Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Converting to Islam to “Legally” Divorce in the Philippines

Posted on: April 25th, 2017 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments

The Philippines is the only country other than the Vatican that outlaws divorce. That’s why it’s no surprise that so many of our customers are surprised to find out that their Filipina fiance cannot qualify for a K1 fiance visa and be with them in the United States due to a previous unresolved marriage. While she may be living completely separated from the first husband for many years, under the eyes of the law, she’s still married.

There is one exception that some may think is a viable loophole – “Convert to Islam and be able to legally divorce.” Unfortunately for them, it’s not that simple. According to Presidential Decree No. 1083, there are divorces allowed in very specific circumstances under Shari’a District Court, subject to the provisions of the Rules of Court. But in terms of obtaining a U.S. visa, bear in mind that it’s a U.S. issue, and the consular officer still has the final say.

Most previously married Filipina(o)s find that the only way to be legally free to marry is to secure an annulment. With thousands of dollars, a few years, and a good lawyer, many of them are able to pull it off. However, it is rarely, if ever, a smooth or easy process, and isn’t achieved by all who attempt it.

IR1 Spousal Visa Denied After Sharia Divorce

Redacted version of the actual denial letter. Click to enlarge.

Redacted version of the actual denial letter. Click to enlarge.

In this example, an IR1 spousal visa was denied at the embassy phase for the following given reason:

“Your first marriage was not solemnized under Muslim law or Article 13 of the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines (MPL). Philippine law does not recognize the validity of your Sharia divorce because the Philippine Family Code is the first or sole legal basis of the underlying marriage. This is true even if one party to a civil marriage later converts to Islam. You do not qualify for the IR1 visa category.”

In this case, the embassy didn’t recognize the divorce, because the original marriage was solemnized in the Roman Catholic church, therefore doesn’t qualify as a legitimate Islamic divorce under their criteria.

Results from Congressional Inquiry

Excerpt of the Congressional Inquiry. See full letter here.

Excerpt of the Congressional Inquiry. See full letter here.

Another of our customers was denied for a K1 fiance visa from the Philippines for the same reason. The U.S. sponsor decided to issue a Congressional Inquiry to find out more about why he was denied. The letter he received was very cut and dry:

“The case filed by Mr. on behalf of has been refused and returned to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Ms. ‘s marriage to did not fall within the provisions of the law allowing for Sharia divorce in the Philippines and, as such, their subsequent divorce in cannot be legally recognized. For this reason, Ms. is not free to marry and does not qualify for the fiancee (K1) visa category.”

The conclusion is that if someone marries under traditional (Catholic) law in the Philippines, and then converts to Islam to attempt to divorce their spouse, they will not be eligible for any fiance or spousal visa.

It is best to not attempt this method, as it’s almost certainly a sure way to waste a lot of time and money only to be disappointed and let down in the end.

Guest Post: How I Met Michell (2 of 2)

Posted on: April 6th, 2017 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments

Ned Kelly moved to the Philippines in 2013. While there, he has broken his back, become an expert on tropical bacteria and survived back-to-back weeks of sweating through his t-shirt by 9 AM. Amidst these minor little tragedies, he fell into a relationship with his fiancé, Michell. What follows is the second part of an excerpt from his e-book, Chasing Your Philippine Dream: An Expat’s Guide to the Philippines on how he and Michell met and some of the cultural challenges that ensued.

(Click here to read part one if you already haven’t done so.)

When last left off, Michell and I had finally achieved a semi-stable internet connection and I was doing my best to absorb the in’s and out’s of internet cafes, muffler-challenged motorbikes and the fact that roosters don’t limit their maniacal crowing to just sunrise. As I was trying to absorb this cacophony of incoming information, Michell had then hit me with a rather matter of fact, “Oh, and just so you know, Ned, I’m not a virgin.”
Insert awkward moment of silence here.

“Um, OK,” I finally replied,. “I’m not a virgin, either.”

Michell acknowledged this with a nod whilst the merriment of the university students in the background continued. Brow furrowed, I chewed over what she had said. It was an odd admission. Even odder was the fact that she had confided this to me in our very first video call.

Finally – in what I now recognize as typical Western directness – I asked, “Um, Michell – why did you tell me that?”

