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So I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to apply for DCF in Japan, and the information was so obscure that I only found it after going to the US Embassy in Tokyo directly without an appointment, and getting lucky enough to speak with someone who made an exception for me while also knowing the correct information.

 

I decided it would be best to share it here because this forum kept popping up in my visa searching.  I found some conflicting information here and I wanted to clarify a few things.

 

Can I file for Direct Consular Filing (DCF) in Japan?

 

The answer to this question is definitely yes.  Japan does not have a USCIS FOD, so they require an exception from the USCIS in order to process an I-130 on their behalf.  Japan has a blanket exemption for all US Military personnel so they don't require any special requests being sent to the USCIS.  In fact, all the information I was provided from the first half dozen embassy staff was geared towards assisting military personnel and led to several dead ends.  The fact that you require an appointment to speak to anyone knowledgeable about DCF, yet you cannot make an appointment without a referral from the USCIS was a particularly infuriating catch 22.  The people I spoke with on the phone were no better than automated services with little authority and knowledge.  I kept getting redirected to incorrect resources via phone and email.

 

What is the process for DCF without a military exemption?

 

Many posts on this forum said that DCF in Japan was not authorized due to the lack of a USCIS office.  Of course, some of these were older posts, but nonetheless, you can apply when certain exceptional circumstances apply.  It will require justifying your request with circumstances that include a short notice job relocation, medical emergencies, and other exceptional circumstances noted in PM-602-0043.1.  I was concerned that this policy memorandum may have been overturned or expired, but as of today, it appears to be still valid.  Once the embassy receives the request, they will forward the information to the Regional USCIS director who is located in Korea for Japan.  For me, this took less than 24 hours to process.

 

How do I submit a PM-602-0043.1 request for Tokyo? 

 

You will need to send an email to TokyoIV@state.gov .  I could not find this information anywhere on the Tokyo embassy website, so this address is used for immigrant visa contacts.  Your email will require the following information:

 

Name of Petitioner (you), Date and Place of Birth:
Name of Beneficiary (your relative), Date and Place of Birth:
Date you became aware of a transfer or other emergency situations:
Expected departure or transfer date:
Please describe the emergency situation:
 
I also was asked to provide a contract to support my claim.
 
 
 
I hope this information is helpful because it took me quite a lot of searching and desperation to discover.  
 
 

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It took a lot because it only applies to exceptional circumstances.  As you noted the DCF is actually completed in Korea not in Japan due to the location of the USCIS office.  The interview, however, if DCF is accepted, would happen in Japan. 

Do let us know if your DCF is accepted and the interview goes ahead. 

Cases like yours are rare.

The USCIS is very good about expediting military cases in general even if you had filed in a regular manner. 


You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  - Dr. Seuss

 

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From my understanding, the I-130 is actually processed by the Department of State when the USCIS Foreign Office Director approves the exception.

 

Quote

 

DOS has no authority to permit an Embassy or Consulate to accept the filing of a Form I-130.

If a consular officer in an Embassy or Consulate in a country where USCIS is not present

encounters an individual case that the officer believes requires immediate processing of a

Form I-130, the consular officer must contact the USCIS Field Office Director (FOD) with

jurisdiction over that location to request authorization for DOS to accept and adjudicate the

case. The FOD will determine whether DOS may accept and adjudicate the case.

 

 

 

In my case, I do not have a military exception, but a job offer that starts on short notice in America.  I have a meeting scheduled next week to file my I-130 with the embassy, so I believe that my exception has already been approved.  I think the embassy tends to get several I-130 requests from military members though, as they have lots of support structure in place for those cases.  From my understanding, I will have the same process as them, so as long as my visa request is clearly approvable (meaning there aren't any irregularities that need to be vetted deeply) I will be on roughly the same timeline as military spouse visa requests.

 

I really just wanted to share what I have learned in the hopes that someone else in my circumstances doesn't get derailed by the challenging bureaucracy.

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12 hours ago, TYOGaijin said:

From my understanding, the I-130 is actually processed by the Department of State when the USCIS Foreign Office Director approves the exception.

 

 

In my case, I do not have a military exception, but a job offer that starts on short notice in America.  I have a meeting scheduled next week to file my I-130 with the embassy, so I believe that my exception has already been approved.  I think the embassy tends to get several I-130 requests from military members though, as they have lots of support structure in place for those cases.  From my understanding, I will have the same process as them, so as long as my visa request is clearly approvable (meaning there aren't any irregularities that need to be vetted deeply) I will be on roughly the same timeline as military spouse visa requests.

 

I really just wanted to share what I have learned in the hopes that someone else in my circumstances doesn't get derailed by the challenging bureaucracy.

People are always able to TRY for exceptional circumstances.  We don't see many that do and report about it.  I have seen it denied after the fact but beyond the cost and time lost, it doesn't hurt to try! 


You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  - Dr. Seuss

 

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Update:

 

I just submitted my I-130 to the DOS embassy staff and it has been provisionally approved.  I received a document from the embassy describing the remaining steps necessary.  I was informed that within a week I should receive an email notifying me to request a visa interview for my wife which should be processed via a DS-260 digital form via the web.  After receiving the I-130 provisional approval letter, it said that the wait is generally between 3 - 5 weeks.  If these timetables are accurate, the entire processing time for the visa will be around 5 - 7 weeks.

 

The document I received from the embassy is also necessary to get her background check and medical check completed in Japan.

 

Also worth noting, our marriage certificate was not necessary since the Japanese equivalent of her birth certificate contained the necessary information about our marriage.

 

Another note, the embassy officer I spoke to during my "interview" said that a marriage certificate is generally considered proof of a bona fide relationship.  Japan must be a very low visa fraud country, because I was surprised by how casual they were about the documents.  A friend of mine who went to get his son's birth certificate said they didn't even read his supporting documents, they just had him give an oath and that was that.  

 

Finally, the I-864 was optional at this point.  I brought in the I-864, but I forgot to print out my tax returns, so they told me to bring it during my wife's visa interview.  It didn't seem like approval of this would be too challenging.  However, I am an independent contractor, and I work on an hourly basis, so the embassy staff appeared not to know how to process an hourly wage.  I'll draft a document that explains how I came to my approximate expected income which may change due to the variance in time worked and write-offs I have as an independent contractor.  I also have a passive income that more than meets the necessary amount for the 125% of income requirements, so I don't anticipate this blocking anything.

 

The Direct Consular Filing appears to be much faster than trying to go through the USCIS at this point.  I'm very relieved that they approved my exceptional circumstances request.  I would have had significant hardship in attempting to move to America with my wife without it.

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Thanks for sharing! We get a lot of pushback in the other forums whenever someone asks about applying for DCF via exceptional circumstances due to a job offer. USCIS guidelines specifically list  a short notice job offer as an acceptable circumstance, yet posters will frequently reply by saying that if this was the case, then "everyone would do it".

 

I've been on this forum for about 1.5 years and have seen 4 approvals under the short notice job offer provision and 0 denials. I think it's time to say that this is a valid option.


DCF Mexico

06/04/2017: Married

06/24/2017: Mailed I-130

06/27/2017: NOA1 (technically a RFE as we were missing beneficiary ID)

07/06/2017: NOA2

07/12/2017: Case assigned by Juarez embassy

07/17/2017: Packet 3 received

08/15/2017: Interview/Approval!

08/22/2017: Visa received via DHL

09/03/2017: POE

09/16/2017: Permanent Resident Card received

 

Total days from NOA1 to approval: 49

 

I wrote a DCF Mexico guide! http://www.visajourney.com/wiki/index.php?title=DCF_Mexico

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