Archive for the ‘K-1 Fiance Visa’ 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.

Green Card Scams

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

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

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

Visa Memoirs Podcast #6 (3-17-16) Larry & Susana

Posted on: March 17th, 2016 by RapidVisa Staff 1 Comment

Larry and Susana met online and fell quickly in love. After Larry’s visits to Colombia, they decided to marry in the USA and used RapidVisa to petition for a K1 visa. They now are married and reside together in Pittsburgh.

Visa Type: K1 Visa

Country: Colombia

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

Larry & Susan

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

spinningmerkaba / CC BY 3.0

Visa Memoirs Podcast #5 (3-10-16) José & Holly

Posted on: March 10th, 2016 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments

José was a casanova who enjoyed Bachata dancing as an instructor at Punta Cana. Holly was a Chicago teacher on a Spring Break trip with her friends. Listen to their story of meeting, falling in unexpected love, and joining each other in the U.S. with the use of a K1 fiance visa.

Visa Type: K1 Visa

Country: Dominican Republic

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:

Alex / CC BY 3.0
Jeris / CC BY 3.0
djolliej / CC BY 3.0
stefsax / CC BY 2.5
spinningmerkaba / CC BY 3.0

Visa Memoirs Podcast #4 (3-3-16) Dustin & Michelle

Posted on: March 3rd, 2016 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments

Singer and winner of the 2010 “Gensan Pop Idol”, a popular competition in General Santos, Philippines, Michelle Malabarbas met Dustin online while professionally singing in China. They quickly fell in love and filed for a K1 visa to be united in California.

Visa Type: K1 Visa

Country: Philippines

Would you like to be on the podcast? Please go here!
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Bringing a Fiance or Spouse to the USA [Infographic]

Posted on: November 19th, 2015 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments

We’ve designed this helpful infographic which is a flow chart depicting the path to citizenship available to fiances and spouses of US citizens and lawful permanent residents. We hope it’s helpful in simplifying the overall big picture of what you can expect.

Bringing a Fiance or Spouse to the USA

Announcing RapidVisa Payment Plans

Posted on: September 23rd, 2015 by RapidVisa Staff 2 Comments

Over the years our customers have, through feedback, helped us improve and build upon the services we offer. This one comes after countless requests from customers having a hard time gathering up the fees to begin the process of their visa. We’re pleased to announce we now offer a payment plan for the K1 visa, CR1 visa, IR5 visa and K3 visa.

A true payment plan, not layaway.

To our knowledge, none of our competitors offer anything like this. A few of them claim to have payment plans, but they are just on the service fees, not the USCIS fee. Also, they don’t allow you to file until the entire thing is paid off. That’s layaway.

Our plan includes everything you need to file your case, including the USCIS filing fee, and you can start the process after just one payment, including submitting your physical petition to us for manual review and assembly. We will actually send it off to the USCIS with the USCIS government fee after just the second payment.

No credit check, no interest, no bull.

How are we able to offer this? We have a lot of personal information on our customers, and the risk for someone going through this process to be a straight up theif is low. The catch – You sign an agreement, and we charge a simple installment fee for this convenience, but no interest will accrue. All you need to do is make 6 simple payments, which are automated credit card charges. That’s it. We want you to have no excuses to delay this process any longer.

Do you want to file for a K1 and have $163? Great, get going now.

To get the full details on the installment program, go here.

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