Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tips for a Successful K1 Visa Application by Guy Pearson

Petitioning to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for an immigrant K1 visa can be one of the most challenging situations put on a newly engaged couple.  Filling out all the forms, getting pictures taken and putting together your package is not an easy feat.  It can be stressful, time consuming, and often times leaves a feeling of insecurity about the future.  Ultimately, your love becomes a case number.

One of the great things about legal representation during this process is the definite ease it puts on the relationship.  For those that choose to do this without representation, it is a great test and a rewarding experience if handled properly. Completing the forms together provided a bond that brought my wife and I closer than ever before.  We were a team on a mission.  When asked on question 18 of form I-129F, how you met your fiancée, my wife and I began typing and got completely lost in our story and the amazing direction our lives had taken in the past years.  When asked about our proof of past and ongoing relationship, we poured over past Christmas cards and photos shared to each other. 

However, anxiety can soon settle in as you send off your visa petition folder to the lockbox.  I want to go over a few tips for potential visa petitioners that may help them when filing your initial application or adjusting your status.

Translations

When filing your petition, you will notice that USCIS states the need for certified translations several times throughout your forms.  Specifically, it says this:

“If you submit a document in any language other than English, it must be completely translated.  The translator must certify that the translation is accurate and that he or she is competent to translate.  You must submit the requested foreign language document along with the translation.”

One of the leading causes for individuals receiving a Request for Evidence (RFE) notice is failing to certify the translations on your documents or incorrect formatting of the translation.  For this reason, many applicants and attorneys choose to go with a professional translation company to avoid any issues.  At immiTranslate, we translate and certify birth certificates and marriage licenses from all over the world that require hours of research into proper formatting and translation.

Evidence of Relationship

There is a lot of confusion related to what the USCIS requires for “proof of having met in the past two years and on going relationship” and what that exactly means.  Ultimately, this is your chance to provide USCIS with the evidence they need to process your case.  My advice is to paint the picture.  Provide airline tickets, copies of conversations, and photos of you two together.  My suggestion is to put yellow sticky notes on all of your evidence explaining to USCIS why it is relevant to your case, and what exactly you are showing them.  These do not have to be originals, so keep that in mind when submitting documents.  You will not receive any of these back.  Unfortunately, some couples do not provide enough information, and this is ground for a request for evidence notice.  They will ask you to provide further documents detailing your relationship.

Same Sex Couples

With the recent DOMA ruling, the USCIS is now accepting applications from same sex couples.  However, in your application, and intent to marry form in the I-129F, you need to describe the state in which you intend to marry.  Additionally, you will need to provide a copy of the relevant state's marriage laws permitting people of the same gender to legally marry.  These may seem like formalities, but having your case delayed by months due to further request for evidence can be stressful and time consuming for you and your spouse.

Save Everything 

You will receive a lot of documents in the mail from the USCIS and it is important you file them away.  When adjusting your status, or going for your interviews, the forms they send you will be required to continue processing your case.  If you have lost a notice of action, you can call USCIS customer service for additional copies to be mailed out to you.

In the end, the United States isn’t going to tell you who to love, but it will certainly do its best to protect its own interest.  By following the guidelines and providing the correct documentation, you will be well on your way to approval of your K1 visa, and on to your adjustment of status.

Guy Pearson is currently in the United States Air Force and co-founded immiTranslate.com, which provides certified translation services to United States visa applicants and their attorneys.  He and his wife went through the K1 visa process in 2012, and are celebrating one year of marriage in December.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2013/11/tips-for-a-successful-k1-visa-application-by-guy-pearson.html

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