Michell – who was then and continues to be not your “typical” Filipina – replied, “I told you that because most women here will tell you that they are virgins even if they are not.”

A bit of a virgin myself in regards to the international chat scene, I asked, “So they lie?”

“Yep.”

“Why?”

Michell didn’t even skip a beat, “To make themselves seem more innocent and pure. It’s a cultural thing.”
Although I had been researching the Philippines for quite some time, this was the first of many “cultural things” that I was to learn about life there.

“Interesting….” I trailed off, thinking that most guys I knew wouldn’t be keen on dating a virgin – having to revisit that super awkward first time wasn’t high on most folk’s priority list. Then again, most of my friends at the time were in their 30’s and 40’s….

After admitting to this apparent lack of virginity, the conversation quickly smoothed out and we chatted about pretty much everything and anything. Much like our texting, the conversation hit an easy flow and we babbled on about our families, favorite books and authors, her university classes, movies and all the like. Interspersed into our video chat was the occasional deafening roar of tricycle taxis with inadequate mufflerage, manic roosters crows and a random Filipino or Filipina peering into Michell’s monitor to check out the pale and pasty “kano” that Michell was chatting with. After about an hour or so, the call came to an end as Michell had to attend class. Following the call – and despite my generally unreliable memory – I clearly recall walking about with a big grin pasted across my mug.

Michell and I video chatted regularly over the next few months. She had even put together a simple bisaya (the “mother tongue” of the Visayas) guide for me and I remember her finding my initial attempts at the local lingo rather hilarious. After time, we started to refer to our chats as “dates” and we would sometimes have dinner/breakfast (12 hour time difference) while we rambled on.

At some point, I admitted to Michell that I “really, really liked her.” Again, this wasn’t something that I was specifically looking for – it was just one of those things that happened. Thankfully, this admission was well met, and she confided that she liked me as well. At that moment – in late winter of 2012, we sort of became boyfriend and girlfriend – yet another hapless couple who have never met engaged in a long distance relationship.

Separated by thousands of miles physically and culturally, relational hiccups soon emerged. Specifically, they seemed to revolve around the following:

My Past Relationships: When Michell asked me about past relationships, I replied honestly and told her that I was still good friends with most of my ex-galpals. This didn’t go over that well with Michell and this became my first experience with heightened Filipino jealousy. Looking back, I would have been better served by brushing it off with a “I’ve had a few but none nearly as sweet and lovely as yourself.”

Her Past Relationships: When Michell talked about her past significant others, I sort of just nodded my head and apparently didn’t ask enough follow up questions. This caused even more annoyance, as I wasn’t showing an appropriate level of jealousy to show how much I liked her – again, a cultural difference between the East and the West.

Where Were You?: Nearly every chat would invariably involve Michell wanting to know where I’ve been and who I’d been with. This inquisitiveness is another jealousy-based cultural thing that resembles nothing more than simple nosiness to the average foreigner.

Tampo: When I said (or did) something Michell didn’t like, she would instantly shut down, giving me Philippine version of ‘silent treatment.” I later learned that this was called tampo and when faced with this, an uyab (boyfriend/girlfriend) was supposed to shower the tampo partner with lambing – affectionate words, small gifts and entreaties for forgiveness. Tampo is a big thing in the Philippines, and it can be really frustrating for foreigners when they first get into relationships here.
Most of the problems Michell and I experienced came as a result of my Filipino cultural ignorance – not understanding the subtle rituals of the “courting” process and saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Sometimes, this is referred to a “hoof in mouth” disease.

Beyond my ignorance of Filipino culture, a lot of these relational hiccups stemmed from Michell seeing other Filipinas getting “played” by foreigners – Western men who promise the world and then arrive in the Philippines, have their fun and flutter off to other women. In the Philippines, players such as these are referred to as “butterflies” or “chickboys.” So, in hindsight, Michell’s over reaction to certain things was based on real-life experiences.

