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kiwierin

Previous H-1B, engaged in NZ and returning to the US, have a few questions

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Hi everyone. My girlfriend (US citizen) and I (NZ citizen) are currently living together in NZ. We want to return back to the USA, ideally in mid-2022 and are weighing the benefits of the K-1 vs CR1 route

Background Info:

  • I attended high school and university in the states then worked on an H-1B from 2015 - 2020
  • I have a SSN, and the total time I was in the USA was 2007 - 2020
  • We met in the US early 2019 and have been living in NZ for the past year (I sponsored her partnership visa)
  • Keen to return to the US to be near our friends and her family
  • Neither of us have US based jobs currently but have sufficient funds to support ourselves upon our return
  • We are planning to be engaged within the next few months

 

Based off processing times, it looks like the K-1 route would allow us to enter the USA quicker. However, I wouldn't be able to work for a number of months upon our arrival, whereas if we went the CR1 route, it would take longer to get back to the states, but I could start working immediately. 

 

I have a few questions:

  1. If we choose the K-1 route, can we start the process prior to being engaged?
  2. Should we be aware of any issues that can pop up when filing for AOS
  3. Will my girlfriend need to secure a US based job before we move back? 
  4. Would you recommend K-1 or CR1?

 

Also shoutout @kiwipete for the format help

 

Thanks and any help is appreciated!

 

Edited by kiwierin
Pressed submit too soon

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Pakistan
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CR1 spousal  visa is the best,you can't  start the k1 visa process  until you engage ment  ceremony. Moreover k1 visa is nothing but pain,a long journey like marriage ceremony,  AOS ,work perm it, advance parole  ,social  security card and all the money and time you will waste.its better to get married in NZ and wait it out(enjoy cricket lol), time period  for k1 and CR1 are almost same these days for both.cheers

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Filed: AOS (pnd) Country: Kazakhstan
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~ Moved from K1 forum to What Visa Do I Need - the poster is weighing out options ~
 

6 minutes ago, Nasirlahore said:

you can't  start the k1 visa process  until you engage ment  ceremony

NOT true at all. In fact, this is false information. You do not need to have an engagement ceremony or a ring even to begin the process. I didn’t have a ring or an engagement ceremony and that’s true for most people going through the process.

 

9 minutes ago, Nasirlahore said:

Moreover k1 visa is nothing but pain,a long journey like marriage ceremony,  AOS ,work perm it, advance parole  ,social  security card and all the money and time you will waste.its better to get married in NZ and wait it out(enjoy cricket lol), time period  for k1 and CR1 are almost same these days for both.cheers

This I agree with. 
 

To OP, I would suggest CR1 visa because time wise, they’re almost the same wait now with covid. The biggest advantage is a) being able to work and b) avoiding AOS. Moreover, depending on the state you will live in, getting a driver license won’t be possible with K1. 
 

Your SO will need to establish domicile in the US. Getting a job would certainly help with that AND with being able to be your sponsor regarding financials. That way you won’t need to look for a joint sponsor.

 

Btw, returning back mid 2022 is overly optimistic. It will take much longer than that. 


 

 

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Pakistan
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With engagement  ceremony  you can prove authenticity  of relationships  with pictures with your fiance  and relatives etc etc at the time of interview at embassy. My two cents

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Pakistan
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Depend on  different countries. Many countries  where mail order brides is norm,yes there is great chance of staged  fraud. 

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Russia
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7 hours ago, kiwierin said:

If we choose the K-1 route, can we start the process prior to being engaged?

Yes, you can. Please read the guides for more info on what's required.

https://www.visajourney.com/guides/

 

:guides:

 

7 hours ago, kiwierin said:

Should we be aware of any issues that can pop up when filing for AOS

I believe the main issue is just unexpected delays, plus you'll go through another interview, more paperwork, more waiting for work and international travel authorization and overall it costs more. I've personally never done AOS so maybe someone else can chime in with the downsides.

 

7 hours ago, kiwierin said:

Will my girlfriend need to secure a US based job before we move back? 

