Archive for the ‘K-3 Spousal Visa’ Category

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.

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.

The K3 Spousal Visa is Obsolete

Posted on: August 25th, 2015 by RapidVisa Staff 3 Comments

From time to time, we get customers who insist on attempting to file for a K3 spouse visa. The fact is, for all intents and purposes, this visa has been obsolete for years. Unfortunately, the indexing of results on Google seem to favor old outdated information that speaks of the K3 as if it’s still a common or viable solution.

Obsolete Typewriter

The K3 was a non-immigrant visa that allowed certain spouses of U.S. citizens to enter the USA, then adjust status to obtain a conditional green card. The CR1 spouse visa serves the same two functions, but in fewer steps and at a lower cost. With a CR1 visa, the spouse immediately has a conditional green card upon entry.

For many years, getting a K3 visa was a few months faster in processing time than a CR1 because there was a huge backlog in processing the Form I-130. But as of early 2010, the I-130 and I-129F forms carried almost equal processing time. It was so much so, that the Department of State put out the following memo:

 

Important Notice: Effective February 1st, 2010, when both petitions have been approved by USCIS and sent to the NVC or when USCIS approves the I-130 before the I-129F, the availability of, as well as the need for, a nonimmigrant K-3 visa ends. If the NVC receives both an approved I-130 petition and an approved I-129F petition:

The nonimmigrant K-3 visa case will be administratively closed.
The application process explained below will not be available to the foreign-citizen spouse and cannot be used.

The NVC will contact the U.S. citizen sponsor and foreign-citizen spouse, with instructions for processing the IR-1 (or CR-1) immigrant visa. – Source 1Source 2

 

Essentially, this just means depending on which form gets reviewed first determines which visa they follow through with. So even if you start out applying for a K3, chances are, it will be converted to a CR1 by the government, for efficiency purposes.

The chances are getting slimmer and slimmer that a K3 would actually happen, as you can see from the declining granted K3 visas:

As you can see, in 2013, there were only 144 K3 visas granted nationwide. That’s only 2% of the 2009 numbers. We don’t have the 2014 numbers yet but there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t be even less than 2013. This isn’t because fewer people are getting married, it’s because the government is converting these to CR1 visas.

In our experience, you are likely to get misinformation on the K3 visa even by calling the USCIS, because many of the phone answerers are contracted employees reading from outdated scripts. In reality, K3 visas are just not being granted.

If you’re thinking about trying a K3, you could spend way more money and roll the dice for a less than 2% chance for the possibility of getting it granted a few weeks sooner, but that’s probably futile.

The CR1 process can be daunting. Let RapidVisa help. We have a 99.7% approval rate and have prices much lower than a lawyer.

Should I Marry my British Fiance in the UK or the US?

Posted on: January 30th, 2015 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments

If you are reading this, chances are you are an American who fell in love with a Brit, or a Brit who fell in love with an American. This post will focus on couples who plan to get married and settle in the United States, and wish for the British citizen to obtain permanent residency in the US with a green card. If you are looking to settle in the UK, go here.

We will go over the pros and cons of each option, and try to give some insight to what to expect for each that will help you make the right decisions.

Option: Getting married in the UK, then immigrating to the US.

married couple in UKIf you want to get married in the UK, then return back to the US to settle, the US citizen will first need to obtain a Marriage Visitor Visa. It’s different than a UK Fiance Visa, which is intended for those settling in the UK. This visa is required to enter the UK with the intent to marry but not settle. You will need to make sure your marriage is legally recognized in order to make the second half of this process possible – The CR-1 Spousal Visa required for the British citizen to come to the US and settle.

Once the US citizen gets this visa, which usually takes around 2 to 4 weeks to obtain, he or she can travel to the UK, then get married. This visa allows the US citizen to spend no more than 6 months in the United Kingdom.

After marriage, you can immediately begin the UK citizen’s CR-1 Spousal Visa application. This generally takes between 6 and 7 months. During this time, the US citizen could stay in the UK for the duration of their visa, but there likely will be some time that the couple is apart. This is one of the hardest parts of this process, for family, emotional and financial reasons.

Big BenOnce the CR-1 is granted, the UK citizen can enter the Unite States, and receive the green card in two to three weeks. Once received, they can legally work in the US, and exit the US for trips. Generally, the next steps are removal of conditions and then naturalization.

What kinda costs are we looking at?