In general, things went fairly well with Michell and I. As I noted, there were some issues along the way, but they were all things that eventually got beyond – and in doing so, I’d like to think that we are both better people for it.
Years later, I couldn’t be happier. Michell and I are engaged and will eventually tie the knot. We were initially planning on a big “blowout” of a wedding but after stressing over the details, Michell suggested that we simply have a civil ceremony through the mayor’s office. That suits me just fine – I have never been one for ceremony and the “big” wedding planning was stressing me out as well.
Michell and I have now known each other for nearly five years. For the past three and half years, we’ve been together, living, working and enjoying our simple life here in the Philippines. Michell makes good money, I make a bit more and every month we save more than we spend. We try to travel when we can, involve ourselves in monthly charity work around the community and do what we can to make each other’s lives better for being in it.

Just so you know, I was very lucky in meeting Michell. As I noted in the previous article, there are many scammers and hustlers on foreign dating sites. On top of that are all the horror stories I have personally witnessed with cheating girlfriends, stolen bank accounts, broken hearts, lost homes and the like. In my experience, though, these instances are the exception not the norm – most of the foreigners living here with their spouses or significant others are very happy.
And don’t forget: You don’t have to live in the Philippines. I know a good number of folks who have brought their better halves back to their home nations on either fiance or spousal visas.

To turn a phrase – “Cuz, once they get a visa, they’re portable.”
😉

This is a guest post by Ned Kelly.

Ned KellyNed Kelly’s ebook, Chasing Your Philippine Dream: An Expat’s Guide to the Philippines is 400+ pages of information for anyone thinking of retiring, working or studying in the Philippines. Covering the good, the bad and the occasional ugly of life in the island republic, the book comes with a 100 percent money back guarantee. Order at the SSL secure Selz site:

Chasing Your Philippine Dream: An Expat’s Guide to the Philippines

Green Card Scams

Posted on: March 27th, 2017 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments
Slum

The majority of people on earth survive on less than $10 a day.

This page addresses why green card scams are so prevalent and how to avoid them. Many First World nationals have a tendency to take their citizenship for granted. That is, we sometimes forget just how fortunate we are to be part of the 8% of the world’s population that was born into a developed “First World” nation. The vast majority of the rest of the world didn’t make out as well with their roll of the biological dice. Nearly six billion people on this planet live on less than 10 US dollars a day. Millions right now are refugees from war, famine and repression. For many people, securing residency and eventual citizenship in a First World nation such as the US, Canada, Australia or the European Union is a dream come true. Whether it be for earnings potential, escaping conflicts, educational opportunities or simply providing for their families back home, millions of people around the world place great value on meeting an American (or other national) and securing lawful permanent residence.

Nearly all First World nations provide ways in which citizens can bring in foreign marriage partners. In the United States, for example, the K1 fiancé visa is used for that explicit purpose: As seen on the reality show “90 Day Fiancé,” the paperwork is processed through US immigration and once approved, the foreign national travels to the United States and has 90 days to get married. Following the marriage ceremony, they are then eligible to apply for permanent legal residency and secure a conditional green card.

Legal residency in a wealthy developed nation is of inestimable worth. And as with all things of value, there are people in the world who twist the process for their own personal gain. One of the more advanced and pernicious hustles are foreigners lining up victims for green card scams. As with other types of relational schemes, the scam usually starts with people “meeting” online and eventually getting into a relationship. From there – and if one isn’t cognizant of the potential warning signs and dangers – it could easily turn into a case of a scammer separating yet another victim from their money and/or happiness.

Types of Green Card Scams

Green card scams typically come in two distinct flavors:

The Short Con

The first hustle involves the scammer “courting” the foreigner while collecting remittance (cash) support as the visa process plays out. With fiancé visas taking up to six months to finalize, the short-con scammer is assured a good amount of steady income – and that’s without even taking the romance/courting time into account. Towards the end of the visa process, the scammer ends all communication and moves on to the next victim. In one instance, the foreign national even went so far as to fake her own death and renew the short-con green card scam time and time again.

The Long Con

The second type of green card hustle involves securing legal residency with a green card and summarily leaving/divorcing the partner that sponsored them. From day one, the foreign national had no intention of staying married to their sponsor. In this instance, the scammer goes through the fiancé visa process, travels to the other nation, gets married and then waits until they can adjust status, get their green card and leave their sponsor – typically for greener pastures. This long con is actually more insidious than the short con – not only are they taking advantage of their spouse’s emotions, but some scammers know they can avoid deportation by filing a waiver claiming that their sponsor abused and/or mistreated them. If you are marrying a foreign fiancé, be aware of the red flags.

