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WestHighlander

Advice for a bewildered Scottish fiance stuck in Covid limbo.

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: United Kingdom
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First of all, hello everybody, and thank you in advance for taking the time to read some exasperated ravings from the Scottish Highlands.

I'm a 49-year-old Scot, and I've been in a relationship with my lovely American fiancee (who's 50 and lives in Kennewick, WA) since September 2017. We had been visiting each other regularly (mostly me visiting her in the US on an ESTA) between 2017 and 2019, culminating in our engagement on Christmas Eve 2019. Naturally, we started talking immediately about putting a plan into action in order to move in together, either with her moving to the UK, or me moving to the US, but the pandemic struck almost immediately after our engagement. As a result, like many people in this forum, I haven't even been able to visit her for almost a year and a half.

 

We had hoped that the US travel ban would be lifted sometime this summer, but with the emergence of the Indian strain of Covid in the UK, that's looking increasingly unlikely. We've continued talking every day by video messaging, though, and we've arrived at the conclusion that it will be easier for me to get a K1 visa for the US than it will for her to emigrate to the UK (for various reasons, mostly to do with her job qualifications as a licenced clinical therapist and the fact that I don't earn enough to sponsor her for a UK spousal visa). Unfortunately, there's still so much uncertainty about the direction of the pandemic that we're in a quandry about whether or not to go ahead and petition the embassy in London right now, or wait until the travel ban is lifted. Naturally, I want to get on a plane to Seattle as soon as I'm legally able to do so, but my understanding is that once a petiton has been made for a K1 visa, it's illegal to travel on an ESTA. Our current thinking is to hold off until the fall; it will be two years next January since we've been physically in the same room, so we'll have to file for a K1 before that window expires, one way or another. She can't visit me because, like a lot of people in the US, she can't get any time off work, so I have to go to her.

My question to everyone really is just: What would you do under the circumstances?

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, WestHighlander said:

but my understanding is that once a petiton has been made for a K1 visa, it's illegal to travel on an ESTA.

Your understanding is inaccurate.  Visiting is legal during the process, provided you can convince CBP that you will return to your country at the end of the visit if asked.  Every visit is at the discretion of CBP at the border.  You could even visit the US, marry, then return to your country... with visits during the process. I suggest a Las Vegas wedding by @Loren Y, who graciously offers his services to VJ members.  He can have you married with a marriage certificate in hand in a matter of a couple hours.

 

Every couple has their own priorities, and each couple must decide which visa is better for their situation.

K-1
   
    More expensive than CR-1    
    Requires Adjustment of Status after marriage (expensive and requires a lot of paperwork)    
    Spouse can not leave the US until she/he receives approved Advance Parole (approx 5-6 months)    
    Spouse can not work until she/he receives EAD (approx 5-6 months)    
    Some people have had problems with driver licenses, Social Security cards, leases, bank account during this period    
    Spouse will not receive Green Card for many months after Adjustment of Status is filed.
    A denied K-1 is sent back to USCIS to expire
  

CR-1
   

    Less expensive than K-1    
    No Adjustment of Status(I-485, I-131, I-765) required.    
    Spouse can immediately travel outside the US    
    Spouse is authorized to work immediately upon arrival.    
    Spouse receives Social Security Card and Green Card within 2 or 3 weeks after entering the US    
    Opening a bank account, getting a driver's license, etc. are very easily accomplished with GC, SS card, and passport.

    Spouse has legal permanent Resident status IMMEDIATELY upon entry to US.
  �


 

Edited by Lucky Cat

"The immigration process demands a great deal of knowledge, planning, time, patience, and money.  A deficit in any of these areas can spell heartbreak."

   -GB, "old man of much life experience"

 

Retired 20 year United States Air Force Missileer (Retired E-8)

Retired Registered Nurse with practice in Labor/Delivery, Home Health, Adolescent Psych, Adult Psych

Retired IT Professional, Software Developer, Database Manager

 

 

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Thailand
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2 minutes ago, Lucky Cat said:

I suggest a Las Vegas wedding by @Loren Y.  