For this option, you can expect the following costs:

  • Marriage Visitor Visa application: (£83/≈$125)
  • Trip cost for US citizen to travel to the UK (cost varies)
  • Wedding in UK: (≈£18,244/≈$27,500 – based on UK average wedding)
  • CR-1 Spousal Visa process: ($1,680/≈£1,120 – includes government fees – based on RapidVisa’s low costs)
  • Trip cost for UK citizen to travel to the US (cost varies)

How long should we expect this to take?

  • Marriage Visitor Visa: 2 to 4 weeks
  • Wedding Period: (varies)
  • CR-1 Spousal Visa Process: 6-7 months

Things to consider:

  • Make sure everyone meets all the requirements for their respective visas.
  • Consider how much time apart you are willing to bear.
  • Make sure both citizens have their respective passports.
  • Plan ahead, because the process is already long, and lack of planning can prolong it.

Option: Getting married in the USA and settling there after marriage.

If you intend to marry before traveling to the States together…

Statue of LibertyOne option that many of our customers choose is to get a K-1 Fiance Visa, which allows the UK citizen to enter the US with the intent to marry, get married, then adjust status to a permanent resident. While this is usually the quickest option, it is by no means a breeze.

What kinda costs are we looking at?

For this option, you can expect the following costs:

How long should we expect this to take?

  • K-1 Fiance Visa: 5-6 month wait until able to enter US and marry.
  • Adjustment of Status: 5-6 month wait for green card (to be able to work and re-exit the US)

Things to consider:

  • The US sponsor must be able to support the UK citizen via income, assets, or joint sponsor.
  • Consider how much time apart you are willing to bear.
  • Keep in mind the UK citizen will be in the US for up to 6 months without the ability to work, until the green card is granted.
  • Plan ahead, because the process is already long, and lack of planning can prolong it.

If the UK citizen was present in the US without the intent to marry then decided to get married…

uscisIf a UK citizen were visiting the US, without the intent to marry, for example, on the visa waiver program, and decided to get married during their stay, they could simply adjust status and stay in the US as a permanent resident. If you attempt to adjust status like this even though you had the intention to marry, you may be in violation of law, and could face criminal action, including but not limited to deportation and permanent ban from the US. We highly urge you to avoid hardship and possible life-changing consequences by only choosing this method if you truly qualify.

What kinda costs are we looking at?

For this option, you can expect the following costs:

How long should we expect this to take?

  • Adjustment of Status: 5-6 month wait for green card (to be able to work and re-exit the US)

Things to consider:

  • If you try adjusting status on a tourist visa or visa waiver when you actually knew you were going to get married before you came, you will be in violation of US law and could be deported.

Click here to read testimonials of our UK customers

3 Lawyer’s Concerns About RapidVisa Debunked

Posted on: December 2nd, 2014 by RapidVisa Staff 2 Comments
3 Lawyer's Concerns About RapidVisa Debunked

Some attorneys are skeptical about our services.

There are a few different paths to get your family based immigration needs met. In fact, we made an infographic about just this comparison decision. One choice that people often unnecessarily opt for is hiring an ‘immigration attorney’. Attorneys are great, and have a very important role in society. In fact, we have our own. But, unless you have legal issues, such as convictions or need a waiver, they statistically are not likely to help your chances and highly likely to cost 5 to 10 times more than RapidVisa, and take significantly longer to process and review your petition.

We understand you have to do your homework. This is important. But don’t be taken advantage of. Do your research. Many of our customers first went to an attorney but after thousands of dollars and no results, contact us in the middle of the process and kick themselves for not using us sooner.

There are a few websites out there that are lead generators for lawyers, so of course, if you ask a question like “Should I use RapidVisa or should I use a lawyer?”, they’ll be biased. Often times they try to lump us in with scammy sites that illegally sell forms or don’t know what they’re doing.

We’ve gathered some comments from some of these lawyers, and paraphrased them to keep the commenters anonymous out of respect. 

Let’s debunk some of these concerns.

1. Is it really a legal matter? Usually not.

"You should never trust someone who is not an attorney to manage your legal matters. That's like trusting somebody who's not a doctor for medical issues."

Debunked:

Filing a visa petition is as much of a legal matter as getting your driver’s license. Do you hire a $3,000 attorney to apply for your driver’s license? The premise is pretentious and misleading. Petitioning for a family visa is not a legal matter, it’s a benefit request from your government. They don’t teach how to apply for visas or green cards in law school. Every lawyer who helps in these matters learned it on their own just like anyone else. That said, if you have legal issues that could complicate your situation, you definitely should get legal counsel.

RapidVisa does not offer legal advice or representation. Here’s what we do offer. Some lawyers have even accused us of unauthorized practice of law, or “UPL”. RapidVisa and its software has been investigated and cleared by both the Department of Homeland Security and the Colorado Supreme Court. We offer a service similar to TurboTax for visa applications. Here’s news coverage of our company being investigated and cleared by the Colorado Supreme Court.

