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K-1 Visa - U.S. Citizen and Fiancee both living abroad

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Hello,

My fiancee and I are both currently living in India (She is from Iran and is a student in here in India). I currently work in India (been here for 3+ years). We've been together for almost 2 years.

We recently held our engagement party in India (both of our families were here and we had a BLAST!!). We are planning to file a K-1 visa application rather than DCF since my father cannot travel (he is wheelchair bound and cannot walk). As a result, we wanted to get married in the U.S. so my father could be present along with my extended family.

Will we have any issues with the K-1 visa process? We've hired an attorney in the U.S. to assist us with the petition but I want to become more familiar with the process so we don't have any hiccups. I would like to return to the U.S. as soon as possible so we can continue our life there and so I can be close to my father who is unfortunately very ill.

Thank you!

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This is mostly a DIY site-- most people here don't use attorneys until/unless there is some kind of problem.

That said, the K1s are going really fast these days (under 2 months to be processed by USCIS and then 2 or 3 months for State Department/embassy work-- largely embassy dependant). I know it doesn't sound like it but this is lightning speed for USCIS and this is a very good time to be doing this.

Personally, unless you have reason to be concerned, I would skip the attorney. They don't have the same sense of urgency you do and may actually work slower than you will but to each his own. Just make sure that when you submit your package (or the attorney submits on your behalf) that it has everything listed on this checklist: http://www.visajourney.com/content/k1guide

If a piece of this is missing (letters of intent, g-325a, statement of having met etc), you will receive a "Request for Evidence" and that can tack a few weeks onto your overall timeline.

I don't know much about DCF, but if it's going to be significantly faster than 4 months, personally I'd do that and then have a "real wedding" in the US. It's possible that even with a K1, you'd wind up getting legally married first and having a "real wedding" later to make the 90 day window (do not even get me started on how difficult it is to plan a wedding in 90 days).


Marriage/ AOS Timeline:

23 Dec 2015: Legal marriage

23 Jan 2016: Wedding!

23 Jan 2016: "Blizzard of the Century", wedding canceled/rescheduled (thank goodness we were legally married first or we'd have had a big problem!) :sleepy:

24 Jan 2016: Small "civil ceremony" with friends and family who were snowed in with us. December was a bit of a secret and people had traveled internationally and knew we *had* to get married that weekend, and our December legal marriage was nothing but signing a piece of paper at our priest's kitchen table, without any sort of vows etc so this was actually a very special (if not legally significant) day. (L)

16 Apr 2016: Filed for AOS and EAD/AP (We delayed a bit-- no big rush, enjoying the USCIS break)

23 Apr 2016: Wedding! Finally! :luv:

27 Apr 2016: Electronic NOA1 for all 3 :dancing:
29 Apr 2016: NOA1 Hardcopy for all 3
29 Jul 2016: Online service request for late EAD (Day 104)
29 Jul 2016: EAD/AP Approved ~3 hours after online service request
04 Aug 2016: RFE for Green Card (requested medicals/ vaccination record. They already have it). :ranting:
05 Aug 2016: EAD/AP Combo Card arrived! (Day 111)
08 Aug 2016: Congressional constituent request to get guidance on the RFE. Hoping they see they have the form and approve!

K-1 Visa Timeline:

PLEASE NOTE. This timeline was during the period of time when TSC was working on I-129fs and had a huge backlog. The average processing time was 210+ days. This is in no way predictive of your own timeline if you filed during or after April 2015, unless CSC develops a backlog. A backlog is anything above the 5-month goal time listed on USCIS's site