Green Card Scam Warning Signs

To avoid becoming the victim of a green card scam, there are patterns of behavior that function as reliable red flags. Although not a definitive list, you might be the potential victim of green card schemes if your fiancé or significant other:

1. Issues endless money requests

If your potential wife or husband is forever having problems making rent, multiple hospitalized family member’s, broken laptops, stolen phones and the like, you should consider this a very obvious warning flag. Although more commonly associated with the short-con scheme, both types of green card scammers are known to employ such appeals.

2. Insists on moving to and living in your home nation

The goal of most green card scammers is to get a “better” life for themselves and this usually means getting to the United States or other First World nation. If your potential mate insists on you not living in his or her home country, there might be an issue.

3. Comes from an impoverished family

The heartless grind of day-to-day poverty provides great incentive to secure financial means and/or permanently remove yourself from that state. Although exact figures are not available, green card scamming is more likely to come from poorer residents of less affluent nations such as Haiti, Nigeria, Ghana, some parts of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and other areas.

4. Doesn’t want to get married in their own country in front of family and friends

If your significant other refuses to get married in their home country in front of family and/or friends, this could be another indication of green card scamming.

5. Massive age differences/attraction levels.

Whether you are male or female, if the foreign national is much younger and much better looking than you are, there’s a good chance it could be a green card scam.

6. Doesn’t want children

Foreigners conducting long-con scams will typically not want to have children. Knowing they are going to leave their sponsor once their green card arrives, they see no need to create lasting legacies with someone they probably don’t even like. Plus, their next partner probably could do without someone else’s kids…

7. Possesses extensive knowledge about the immigration process

If your prospective partner comes across as an authority on your home country’s immigration system, you might want to take your pies out of the proverbial oven. Examples include seemingly innocuous references to USCIS Notice of Actions, I-485 forms and affidavits of support.

8. Possesses multiple social media sites under slightly different names

Utilizing multiple accounts (or profiles) on social media sites that he or she doesn’t tell you about is yet another warning sign that you are possibly being hustled. The same concern applies to a partner having more than one cell phone.

9. Does not talk about family or friends.

People in loving relationships talk about their families and friends quite a bit. Heck, they even tend to introduce them to each other and spend time doing things. If your potential foreign wife or husband does not talk about or avoids these topics, it could be a green card scam.

10. “I love you and want to marry you!!”

Both the long and short-con green card scammers are in a headlong rush to the “I love you” stage. This is an important step in the scammer’s mind as it “sets the hook” and makes it more of an “exclusive” relationship. Soon thereafter, they will be hinting at or talking about marriage. If things are going too fast, you’re best advised to tap (or slam) the brakes.

Your Best Protection Against Scammers

Finally, it is extremely important to be listening to your friends and family. Once you enter into a relationship and succumb to the vagaries of love, your ability to think clearly is severely impaired. The most valuable tool you have when it comes to avoiding green card scams is listening to the people that love you. Although you might not want to hear it (the truth hurts), your friends and family will most likely offer you their opinions of what they think of the relationship. Listen to them. If they are saying that your partner treats you poorly or doesn’t really seem to care, take their input seriously. Even if you disagree, spend some time thinking over their reservations. They are not in the relationship and can see things much more objectively than you can.

Guest Post: How I Met Michell (1 of 2)

Posted on: March 15th, 2017 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments

Ned Kelly has lived in the Philippines for three and a half years. While there, he co-authored a book on living in the Philippines for those thinking of retiring, working or studying in that distant archipelago. Here’s an excerpt on how he met his fiancé, Michell.

Five years ago, I suddenly decided that I was going to move to the Philippines. I was pretty free at the time and didn’t have any real commitments – after living and thriving for 45 years in the good old US of A, I had never been married, never had children, was a bit burnt out on my career path and was looking for a change. And not some pedestrian midlife crisis sports car type of change– something really significant. Something like moving outside of the United States and my usual comfort zone. Towards that end, I had been researching inexpensive foreign countries to move to. No matter what site I visited, the Philippines was invariably mentioned. Photos from Google painted the country as a sun-swept, tropical paradise full of white sand beaches and gently swaying palm trees. Peering outside my window at yet another crippling winterscape of towering snowbanks dwarfing passing cars, that sunny tropical weather held more than a little appeal.