2. Avoid super high denial rates?

"An attorney can significantly improve your chances for approval. Every year, approximately 40 to 60% of all fiancee visa petitions filed are not approved."

Debunked:

This is false. The overall K-1 visa approval rate is around 95% according to the actual NVC’s statistics. This is scare tactics. Of course everyone wants the best chance for approval but do you really want to hire someone who makes such a false statement? RapidVisa has an over 99% approval rate, which is a bit higher than the overall average. There is less than a 1% chance of a lawyer helping your odds better than RapidVisa.

3. Experience matters.

"As an attorney, we do dozens of cases a year and therefore are the most experienced option you can go with."

Debunked:

If your value proposition is that you are the most experienced because you have handled the most cases, then RapidVisa wins. We have over 15,000 approvals at over 99.7% approval rating. There probably isn’t an immigration attorney on Earth who will see that many cases in their lifetime. We have dozens of experienced representatives in 3 countries who help with these petitions every day.

Some attorneys take on all kinds of cases, immigration or not, and don’t get near the amount of experience on such a that we have. The typical local law firm might take on a few cases a year for a certain visa type. We help thousands of families, not dozens.

The Definitive Guide to Getting Married in the Philippines

Posted on: November 15th, 2014 by benives 6 Comments

Filipina FianceePhilippines. This is not a complicated process but it can be very time consuming and may include a few steps or processes that you are not aware of. The original version of this post was made on Oct 21, 2012, however has been updated today.

This 4,300+ word article is broken up into several parts as there is quite a bit to cover. The first part of the article will provide a brief overview of the entire process and the subsequent parts will go into more details for each section.

Contents:

  1. Preface
  2. Overview
  3. Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry
  4. Marriage License Application Process in the Philippines
  5. Civil Wedding in the Philippines
  6. Bring Your Spouse to the United States

1. Preface

Philippine Government and Law

The Philippine Government requires all foreigners to provide a “Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage” from his/her embassy before filing for a marriage license.

The U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consular Officers cannot provide a “Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage”. Instead, the U.S. Embassy provides an Affidavit In Lieu of Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry. This is explained in detail on the web site for the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry

The affidavit must be obtained from the U.S. Embassy in Manila. Please note that Philippine authorities will not accept any substitute document initiated in the United States.

There were reports on that three local civil registrars had refused to accept the Affidavit In Lieu of Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry. The three registrars listed were Makati City, Quezon City and Davao City.

It is the responsibility of the U.S. citizen to check with the local civil registrar to verify requirements with them and whether or not the affidavit will be accepted in lieu of the “Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage”.

Military Personnel

U.S. military personnel should contact their personnel office regarding Department of Defense joint service regulations. The affidavit will be refused if proper military authorization is not presented by U.S. military personnel.

Marriage License Application Process

Once you have obtained the Affidavit In Lieu of Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry from the U.S. Embassy, you are ready to start the process to apply for the marriage license. The license is a requirement for either a civil or church wedding in the Philippines.

You will need to file the application for marriage license at the office of the Philippine Civil Registrar in the town or city where your fiancé/fiancée is a resident. The U.S. citizen will need to present the following documents:

    • U.S. Passport and a copy of the title and data pages of the passport (copy of the photo and information page).
    • Affidavit In Lieu of Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry from the U.S. Embassy.
    • Copies of divorce decree(s) and/or death certificate(s) required to verify civil status and capacity to marry.
    • Documentation regarding paternal consent or advice if applicable.

Outline of steps to follow:

    • Obtain the marriage license application and follow instructions to complete.
    • Submit requirements at the local Civil Registrar’s office for order of payment.
    • Pay fee of P120.00.
    • Register for marriage counseling seminar at the Health Department (there are additional requirements for applicants under 25 years old. Please check with the local Civil Registrar’s office)
    • Obtain certificate of attendance for marriage counseling seminar.
    • After attending the marriage counseling class/seminar, submit all requirements at the local Civil Registrar’s office for Oath Taking.
    • Receive the receipt for marriage license application. DO NOT LOSE THIS RECEIPT
    • Release of marriage license after ten days  and the license is valid for 120 days and may be used anywhere in the Philippines (the ten-day waiting period does not include weekends and/or holidays)

Note: Philippine law prohibits the marriage of individuals under the age of 18. Marriage applicants aged 18 to 21 must have written consent from their respective parents. Applicants aged 22 to 24 must receive parental advice to ensure their respective parents are aware of their intent to marry.

