Hello everyone! I decided to write about my full K-1 visa experience here and I hope it's gonna be helpful for some of you Italians going to Naples for their interview so expect a long detailed story!
IMPORTANT NOTE: This is only my personal experience, based solely on our case, so you can use it as a reference but remember that every case is different. You might or might not need some of the documents listed here and waiting times may vary from case to case. Also, I have to admit I was pretty lucky the day of the interview and you might have to answer to many more questions and different ones.
A little background here: I'm an Italian citizen, born and raised, and I'm engaged to a wonderful American man. We sent our petition last year and a few days ago I got my passport with the K-1 Visa and the famous "stupid-proof MUST NOT OPEN envelope".
DECEMBER 2018: I-129F - Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)
We gathered all the documents required ahead of time and this is what we sent in this precise order:
- A check of 535$;
- A cover letter listing all the contents included, signed by my fiancè;
- e-notification of application/petition acceptance (form G-1145);
- Completed, dated and signed form I-129F;
- Petitioner's police and court records;
- Petitioner's birth certificate;
- Petitioner and beneficiary's passport pages with every stamp;
- Petitioner and beneficiary's passport style pictures (remember to write your name with a pencil on the back of each one);
- Our letters of intent to marry, dated and signed;
- Petitioner and beneficiary's descriptions of our visits + pictures together + plane tickets, screenshots of our conversations, call logs, etc.
We sent everything on December the 13th 2018 and they received it on December the 14th. IMPORTANT: Make a copy (digital and printed) of every document before sending it. The petitioner should send this exact copy to the beneficiary for them to have it on the day of their interview. The officer at the consulate will have the original petition with them.
19th DECEMBER 2018: NOA 1 (Form I-797C)
On this date my fiancè received our first notice of action both in the mail and at his e-mail address, with our receipt number (3 letters and 10 numbers). The long wait starts now! Even tho compared to people who applied in 2016/2017, waiting times seem to be reasonably shorter now.
FAQ: Many of you ask if it's possible to visit your fiancè in the United States while waiting for your NOA2. The answer is yes, BUT... at your own risk. There's an entire topic and discussion about it on this forum and as you can see, once again, each case is different. I noticed that, generally, people travelling on ESTA (which includes Italy) have much less trouble being admitted at the port of entry, but you can still be taken aside for a second inspection. This was in fact my case but it helped that I brought with me the entire petition we sent a few months earlier. If you wanna read my full experience on this matter, you can find it on this page under my username: https://www.visajourney.com/forums/topic/67796-yes-you-can-visit/page/134/?tab=comments#comment-9637431
29th MARCH 2019: NOA 2 (Form I-797)
Only a week after I travelled to the US to visit my fiancè and only 100 days after our NOA 1, we received the green letter from USCIS stating that our case was APPROVED! Thankfully no RFEs. We came back from a family trip and we found the envelope in the mailbox. What can I say? We must have bothered our neighbours a lot cause we started screaming and crying from joy like little kids on Christmas Day.
30th APRIL 2019: NVC Approval Notice and CASE NUMBER
My fiancè got an e-mail that he forwarded me then, from NVCfirstname.lastname@example.org containing the letter from the NVC in the attachements. The letter stated: "The National Visa Center (NVC) received your fiancé (e)’s/spouse’s approved I-129F petition from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). NVC will now forward the petition to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Naples, Italy. Please note that the transfer process can take several weeks. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate will contact your fiancé (e)/spouse when they are ready to process his or her petition."
This is important cause you will receive a case number (3 letters and 10 numbers) to complete your DS-160 later and that will be used for many other things. I got the NVC letter on paper at my address in Italy at the end of May, while I was still visiting in the US.
8th MAY 2019: Case received at the Naples Consulate & PACKET 3
We've got another e-mail from IVNaples@state.gov stating: "We have received your approved petition from the National Visa Center. Please refer to the attached information packet for directions on how to proceed. Please note that the fiancé visa fee is $265 and the medical fee is 220 Euro." In the attachment you will find the packet 3, with all the instructions on how to move forward with your case. You will also find instructions for the medical visit at Varelli and a list of documents you need to gather and have at the day of the interview. Don't collect the following documents too soon, cause most of them have an expiration date of 6 months.
