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skywolf93102

"Rare" situation in Bangkok -- Fingerprint waiver for my wife's CR-1 visa (DCF)

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Hi all, I've been reading the forums but haven't taken the time to write a post until now.

I did DCF (Direct Consular Filing) in Bangkok for the I-130 Petition for my wife, who is a PHILIPPINES citizen, but lives with me here in Thailand. I haven't figured out how to attach my timeline to this post, but I do have a timeline that I updated here on VJ.

After my wife's interview at the US Embassy in Bangkok on June 23, 2015, everything was good except a 221(g) for a "legal name change certificate" from the Philippines, since my wife had changed her last name to match mine when we were married in the Philippines last December. We had already given them a certification letter from the Philippines Embassy (regarding her new passport with her new married name), which was accepted by the USCIS and in our packet 3, but at the interview they wanted a different kind of name change certificate. The Philippines Embassy said they do not have such a thing (it's not necessary in the Philippines, but it is in Thailand), and that they would notarize an affidavit for my wife, where she swore that she hereby changed her maiden name to my last name, etc.

After we submitted that affidavit, the Bangkok US Embassy PHONED us, saying that in order to finish my wife's visa, we needed to come to the Embassy to attempt another set of electronic fingerprints. (Earlier, at her interview, they had tried various machines and couldn't seem to get the fingerprints very well, but thought it would be OK.) So we took a songtaew and bus 12+ hours to Bangkok.

At this second visit to the Embassy on JULY 13, they still had a hard time getting the electronic fingerprints on my wife. The CO told her that it would be okay, and that she would put a note on the file that they couldn't get the prints. The CO and other staff member said they expected that the visa would be approved and the passport would be finished later that day, or mailed to us the following day.

(Meanwhile, with this assurance, I snatched up our plane tickets that I'd been waiting to buy for October to head to the USA...bad move...)

The CEAC status had been changed to READY (from Administrative Processing), and now, over a month later, it is still on READY. We keep emailing the Embassy and calling the NVC (difficult to call them from here in Thailand), and the NVC told us that they should be able to get some sort of "fingerprint waiver".

My wife had to go back to Bangkok last week to retrieve her (Philippines) passport, since she had to do a visa run to get another 60 days on her tourist visa to stay here in Thailand for now. The CO talked to her then, and said they didn't need to try the fingerprints a 3rd time...they are just waiting for "the system."

They said it is a system error that has to be overrided, since the fingerprints did not work both times they had tried. They said they are working on it, and their team in Washington is working on it, but they have NO TIMELINE on how long this will take.

Meanwhile, we have to decide whether to apply for longer-term visa for her stay here in Thailand past October, after her Thailand visa expires. I would need to get another visa eventually too, since I'm not going back to the USA without her. I am a Non-O volunteer here in Thailand with basically no income, so I hope they can get the CR-1 visa finished soon, so we don't have to use more money getting visas and staying here longer without income. I already have been borrowing money.

I plan to try to have my senator contact the agency that is currently not responding to the Embassy about the fingerprint situation. (The NVC told me that the Embassy RE-contacted another gov't agency on August 4, which has still not replied to them regarding the fingerprints.) BUT, I don't know WHICH agency that is, to ask my senator to contact, since so far the IV officer at the Embassy has not replied to my latest email asking about that.

Does anyone else know about these rare fingerprint situations? The Bangkok Embassy doesn't seem to know much about handling it, or else they just aren't sharing.

Thanks for any input.

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From my experience with a 'finger print waiver"- there is a technical term for it, there has to be a legit reason for the waiver. Just having trouble with the machines is not enough.

I have a skin condition that has wrecked 3 of my 10 prints. I had to have strict medical documentation to indicate the progress of my condition and how it affected my fingerprints. This helps, from what I was told, prevent those who destroy their fingerprints on purpose in order not to have a 'hit' when taken by immigration.

Good luck


USCIS
August 12, 2008 - petition sent
August 16, 2008 - NOA-1
February 10, 2009 - NOA-2
178 DAYS FROM NOA-1


NVC
February 13, 2009 - NVC case number assigned
March 12, 2009 - Case Complete
25 DAY TRIP THROUGH NVC


Medical
May 4, 2009


Interview
May, 26, 2009


POE - June 20, 2009 Toronto - Atlanta, GA

Removal of Conditions
Filed - April 14, 2011
Biometrics - June 2, 2011 (early)
Approval - November 9, 2011
209 DAY TRIP TO REMOVE CONDITIONS

Citizenship

April 29, 2013 - NOA1 for petition received

September 10, 2013 Interview - decision could not be made.

April 15, 2014 APPROVED. Wait for oath ceremony

Waited...

September 29, 2015 - sent letter to senator.

October 16, 2015 - US Citizen

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From my experience with a 'finger print waiver"- there is a technical term for it, there has to be a legit reason for the waiver. Just having trouble with the machines is not enough.

I have a skin condition that has wrecked 3 of my 10 prints. I had to have strict medical documentation to indicate the progress of my condition and how it affected my fingerprints. This helps, from what I was told, prevent those who destroy their fingerprints on purpose in order not to have a 'hit' when taken by immigration.

