Fiancee Visa Blog
January 23, 2013
Fiancee Visas and the Recession
In the last couple of years I have observed a very strange phenomenon in the
fiance visa business: Many foreign fiances do not actually want to move to the
These fiances have read newspapers and magazines that describe the economic
recession and high unemployment in the U.S. since 2008. They think that
Americans are now poor and have a low standard of living. Many potential fiance
visa petitioners tell me that their fiancees are very worried about coming to
the U.S. due to the poor economy here. One client, who is a senior corporate
executive, told me that his fiancee thought he might live in a cardboard box. He
showed her photos of his house but she was not totally convinced that he was
The United States is a very wealthy and stable industrialized country. The
standard of living here is among the highest in the world. I advise my clients
who have a reluctant fiancee to educate her about the United States. The U.S. is
a wonderful country full of natural beauty and economic opportunity. Do not let
your fiancee’s unfounded fears about the U.S. get in the way of your life
J Visa Foreign Residency Requirement
The article today is about the J visa foreign residency requirement because
some of my fiance visa cases involve Americans who become engaged to foreigners
living in the U.S. on a J visa.
The J visa is known as a cultural exchange visa because its purpose is enable
foreigners to live and work in the U.S. for the purpose of learning about
America. It is hoped that J visa holders will return to their home countries to
tell their countrymen positive things about the U.S.
To further the goal of cultural exchange the J visa holder is required to
return to their home country for at least 2 years at the termination of the J
visa. In other words, J visa holders must live in their home country for at
least two years before being eligible to obtain any form of immigrant or
non-immigrant visa to live in the U.S.
It is, however, possible to obtain a waiver of the J visa foreign residency
requirement. A J visa waiver is required to obtain a fiancee visa for your J
visa holder foreign fiancee. My next post will cover the J visa waiver.
November 12, 2012
When You Really Need a Lawyer
I got a call this past Friday from a potential client with a truly
distressing case. He had filed the case himself and been denied. Worse yet the
embassy was alleging that his fiancee had lied about her date of birth and/or
identity. The embassy was requesting that the USCIS decide whether the foreign
fiancee was permanently excludable from the U.S.
I felt bad for this potential client because I believed that if I had
represented him from the start the fiancee visa would have been approved. The
problem in his case seems to have occurred due to a misunderstanding regarding
his fiancee’s birth certificate. A good immigration lawyer would have been able
to explain the situation in a manner that satisfied the embassy. I and other
experienced immigration lawyers know how to resolve problems at the consular
level. The consular processing stage of the fiancee visa is actually trickier
than the USCIS petition.
November 11, 2012
The Presidential Election and Fiancee Visa Cases
Once again immigration law is in the news. Both parties want to overhaul the
immigration laws and deal with the millions of illegal immigrants living in the
U.S. Over the 11 years in which I have been practicing law I have seen several
attempts to reform immigration law. Not one of these attempts has resulted in
any significant changes.
Congress is divided and deadlocked and unable to address policy overhauls. I
don’t believe that the immigration law will be changed. In any event the
Congress is only really focusing on dealing with illegal immigrants. There is no
discussion of changing the laws regarding fiancee visas. The procedures and wait
times for obtaining a fiancee visa are not going to change.
As always I highly recommend that anyone with a foreign fiancee hire an
experienced fiancee visa lawyer to represent them. I continue to receive calls
from people who handled their fiancee visa case themselves and have been denied.
It is more difficult to deal with a denied case then it is to deal with a case
correctly from the start. Many consulates are tightening the rules and
procedures for visa issuance.
Transmission of American Citizenship to a Child Born Abroad
A child born abroad to at least one United States citizen parent is entitled
to American citizenship under the following circumstances:
1. Children born to two American citizens (married or unmarried): The
child is a U.S. citizen if at least one parent has resided in the United States
at some time in his or her life. The parent could have been in the United States
for as little as one day.
2. Children born to an American citizen married to a non-American
citizen: The child is a U.S. citizen if his/her U.S. citizen parent was
physically present in the United States for at least five years before his/her
birth. Two of the five years must have been after the U.S. citizen parent's 14th
3. Children born to an unmarried American citizen father and a non-citizen
mother: The child may qualify for citizenship if the father was present in
the United States before the child's birth for at least five years, including
two years after the age of 14. In addition, before the child's 18th birthday,
the father must execute form DS 5507 to legitimate the child.