If she has enough funds to sponsor or has a joint sponsor in the US then most likely no need to move back and secure a job. If she has the sponsor thing taken care of and stays in NZ the whole time, then she will need to provide an addition "proof of intent to establish domicile" letter and evidence of that, such as bank accounts, mailing address in the US, etc. This is fairly easy and most Americans living abroad get approved for domicile without issue as long as they have enough evidence. If she's lacking in evidence, it might be necessary for her to move back to the US and set all those things up.

 

7 hours ago, kiwierin said:

Would you recommend K-1 or CR1?

CR-1 is the better visa. No extra steps like AOS and immediate right to work, travel abroad, study, basically do everything US citizens can except vote. CR-1 visa is basically an instant green card as soon as it's endorsed at the border. CR-1 visa will result in a later "removal of conditions" step after 2 years, but that step is also part of K-1 as well. Many people opt for CR-1 as long as they can get married. K-1 is usually the go-to now for people who physically cannot get married yet due to travel restrictions, visa issues, etc. Prior to Covid, K-1 was faster but it's slowed down so much now that people recommend CR-1 if you can get married.

 

https://www.visajourney.com/guides/marriage-visa-comparison/

 

19 minutes ago, Nasirlahore said:

Depend on  different countries. Many countries  where mail order brides is norm,yes there is great chance of staged  fraud. 

New Zealand is not a high fraud country. Thus the concern is not relevant here. Plus doing formal engagement ceremonies and submitting photos of that can lead USCIS to believe you are "too married" to qualify for K-1. We've see multiple rejections here on VJ due to that exact scenario.

 

 

Edited by millefleur

Необычные линейки на рабочий стол 

🇷🇺 CR-1 via DCF (Dec 2016-Jun 2017) & I-751 ROC (Apr 2019-Oct 2019)🌹

Spoiler

Info about my DCF Moscow* experience here and here

26-Jul-2016: Married abroad in Russia 👩‍❤️‍👨
21-Dec-2016: I-130 filed at Moscow USCIS field office*
29-Dec-2016: I-130 approved! Yay! 🎊 

17-Jan-2017: Case number received

21-Mar-2017: Medical Exam completed

24-Mar-2017: Interview at Embassy - approved! 🎉

29-Mar-2017: CR-1 Visa received (via mail)

02-Apr-2017: USCIS Immigrant (GC) Fee paid

28-Jun-2017: Port of Entry @ PDX 🛩️

21-Jul-2017: No SSN after three weeks; applied in person at the SSA

22-Jul-2017: GC arrived in the mail 📬

31-Jul-2017: SSN arrived via mail, hurrah!

 

*NOTE: The USCIS Field Office in Moscow is now CLOSED as of February 28th, 2019.

 

Removal of Conditions - MSC Service Center

 28-Jun-2019: Conditional GC expires

30-Mar-2019: Eligible to apply for ROC

01-Apr-2019: ROC in the mail to Phoenix AZ lockbox! 📫

03-Apr-2019: ROC packet delivered to lockbox

09-Apr-2019: USCIS cashed check

09-Apr-2019: Case number received via text - MSC 📲

12-Apr-2019: Extension letter arrives via mail

19-Apr-2019: Biometrics letter arrives via mail

30-Apr-2019: Biometrics appointment at local office

26-Jun-2019: Case ready to be scheduled for interview 

04-Sep-2019: Interview was scheduled - letter to arrive in mail

09-Sep-2019: Interview letter arrived in the mail! ✉️

17-Oct-2019: Interview scheduled @ local USCIS  

18-Oct-2019: Interview cancelled & notice ordered*

18-Oct-2019: Case was approved! 🎉

22-Oct-2019: Card was mailed to me 📨

23-Oct-2019: Card was picked by USPS 

25-Oct-2019: 10 year GC Card received in mail 📬

 

*I don't understand this status because we DID have an interview!

 

🇺🇸 N-400 Application for Naturalization (Apr 2020-Jun 2021) 🛂

Spoiler

Filed during Covid-19 & moved states 1 month after filing

30-Mar-2020: N-400 early filing window opens!