Good luck

Yes, I've tried to research about this, and it seems they don't make it easy to get "waivers", and I don't know if Bangkok's embassy realizes this or not. They didn't say anything about seeing a doctor even. My wife has been fingerprinted successfully before, although mostly with ink I guess.

When I was researching fingerprint waivers for the US-VISIT biometric visa requirements (which I think has changed names now that it is in DHS's Office of Biometric Identity Management, or OBIM), I could only find a couple of obscure references about exemptions, etc.

One was in the the Foreign Affairs Manual document I found (not sure how updated it is) -

9 FAM 41.102 N8.1 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status

Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) Program

Exemptions

a. The following exemptions from the DHS US-VISIT requirement to provide fingerprints at the port of entry (POE) are listed in 8 CFR 235.1(f)(1)(iv):

...
(4) An individual alien to whom the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State, or the Director of Central Intelligence determines it shall not apply.
However, this is in a document mostly talking about Non-immigrant visas, and requiring the fingerprints at POE. But maybe there is something they can do to get a waiver. I just hope it doesn't take too many months, or that will be a trial with our situation here.

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So what was the reason they gave about the fingerprints? Because it sounds like a system error in which must be fixed in order for a visa to be issued. It is not the same case as mine in which my fingerprints could not be taken because of a medical condition.

But I do know waivers are not easily gotten for obvious reasons. We knew this was going to be an issue when we petitioned so we went in prepared.

Good luck


USCIS
August 12, 2008 - petition sent
August 16, 2008 - NOA-1
February 10, 2009 - NOA-2
178 DAYS FROM NOA-1


NVC
February 13, 2009 - NVC case number assigned
March 12, 2009 - Case Complete
25 DAY TRIP THROUGH NVC


Medical
May 4, 2009


Interview
May, 26, 2009


POE - June 20, 2009 Toronto - Atlanta, GA

Removal of Conditions
Filed - April 14, 2011
Biometrics - June 2, 2011 (early)
Approval - November 9, 2011
209 DAY TRIP TO REMOVE CONDITIONS

Citizenship

April 29, 2013 - NOA1 for petition received

September 10, 2013 Interview - decision could not be made.

April 15, 2014 APPROVED. Wait for oath ceremony

Waited...

September 29, 2015 - sent letter to senator.

October 16, 2015 - US Citizen

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We didn't know in advance that her fingerprints might be difficult to capture electronically. Her police clearance in the Philippines worked fine with their electronic machine, etc.

At her visa interview, the CO tried to get her fingerprints on two different machines, and another woman tried one machine. They didn't tell us that the fingerprints were not successful until 2+ weeks later.

After our second trip to the Embassy, they emailed us about it, saying this:

We were unsuccessful at collecting her fingerprints the second time, nor were we able to capture her prints at the initial interview. We need high quality fingerprints in order to process a background check through our systems. Both times – at the initial interview and again the second interview – the interviewing officer took considerable time trying to capture her prints. The officer even attempted to try different machines.

So they are calling it a problem with the system. I have heard though, that the USCIS often requires multiple appointments for biometrics for people that have difficult-to-capture fingerprints. Here at the Embassy they only attempt it twice, and don't seem to have an ink-prints option.

Thanks for the wishes.

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So what is the status of the visa now? Is it pending? Admin review? What are they going to do about it?

I think YOU are going to have to put pressure on them to figure it out.

The point is, the visa will not be issued without the background checks for which the prints are needed. Get a congressman involved.

good luck


USCIS
August 12, 2008 - petition sent
August 16, 2008 - NOA-1
February 10, 2009 - NOA-2
178 DAYS FROM NOA-1


NVC
February 13, 2009 - NVC case number assigned
March 12, 2009 - Case Complete
25 DAY TRIP THROUGH NVC


Medical
May 4, 2009


Interview
May, 26, 2009


POE - June 20, 2009 Toronto - Atlanta, GA

Removal of Conditions
Filed - April 14, 2011
Biometrics - June 2, 2011 (early)
Approval - November 9, 2011
209 DAY TRIP TO REMOVE CONDITIONS

Citizenship

April 29, 2013 - NOA1 for petition received

September 10, 2013 Interview - decision could not be made.

April 15, 2014 APPROVED. Wait for oath ceremony

Waited...

September 29, 2015 - sent letter to senator.

October 16, 2015 - US Citizen

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The status on CEAC is "Ready", as I mentioned (since July 13), but when I called the NVC, they said it is also in Administrative Processing.

I have been calling the NVC often (they can't do anything, except one time the agent said she would have her supervisor email the Embassy), and my wife and I send emails to the Bangkok Embassy every few days. They usually respond to some of our emails after a few days or so, but don't have anything new to tell us, and no details. They have no way to contact them by phone, and I have called the American Citizen Services Unit at the Embassy, and they say they can't do anything.

The Embassy told me in that one email, that they and their team in Washington are working hard on this issue. The NVC told me on the phone yesterday that the Embassy re-contacted another gov't agency (I don't know if he said which agency, the phone connection from here in Thailand was poor) on August 4, about the fingerprint issue, but has not received a reply.