4. Children born to an unmarried American citizen mother and a non-citizen
father: The child is a U.S. citizen if the mother was physically present in
the United States for at least 365 continuous days before the child was
American Citizenship is a precious asset. I encourage all American citizens
who are parents of a child born abroad to contact me to discuss obtaining a
"Certificate of Birth Abroad of an American citizen" for your child.
August 3, 2012
Country Specific Consular Tips
There are some countries in which the consular interviewer is very interested
in whether the fiancé visa petitioner and beneficiary have fulfilled certain
For example in Cambodia the consulate is very interested in whether the
petitioner and beneficiary have had a large engagement party in Cambodia with
lots of family and friends in attendance. In Cambodia a large engagement party
is customary and not having one can lead to denial of the fiancee visa on the
grounds that the relationship is found to be not legitimate.
The beneficiary needs to bring ample photographic evidence of the engagement
party to the interview. A lawyer who is not experienced in dealing with the
American embassy in Cambodia will not be able ensure success for her
Cambodia is just example of where a lawyer needs to have experience to ensure
success. When evaluating lawyers you need to be sure to hire a lawyer with
experience in dealing with fiancee’s from your fiancee’s country.
August 1, 2012
Approved Petition for Client Convicted of a Felony
I just obtained USCIS approval in interesting and difficult case in which the
American petitioner was in jail for Felony Robbery.
One of the greatest practical difficulties in the case were the prison rules.
For example the USCIS requires passport size photos of the petitioner, but the
prison did not want to allow my client to get these photos taken. Additionally
it was difficult for me and the foreign fiancee to communicate with the
petitioner due to the prison rules.
Nonetheless I was persistent in working on the case and to everyone's delight
the case was approved and I look forward to seeing my clients get married. I
took this particularly difficult case because I could see that the petitioner
and beneficiary were very much in love.
Qualifying for The Fiancee Visa (I-129F) vs. the Marriage Visa
To qualify for a fiancee visa you must meet the following conditions:
1. You must be an American citizen;
2. You must be free to marry your fiancee (single, widowed or divorced) at the time of filing;
3. You must have met your fiancee within the 2 year period immediately preceding the date of filing of the I-129F petition.
To qualify for a marriage visa you must meet the following
1. You must be an American citizen;
2. You must be legally married to your foreign wife. Furthermore you must
have had a typical in-person marriage ceremony or a qualifying proxy marriage
ceremony. Please see my earlier blog entry about proxy marriage for more
Benefits of The Fiancee Visa (I-129F) vs. the Marriage Visa
The primary benefits of the fiancee visa vs. the marriage
visa are as follows:
1. The fiance visa process is both much
faster and much easier;
2. With the fiance visa the American petitioner does not
need to make as much of a commitment to his foreign fiance. The American fiancee
visa petitioner does not need to marry his fiance prior to filing paperwork to
bring her to the U.S. After your foreign fiancee enters the U.S. you have 90
days to get married. If you decide not to get married your foreign fiancee can simply return
to her home country.
The major drawback of the fiancee visa is that after you marry your fiance in
the U.S. she will need to file additional USCIS paperwork to change her status
to permanent residency.
The K-2 (Dependant Child) Visa
The K-2 visa is the appropriate visa for your foreign fiancee's
child or children. It allows the dependant child to enter the U.S.
with his mother (your fiancee).
To obtain a K-2 visa it is necessary to list the dependant child
in question 13 on the I-129f. The child does not need his own USCIS
paperwork. Once the I-129f petition is approved by the USCIS the
dependant child will need to file his own consular paperwork with
the American embassy in his home country. This K-2 paperwork is
typically filed along with your fiancee's consular paperwork. I work
with my clients to prepare the K-1 and K-2 consular paperwork.
It is much easier to bring the dependant child to the U.S. with a
K-2 visa than to file an immediate relative petition at a later
The Importance of following the Immigration Laws
Potential fiancee visa clients will frequently complain to me
about the time and trouble involved in obtaining a fiancee visa.
These complaints will often include references to all the illegal
aliens currently living in the U.S. Sometimes people will ask me
whether it is a good idea to simply smuggle their fiancee into the
U.S. from Mexico.