I can assist with a quick Las Vegas wedding when you get here. Feel free to message me if you are interested in getting married in Las Vegas,NV, and then you can file for the CR1 before you return to the UK.


Here on a K1? Need married and a Certificate in hand within a few hours? I'm here to help. Come to Vegas and I'll marry you Vegas style!!   Visa Journey members are always FREE for my services. I know the costs involved in this whole game of immigration, and if I can save you some money I will!

 

 

 

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: United Kingdom
Timeline
Quote

You could even visit the US, marry, then return to your country... with visits during the process.

Well, we did think about that, but there are a number of reasons, (mostly connected to HMRC and the Department for Work & Pensions) why that would complicate things for me in the UK while waiting for the CR-1 to be issued. If I have to declare to the UK government that I'm married, I'll lose half of my income overnight, which is why the K1 timeline is a lot more practical for us. Thanks for the advice, though.

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: New Zealand
Timeline
1 minute ago, WestHighlander said:

Well, we did think about that, but there are a number of reasons, (mostly connected to HMRC and the Department for Work & Pensions) why that would complicate things for me in the UK while waiting for the CR-1 to be issued. If I have to declare to the UK government that I'm married, I'll lose half of my income overnight, which is why the K1 timeline is a lot more practical for us. Thanks for the advice, though.

Then have her petition you for a K-1 visa.  There really is no way around the wait times for either option.

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1 minute ago, WestHighlander said:

If I have to declare to the UK government that I'm married

When and why you would you have to do that?  There isn't even any central registry in the US.


"The immigration process demands a great deal of knowledge, planning, time, patience, and money.  A deficit in any of these areas can spell heartbreak."

   -GB, "old man of much life experience"

 

Retired 20 year United States Air Force Missileer (Retired E-8)

Retired Registered Nurse with practice in Labor/Delivery, Home Health, Adolescent Psych, Adult Psych

Retired IT Professional, Software Developer, Database Manager

 

 

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: New Zealand
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Just now, Lucky Cat said:

When and why you would you have to do that?  There isn't even any central registry in the US.

I'm assuming something like tax filing status - MFS.

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Just now, Jorgedig said:

I'm assuming something like tax filing status - MFS.

Got it.  Thanks.


"The immigration process demands a great deal of knowledge, planning, time, patience, and money.  A deficit in any of these areas can spell heartbreak."

   -GB, "old man of much life experience"

 

Retired 20 year United States Air Force Missileer (Retired E-8)

Retired Registered Nurse with practice in Labor/Delivery, Home Health, Adolescent Psych, Adult Psych

Retired IT Professional, Software Developer, Database Manager

 

 

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I travelled from the UK to USA whilst my K1 was pending (pre-Covid). I took a note from my employer to say I was expected back at work but no one asked me for it. I was honest and said I was travelling to see my fiancee. I also took copies of our NOAs just incase. 

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Hi WestHighlander!

 

You can certainly visit your fiance on VWP while your K1 (if that's what you're going with) is processing. The only problem that you've got really to that is the same thing that prevents you from visiting now - COVID restrictions. You'll also have quite a bit of time to wait to get through the K1 process, but so long as you've got everything in order and are willing to wait it out, it's certainly doable. Ensure the fiance can meet the financial requirements of sponsorship or has a cosponsor available. Two other things of note that you'll need to consider eventually: the adjustment process, once you're married in the USA, will take quite a long time. Make sure you have a plan for that, as you won't be able to travel or work until authorized. Also ensure health insurance is considered.


K-1 - AOS & ROC Timeline  - Immigration and the Health Exchange Price of Love in the UK Thinking of Returning to UK?