Civil Wedding Requirements

A civil wedding, in the Philippines, may be the quickest and easiest way to marry in the Philippines as there are fewer requirements than a church wedding. For a civil wedding, you will need to solemnize the marriage. You will need to schedule the solemnization of the marriage with a judge, minister or any other person authorized by the Government of the Philippines to perform the marriage. Present the marriage license to them, take the oath and have the paperwork signed.

You will need to have two witnesses present at your wedding in order to witness and sign the certificate of marriage. Following the signing of the marriage certificate by all parties involved, you will need to take the certificate of marriage to the local Philippine Civil Registrar where one the parties is a resident. The certificate of marriage will be registered by the local civil registrar and be available in five business days or so. You may obtain can obtain certified true copies of certificate of marriage from Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). This certificate is printed on PSA security paper is required for the interview at the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

Church Wedding Requirements

You can find information regarding church wedding requirements at the U.S. Embassy in Manila web site: http://manila.usembassy.gov/marriage.html.

2. Overview

If you are a U.S. citizen and plan on getting married in the Philippines, here are the things you need to know.

Plan Ahead

    • There is a 10 day waiting period from the time you file your application until the marriage license is issued.
    • If your fiancée is under 25 years old you will need a note from her parents. Marriage is not possible to a person under 18 years old.
    • You, the U.S. citizen will need an Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage which you can only get in person at the U.S. Embassy in Manila or at the U.S. Consular Agency in Cebu. The fee is $30.
    • You will need copies of divorce or death certificates for each of your previous marriages.

If you intend to have a Catholic church wedding, there are several more things you will need including…

    • Baptismal and Confirmation Certificates
    • Canonical Interview
    • Pre-Marriage Seminar
    • Wedding Banns
    • List of Principal Sponsors (Ninongs and Ninangs)

To get more details on marriage in the Philippines, check out the U.S. Embassy page on this topic here.

Once you are married, you can bring your Philippine bride to the United States using the K-3 Visa or the CR1 process.  RapidVisa can prepare everything you need to bring your spouse to the U.S. for the guaranteed lowest price.  Go here to learn more.

3. Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal
Capacity to Marry

Any foreigner who wishes to marry in the Philippines is required by the Philippine Government to obtain from his/her Embassy a “Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage” before filing an application for a marriage license.

The US Cannot Certify Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage

The United States does not have a national registry for marriage and there is no such database that tracks marriages in the U.S. Therefore U.S. Consular Officers cannot confirm whether or not you have the legal capacity to marry. They cannot certify your status of eligibility. The U.S. Embassy basically provides a notary service. They request copies of your divorce decrees and/or death certificates check your U.S. passport witness oath taking and then stamps your affidavit.

Because the U.S. Consular Officers cannot certify a Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage, the U.S. Embassy provides an Affidavit In Lieu of Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry. The affidavit is the only document the U.S. Embassy is able to provide. The affidavit must be obtained from the U.S. Embassy in Manila. Please note that Philippine authorities will not accept any substitute document initiated in the United States.

If the local registrar refuses to accept the affidavit there is nothing that the U.S. Embassy in Manila can do. It is the responsibility of the U.S. citizen to check with the local civil registrar to verify requirements with them and whether or not the affidavit will be accepted in lieu of the “Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage”. There were reports posted on the U.S. Embassy web site that three local civil registrars had refused to accept the Affidavit In Lieu of Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry. The three registrars listed were Makati City Quezon City and Davao City.

In preparation:

    • Read the information to ensure that you understand the rules for the “Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage.” – http://manila.usembassy.gov/marriage.html
    • Schedule appointment – schedule as early as you can as there are a limited number of appointments available. https://evisaforms.state.gov/acs/default.asp?postcode=MNL&appcode=1
    • Print out confirmation of your appointment and bring it to the U.S. Embassy with you
    • Bring divorce decrees and/or death certificates that show the U.S. citizen is free to marry
    • Bring valid U.S. passport
    • Bring $50 cash (or Philippine peso equivalent) or credit card for the notary fee

In early March the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy moved into its new building on the Embassy grounds.  Public access to the new building will be at a different entrance but still off of Roxas Blvd.  The guards can assist you in finding the new entrance.

us-embassy-philippines

US Embassy in Manila, Philippines

U.S. Embassy
1201 Roxas Boulevard
Manila Philippines 1000
U.S. Embassy New Annex Bldg.
Roxas Blvd. Manila Philippines