It is a terrible idea to do anything other than petition for a
fiancee visa. First, it is becoming ever more dangerous and
difficult to live in the U.S. as an illegal alien. Some states are
trying to criminalize unlawful presence in the U.S. and e-verify is
making it very difficult for illegal aliens to find work.
The people who are currently living in the U.S. illegally do not
generally have any path toward obtaining legal status. I personally
have dealt with many illegal aliens who desperately wanted to obtain
legal status. Unfortunately it is just not possible usually. In
other words most illegal immigrants would obtain legal status if
Your foreign fiancee on the other hand has a very well defined
path to legal status: the fiancee visa. This visa enables your
fiancee to enter the U.S. legally and ultimately obtain permanent
legal status here. The fiancee visa is not really that difficult to
obtain with the help of a good lawyer. Following the law is the best
path for you and your fiancee.
Proxy Marriages and the Marriage Visa
Military servicemen who want to marry their fiancee abroad are
often unable to get to their fiancee's country to have a typical in
person marriage ceremony. In such cases the American serviceman can
do a proxy marriage under certain conditions.
The USCIS only recognizes proxy marriages if the American
petitioner and his wife can prove that they have consummated the
marriage (had sex) after the date of the marriage. In practice this
means that the American needs to visit his wife in her home country
at some point after the marriage to consummate the marriage. To
prove that the marriage was consummated the American needs to
provide the USCIS with proof of the trip and an affidavit attesting
to the fact that the marriage has been consummated.
I have successful experience in dealing with proxy marriage
immigration cases. In fact, I just received an approval in one proxy
marriage case and just filed another such case. If you are
considering having a proxy marriage to your foreign fiancee please
call me to discuss the best way to proceed.
The Difference Between a Visa Service and a Lawyer
A lawyer is a skilled professional who has devoted many years
to obtaining their education and passing a state bar exam. A visa
service is a random person who generally has no legal qualifications
and limited experience.
Lawyers are regulated by the state and must conform to a high
standard of competence, ethics and professionalism. The people who
run visa services are not regulated by anyone and actually are not
even permitted to represent clients in front of the USCIS. Visa
services operate on the fringes of the law. Visa services are only
allowed, under the law, to fill out forms. They are not allowed to
give legal advice and as noted above they cannot deal with
the USCIS on your behalf if there is a problem in your case.
If your choice is between hiring a visa service and doing the
case yourself I highly recommend you do the case yourself. The best
choice, however is to hire a skilled and experienced fiancee visa
lawyer who can expertly represent you before the USCIS and the
embassy in your fiancee's country. Only an experienced immigration
lawyer will be able to anticipate and solve problems that come up in
your fiancee visa case.
July 02, 2012
The Fiancee Visa Affidavit of Support
As part of the fiancee visa process the American petitioner must
execute an affidavit of support (form I-134) promising to support
the fiancee visa beneficiary once she enters the United States. To
successfully execute an affidavit of support the petitioner must
establish that he has sufficient ongoing income. The 2012 income
guidelines are as follows:
Sponsors Household Size
Income Requirements (125% of Poverty
For American fiancee visa petitioners who are employed the
process of submitting the I-134 is very simple: They simply need to
provide a tax return, a W-2 and a letter from their employer
confirming their salary or wages and terms of employment.
For self employed fiancee visa petitioners the I-134 can loom as
a major hurdle because self employed individuals sometimes have
trouble documenting their income. First of all self employed
individuals naturally take every deduction available to them which
has the effect of making their taxable income artificially low.
Second self employed fiancee visa petitioners do not have a W-2.
To establish their income for I-134 affidavit of support purposes
the self employed petitioner must provide the following
A. Tax return
B. Quarterly tax filing
C. Profit and loss statement
D. Bank Statements and/or a letter from an officer of their bank
confirming their record of deposits
I have never had a problem documenting my self employed client's
income. The key is to provide ample evidence of the ongoing income.
In cases where the self employed fiancee visa petitioner cannot
document sufficient income I have successfully used evidence of his
assets to satisfy the affidavit of support.
To discuss your fiancee visa case with me please call my office
Copyright Â© 1999-2002 by Deborah A. Weber. All rights reserved.