DOCUMENTS I COLLECTED (from Packet 3) - Make as many copies as you like/want of each document you get!
- I completed form DS-160 at https://ceac.state.gov/GenNIV/Default.aspx . Remember to print the confirmation page once you're done. From the day you create your case, you will have 30 days to complete it. It shouldn't take long, but you can save and go back to it later if needed. You will need your case number from the NVC letter you received and a digital picture to upload (I had a scan of the passport style picture I sent with the I-129F and it was accepted).
- Passport: must be valid for travel to the US and must have at least six month validity beyond the issuance date of the visa.
- Birth certificate: original or certified copy. It must state both of your parents' names, date and place of your birth and it must indicate it is an extract from offical records. NOTE: If you require your "certificato di nascita" it probably won't have the names of your parents on it, so I suggest you get "estratto di nascita" instead. I collected one from my city of residence and another one from my birthplace. Ask for copies! They should be free.
- Police certificates: required for EACH visa applicant aged 16 years or older and for EACH country you have lived for more than 12 months (There's a table to see which ones you need). You will need to get your Certificato GENERALE del Casellario Giudiziale (not PENALE) and Certificato dei Carichi Pendenti. I previously lived in Canada for more than 12 months so I had to obtain one from there too through a fingerprint agency that sent the request to the RCMP. You can book the appointment online at https://certificaticasellario.giustizia.it/sac/prenotacertificato and you will need to buy stamps (marche da bollo) of 19,87€ each. You can get an authenticated/certified copy of those too, but from my personal experience you only waste more money. At the interview they gave me the originals back and they kept a simple copy I printed from my computer!
- Photographs: Six glossy, unretouched, unmounted color pictures 50x50 mm with a white background, frontal view. No glasses, no earrings, a ponytail is good but you can keep your hair loose as long as it's behind your ears and not covering your face.
- Evidence of support: You will need to download the most recent I-134 form - Affidavit Of Support (check the expiration date of the form at the top of the page) from http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/I-134.pdf . Not the I-864. This needs to be completed by your American fiancè, dated, signed and sent to you in original along with these documents:
1. Bank statement: the petitioner has to go to their bank/financial institution and ask for one. It has to include the date of the account being opened, the total amount deposited for the past year and the present balance.
2. Letter from employer: my fiancè asked his boss to write a letter (better if it's on the company letterhead) stating the date and nature of employment, salary paid, position and asked her to provide him with the most recent pay stubs (we brought 8 just in case). We also downloaded a form from my fiance's workplace's website, that showed his yearly income. NOTE: this will determine if your American fiancè is eligible to be your sponsor and/or if you need a joint sponsor. Your fiancè's income must meet at least 100% of poverty guidelines. You can check them here for 2019 https://www.uscis.gov/i-864p . You will also need the so-called W2 form, that yor fiancè used to prepare tax returns.
3. Talking about taxes: bring form 1048 - U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. His was from 2018.
- Letter of intent to marry: yes, a new one for each of you! It's gonna be similar to the first one but dated much closer and we called it "Letter of Reaffirmation of Intent to Marry". We changed a few words, we signed it and dated it.
- Proof of ongoing relationship: also very similar to the ones you submitted with your I-129F. We included new pictures together and with his family, new screenshots of conversations and call logs. They never asked to see them at the interview but better safe than sorry.
- Vaccinations records: I went to the ASL/ULSS with my libretto delle vaccinazioni and they printed a copy of my vaccinations records, plus an extra in English. I told them where I was going so they suggested I got a vaccine that I haven't done before. Included in the packet 3 you will find a chart explaining which shots you need to get based on your age. I had everything already (or so I thought... more details later) so since they were free (they were considered under "family reunification"/"ricongiungimento familiare") I got an extra that was not mandatory for immigration purposes. The most important ones are measles (morbillo), mumps (parotite), pertussis (pertosse), rubella (rosolia) and chicken pox (varicella). Since I've had varicella as a kid, my family doctor prescribed me an exam for IgG and IgM varicella antibodies, as proof of immunization. If you're missing some shots don't worry: they'll take care of it at the Varelli BUT... they're very expensive! Influenza is also mandatory, but may not be available in certain periods of the year, obviously.