So, being the studious internet geek I was (and am), I joined a Philippines expatriate forum and learned all I could. Most of the guys there (the vast majority were male) were married to and/or had Filipina significant others. Along the way, one of the forum members recommended joining one of the may free dating websites in order to meet someone. Although I wasn’t really interested in a relationship, I was keen to learn more about the Philippines, so I took up that advice and ended up the free Date in Asia website. And for those of you in the know, yes, I am referring to that Date in Asia – the nefarious hangout of underhanded Filipina scammers with no shortage of sick grandmothers and pretty gals with prominent Adam’s apples and suspiciously large hands.

Not knowing this at the time and eager to talk to a bonafide Filipina, I set my account up and hopped headlong into the vicious foray that is just about any online dating site. Shortly thereafter, I was chatting with two women, both of whom seemed to be genuinely nice souls. One was a business manager in Manila and the other was studying for her nursing exam after completing university. It was all platonic, and it was all very nice – I let them know that I was just looking to learn more about the Philippines and wasn’t really looking for any in-depth relationship. For their part, they were apparently fine with that.

And then I ran into Michell’s profile, and all those reservations flew right out the proverbial window.
First off, her photo was amazing. Michell is a very attractive woman, and she has yet to meet a camera yet that doesn’t clearly adore her. Secondly, unlike many others on Date in Asia, she had actually taken the time to write a very nicely worded profile, talking about her love of reading, travel and a very real appreciation of the great outdoors (known locally as “the jungle”). Finally, even though she was 26 at the time (I was 45) she was a college graduate (business finance) and seemed very down to earth. Being possessed of such a nice profile, I sent her a rather lame private message “Hey, I really like your profile. Don’t get married until I get there!!”

Michell’s response was lukewarm at best. Neither of us can remember her exact words (and our DiA accounts have been deleted), but it was something along the lines of “Thanks for the message. I am actually heading to my family’s home in the province (country). There is no internet signal there, so I will talk with you when I return.”
Sigh…. So much for my expectations of immediate gratification.

Michell visited her family home in the country for four or five days and – true to her word – replied to me when she got back. This made for a very happy me. After messaging back and forth on Date in Asia, we switched over to Yahoo Messenger. Yahoo was great as we could simply chat back and forth as we pleased. Then came the day for our first Skype video call and my initial introduction to Philippines internet.

Now, keep in mind that Michell was living in Pagadian at the time, a small city located on the southern edge of Mindanao. Renowned for redolent dried fish, the city’s internet stability couldn’t claim the same amount of fame.

Skype ring….Skype ring……Skype ring….

Click-boop.

A fuzzy indistinct blob formed on my monitor, “Hello?”

“Hello, Michell!” I blurted, whacking the edge of my monitor and wiggling the cable, all to no avail.

“Blurble wazzle are you?

“Am I what?” I asked, a bit baffled.

The blob shifted about the screen. Given the fuzzy black strands topping the blurry mess, I figured it for Michell.

“No,” she clarified, “I asked how you are?”

“Oh, I am fine. How are you?”

“Buzzle crapple bling bop shoosh”

Oh, this wasn’t going well at all.

“Michell, it is a bad connection. Let’s hang up and try again.”

My fantastic future fiancé garbled a reply and hung up. After a few moments, we reconnected. This time, the signal was much improved and her image filled my screen.

“Hi!” she chirped, blasting me with a fierce Filipina smile.

“Hi yourself, Michell,” I replied, staring into the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. “How are you?”

“Oh, I’m…..” Her response was drowned out by what sounded like a 747 passing overhead.

“Jiminy Cricket. What was that??”

“I said I was fine, how are you?”

“No, I was asking what that noise was.”

A gentle roll of the shoulders, “Oh, it’s just a tricycle. They have loud exhausts.”

Michell was Skyping from a small internet café owned by her family. Her computer station was set up amidst a sea of young Filipinos engaged in raucous horseplay. Added to this cacophony of background chatter was the intermittent roar of those mysterious passing trikes.

