Security Card
09-30-2014 Picked up Marriage License
10-09-2014 Marriage by Justice of Peace
10-09-2014 Got Certified Marriage Certificate Copies
10-17-2014 Received a letter from SS office that they need the marriage license
10-09-2014 Applied to change the social security card name
10-24-2014 Went back to SS office to provide the marriage certificate documents again!!!
12-09-2014 Submitted AOS, EAD, and AP
12-16-2014 Received 16 emails and 16 text NOA messages
01-05-2015 Received Biometrics appointment letter for (01-12-2015)
01-12-2015 Had Biometrics (fingerprint & picture) - Required Marriage Certificate!!!
02-17-2015 EAD and AP is approved
02-23-2015 Received AP is approval letter
02-25-2015 Received EAD/AP combo card (expires 02/16/2016)
02-27-2015 Applied for SS card name change (they took her SS card)
02-27-2015 Driver's learner permit test was denied since the SS card was given to SS office for name change
03-17-2015 Received SS card with married name
03-17-2015 Started to change all her accounts to married name
03-23-2015 Received potential interview waiver letter
03-27-2015 DMV rejects learner's permit due to "legal status=pending" and vision test failure
04-05-2015 Vision test for learner's permit
04-06-2015 DPS sent us letter that DHS cleared my wife's status to acquire driver's license.
04-10-2015 Passed Driver Learner's Permit
04-22-2015 Received Driver Learner's Permit ID card (expires 02/16/2016)
08-27-2015 Green Card approved
08-31-2015 Received Green Card "Welcome Notice Was Mailed" letter
09-05-2015 Received Green card
10-26-2015 Passed Driver's License Road Test (on 3rd attempt)
11-03-2015 Received Driver's License (expires 02/16/2022)
11-06-2015 Applied to remove conditional work remark on SS card
11-23-2015 Received updated Social Security Card.
- - - - - - - - - - Pending Future Processing - - - - - - - - - -
05-27-2017 File 10 Year Green Card
08-27-2017 2 Year Green Card Expires
05-27-2018 File USC

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