|Consulate Review: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Review Topic: General Review
|Review Date :
||December 29, 2015
|Embassy Review :
||We are K-1 visa, filing the petition in August 2015 and interviewing at U.S. Consulate in HCMC on Dec. 21, 2015. We arrived about 7:20 a.m. and people were already filing in the side door - much sooner than anticipated. Get there early and get ready to go in. I won't spoil the experience for you with a play-by-play of ours, but suffice it to say that it was pretty crazy. Don't carry anything with you (other than documents). Ditch the cell phone and computer - not allowed. Don't worry about what line to get in - immigrant/non-immigrant is all the same.
We went in with A LOT of documents - Skype, cell phone, photos, e-mail records, etc. To some degree, I think all of it is necessary - if nothing else, it helps you familiarize each other with the relationship, families, events, timelines, etc. In other words, don't be caught short. Be organized, not scattered. Separate the records - read this website for great ideas.
My fiancee and I disagreed on how to package the material for presentation at the Consulate window. I had everything sorted and filed and placed into plastic sleeves inside a binder. Very organized and pretty. After all, I traveled more than 10,000 miles to present the material to the Consulate office - I wanted it protected. My fiancee wanted me to remove everything from the plastic sleeves and bundle the material into A)Material leading up to - and including - our first meeting; B)Post-meeting continual support documents (Skype logs, etc.); C) Financials; and D)Her Vietnam material (household registration, police check, etc.). Turns out, her idea was a good one. The first person you encounter at the window literally disassembles the material and reorganizes it for the Consulate Officer. My plastic sleeves and fancy organization slowed the process down. Efficiency wins the day - make sure the Vietnamese applicant/beneficiary can access and explain the records. The American petitioner isn't always allowed to help.
After our package was handed over, we waited for the interview. This took maybe an hour or two - it seemed an eternity. Don't let the seriousness of the waiting room make you nervous. Just sit and wait, look for your number to appear, and go with the flow.
My fiancee's interview at Window 18 took maybe 5 to 7 minutes. On the Consulate side of the window was an American man and Vietnamese man. She then waved me over to join in on the interview. I stood next to her and was immediately asked a few questions concerning financial information. Mine was complex because I owned a business and am a government employee - the taxes were hard to understand. The Consulate Officer (CO) asked me a few questions about the taxes and then a few about our relationship. The trip to the interview was only the second time I had been with her. Previously we spent a couple of weeks together in August - this was just a few months later. I had previous marriage that ended six years ago, no children. The CO touched on that, but not much. Most of the questioning was to determine the depth of our relationship and what I do for a living. The CO's questions were very fair, to the point, and nice. It was not a bad experience - quite the contrary. My fiancee was smiling, so I knew it was going well. She said the questions were fair and easy. She interviewed in English, as she is fluent.
My fiancee said that the CO looked at our photos. We submitted about 50, including very recent ones with her family. She was asked questions about when we met, how we met, when are we getting married, engagement party plans, where we will be married, etc. The CO indicated it was a close call for him, but he was convinced that we were a couple and deserved a K-1 visa.
Wow! A close call, but obviously the right one. This is what I firmly believe made the difference. Save your hate-mail and explanations - I've already had the conversations. We believe the Consulate experience was a good one. This is what made the difference (in our case, anyway):
1. I showed up for the interview. A lot of Vietnamese women were given blue slips on the day we interviewed. A blue piece of paper means no visa - a white piece of paper is a "yes." They were all alone, unable to get the support they needed from their partner. Our CO had financial questions that only I could explain - and did explain. How? Because I was there. The CO had questions about why I wanted to marry my fiancee and how was I going to include her in my busy life. I answered the questions. How? I was there. If you want to marry a Vietnamese woman, give her your support. If you can't be there, or are trying to save money, maybe you aren't going the distance you should go. Maybe you aren't ready.
2. We received a K-1 four months after filing the 129-F petition. Why so fast? We followed the directions to the exact spirit and letter of the law. Many people ask questions on the VJ forum that indicate a certain level of incompetence to read and follow directions. In short, they aren't ready for the visa process. They are bad for the system and serve only to frustrate the CO's and everyone else. They are doomed and destined for failure.
3. We took the K-1 visa process seriously. I spent weeks assembling documents, filing paperwork, consulting the VJ website and other sources, and generally doing a lot of homework. Between fees, travel, time, and financial support sent abroad, I've spent close to $10,000. But that's just a number - I don't care. This is a commitment, not a weekend chore. This is your wife/husband, best friend, lover, and partner - she/he deserves 100 percent effort. The process is consuming, intense, tiring, and hard. Cutting corners and minimal effort loses.
Go the distance, do your homework before filing, and commit your sweat, money, and time to winning. She/he is worth it. If you work hard, you prevail. We're proof. We had a great case and just squeaked by. But we got it. And now we'll be together in the greatest country on earth - the USA! And if you don't believe that's true, you don't deserve a visa. Or this country.