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Fiancée Visa Processing in East Asian Countries
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Obtaining a K-1 fiance visa stamp at a Consular Post to enter the US after a K-1 petition has been approved may be a long drawn process. Many Consular Posts implement and follow varied visa application procedures and policies depending on the local conditions and requirements. In this article we attempt to cover K-1 visa processing procedures followed by Consular Posts in East Asian countries like China, Korea, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. The information below will help foreign national fiancés from these countries be better prepared for the K-1 visa interview.

China: Guangzhou

Foreign Service Officers of the Guangzhou Immigrant Visa Unit adjudicate all immigrant visas for residents of the People’s Republic of China. This is the only office handling immigrant visas including the K-1 fiancé visa in China.
  • The U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou will notify the applicant when the approved petition is received and mail the applicant an instruction packet including biographical data forms (DS-230 and OF-169). This packet also includes a list of specified branches of the CITIC Industrial Bank where applicants can pay for the RMB830.00 processing fee prior to the interview. A fiancé(e) visa applicant is an intending immigrant and, therefore, must meet documentary requirements similar to the requirements of an immigrant visa applicant.

  • After the initial background clearances for the case, the Consulate mails the applicant an appointment packet of interview-related information. This packet includes an invitation to the interview, required medical forms and contact data for specific hospitals approved to conduct medical checks.

  • The U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou handles thousands of cases every month. Hence, applicants can expect two to three months between the time they receive the DS-230 part one and OF-169 forms and the time an interview is scheduled.

  • During the interview, it is the applicant’s responsibility to provide information to show a bona-fide relationship with the petitioner. The adjudicating officer uses the interview as well as the information brought by the applicant to make a decision. If the visa is denied, the applicant will have an opportunity to provide further evidence of the relationship.

  • If the visa is approved, the applicant will be required to make delivery arrangements with the designated China Post Office located in the Consulate office to either have it delivered by submitting a notice and the interview appointment letter or to pickup the visa two business days later at the Jun Yuan Post Office of China Post. The visa will be normally valid for half a year.

Korea: Seoul

When the U.S. Embassy, Seoul receives the approved I-129F from the NVC, it sends instructions and forms to the applicant. The instructions tell the applicant to gather and hold the following documents prior to the K-1 interview:

  • Police certificates from countries where the beneficiary has resided after the age of 16

  • Medical examination of the applicant

  • Sworn affidavit of financial support (Form I-134) from the petitioner, with evidence of income and assets attached

  • Signed and dated letter from the petitioner addressed to the U.S. Consul, reaffirming the petitioner’s intent to sponsor the beneficiary as a fiancé and to marry in the U.S. This reaffirmation letter will revalidate the I-129F if its INS approval is more than 4 months old

For Korean applicants who have only lived in Korea, it takes a minimum of 4 weeks to complete the required pre-interview steps. It will take longer for other applicants. After gathering all the necessary documents, the applicant must request a K-1 visa interview. The applicant must bring all of the required documents to the interview.

A K-1 visa will be delivered back to the applicant via Embassy-approved courier within several working days if the applicant is found to be qualified. Processing time for each case differs depending on the circumstances of the case, how quickly the petitioner files the I-129F, when CIS approves it, how long it takes the NVC and U.S. Embassy to receive the approved I-129F, and when the applicant completes the necessary pre-interview steps. Both the petitioner and applicant should realize that this process is mandated by U.S. law and that it is not possible to waive any steps for any reason. The Embassy therefore urges that firm wedding arrangements wait until after the applicant has the K-1 visa in hand, since the K-1 visa is valid for six months.

Philippines: Manila

When the US Embassy, Manila receives the approved K-1 petition from the NVC, it schedules the applicant for medical examination and visa interview. The applicant will be notified of the appointments and will be provided instructions on how to apply for the visa.

Note: It is important that the petition has the applicant’s correct address and contact number, otherwise the Embassy will not be able to send the K packet, the medical and visa interview appointments to the beneficiary. The NVC and the Embassy must be informed of any change in the applicant’s address.

After the applicant pays the non-refundable application/processing fee and completes the required medical examination at St. Luke’s Medical Center Extension Clinic, he/she appears at the Embassy for the scheduled visa interview with all the required documents. Interviews of K applicants are scheduled only on Fridays.

The consular officer adjudicates the application based on the visa interview, documents submitted by the applicant and any relevant information available to the Embassy, and determines the applicant’s eligibility to be issued the K visa. If the application is approved, the visa will be delivered to the applicant’s residence by a guaranteed courier service in 7 to 10 days. If the consular officer determines that the applicant is not eligible for visa issuance, this will be explained to the applicant who will be provided a written refusal sheet that informs her/him:

  • How the visa refusal may be overcome with additional documentation or information

  • To await notification from the Embassy if the case will require further review; or

  • The basis for the determination of visa ineligibility under U.S. immigration law and if a waiver of ineligibility is available

Thailand: Bangkok

When the US Embassy’s Immigrant Visa Unit in Bangkok receives the approved K-1 petition from the NVC it processes the newly arrived case and sends out the instructions packet (packet 3), including medical examination forms, directly to the visa applicant’s address in Thailand. For Cambodian applicants, the Packet 3 is mailed to the petitioner’s address in the United States.

Finally, once the visa applicant returns Packet 3 to the Embassy, the IV Unit in Bangkok sends out the appointment letter (Packet 4.) The letter notifies the applicant of the date for the K1 visa interview. For Cambodian K1 applicants, the Packet 4 is mailed to the petitioner’s address in the United States.

Note: the interview is normally scheduled 10-12 weeks after the Packet 3 materials are returned.

Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh

After the US Embassy, Ho Chi Minh City receives the approved K-1 petition, it completes administrative processing and sends the applicant an Instruction Package approximately two months after receiving the petition. Once the applicant informs the Embassy that he or she is ready for a visa interview, it schedules a visa interview date for approximately three months later and sends the applicant an Appointment Package.

During the visa interview, it is the applicant’s responsibility to provide evidence of a bona fide relationship with the petitioner. The consular officer will use the interview as well as the information submitted to make a decision.

Section 221(g) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act states that visa applications lacking required documents must be denied until such time as those documents are submitted and found to be sufficient. If, for any reason, the applicant is not eligible for a visa at the time of the interview, the applicant will receive an explanation in writing and a request for the specific documents still required, if any.

Applicants refused under Section 221(g) who are specifically requested to submit more documents may submit the additional information either via registered mail or in person at the Consulate between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, except holidays. The applicant should include the blue or green refusal sheet asking for additional information.

Although a K-1 visa petition is valid for a period of four months, a consular officer can revalidate the petition provided the officer concludes that the American citizen sponsor and the applicant remain legally free to marry and that they continue to intend to marry each other within three months of the applicant’s admission into the U.S.

If the visa is approved, the applicant can usually pick up the visa on the next business day at 4:00 p.m. The visa is normally valid for six (6) months.

Conclusion

Many Consular Posts often change policies and visa processing procedures making it difficult to be aware of the latest policies. We at VisaPro advise our clients to check the Consulate websites prior to appearing for a visa interview. We also advise our readers to consult a VisaPro Attorney to know the latest policies and procedures being followed by any Consular Post.

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