 

First met: 12/31/04 - Engaged: 9/24/09
Filed I-129F: 10/4/14 - Packet received: 10/7/14
NOA 1 email + ARN assigned: 10/10/14 (hard copy 10/17/14)
Touched on website (fixed?): 12/9/14 - Poked USCIS: 4/1/15
NOA 2 email: 5/4/15 (hard copy 5/11/15)
Sent to NVC: 5/8/15 - NVC received + #'s assigned: 5/15/15 (estimated)
NVC sent: 5/19/15 - London received/ready: 5/26/15
Packet 3: 5/28/15 - Medical: 6/16/15
Poked London 7/1/15 - Packet 4: 7/2/15
Interview: 7/30/15 - Approved!
AP + Issued 8/3/15 - Visa in hand (depot): 8/6/15
POE: 8/27/15

Wedding: 9/30/15

Filed I-485, I-131, I-765: 11/7/15

Packet received: 11/9/15

NOA 1 txt/email: 11/15/15 - NOA 1 hardcopy: 11/19/15

Bio: 12/9/15

EAD + AP approved: 1/25/16 - EAD received: 2/1/16

RFE for USCIS inability to read vax instructions: 5/21/16 (no e-notification & not sent from local office!)

RFE response sent: 6/7/16 - RFE response received 6/9/16

AOS approved/card in production: 6/13/16  

NOA 2 hardcopy + card sent 6/17/16

Green Card received: 6/18/16

USCIS 120 day reminder notice: 2/22/18

Filed I-751: 5/2/18 - Packet received: 5/4/18

NOA 1:  5/29/18 (12 mo) 8/13/18 (18 mo)  - Bio: 6/27/18

Transferred: Potomac Service Center 3/26/19

Approved/New Card Produced status: 4/25/19 - NOA2 hardcopy 4/29/19

10yr Green Card Received: 5/2/19 - Error will need to file I90 >_<

 

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: United Kingdom
Timeline

I'm in the exact same boat as you my friend, my fiancé in the US and I haven't seen eachother since beginning of January 2020. Waiting for this travel ban to lift is so hard. 

I wish it was more black and white than it is and different "official" websites have such different information from one another that makes it even more confusing than it already is.

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21 hours ago, WestHighlander said:

First of all, hello everybody, and thank you in advance for taking the time to read some exasperated ravings from the Scottish Highlands.

I'm a 49-year-old Scot, and I've been in a relationship with my lovely American fiancee (who's 50 and lives in Kennewick, WA) since September 2017. We had been visiting each other regularly (mostly me visiting her in the US on an ESTA) between 2017 and 2019, culminating in our engagement on Christmas Eve 2019. Naturally, we started talking immediately about putting a plan into action in order to move in together, either with her moving to the UK, or me moving to the US, but the pandemic struck almost immediately after our engagement. As a result, like many people in this forum, I haven't even been able to visit her for almost a year and a half.

 

We had hoped that the US travel ban would be lifted sometime this summer, but with the emergence of the Indian strain of Covid in the UK, that's looking increasingly unlikely. We've continued talking every day by video messaging, though, and we've arrived at the conclusion that it will be easier for me to get a K1 visa for the US than it will for her to emigrate to the UK (for various reasons, mostly to do with her job qualifications as a licenced clinical therapist and the fact that I don't earn enough to sponsor her for a UK spousal visa). Unfortunately, there's still so much uncertainty about the direction of the pandemic that we're in a quandry about whether or not to go ahead and petition the embassy in London right now, or wait until the travel ban is lifted. Naturally, I want to get on a plane to Seattle as soon as I'm legally able to do so, but my understanding is that once a petiton has been made for a K1 visa, it's illegal to travel on an ESTA. Our current thinking is to hold off until the fall; it will be two years next January since we've been physically in the same room, so we'll have to file for a K1 before that window expires, one way or another. She can't visit me because, like a lot of people in the US, she can't get any time off work, so I have to go to her.

My question to everyone really is just: What would you do under the circumstances?