I plan to contact my senator, Bob Corker in TN has apparently had success with assisting to speed up immigration cases before.

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What the system says and what is actually going on seems to be different things as your visa is clearly not ready.

I'd put the push on them. If your wife is the only one having issues with fingerprints I can see this falling through the cracks and you are stuck in AP black hole. Call the senator and call the consulate every day if necessary so this is dealt with.

Sorry you are going through it, I doubt a waiver will be issued (as one who has gone through the waiver, it is not easy to acquire) so it may be up to you to push hard for the resolution.

Goodluck


USCIS
August 12, 2008 - petition sent
August 16, 2008 - NOA-1
February 10, 2009 - NOA-2
178 DAYS FROM NOA-1


NVC
February 13, 2009 - NVC case number assigned
March 12, 2009 - Case Complete
25 DAY TRIP THROUGH NVC


Medical
May 4, 2009


Interview
May, 26, 2009


POE - June 20, 2009 Toronto - Atlanta, GA

Removal of Conditions
Filed - April 14, 2011
Biometrics - June 2, 2011 (early)
Approval - November 9, 2011
209 DAY TRIP TO REMOVE CONDITIONS

Citizenship

April 29, 2013 - NOA1 for petition received

September 10, 2013 Interview - decision could not be made.

April 15, 2014 APPROVED. Wait for oath ceremony

Waited...

September 29, 2015 - sent letter to senator.

October 16, 2015 - US Citizen

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Just an update. I finally got all the paperwork faxed to my Senator from Thailand, and have been keeping in touch with Senator Corker's office, and the Bangkok Embassy has replied to them but is so far very vague about what they are doing other than "mandatory processing," with no mention of a fingerprint waiver.

My wife and I had mailed her passport back to them a month ago (after traveling for a new Thailand visa entry), and today they replied to one of my emails finally, after the NVC agent I talked to said he would send them a request for them to reply to me:

We received her passport and it is now kept with her case. We are working very hard on trying to fix this technical problem and once it is complete, we will keep you informed. We do not need her passport at this moment. If she needs to have it back, please contact our Immigrant Visa Unit on any business Monday to Friday from 1.00 - 3.00 p.m.

It would have been nice if they would have told us that we didn't need to mail the passport back to them, so we could keep it to travel to renew my wife's visa in 60 days, etc.

Just hoping they really are working on the case to overcome the fingerprint issue. The senator's office keeps in touch with me and said they will keep in contact with the Embassy since it is time-sensitive for our Thai visas, etc.

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Update! My wife got her CR-1 visa and we are now in the USA!

After the senator's office started contacting them, the Bangkok embassy started responding to my emails more in September (perhaps also due to the fact that the summer visa rush was over), and although they kept saying they didn't know when the fingerprint issue would be resolved, suddenly they issued my wife's visa two days before the flight that we had scheduled to the USA! So we didn't have to cancel our tickets that I had bought months earlier when they said the visa was going to be issued. It was literally in the nick of time, we barely had time to pack after we found out the visa was being issued.

Thanks be to God, and all those involved in this miracle.

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Heartiest congratulations, and thanks for the ongoing updates about your unique situation.


06-04-2007 = TSC stamps postal return-receipt for I-129f.

06-11-2007 = NOA1 date (unknown to me).

07-20-2007 = Phoned Immigration Officer; got WAC#; where's NOA1?

09-25-2007 = Touch (first-ever).

09-28-2007 = NOA1, 23 days after their 45-day promise to send it (grrrr).

10-20 & 11-14-2007 = Phoned ImmOffs; "still pending."

12-11-2007 = 180 days; file is "between workstations, may be early Jan."; touches 12/11 & 12/12.

12-18-2007 = Call; file is with Division 9 ofcr. (bckgrnd check); e-prompt to shake it; touch.

12-19-2007 = NOA2 by e-mail & web, dated 12-18-07 (187 days; 201 per VJ); in mail 12/24/07.

01-09-2008 = File from USCIS to NVC, 1-4-08; NVC creates file, 1/15/08; to consulate 1/16/08.

01-23-2008 = Consulate gets file; outdated Packet 4 mailed to fiancee 1/27/08; rec'd 3/3/08.

04-29-2008 = Fiancee's 4-min. consular interview, 8:30 a.m.; much evidence brought but not allowed to be presented (consul: "More proof! Second interview! Bring your fiance!").

05-05-2008 = Infuriating $12 call to non-English-speaking consulate appointment-setter.

05-06-2008 = Better $12 call to English-speaker; "joint" interview date 6/30/08 (my selection).

06-30-2008 = Stokes Interrogations w/Ecuadorian (not USC); "wait 2 weeks; we'll mail her."

07-2008 = Daily calls to DOS: "currently processing"; 8/05 = Phoned consulate, got Section Chief; wrote him.

08-07-08 = E-mail from consulate, promising to issue visa "as soon as we get her passport" (on 8/12, per DHL).

08-27-08 = Phoned consulate (they "couldn't find" our file); visa DHL'd 8/28; in hand 9/1; through POE on 10/9 with NO hassles(!).

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