- Most recent I-94 - Travel History. You will need your passport number and this form simply states all your entries/exits to/from the US. The website is this one: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home .
NOTE: Every document in a language different from English or Italian must be translated by a certified translator. No, you can't translate it yourself.
EXTRA: Due to my busy work schedule and my long visit to the US, I didn't have enough time to collect all the documents required and my NOA 2's expiration date was in late July. I decided to ask for an I-129F Extension which was granted. I simply wrote an e-mail to the Naples U.S. Consulate at IVNaples@state.gov, providing my name, case and receipt number and explained the reasons why I was asking for an extension. I got an automated message and around a week later they answered telling me my request for an extension was approved for 4 months. Easy peasy.
SCHEDULING THE INTERVIEW
Once you collect all these documents, you're finally ready to schedule your interview. You need to go on this website https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-it/iv/users/sign_in and create an account. Once you're done, you'll have to pay a 265$ fee using a credit card and you can move forward to see which dates are available. Even before paying, you will need to select a location where you want your passport to be returned after the interview. Don't worry if the pick-up spot you selected is miles far from home, you can change the address later and you can sign up for DHL Express Shipment and have your passport delivered directly to your door. Ah, this service costs 30€... how could I forget.
Remember to print the payment receipt cause they're gonna request it at the interview. NOTE: Italian applicants don't need to schedule the medical appointment. Once you select the date and the time of the interview, you automatically know that you have to be at the Varelli the day before the interview. One thing less to take care of!
4th NOVEMBER 2019: MEDICAL VISIT at ISTITUTO DIAGNOSTICO VARELLI (Naples)
The instructions say that applicants are expected to arrive at 8:00am for the medical examination. I, being the paranoid myself as always, was in front of the Varelli by 6:45am and I already had 3 people waiting in front of me. The place opened at 7:00am and I went inside. I found a ticketing machine and I pressed "Consulate". My number was C1 and a young lady started calling for people that were there for the consulate. I sat in a waiting room and then they called me from one of the rooms nearby.
Exams in order:
1. Blood test;
2. They sent me to the bathroom to collect an urine sample;
3. They checked my DS-160 confirmation page, they took 4 out of the 6 passport style pics, they checked my vaccines/immunization records, they asked for my address in Italy, my future address in the US and my e-mail address. Unfortunately after they checked my vaccines records, I was missing the one for influenza (it wasn't available at the time I got my records) and another vaccine that was "incomplete" cause my family doctor gave me a shot for tetanus only back in March (I had the richiamo after 10 years) and forgot the two correlated ones. No problem, but from 220€ I ended up paying 256€ for the medical visit.
4. Chest X-Rays in another room.
5. Doctor consultation: he asked me if I've ever been hospitalized, operated, if I have diabetes, if I smoke, if I take any meds (I do, so I needed to tell him which ones, the dosage and what I was taking them for. It helped that I had a certificate written by my doctor I got before I visited the US in March, with all the meds I take, so it was easier for the doctor to list them all). The doctor's assistant measured my weight and height, she tested my sight and she asked me if I wore glasses or contacts. The doctor examined my breath, he measured my blood pressure, the assistant got my temperature and she gave me the vaccine shots I was missing. They told me they were gonna contact me at the phone number I provided if there were any problems with the results and they told me they'd have sent the results directly to the consulate.
REMEMBER: The next day, once the interview is done, the consular officer will give you a huge envelope with the updated list of vaccines and a cd-rom with the X-Rays. You will need to bring them in your carry-on bag cause they will ask for them at the port of entry.
5th NOVEMBER 2019: US CONSULATE in Naples/INTERVIEW - FINALLY APPROVED!!
My appointment was at 9am but I was in front of the consulate gate by 8am. I had to wait for around 10 minutes and then they let me in.
1. You go through security, so take off your jacket, put everything through the metal detector and they tell you to turn off your phone. They're gonna keep it and they'll give it back once you're done with the interview. They give you a badge with a "V" for "visitor", a number and you exit the room.