“Sheesh, it’s really loud over there.”

Another blazing smile, “It’s always loud here. My family runs a boarding house for local university students. There’s an internet café in our compound and it’s always filled up. That’s where I am right now.”

“Oh,” I replied, not seeing any baristas running around with mugs of steaming coffee. “What’s an internet café.”
I can remember Michell giving me an odd look, as though trying to fathom my ignorance – five years on, it’s a look I’ve simply had to get used to.

“Internet cafes are where people go to rent computer time. A lot of Filipinos can’t afford their own, so there are internet cafes all over the place.”

“They don’t serve coffee?”

Roll of the eyes, “No, Ned. They don’t serve coffee.”

Already trying to absorb this cultural oddity, I discerned a familiar sound.

“Is that a rooster?” I asked.

Michell looked off to her left, “Yep. That’s a rooster.”

“But it’s like 3 o’clock in the afternoon there. I thought they only crowed at sunrise.”

A slight rise of the eyebrows, “No, Ned. Roosters crow all the time. They like showing off.”

The rooster stepped up his local battle cry. I wanted to ask if the rooster was actually in the internet cafe but didn’t want to come across as rude.

This was all a bit much for my city dwelling self.

And then, just when I thought things couldn’t get any stranger, she hit me with something even more unexpected.

“Oh,” she said, those big brown eyes staring out from my monitor with great gravitas. “And just so you know, Ned – just so there’s no misunderstandings. I’m not a virgin.”

Whoa.

Talk about icebreakers…..

OK, that’s the end of part one on how I met Michell. Stay tuned for the next installment in which we explore why she was so quick to declare her virginity status, unique cultural challenges, the uncertainty of long distance relationships and where we’re at five years later.

This is a guest post by Ned Kelly.

Ned KellyNed Kelly’s ebook, Chasing Your Philippine Dream: An Expat’s Guide to the Philippines is 400+ pages of information for anyone thinking of retiring, working or studying in the Philippines. Covering the good, the bad and the occasional ugly of life in the island republic, the book comes with a 100 percent money back guarantee.
Order at the SSL secure Selz site:

Chasing Your Philippine Dream: An Expat’s Guide to the Philippines

Income Requirements for Fiancé (K1) and Spousal (CR1) Visas

Posted on: February 27th, 2017 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments

cost of the k1 process can be highWhether you are looking to sponsor a fiance (K1) or spousal visa (CR1), keep in mind that specific visa income requirements are required by the USCIS. These financial requisites are in place to ensure that the sponsored foreign national does not become a “public charge” – that is, to make sure that they are not financially abandoned and left to the welfare of the state and/or federal government.

Sponsor income requirements are based on the latest federal poverty guidelines published by the US Department of Health and Human Services.  For K-1 fiance visas, the sponsor’s income must be at least 100% of that guideline; for CR1 spousal visas, that requirement increases to 125%. Keep in mind that  in addition to what type of visa you are applying for the state you live in and the number of dependents in your household also contribute to specific amount required.

RapidVisa offers a free Income Requirement Calculator to help you determine if you meet the monetary requirements. We’ve also compiled the most recent tables (current as of 2017) which you can find at the bottom of this article.

Stable, US-Based Income

The USCIS mandates that declared income must be both US-based and stable:
US Income: The reported income must be US-based, with some exceptions being made for military or government personnel based overseas. Proof of income is presented through the last three years US tax returns (gross income), pay stubs displaying “year to date” summaries and a letter from the current employer noting position, date of employment and annual salary rate.

Stable Income:  “Stability” plays a major role in the USCIS decision process. Income derived from active employment, Veteran Administration benefits, retirement pensions and Social Security are all stable forms of income, but income gained from unemployment is not. If the sponsor’s income is determined to not be “stable” by the USCIS, there is a good chance that the visa request will be denied.

Utilizing Assets

House

Do you have a paid-off house? It may qualify as an asset.

For spousal visas or those seeking to adjust status (green card), cash or assets which are readily liquidated can be applied towards the income requirement. Typically, the assets must be worth at least three times the amount required from the poverty guideline. That is, if you are required to earn $30,000 per year, you may be able to utilize $90,000 in assets to meet that criteria. Cash, certificates of deposit, stocks, mutual funds, life insurance policies and home ownership/equity are all examples of readily liquidated assets.