14 Feb 2015: Mailed I-129f to Dallas Lockbox. (L) (Most expensive Valentine's card I've ever sent!)

17 Feb 2015: NOA1 "Received Date"
19 Feb 2015: NOA1 Notice Date
08 Aug 2015: NOA2 email! :luv: (173 days from NOA1)

17 Aug 2015: Sent to NVC

?? Aug 2015: Arrived at NVC

25 Aug 2015: NVC Case # Assigned

31 Aug 2015: Left NVC for Consulate in San Jose

09 Sep 2015: Consulate received :dancing: (32 days from NOA2)

11 Sep 2015: Packet 3 emailed from embassy to me, the petitioner (34 days from NOA2).

18 Sep 2015: Medicals complete

21 Sep 2015: Packet 3 complete, my boss puts a temporary moratorium on all time off due to work emergency :clock:

02 Oct 2015: Work emergency clears up, interview scheduled (soonest available was 5 business days away--Columbus Day was in there)

13 Oct 2015: Interview

13 Oct 2015: VISA APPROVED :thumbs: (236 days from NOA1)

19 Oct 2015: Visa-in-hand

24 Oct 2015: POE !

15 Dec 2015: Fiance's mother's B-2 visa interview: APPROVED! So happy she will be at the wedding! :thumbs:

!

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Thank you for your response.

During the early stages of our relationship, we tried to get an non-immigrant visa for her to take a vacation and meet my family but was denied since they didn't think she had intent to return due to being in a relationship with me. Neither of us was considering marriage at the time since we had only been with each other for 6 months. As a result, we are playing it safe and hired legal counsel since my career is essentially on hold due to me being an expat for so long in order to be with her.

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Thank you for your response.

During the early stages of our relationship, we tried to get an non-immigrant visa for her to take a vacation and meet my family but was denied since they didn't think she had intent to return due to being in a relationship with me. Neither of us was considering marriage at the time since we had only been with each other for 6 months. As a result, we are playing it safe and hired legal counsel since my career is essentially on hold due to me being an expat for so long in order to be with her.

Completely understood. The good news is that her denial for a visa based on suspicion of immigrant intent will not have any bearing on the K1 (actually could help) because with a K1 they not only expect but require immigrant intent. The fact that such a long time has passed between that application and this one is even better. Continue with the lawyer if that's what works for you, it's a personal judgement call. My personal feelings are that no one will be as careful as I am, but I am also a Type A control freak so there we have it :)

Question on that engagement party (I just realized). Was it a ceremony of any sort? This could change the advice a bit--- and this is something you may want to ask people in both the India and the Middle East forum about. I don't want to get you nervous but apparently in some cultural traditions and/or in some countries formal engagement parties are "married enough" to not qualify for the fiance visa. I believe that the issue is that in some countries/ some cultural traditions, if the ceremony is legally recognized then you're "too married" for the fiance visa. I cannot speak from experience here but I do know that that is a strong word of caution around these parts.

Even knowing that, I brought up our engagement party at the interview. As soon as I said those words, the interviewer's eyebrows shot up and said "engagement party what kind of engagement party" and I knew what she was thinking. I said kind of panicky " just a party, we wore nice clothes, went out for a big dinner all together and then had a bonfire on the beach and drank way too much. No sort of promises or ceremony or blessings. Not a priest for a hundred miles" (all the truth except maybe the priest thing). And that calmed her down. And we applied from a predominantly Roman Catholic country where formal engagements and dowries are not a thing.

If that is the case, I personally would legally marry and DCF. It's faster and "safer" in that way and you can have the big wedding here. Don't even tell anyone what you've done. Let them think it's a fiance visa or whatever (and 95% of Americans have zero clue about the legal immigration process anyway).


Marriage/ AOS Timeline:

23 Dec 2015: Legal marriage

23 Jan 2016: Wedding!

23 Jan 2016: "Blizzard of the Century", wedding canceled/rescheduled (thank goodness we were legally married first or we'd have had a big problem!) :sleepy:

24 Jan 2016: Small "civil ceremony" with friends and family who were snowed in with us. December was a bit of a secret and people had traveled internationally and knew we *had* to get married that weekend, and our December legal marriage was nothing but signing a piece of paper at our priest's kitchen table, without any sort of vows etc so this was actually a very special (if not legally significant) day. (L)