Step-by-Step Process at the U.S. Embassy in Manila

  1. Present printout of scheduled appointment to guard along with current passport.
  2. Enter the security checkpoint at the U.S. Embassy. No electronic devices i.e. USB flash drives/thumb drives digital cameras or cellular phones allowed. No gum or drinks allowed. These items will be confiscated and placed in a plastic storage container. You will be issued a plastic card with a number and you will need to present the card to get your items back when you exit the U.S Embassy. Enter the U.S. Embassy building and approach the counter. Only the person listed on the appointment confirmation can enter the U.S. Embassy. Fiancés will not be allowed to enter. They must wait in the covered waiting area just outside the Embassy building.
  3. Inform the person at the counter you are there for a scheduled appointment to acquire the Affidavit in Lieu of Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry. You will be presented with a printed number and told to go to the 2nd floor and go to the window that calls your number.
  4. Your number will flash on a screen and will display the window number when your number is called. You will be asked to present your printed appointment confirmation and a current U.S. passport. You will be handed a yellow invoice and a form that will need to be completed. Do not sign the form until you are told to do so.
  5. You will be instructed to pay the notary fee of $50.00. Take the yellow invoice to the cashier located just a few windows down from where received the yellow invoice and form. You can pay the notary fee in US dollars or Philippine Pesos. You can also pay also pay using a bank debit card or credit card.
  6. Once you have paid the $50.00 notary fee you will need to return the receipt and completed form back to the original window where you received the form and yellow invoice. Again do not sign the form until told to do so. You will also be asked for your U.S. passport. You will be instructed to sit until your number is called again.
  7. When your number is called the second time you will be asked to state your name and birth date. You will be asked to raise your right hand and take an oath swearing that the information you provided is the truth and accurate. You will then be asked to confirm the information you listed on the completed form i.e. whether or not you were married before the number of times you were married and if you are legal to marry. You will then be asked to present any divorce decrees and/or death certificates you may have. You will be asked the age of your fiancé.
  8. Your affidavit will be stamped and signed. You will be handed the notarized affidavit and receipt. You will need to exit U.S. Embassy through the security checkpoint where you entered. You will need to present the plastic numbered card you received in order to get back any items you had to leave with security. You will exit the security checkpoint and the U.S. Embassy grounds.

This part of the process is very smooth efficient and painless if your documents are in order and you have the funds to pay the fee. This part of the whole process takes just over 30 minutes.

4. Marriage License Application Process in the
Philippines

​Once the U.S. citizen has obtained the Affidavit In Lieu of Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry from the U.S. Embassy he or she is ready to start the process to apply for the marriage license. The license is a requirement for either a civil or church wedding in the Philippines.

It’s fairly easy to apply for a marriage license in the Philippines. You will need to visit the LCR (local civil registry) or go online to find out what the exact requirements are for each city or region. The requirements for a marriage license in Manila can be found online at http://www.manila.gov.ph/citycivilregistry.htm.

Marriage License Application Process

You will need to file the application for marriage license at the office of the Philippine Civil Registry in the town or city where your fiancé/fiancée is a resident. The U.S. citizen will need to present the following documents:

    • U.S. Passport and a copy of the title and data pages of the passport (copy of the photo and information page).
    • Affidavit In Lieu of Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry from the U.S. Embassy.
    • Copies of divorce decree(s) and/or death certificate(s) required to verify civil status and capacity to marry.
    • Documentation regarding paternal consent or advice if applicable.

Outline of steps to follow:

    • Obtain the marriage license application and follow instructions to complete.
    • Submit requirements at the local Civil Registrar’s office for order of payment.
    • Pay fee of P120.00.
    • Register for marriage counseling seminar at the Health Department (there are additional requirements for applicants under 25 years old. Please check with the local Civil Registry)
    • Obtain certificate of attendance for marriage counseling seminar.
    • After attending the marriage counseling class/seminar submit all requirements at the local Civil Registry for Oath Taking.
    • Receive the receipt for marriage license application. DO NOT LOSE THIS RECEIPT
    • Release of marriage license after ten days  and the license is valid for 120 days and may be used anywhere in the Philippines (the ten-day waiting period does not include weekends and/or holidays)

You will need to obtain the application for marriage license at the local Civil Registry. You will need to submit all requirements at the counter and pay the P120.00 fee.

When filling out the application for marriage license keep in mind that two copies are required and they do not provide carbon paper so you will need to complete two forms. You need to ensure that the information you write on the forms match the birth certificate including the parent’s nationality.

After you have submitted requirements and paid the fee you will need to register for and attend the required pre-marriage counseling seminar. Please note there are additional requirements for applicants under 25 years old. You will need to check with the local Civil Registry for any additional requirements.