Specific Challenges

Self Employed

Sponsors who work for themselves face additional income requirements. Since they are not on a “traditional” career path (and usually can’t get a letter from their employer), those who are self employed must show bank account records going back at least six months and copies of their IRS 1099 forms. This is on top of the requirements for conventionally employed sponsors to provide US tax returns. For those with their own businesses, a commercial rating concern report from Dun and Bradstreet can also be utilized.

Expatriates and Domicile

Another challenge at this stage of the visa process also faces American sponsors who have lived outside of the US for an extended period of time. For those who are self-employed (common among this demographic), the US tax returns and bank account forms noted previously are still required as is proof of residency (domicile) in the United States. Best practice in this case is to have the sponsor return to the US and establish a residence. Proving domicile can be tricky, as according to US law, the sponsor must possess a primary address in the United States and show that they intend to permanently maintain it.

Income Requirements for Fiance (K1) and Spousal (CR1) Visas

As noted previously, the annual gross income of K-1 fiance visa sponsors must be equal to or greater than 100% of the federal poverty guideline. For individuals seeking to secure CR1 spousal visas or adjust their status to lawful permanent residency (green card), that threshold increases to 125%.  Also note that living in Hawaii or Alaska increases the threshold over and above those required for sponsors in the contiguous 48 states.

Contiguous US

(including Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam and Mariana Islands)

Household Size

K1 Fiancé Visa

CR1 Spousal Visa or Adjustment of Status

2 $16,240 $20,300
3 $20,420 $25,525
4 $24,600 $30,750
5 $28,780 $35,975
6 $32,960 $41,200
7 $37,140 $46,425
8 $41,320 $51,650
Per Additional +$4,180 +$5,225

Alaska Residents

Household Size

K1 Fiancé Visa

CR1 Spousal Visa or Adjustment of Status

2 $20,290 $25,362
3 $25,520 $31,900
4 $30,750 $38,437
5 $35,980 $44,975
6 $41,210 $51,512
7 $46,440 $58,050
8 $51,670 $64,587
Per Additional +$5,230 +$6,537

Hawaii Residents

Household Size

K1 Fiancé Visa

CR1 Spousal Visa or Adjustment of Status

2 $18,670 $23,337
3 $23,480 $29,350
4 $28,290 $35,362
5 $33,100 $41,375
6 $37,910 $47,387
7 $42,720 $53,400
8 $47,530 $59,412
Per Additional +$4,810 +$6,012

All About Trump’s Travel Ban Executive Order

Posted on: February 7th, 2017 by RapidVisa Staff 7 Comments

This post is regarding President Trump’s January 27, 2017 Executive Order: “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry in the United States

In order to proactively address inquiries regarding President Trump’s travel ban, RapidVisa offers the following:

                                             What It Is

The travel ban bars entry to the United States for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim nations. The executive order also places a 120 day moratorium on refugee resettlement programs.

Who it Affects

Foreign nationals from Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, and Iran who do not have lawful permanent resident status are banned from entering the United States.

Why It Was Implemented

The White House contends that the travel ban was initiated to increase national security and promote the safety of American citizens. Legal opponents to the travel ban refute this by declaring that the executive order is a ban against Muslims, which violates the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution.

Is the Executive Order a Travel Ban?

Yes. Affected individuals from those seven nations are not allowed to travel to the US for that stipulated 90 day period.

Is the executive order a “Muslim ban?”

This question is central to a federal judge’s recent suspension of the travel ban. The White House states that the travel ban is not specifically targeted towards Muslims. Numerous state Attorneys General have challenged this claim by noting that President Trump has previously stated that extreme measures were needed to keep Muslims out of the United States. The question of the order’s intent will therefore determine whether or not the travel ban will resume.

Travel Ban Timeline

January 27:

President Donald Trump issues an executive order temporarily banning citizens from Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, and Iran. The ban will extend for 90 days and also halts refugee resettlement programs to the US for 120 days.

January 29:

Following nationwide confusion as to how various government agencies are to implement the ban – and the “provisional revocation” of approximately 60,000 travel visas – the White House stated that the immigration decree does not apply to foreign citizens that already possess legal permanent residency in the United States.