16 Apr 2016: Filed for AOS and EAD/AP (We delayed a bit-- no big rush, enjoying the USCIS break)

23 Apr 2016: Wedding! Finally! :luv:

27 Apr 2016: Electronic NOA1 for all 3 :dancing:
29 Apr 2016: NOA1 Hardcopy for all 3
29 Jul 2016: Online service request for late EAD (Day 104)
29 Jul 2016: EAD/AP Approved ~3 hours after online service request
04 Aug 2016: RFE for Green Card (requested medicals/ vaccination record. They already have it). :ranting:
05 Aug 2016: EAD/AP Combo Card arrived! (Day 111)
08 Aug 2016: Congressional constituent request to get guidance on the RFE. Hoping they see they have the form and approve!

K-1 Visa Timeline:

PLEASE NOTE. This timeline was during the period of time when TSC was working on I-129fs and had a huge backlog. The average processing time was 210+ days. This is in no way predictive of your own timeline if you filed during or after April 2015, unless CSC develops a backlog. A backlog is anything above the 5-month goal time listed on USCIS's site

14 Feb 2015: Mailed I-129f to Dallas Lockbox. (L) (Most expensive Valentine's card I've ever sent!)

17 Feb 2015: NOA1 "Received Date"
19 Feb 2015: NOA1 Notice Date
08 Aug 2015: NOA2 email! :luv: (173 days from NOA1)

17 Aug 2015: Sent to NVC

?? Aug 2015: Arrived at NVC

25 Aug 2015: NVC Case # Assigned

31 Aug 2015: Left NVC for Consulate in San Jose

09 Sep 2015: Consulate received :dancing: (32 days from NOA2)

11 Sep 2015: Packet 3 emailed from embassy to me, the petitioner (34 days from NOA2).

18 Sep 2015: Medicals complete

21 Sep 2015: Packet 3 complete, my boss puts a temporary moratorium on all time off due to work emergency :clock:

02 Oct 2015: Work emergency clears up, interview scheduled (soonest available was 5 business days away--Columbus Day was in there)

13 Oct 2015: Interview

13 Oct 2015: VISA APPROVED :thumbs: (236 days from NOA1)

19 Oct 2015: Visa-in-hand

24 Oct 2015: POE !

15 Dec 2015: Fiance's mother's B-2 visa interview: APPROVED! So happy she will be at the wedding! :thumbs:

!

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There was no ceremony. Just a very nice dinner, cake, wine, and a bunch of family, friends and co-workers. The tradition in Iran is to have a formal engagement party before a wedding takes place. The same typically applies to India but I think more people here just have a big wedding since it is an additional cost to have an engagement party.

We are both personally exhausted from having the engagement party / planning. It took months of planning and families flying from Iran and the U.S. just for our engagement. I would personally love to get married at the courthouse abroad and have a big wedding in the U.S. but I am afraid it could be detrimental for some reason. That is why I wanted to do the fiancee visa in the first place - so we could have my family in the U.S. come to our wedding without asking them to fly to India.

Would it be detrimental to our application if we have a old fashioned court house wedding abroad without the family being there and having a big wedding celebration once in the U.S.?

Edited by m0ss

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There was no ceremony. Just a very nice dinner, cake, wine, and a bunch of family, friends and co-workers. The tradition in Iran is to have a formal engagement party before a wedding takes place. The same typically applies to India but I think more people here just have a big wedding since it is an additional cost to have an engagement party.

We are both personally exhausted from having the engagement party / planning. It took months of planning and families flying from Iran and the U.S. just for our engagement. I would personally love to get married at the courthouse abroad and have a big wedding in the U.S. but I am afraid it could be detrimental for some reason. That is why I wanted to do the fiancee visa in the first place - so we could have my family in the U.S. come to our wedding without asking them to fly to India.

Would it be detrimental to our application if we have a old fashioned court house wedding without the family being there and having a big wedding celebration once in the U.S.?

I gotcha. That really shouldn't be a problem because that's not a ceremony or anything religiously or culturally significant (it's what we did, more or less) but do please check with the India subforum and generally get other opinions.