01-Apr-2020: Filed N-400 online 💻 

02-Apr-2020: NOA 1 - Receipt No. received online 📃

07-Apr-2020: NOA 1 - Receipt No. received via mail

05-May-2020: Moved to another state, filed AR-11 online

05-May-2020: Application transferred to another USCIS field office for review ➡️

15-May-2020: AR-11 request to change address completed

16-Jul-2020: Filed non-receipt inquiry due to never getting confirmation that case was transferred to new field office

15-Oct-2020: Received generic response to non-receipt inquiry, see full response here

10-Feb-2021: Contacted senator's office for help with USCIS

12-Feb-2021: Received canned response from senator's office that case is within processing time 😡

16-Feb-2021: Contacted other senator's office for help with USCIS - still no biometrics

19-Feb-2021: Biometrics reuse notice - canned response from other senator's office 🌐

23-Feb-2021: Interview scheduled - notice to come in the mail

25-Feb-2021: Biometrics reuse notice arrives via mail

01-Mar-2021: Interview notice letter arrives via mail  ✉️ 

29-Mar-2021: Passed interview at local office! Oath Ceremony to be scheduled

13-Apr-2021: Oath Ceremony notice was mailed

04-May-2021: Oath Ceremony scheduled 🎆 Unable to attend due to illness

04-May-2021: Mailed request to reschedule Oath to local office

05-May-2021: "You did not attend your Oath Ceremony" - notice to come in the mail

06-May-2021: Oath Ceremony will be scheduled, date TBA

12-May-2021: Oath Ceremony re-scheduled for June 3rd, then de-scheduled same day 😡 

25-May-2021: New Oath Ceremony notice was mailed

16-Jun-2021: Oath Ceremony scheduled 🎆 - DONE!!

17-Jun-2021: Certificate of Naturalization issued

 

📫 Expedited US Passport Card + Book (Jul 2021-Sep 2021) 🇺🇸

Spoiler

Delayed Processing due to Covid-19

29-Jul-2021: Applied at post office for expedited processing

03-Aug-2021: Money order cashed 💸

03-Aug-2021: Application received by DOS - locator number 68 (NH)

26-Aug-2021: Application status approved!

26-Aug-2021: Shipped express - leaving from Little Rock, AR 📦 

27-Aug-2021: Tracking says "Delivered" but no package was left!! 🤬

27-Aug-2021: Went to local USPS and manager helped locate package -  passport book finally delivered!

31-Aug-2021: Passport card arrived via mail

22-Sep-2021: Naturalization Certificate returned via mail

 

 

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55 minutes ago, aaron2020 said:

Pictures from an engagement ceremony does not prove the authenticity of a relationship.  A relationship occurs over a period of time.  A single event on one day can be staged.  People committing fraud can have an engagement party and stage it.

You can fake an entire wedding so yes indeed a few photos of a bunch of people doesn’t “prove” anything 

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-57358241

 

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Russia
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22 minutes ago, SusieQQQ said:

You can fake an entire wedding so yes indeed a few photos of a bunch of people doesn’t “prove” anything 

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-57358241

 

Before I even clicked the article I knew it would be Eastern Europe, lol. We we got married in Russia, we submitted receipts of the wedding costs. It never occurred to me that they might be looking for inflated prices as part of a scam, but that makes total sense now after reading this article.


Необычные линейки на рабочий стол 

🇷🇺 CR-1 via DCF (Dec 2016-Jun 2017) & I-751 ROC (Apr 2019-Oct 2019)🌹

Spoiler

Info about my DCF Moscow* experience here and here

26-Jul-2016: Married abroad in Russia 👩‍❤️‍👨
21-Dec-2016: I-130 filed at Moscow USCIS field office*
29-Dec-2016: I-130 approved! Yay! 🎊 

17-Jan-2017: Case number received

21-Mar-2017: Medical Exam completed

24-Mar-2017: Interview at Embassy - approved! 🎉

29-Mar-2017: CR-1 Visa received (via mail)

02-Apr-2017: USCIS Immigrant (GC) Fee paid

28-Jun-2017: Port of Entry @ PDX 🛩️

21-Jul-2017: No SSN after three weeks; applied in person at the SSA

22-Jul-2017: GC arrived in the mail 📬

31-Jul-2017: SSN arrived via mail, hurrah!

 

*NOTE: The USCIS Field Office in Moscow is now CLOSED as of February 28th, 2019.