January 30:

The Attorney General of Washington state –followed shortly by Minnesota and eventually fourteen other states – files suit against the executive order. The request that the travel ban be suspended is followed by dozens of other lawsuits from a variety of national agencies. A limited number of courts start temporarily suspending various parts of President Trump’s executive order.

February 3:

A US District Judge responds to the Attorneys General suit, temporality suspending enforcement of the executive order. The federal judge ordering the suspension states that further judicial evaluation is necessary. Responding to the judge’s order, the government informs the airlines that travelers from the seven banned nations are once again allowed entry to the United States. The State Department summarily reverses cancellation of the 60,000 travel visas halted by the initial executive order.

February 4:

The Department of Justice files against the suspension of the travel ban, stating that it will appeal the federal judge’s order.

February 5:

The federal court denies the Department of Justice request, citing the need for further judicial review.

February 6:

The federal court decrees that documentary filings from all concerned parties is due by the end of the work day.

February 7:

Testimony from both sides is scheduled at the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Oral arguments from the Justice Department and the involved state Attorneys General will be heard at 3 PM.

What’s Next

A protracted series of suits and countersuits is expected from both the White House and involved Attorneys General. If the ban suspension order is upheld, the President could ask the Supreme Court to intervene. If the ban suspension is lifted, citizens of those seven nations would again be barred entry to the United States.

Our Recommendation

Foreign nationals from the seven targeted nations already in the United States are advised not to leave the country until the legalities on the matter are concluded. Foreign citizens abroad who might be affected by the resumption of the travel ban are advised to return to the US as soon as possible.

We will continue to update this page as developments continue

USCIS Fee Increases Coming

Posted on: October 27th, 2016 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments

Today, the USCIS announced the specific fee increases that are coming in December. The last time these fees increased was in 2010, so it’s been a long time coming. The new increased fees will take effect on December 23, 2016. Any forms they receive that are postmarked on or before that day will be charged the old fees.

Fees that will affect RapidVisa’s customers

USCIS Fee Increase: Infographic

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What does this mean for RapidVisa’s customers?

Unfortunately, we have no control over the government’s fees and these fees are increasing for everyone, including non-RapidVisa customers. The good news is, you still have time to file under the old fees. RapidVisa will only accept old fees with petitions that are received in our office no later than November 30,2016.

Please check your signed RapidVisa agreement and note the excerpt:

I understand that the government occasionally increases its filing fees and that I am responsible to pay the increased amount if government fees increase after I have already paid RapidVisa but before my documents are filed with the government.

If you have any questions, give us a call. If you’re ready to lock in your prices, go here to check out and file your petition.

Divorce & Annulment Basics by Country

Posted on: April 6th, 2016 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments

If you are applying for a K1 visa or CR1 visa, you will need to prove that any of the petitioner’s and alien’s previous marriages have been legally terminated through annulment or divorce. All documents must be certified by the appropriate civil authorities.

Visa Memoirs Podcast #8 (3-31-16) Noelle & Ibrar

Posted on: March 31st, 2016 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments

Originally from Pakistan, Ibrar was working in IT in Dubai. Noelle was working in government contracts and met Ibrar online. Noelle and her child traveled to Dubai during Christmas time and were culture shocked to see some Europeans riding camels in a Speedo. After spending quite a bit of time together, they decided to get hitched and start a life together in Texas. Listen to their story and their advice to couples going through the same process.

Visa Type: K1 Visa

Country: Pakistan

Would you like to be on the podcast? Please go here!

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Some of the music used in this episode is used under a Creative Commons license. Attribution to CC songs used:

J.Lang / CC BY 3.0

Visa Memoirs Podcast #7 (3-24-16) James & Aprilyn

Posted on: March 24th, 2016 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments

James puts other guys to shame with his efforts to win over Aprilyn. Aprilyn came to Mississippi to settle with James on a K1 visa.

Visa Type: K1 Visa

Country: Philippines

Would you like to be on the podcast? Please go here!

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Music Credits : Mr. Wozzie by Robbero (c) 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

spinningmerkaba / CC BY 3.0

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