You just need to convince CBP officer that you'll return, it is not illegal. You can take copies of your continious employment, rent, etc. in case they ask for you to prove, but if you already decided to go with K1 already and will not change your mind, why wait to apply for it? You can't travel now anyways, at least you can save some time if your fiance petition for you now, and it won't be a dead time for you. If you file K1 now or later, it will always depend on cbp officer's discretion, and it is a risk you should take if you decide to go with k1 and want to visit your fiance while waiting. I think best time to start petitioning is now, since it takes time to get approved and you can't travel now anyways.


Removal of Conditions

02/06/2021: Filed and package sent

02/10/2021: Received by USCIS

03/18/2021: NOA 1

07/01/2021: Biometrics waived

Service Center: CSC (WAC), previously AOS'ed from K1

Waiting game begins one more time, hoping for interview waiver and short process...

 

 

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: United Kingdom
Timeline
3 hours ago, yuna628 said:

Ensure the fiance can meet the financial requirements of sponsorship or has a cosponsor available. Two other things of note that you'll need to consider eventually: the adjustment process, once you're married in the USA, will take quite a long time. Make sure you have a plan for that, as you won't be able to travel or work until authorized. Also ensure health insurance is considered.

Luckily, my fiancee has a relatively well-paid, professional job and is only financially responsible for one of her kids now (the others have all graduated high school and left home), so she meets the financial requirements to sign an affadavit of support. Even though my job isn't particularly well-paid, I've been working right through the pandemic without a break, so I've been able to save some money to pay for the visa process and shipping everything I own to Washington State when the K1 is approved.. By the time that rolls around, I should still have a few thousand in the bank to keep me going until I'm issued with a Green Card in the US. Health insurance does worry me (I have liver condition which means I have to have blood tests twice a year and an annual abdominal scan), but my fiancee tells me that, as her spouse, she can add me to the health insurance plan she gets via her employer.

In the meantime, I'm planning to spend this "dead time" reading up about everything I have to put in order to qualify for the K1.. I'm only just starting out on this process, and it really is incredibly daunting. Having to travel all the way from the Scottish Highlands to London twice for the medical and the interview is a major headache too! We've been talking about the pros and cons of hiring an immigration lawyer in the US to handle all the paperwork, but the concensus of opinion from most people I've spoken to seems to be that a lawyer will cost thousands of dollars and won't do anything that we can't do ourselves (as long as we're scrupulously careful with all the paperwork). We have to get this right, though, because it'll be a one-way trip for me eventually.. I'll have to clear my house and move out when the K1 comes through, so there's no going back. I'll talk to my fiancee tonight about petitioning the embassy soon. We've already lost a year and a half of time together, and who knows how much longer this bloody virus is going to steal from us? Thanks for the thoughts, everyone.

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Note that you have to provide evidence of having physically met up in the two years prior to filing, so you may want to get a move on in terms of putting together your paperwork else you'll have to wait until you're able to make another visit. You could try claiming the pandemic as hardship but given that it's going to take a while for processing to catch up you may be best just applying ASAP and dealing with the next steps as they come.

 

You can absolutely DIY this process (we did!) - no need for lawyers. Also, iirc I've seen on here a few people who have a long way to travel to get to London have tried to schedule medicals & interviews to take place on the same trip, which does work ok!, it just means there's a delay as the Embassy has to wait to receive your medical results before they can issue you a visa.

 

Also I'm another person who visited for several 1-week visits on the ESTA while my K1 was processing. I just took copies of documents proving my ties to the UK incase I was asked - so things like docs for my mortgage and my car finance, my time off as booked with work, and of course my return flight details. I did also mention that I had a K1 visa in progress (with an interview scheduled) at one time when a CBP agent was trying to figure out what my deal was ("wouldn't you like to stay longer?" leading questions). 