 

Removal of Conditions - MSC Service Center

 28-Jun-2019: Conditional GC expires

30-Mar-2019: Eligible to apply for ROC

01-Apr-2019: ROC in the mail to Phoenix AZ lockbox! 📫

03-Apr-2019: ROC packet delivered to lockbox

09-Apr-2019: USCIS cashed check

09-Apr-2019: Case number received via text - MSC 📲

12-Apr-2019: Extension letter arrives via mail

19-Apr-2019: Biometrics letter arrives via mail

30-Apr-2019: Biometrics appointment at local office

26-Jun-2019: Case ready to be scheduled for interview 

04-Sep-2019: Interview was scheduled - letter to arrive in mail

09-Sep-2019: Interview letter arrived in the mail! ✉️

17-Oct-2019: Interview scheduled @ local USCIS  

18-Oct-2019: Interview cancelled & notice ordered*

18-Oct-2019: Case was approved! 🎉

22-Oct-2019: Card was mailed to me 📨

23-Oct-2019: Card was picked by USPS 

25-Oct-2019: 10 year GC Card received in mail 📬

 

*I don't understand this status because we DID have an interview!

 

🇺🇸 N-400 Application for Naturalization (Apr 2020-Jun 2021) 🛂

Spoiler

Filed during Covid-19 & moved states 1 month after filing

30-Mar-2020: N-400 early filing window opens!

01-Apr-2020: Filed N-400 online 💻 

02-Apr-2020: NOA 1 - Receipt No. received online 📃

07-Apr-2020: NOA 1 - Receipt No. received via mail

05-May-2020: Moved to another state, filed AR-11 online

05-May-2020: Application transferred to another USCIS field office for review ➡️

15-May-2020: AR-11 request to change address completed

16-Jul-2020: Filed non-receipt inquiry due to never getting confirmation that case was transferred to new field office

15-Oct-2020: Received generic response to non-receipt inquiry, see full response here

10-Feb-2021: Contacted senator's office for help with USCIS

12-Feb-2021: Received canned response from senator's office that case is within processing time 😡

16-Feb-2021: Contacted other senator's office for help with USCIS - still no biometrics

19-Feb-2021: Biometrics reuse notice - canned response from other senator's office 🌐

23-Feb-2021: Interview scheduled - notice to come in the mail

25-Feb-2021: Biometrics reuse notice arrives via mail

01-Mar-2021: Interview notice letter arrives via mail  ✉️ 

29-Mar-2021: Passed interview at local office! Oath Ceremony to be scheduled

13-Apr-2021: Oath Ceremony notice was mailed

04-May-2021: Oath Ceremony scheduled 🎆 Unable to attend due to illness

04-May-2021: Mailed request to reschedule Oath to local office

05-May-2021: "You did not attend your Oath Ceremony" - notice to come in the mail

06-May-2021: Oath Ceremony will be scheduled, date TBA

12-May-2021: Oath Ceremony re-scheduled for June 3rd, then de-scheduled same day 😡 

25-May-2021: New Oath Ceremony notice was mailed

16-Jun-2021: Oath Ceremony scheduled 🎆 - DONE!!

17-Jun-2021: Certificate of Naturalization issued

 

📫 Expedited US Passport Card + Book (Jul 2021-Sep 2021) 🇺🇸

Spoiler

Delayed Processing due to Covid-19

29-Jul-2021: Applied at post office for expedited processing

03-Aug-2021: Money order cashed 💸

03-Aug-2021: Application received by DOS - locator number 68 (NH)

26-Aug-2021: Application status approved!

26-Aug-2021: Shipped express - leaving from Little Rock, AR 📦 

27-Aug-2021: Tracking says "Delivered" but no package was left!! 🤬

27-Aug-2021: Went to local USPS and manager helped locate package -  passport book finally delivered!

31-Aug-2021: Passport card arrived via mail

22-Sep-2021: Naturalization Certificate returned via mail

 

 

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8 hours ago, powerpuff said:

To OP, I would suggest CR1 visa because time wise, they’re almost the same wait now with covid. The biggest advantage is a) being able to work and b) avoiding AOS. Moreover, depending on the state you will live in, getting a driver license won’t be possible with K1. 
 