To register for the pre-marriage counseling seminar you will need to go the local Health Department. In Manila the Health Department is located in room 128. Once you arrive in room 128 you will need to present the application form and receipt for P120.00. Each couple will receive a new form with a control number. Complete two copies of the form as instructed.

The seminar lasts approximately two hours and the facilitator covers all of the areas that were outlined on three large posters pinned to the wall at the front of the room. After completing the marriage counseling seminar the facilitator will hand your paperwork back to you along with a certificate of attendance. You will be instructed to take the forms and certificate for attendance back to local Civil Registry.

The city employee behind the counter will check the completed application forms ask for copies of valid passports and request copies of the divorce decrees and/or death certificates. The U.S. citizen will be asked for the Affidavit in Lieu of Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry obtained from the U.S. Embassy.

Once the documents were reviewed the employee stapled all of the pages together and then stamped the pages several times. You will then be instructed to walk into an office just a few feet from the counter. A city employee will review your paperwork again. Here you will be asked to stand and take an oath stating that the information you have provided on the application was accurate and the truth.

You are done with the marriage application process after taking the oath. After applying your marriage license the information given in the application will be posted for 10 consecutive days inside the city hall. Your marriage license will be released after 10 days not including weekends and/or holidays.

After the ten days have passed you can you must bring your receipt to the civil registry counter and pick up your marriage license. The marriage license is valid for 120 days and will automatically expire if not used.

Requirements for Marriage License

Go to the local Civil Registry in the town or city where your fiancé/fiancée is a resident for all requirements. You can go to a web site for the local Civil Registry at Manila City Hall for all requirements regarding marriage license in Manila, Philippines. The web site is: http://www.manila.gov.ph/citycivilregistry.htm.

 

5. Civil Wedding in the Philippines

A civil wedding, in the Philippines, may be the quickest and easiest way to marry in the Philippines as there are fewer requirements than a church wedding. This section provides an overview of the process and steps required for a civil wedding.

 

You may want to choose your wedding rings as early as possible, as you will exchange rings in the process and rings may take additional time to order or re-size. Allow additional time if you wish to order or design custom rings.

 

Once you have scheduled the date for your wedding and received the marriage license, you will need to decide who will solemnize the marriage. For a civil wedding, you can choose between a judge, mayor and other person authorized by the Government of the Philippines to perform the marriage. In most cases, you will need to schedule with the judge, mayor or others in advance.

Philippines Flag

A civil wedding may be the quickest and easiest way to marry in the Philippines

If you choose a judge to solemnize your marriage, you can make an appointment at the Manila City Hall. You will need to write a letter requesting a judge to solemnize your marriage. The letter will need to list the names of both parties getting married. You also need to list the preferred date you have selected to get married. Please note that your date is not guaranteed. The date will need to be agreed to by the judge. There are no fees required for a judge to solemnize the marriage.

In Manila, the judges are assigned by a raffle process. You will be instructed to return to the Manila City Hall in approximately two days to meet with the judge assigned to your case in the raffle process. In most cases, you will actually meet with the judge’s assistant and you will submit your marriage license for review. A wedding date will be agreed upon and scheduled.

Once your wedding date is scheduled and confirmed you will want to schedule two witnesses to witness your wedding and sign the certificate of marriage. The witnesses can be friends or family as long as they are of legal age. The witnesses will need to present valid identification.

On your scheduled wedding date, you and your witnesses will come to the judge’s chambers or courtroom where you met with the judge. A civil wedding is an informal process and will be performed in the judge’s chambers or a courtroom, so you can wear casual business attire. Do not wear shorts, sandals or flip flops in the judge’s chambers or court room.

Be sure to bring all documentation as well as the wedding rings. You will need to present the marriage license to the judge and exchange vows in front of him and witnesses. The certificate of marriage will then need to be signed by all parties involved.

Following the signing of the certificate of marriage, you will need to take the certificate of marriage to the Manila Civil Registry where one of the parties is a resident. The certificate of marriage will be registered by the local civil registrar and be available in approximately five business days.

You may obtain certified true copies of certificate of marriage from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in approximately two to three months after submitting it to the Manila Civil Registry. This certificate is printed on PSA security paper is required for the interview at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. You will need the official certificate of marriage, from the PSA, in order to file for a spousal visa.

6. Bring Your Spouse to the United States

Statue of LibertyNow that you have gotten married you will turn your focus to getting your foreign spouse to the United States. This step can be very time consuming frustrating and expensive as the process and documents can be very complex and confusing.

If you are a United States citizen your new spouse becomes what the law calls your “immediate relative” and may be eligible to receive a visa and enter the United States as soon as the two of you successfully complete the application process. Marriage-based petitions for spouses of United States Citizens fall under the immigrant visa categories of IR-1 and CR-1 visas.

