Now that you and your future spouse have decided to tie the knot, what do you need to do next? In a word…PAPERWORK!! Oh yes, you are both going to dive deep into the bureaucracy of the United States Immigration system.
The first question will be “How do I bring bring my Fiancé(e) to the United States?” The usual answer is by airplane. Seriously this page will have all the answers and links to the forms you will need. They will also tell you what fees are required and what documentation is needed. In our case Mrs. Webmaster applied for a K-1 visa. This is also called the Fiancée visa.
When I came back I didn’t have a clue what to do next. I went to the Immigration and Naturalization web site to start looking things up. My first problem was keeping track of all the changes. This was the point when immigration was being rolled into the Homeland Security department, (Don’t get me started on that!), and they changed names several times. As of the creation of this page, the agency is called the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. (USCIS)
Once you arrive here you will need to start downloading forms. I did this and panicked. I could not make head nor tails out of them. It was at this point I contacted an immigration lawyer to help me. However, if you are feeling brave, here are the forms you should be looking for. (Please, please verify everything! Things are always changing and my information will go out of date.
The first page to head off to is the list of Forms and Fees. Oh yes, the Feds want their 5 pounds of flesh and three tons of documentation.
First on the list is the I-129F form. Read the instructions carefully. Both you and your beloved are going to have to fill out copies of this form and your beloved will need to supply certified documents. If your fiancé(e) comes from a country that doesn’t use English as the default language, you will also need to have certified translations of all documents made. After that you will both need to fill out the G-324A form.
Now that you have submitted the forms the process begins. First the Service Center goes through everything and makes sure all the “I’s” are dotted and the “T’s” are crossed. After that has been completed the forms will then be sent to the National Visa Center. They will do more stamping, filing and processing. After they get through with folding, spindling and mutilating your forms, they send it on to the consulate in your beloved’s country. In our case this was the “Black Hole of Guangzhou.”
Once the consulate gets the paperwork they will send more forms to your intended. Your intended will need to fill these out and send them back to the consulate. Once they get them, they will sit in a closet somewhere until some Vogon wannabe gets off his/her dead ass and schedules an interview with your future spouse. This interview will last about 15 minutes and is the last chance the morons have of denying your intended entrance into the U.S. This happened to Mrs. Webmaster’s sister.
Mrs. Webmaster hired a lawyer in Guangzhou when she went in for her interview. He helped prepare her and also worked with me to provide the latest financial records. These aren’t supposed to be needed but it can’t hurt. In fact, the more evidence of a relationship, the better. Mrs. Webmaster appeared with letters, pictures, a key to the house I bought for us, her Vermont Teddy bear and a printout of all the email we sent to each other.
While Mrs. Webmaster was speaking with the lawyer, she also had to go to an approved hospital for a full physical as well as getting her inoculations brought up to date. One of the things she had to get was a chest x-ray. This is to make sure she doesn’t have Tuberculosis.
Your fiancé(e) will be given a sealed folder containing all his/her medical information. DO NOT OPEN THIS FOLDER!! This will be given to the immigration officer at the point of entry and MUST remain sealed. If I recall correctly a copy was also provided for Mrs. Webmaster for her use.
Mrs. Webmaster was in the interview for about 15 minutes. She was told she was approved and to come back in three days for the visa stamp in her passport. The following week she had the visa stamp put in her passport. 30 days later the Webmaster arrived in China to bring his future wife back to the United States.
It cost the Webmaster about $850 for a single round trip ticket for himself and about $875 for a one way ticket for his wife. WTF, Over?
Once you and your beloved arrive in the United States you will have 90 days to get married. After that you will want to start the process for a green card, and what fun we had doing that…NOT!!
That is another section. Meanwhile follow this link back to the index.