Your SO will need to establish domicile in the US. Getting a job would certainly help with that AND with being able to be your sponsor regarding financials. That way you won’t need to look for a joint sponsor.

 

Btw, returning back mid 2022 is overly optimistic. It will take much longer than that. 

 

Thanks so much for all the responses!

 

I guess my question is could we also start the CR1 visa paperwork without us being officially married? 

 

Also as New Zealand is currently on lockdown there is no way to have a wedding with all of our friends/her family back in the USA. They will not be able to visit us or get us in the country for our wedding day... Is it possible for us to just do a small ceremony here in NZ and then file the paperwork immediately? Then once we are settled back in the USA have a larger joined ceremony again (hopefully once COVID is over)? Do we need to wait any period of time after we do our small wedding ceremony to file the paperwork?

 

Appreciate any help!

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Filed: Country: Vietnam (no flag)
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52 minutes ago, kiwierin said:

 

Thanks so much for all the responses!

 

I guess my question is could we also start the CR1 visa paperwork without us being officially married? 

 

Also as New Zealand is currently on lockdown there is no way to have a wedding with all of our friends/her family back in the USA. They will not be able to visit us or get us in the country for our wedding day... Is it possible for us to just do a small ceremony here in NZ and then file the paperwork immediately? Then once we are settled back in the USA have a larger joined ceremony again (hopefully once COVID is over)? Do we need to wait any period of time after we do our small wedding ceremony to file the paperwork?

 

Appreciate any help!

You have to be married to file the I-130 to start the CR-1 spousal visa process.  You would need to submit a copy of your marriage certificate with the I-130.

 

You don't need a large wedding ceremony.  You can get a courthouse marriage.  It doesn't matter the size.  A legal marriage in NZ is all that is needed.

 

You can file the I-130 as soon as you have a copy of your registered marriage certificate.  

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1 hour ago, kiwierin said:

Is it possible for us to just do a small ceremony here in NZ and then file the paperwork immediately? T

Yes, as above it doesn’t even have to be a ceremony. 

by the way re the discussion about photos to show the relationship is genuine - in case you are worried that a quickie court marriage could be a problem from this perspective- seeing as you have already been living together for at least a year (not clear if longer before NZ move) and you sponsored her a partner visa in NZ, you presumably already have plenty of evidence that there is a genuine relationship. You certainly won’t be the only couple getting married legally without fanfare and waiting for a better time to have a big celebration… I know couples in this boat even without immigration' relatives abroad  etc being involved,

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1 hour ago, SusieQQQ said:

Yes, as above it doesn’t even have to be a ceremony. 

by the way re the discussion about photos to show the relationship is genuine - in case you are worried that a quickie court marriage could be a problem from this perspective- seeing as you have already been living together for at least a year (not clear if longer before NZ move) and you sponsored her a partner visa in NZ, you presumably already have plenty of evidence that there is a genuine relationship. You certainly won’t be the only couple getting married legally without fanfare and waiting for a better time to have a big celebration… I know couples in this boat even without immigration' relatives abroad  etc being involved,


Yeah I guess us just going to get legally married very quickly after we get engaged was a little bit of a concern but we really don’t have much of a choice… We have plenty of evidence about 3 years worth of a genuine relationship living together/holidays/family/friends etc. Is that really the main thing they look for?
 

If so we will probably get married sooner rather than later as we would like to back sometime next year (According to New Zealand we are considered de-facto which is basically marriage anyway)… Reading a few of the comments looks pretty unlikely to get back that soon but should get started with the process ASAP.

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: New Zealand
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12 hours ago, Nasirlahore said:

you can't  start the k1 visa process  until you engage ment  ceremony

Huh?  Engagement ceremonies may be common in your culture, but they are not common in NZ.  And the criteria to be able to petition a fiance for a K-1 is to have met in person once during the preceding two years.  "Engaged" is not a legal status in any case.

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: New Zealand
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7 hours ago, Nasirlahore said:

With engagement  ceremony  you can prove authenticity  of relationships  with pictures with your fiance  and relatives etc etc at the time of interview at embassy. My two cents

Wrong.  Just recently a VJ member was denied a K-1 visa for being "too married."

 

Anything resembling a wedding/marriage is not a good idea.

 

 

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