The two visas have different functions to address specific needs. The IR-1 and CR-1 visas do not require an adjustment of status. The IR-1 visa grants your foreign spouse a permanent resident status without conditions. This visa is ideal for couples who have been married for two years or longer. The CR-1 visa grants your foreign spouse a conditional permanent resident status. This visa is ideal for couples who have been married for less than two years.

Once approved for the marriage visa your foreign spouse will receive a green card within a few weeks of entering the U.S. With this green card he or she will be allowed to legally work in the country. They will also be able to travel outside the U.S. and reenter legally.

CR-1 Visa Petition Requirements

    • You (the petitioner) must be a U.S. citizen
    • You and your spouse are legally married and can prove it
    • Petitioner’s income must meet the financial requirements

Note: There is no minimum age for a U.S. petitioner to file a CR-1 visa petition for a spouse. However you must be at least 18 years of age and have a residence in the U.S. before you can sign the Affidavit of Support. This form is required for an immigrant visa for a spouse and other relatives of U.S. sponsors.

CR-1 Visa Petition Process

The application process for a green card based on marriage involves multiple steps:

    • Submit required forms
    • Submit required supporting documents and evidence
    • Receive approval from USCIS
    • Attend an interview with U.S. immigration authorities
    • The immigrant spouse receives visa and is allowed to enter the U.S.

The purpose of these steps are to prove the petitioner is a U.S. citizen a valid marriage has occurred the marriage is bona fide and that the immigrant spouse not inadmissible to the U.S. for medical criminal financial terrorist or other reasons.

CR-1 Visa Petition Timeline

couple-laptopThe length of the approval and processing times for CR-1 visa petition vary from case to case and cannot be predicted for individual cases with any accuracy. This use to be a long drawn out process but reforms at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have dramatically decreased the waiting time.

On average most petitions get approved with 6-7 months. You can go to the following URL to check current processing times and your case status: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/Dashboard.do

Some cases are delayed due to missing forms supporting documents or evidence. You will usually receive a request for evidence (RFE) if additional documents or information is required. Some visa applications require further administrative processing which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a consular officer.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog article relating to the legal requirements of the Philippines is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific Philippine laws should be addressed to an attorney or foreign government officials.

Remember when you are ready for your Spousal Visa petition nobody does them faster or cheaper than RapidVisa

SourcesEmbassy of the United States in Manila Philippines, Service of the Bureau of Consular Affairs Manila Civil RegistryUSCIS Travel.State.Gov and USCIS Case Status

Can I Use a Tourist Visa to Get Married in the US?

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by benives 15 Comments

Gray areas aren’t generally the government’s forte.

Couple getting marriedIt is legal to enter the U.S. on a tourist visa, travel visa or the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and get married to a U.S. citizen.  It is also legal to adjust your status after getting married. However, the condition of a tourist visa, travel visa and the VWP is a sworn promise that the person using this visa only plans to visit the United States and not immigrate here.

Intent is what really matters.

The intention of a tourist or travel visa is a temporary visit for a specified amount of time. If you want to get married during your visit then return home before your visa expires that may be legal, but a travel visa should not be used with the intention of entering the United States to marry, stay permanently and adjust status. Using the K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa avoids all of the problems noted above, and is the most appropriate way for a foreign fiancé(e) to come to the U.S. to marry.

“…a travel visa should not be used with the intention of entering the United States to marry, stay permanently and adjust status.”

The potential consequences of doing it wrong are serious.

There could be serious problems for someone who enters the United States on another visa with the intention of marrying or residing here. Attempting to obtain a visa or entering the United States by saying one thing when you intend another may be considered immigration fraud, for which there are serious penalties. Those penalties include restricting a person’s ability to obtain immigration benefits, including permanent residence, as well as a possible fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of up to 5 years.

The Department of State (DOS) and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) assume that intent to marry a U.S. citizen is the same as intent to immigrate.

If your fiancé(e) enters the U.S. as a tourist, without disclosing that they are engaged to you and/or intend to marry you, they have committed visa fraud. If the USCIS later decides that your fiancé(e) has committed visa fraud, they could be deported and will be impossible for them to legally return to the United States, even if the two of you are married.

Tourism is kind of specific.

stereotypical tourist

Tourist visas are for people who want to sight see, not get married.

In order for someone to get married in the U.S. while visiting on a tourist or travel visa and then adjust their status to lawful permanent resident they would need to prove they came to the U.S. with the intention to travel to and visit the U.S. and return to their home country but not to get married or immigrate here.