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On 5/20/2021 at 2:23 PM, WestHighlander said:

Luckily, my fiancee has a relatively well-paid, professional job and is only financially responsible for one of her kids now (the others have all graduated high school and left home), so she meets the financial requirements to sign an affadavit of support. Even though my job isn't particularly well-paid, I've been working right through the pandemic without a break, so I've been able to save some money to pay for the visa process and shipping everything I own to Washington State when the K1 is approved.. By the time that rolls around, I should still have a few thousand in the bank to keep me going until I'm issued with a Green Card in the US. Health insurance does worry me (I have liver condition which means I have to have blood tests twice a year and an annual abdominal scan), but my fiancee tells me that, as her spouse, she can add me to the health insurance plan she gets via her employer.

In the meantime, I'm planning to spend this "dead time" reading up about everything I have to put in order to qualify for the K1.. I'm only just starting out on this process, and it really is incredibly daunting. Having to travel all the way from the Scottish Highlands to London twice for the medical and the interview is a major headache too! We've been talking about the pros and cons of hiring an immigration lawyer in the US to handle all the paperwork, but the concensus of opinion from most people I've spoken to seems to be that a lawyer will cost thousands of dollars and won't do anything that we can't do ourselves (as long as we're scrupulously careful with all the paperwork). We have to get this right, though, because it'll be a one-way trip for me eventually.. I'll have to clear my house and move out when the K1 comes through, so there's no going back. I'll talk to my fiancee tonight about petitioning the embassy soon. We've already lost a year and a half of time together, and who knows how much longer this bloody virus is going to steal from us? Thanks for the thoughts, everyone.

The traveling to the medical and interview isn't too bad. My husband lived way up near the border and it was quite a drive for him. He took his dad and they had a bit of a fun roadtrip! But I know some other people that took the train or stayed in London for a few days and made it a mini-getaway. There isn't a need for an attorney unless something is very complex about your case, otherwise most of everything you need to know can be found via VJ. Sounds like you've got a good plan and if your future wife can get you on the health insurance quickly that will be just fine.


K-1 - AOS & ROC Timeline  - Immigration and the Health Exchange Price of Love in the UK Thinking of Returning to UK?

 

First met: 12/31/04 - Engaged: 9/24/09
Filed I-129F: 10/4/14 - Packet received: 10/7/14
NOA 1 email + ARN assigned: 10/10/14 (hard copy 10/17/14)
Touched on website (fixed?): 12/9/14 - Poked USCIS: 4/1/15
NOA 2 email: 5/4/15 (hard copy 5/11/15)
Sent to NVC: 5/8/15 - NVC received + #'s assigned: 5/15/15 (estimated)
NVC sent: 5/19/15 - London received/ready: 5/26/15
Packet 3: 5/28/15 - Medical: 6/16/15
Poked London 7/1/15 - Packet 4: 7/2/15
Interview: 7/30/15 - Approved!
AP + Issued 8/3/15 - Visa in hand (depot): 8/6/15
POE: 8/27/15

Wedding: 9/30/15

Filed I-485, I-131, I-765: 11/7/15

Packet received: 11/9/15

NOA 1 txt/email: 11/15/15 - NOA 1 hardcopy: 11/19/15

Bio: 12/9/15

EAD + AP approved: 1/25/16 - EAD received: 2/1/16

RFE for USCIS inability to read vax instructions: 5/21/16 (no e-notification & not sent from local office!)

RFE response sent: 6/7/16 - RFE response received 6/9/16

AOS approved/card in production: 6/13/16  

NOA 2 hardcopy + card sent 6/17/16

Green Card received: 6/18/16

USCIS 120 day reminder notice: 2/22/18

Filed I-751: 5/2/18 - Packet received: 5/4/18

NOA 1:  5/29/18 (12 mo) 8/13/18 (18 mo)  - Bio: 6/27/18

Transferred: Potomac Service Center 3/26/19

Approved/New Card Produced status: 4/25/19 - NOA2 hardcopy 4/29/19

10yr Green Card Received: 5/2/19 - Error will need to file I90 >_<

 

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