2. You enter the consulate building and you go up on second floor. There's gonna be a desk with a photo booth in the back, in case you forgot/lost your pictures or in case they're not in the appropriate size. At the same desk you're gonna be called with your number. They asked for my birth certificate (they took both the one from my birthplace and the one from my city of residence), police records (casellario generale e carichi pendenti), 2 passport style pictures, confirmation page of DS-160, I-134 Affidavit Of Support, bank statement, letter from employer, W2, IRS tax transcript, recent pay stubs, etc. and the two new letters of intent. If you have copies of each document, they're gonna keep them (at the end of the interview they'll give you back copies or originals of some of these documents). They organize everything and they give it to you.
3. Sit, wait and watch some tv or talk to other people. It helps to calm you down! They're gonna call you with the same number from a booth with a glass window and they will talk through a microphone if you can't hear them clearly. You will need to give them all the documents you just collected at the desk, plus your passport. The young woman asked me a few questions about my relationship, how we met, all the places I worked at and what exactly I was doing and some other general questions. This was all in italian. I noticed that she had the original petition we sent in December right in front of her and she checked it briefly. She took fingerprints. Honestly, she was the one who asked all the questions and who looked at old pictures and conversations! And frankly, I didn't appreciate the fact she acted like she wasn't even listening to me cause she kept talking to her coworker, the consular officer from the booth next to her. She asked me why I visited and lived in Canada for one and a half year and I explained it, but once again she kept acting pretty indifferent.
4. Last step: the real interview. They called me again from a different booth and I found myself in front of the consular officer (Ugh! Panic!). He asked me if I preferred to speak Italian or English (I said English) and he made me swear that I was going to provide him with truthful and accurate information. From here on it varies: the guy was very chill, relaxed and he only asked me 3 QUESTIONS! I was indeed very lucky. Some officers ask many more questions, some ask for evidence, some ask for more details, but that's all he asked me:
- Where/how did you learn English?
- How and when did you and your fiancè meet? (Even tho I already answered this question earlier)
- After how long you met, did you guys started dating/considered each other in a relationship?
THAT WAS IT! He said he was gonna approve my visa and he was gonna keep my passport. He took my fingerprints once again, he gave me a pamphlet about domestic violence (that I already had and for some reason he gave me two copies) and he said my passport whould have arrived in the next week or so. He wished me well and he said "Have a nice day and congratulations". Oh, and he said that along with the passport with the visa stamped, I was gonna get in the mail a sealed envelope that I must not open. This will need to be taken too at the port of entry and only officers can open it, so make sure you keep it in your handbag/carry-on.
6th November 2019 - Checked my Visa status at https://ceac.state.gov/GenNIV/Default.aspx - ADMINISTRATIVE PROCESSING.
7th November 2019 - Checked again: ISSUED.
8th November 2019 - Passport with K-1 Visa stamped and the "off limits" envelope in hand, delivered to my house from DHL.
- Smile, always! Even tho you're nervous and dying inside of freight. A positive attitude makes for a good impression to the consular officer and other people assisting you. Talk to other people in the room: you probably already met some of them at the medical visit the day before. It helped me A LOT to keep my nerves under control and to relax. It might help others too!
- Organize your documents from day 1. I bought a huge 200 pages folder and some stickers I used to catalogue each document (and to find them faster). Most interviews don't last more than 2-3 hours (not the actual interview, but the whole process) and most delays are caused by people not having the right documents or that are missing some. Don't make other people wait, be organized and have everything prepared in hand. Some people have to travel to Naples and have planes to get only a few hours later! (Me 😅)
- Arrive on time or even better, earlier. Both at the medical visit, so you're gonna be the first and get out pretty fast and you can enjoy the rest of your day in Naples, and at the interview.
- Don't talk back, be respectful and don't raise your voice if there's something wrong. Officers are willing to help you if there's anything wrong with your case, so be polite and collaborative.
- Don't lie. Needless to say but... lying will only get you in trouble or more troubles. Not only you can risk to be denied at the interview, but you might have troubles travelling and being admitted to the United States at the port of entry again. Honesty always pays back.
Best of luck to all the applicants out there! ❤️❤️