What’s the safe way?

You can easily avoid visa and/or immigration fraud by filing for a K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa or you could get married in the home country of the foreign fiancé(e) and then apply for a CR-1 Spousal Visa. If you have secretly obtained a tourist or travel visa, with the intent to marry your fiancé(e) in the U.S. and to bypass the normal process you should rethink your decision.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post relating to the legal requirements of the United States and U.S. Department of State is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific U.S. laws should be addressed to an attorney and/or government officials.

Reference: USCIS and U.S. Department of State

25 Things That Will Get Your Fiance or Spousal Visa Denied

Posted on: October 14th, 2014 by RapidVisa Staff 10 Comments

visa denialBe aware that while the majority of fiance visas are approved, there are some things that can give you a much higher chance of denial. The good thing for you, is RapidVisa has an excellent record of avoiding denials, over 99%. If you’re thinking about doing this on your own, consider these things that can get you denied, and let us lower your chances. For more info on the k1 visa process, go here.

Here are 25 things that can get you denied:

  1. Missing required documents
  2. Missing supporting evidence
  3. Incorrect paperwork or forms
  4. Missing signatures on forms
  5. Outdated forms
  6. Have not physically met in person within the last two years of filing
  7. Not legally able to marry – still married or not divorced
  8. No proof of bona fide or legitimate relationship
  9. Unable to prove intent to marry
  10. Incorrect or missing translation documents
  11. Insufficient income/assets of the U.S. citizen sponsor
  12. Very large age difference between the couple
  13. Did not adhere to cultural norms i.e. did not have an engagement ceremony when this is customary for the local culture.
  14. Minimal communication or contact in the previous year, the couple have not seen each other for an extended period after filing I-129F K1 visa application
  15. Communication barrier where neither partner speaks the other language; poor English skills
  16. Partner with a minor child is unable to obtain legal custody
  17. Lack proof of day to day contact/communication
  18. Beneficiary at the visa interview does poorly and consular officer doubts there is a bona fide relationship to the U.S. citizen
  19. The U.S. citizen petitioner has filed for another foreign citizen in the past
  20. Criminal record (Call us)
  21. Medical condition or disease (such as communicable diseases)
  22. Fiancé misrepresents a fact or error at the visa interview
  23. Fiancé presents a document that appears to be fraudulent
  24. Fiancé has previously lived in the U.S. and overstayed the visa
  25. Fiancé provides fake or Photoshopped photos or other fraudulent evidence

These 25 reasons constitute only a fraction of what could go wrong. It’s best not to take chances and go with our 99%+ approval rating.

The Chinese Hukou System

Posted on: April 25th, 2014 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments

Hukou is built upon a history of family registries that dates back to the Xia Dynasty (2100 BCE- 1600 BCE). The modern usage takes this and is applied similar to the internal passport system used in the former Soviet Union. This internal passport identifies a person by regional city or village and there work status as urban or agricultural. Initially the hukou status prevented mass immigration to urban areas, but the restrictions were eased some in the 80’s to provide cheap labor for the expansion of Chinese manufacturing. Hukou determines which types of government services you may be eligible to receive.

These family records include all marriages, divorces, and relocations made by the family. All records to be used abroad can be requested by the local Notarial Office (Gong Zheng Chu). Notarial birth certificates are considered secondary sources for identification but are used more than primary documentation. Primary documentation is not standardized and easily forged thus the notarial certificates are used instead. The notaries function to validate that there is evidence that a said person is who they claim to be.

Notarial birth certificates can be used in conjunction with other primary and secondary sources for the birth certificate requirement for visa applications. Some included sources are family land registries, school and medical records. If any documentation is in question the American consulate may conduct a field investigation or request validation through the regional Notarial Office. Currently all U.S. visas from China our processed through the embassy in Guangzhou.

Manila, Philippines: Important Rescheduling Procedures for NIV Applicants

Posted on: January 15th, 2013 by benives 2 Comments

Please be reminded that even though nonimmigrant visa fees are valid for one calendar year options to schedule an appointment are limited.  The U.S. Embassy in Manila schedules hundreds of thousands of nonimmigrant visa appointments each year and we must accommodate requests both for new appointments and for those applicants who need to reschedule their appointments for whatever reason.  Applicants are only allowed to reschedule twice (not including the initial appointment) without penalty.  If the second rescheduling attempt is canceled an applicant will only be allowed to reschedule a new date after a waiting period of 90 days.  Please plan your visa application accordingly to avoid problems securing an interview appointment.

http://manila.usembassy.gov/nonimmigrant-visa.html#8

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