Many people have simple weddings abroad for immigration purposes and have a big "do" in the US. The family not being there shouldn't be an issue. I do think your K1 would be just fine but I also think you'd have less hassle generally with DCF. Remember, when you land with a K1 visa, you still must then get married and apply to adjust status to legal permanent resident (green card holder). It is yet more paperwork and filing fees (the filing fee is $1070) and in your case would be more lawyers' fees. With a spouse visa (which is what the DCF will give you), she has a green card on arrival. No more paperwork until Removal of Conditions two years later.

This is ALL personal preference. I wouldn't change what we did (K1) for a spousal visa, even with all the hassle. Even if DCF was an option in Costa Rica and we were eligible (I wasn't living there so we wouldn't have been), we still might have gone K1 because I was ready to be engaged and spend some time engaged, and not ready to be married. It was as much a relationship decision as an immigration one. That part, clearly, I cannot advise you on. But the DCF would be much simpler and straightforward for you and I really don't think they'd care that the families were not in attendance, given the fact that you are both ex-pats in India. They know about the relationship and support it. That should be fine.


Marriage/ AOS Timeline:

23 Dec 2015: Legal marriage

23 Jan 2016: Wedding!

23 Jan 2016: "Blizzard of the Century", wedding canceled/rescheduled (thank goodness we were legally married first or we'd have had a big problem!) :sleepy:

24 Jan 2016: Small "civil ceremony" with friends and family who were snowed in with us. December was a bit of a secret and people had traveled internationally and knew we *had* to get married that weekend, and our December legal marriage was nothing but signing a piece of paper at our priest's kitchen table, without any sort of vows etc so this was actually a very special (if not legally significant) day. (L)

16 Apr 2016: Filed for AOS and EAD/AP (We delayed a bit-- no big rush, enjoying the USCIS break)

23 Apr 2016: Wedding! Finally! :luv:

27 Apr 2016: Electronic NOA1 for all 3 :dancing:
29 Apr 2016: NOA1 Hardcopy for all 3
29 Jul 2016: Online service request for late EAD (Day 104)
29 Jul 2016: EAD/AP Approved ~3 hours after online service request
04 Aug 2016: RFE for Green Card (requested medicals/ vaccination record. They already have it). :ranting:
05 Aug 2016: EAD/AP Combo Card arrived! (Day 111)
08 Aug 2016: Congressional constituent request to get guidance on the RFE. Hoping they see they have the form and approve!

K-1 Visa Timeline:

PLEASE NOTE. This timeline was during the period of time when TSC was working on I-129fs and had a huge backlog. The average processing time was 210+ days. This is in no way predictive of your own timeline if you filed during or after April 2015, unless CSC develops a backlog. A backlog is anything above the 5-month goal time listed on USCIS's site

14 Feb 2015: Mailed I-129f to Dallas Lockbox. (L) (Most expensive Valentine's card I've ever sent!)

17 Feb 2015: NOA1 "Received Date"
19 Feb 2015: NOA1 Notice Date
08 Aug 2015: NOA2 email! :luv: (173 days from NOA1)

17 Aug 2015: Sent to NVC

?? Aug 2015: Arrived at NVC

25 Aug 2015: NVC Case # Assigned

31 Aug 2015: Left NVC for Consulate in San Jose

09 Sep 2015: Consulate received :dancing: (32 days from NOA2)

11 Sep 2015: Packet 3 emailed from embassy to me, the petitioner (34 days from NOA2).

18 Sep 2015: Medicals complete

21 Sep 2015: Packet 3 complete, my boss puts a temporary moratorium on all time off due to work emergency :clock:

02 Oct 2015: Work emergency clears up, interview scheduled (soonest available was 5 business days away--Columbus Day was in there)

13 Oct 2015: Interview

13 Oct 2015: VISA APPROVED :thumbs: (236 days from NOA1)

19 Oct 2015: Visa-in-hand

24 Oct 2015: POE !

15 Dec 2015: Fiance's mother's B-2 visa interview: APPROVED! So happy she will be at the wedding! :thumbs:

!

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