This past weekend made an exact year since I filed the petition for my husband to come to the U.S. Thanks to Facebook memories, I was informed that this past weekend has also been two years since my husband sent me that friend request which I accepted and my life changed forever. In the immigration world, that is quite an accomplishment. Due to all the cultural clashes and financial differences, most couples don’t make it to two years.
Love has no time limit. Not many people know that it is an unpredictable, emotionally draining and rigorous process when filing a visa for a spouse/fiance. Yes, there is the history of scams which results in it now being a difficult process, but there is also that rare occasion that you actually find love in Africa. So this post is to highlight what to do next and what to expect should you find true love overseas.
This process is not for the weak and weary; do your research beforehand to make sure this is right for you. There will be months that go by that you won’t hear anything from the Department of Homeland Security and won’t know what to do. Aside from having a network of women who have been through it before, I depended heavily upon visajourney.com. I barely had time for much else between following up with them, preparing documents, and working to earn extra income all for the sake of having my husband by my side. I was blessed to wait only about 8 months for my husband to arrive once I filed. Altogether we were apart for a year and five months due to me needing to get myself together financially (being a freelance photographer and blogger ain’t easy!)
Each case varies as far as costs, evidence needed and length. The average spouse visa costs, at least, $2,000 including overhead and miscellaneous expenses. The spouse visa and the fiance´ visa are two different things. Visit this website to learn the difference.
There are three stages that your documents go through; Service Center, National Visa Center (NVC), and finally the designated Embassy.
There are five Service Centers: California, Vermont, Nebraska, Texas, and Potomac (Virginia). This is the initial stage where they review the petition to bring your spouse. Here, you wait anywhere between one month and one year for the nerve-wracking decision of getting accepted or denied.
My suggestion is to front-load, meaning send proof of relationship to the Service Center instead of the National Visa Center. There’s no such thing as privacy anymore right? I sent everything; pictures and communication via social media are everything. I believe that’s why we were approved. It was essential for our case considering we met online through mutual friends first before meeting in person and then later marrying in a short time frame.
The National Visa Center is where all residential, financial and sometimes evidence documents are reviewed. This was the scariest part of the whole process. If you do not make a certain amount above the income level or have even the tiniest bit of their complicated forms incorrect, you can be denied or delayed. I had a co-sponsor.
In my husband’s case, the Embassy of Dakar, Senegal is responsible for visa cases of all kinds for five surrounding countries including Senegal, so they were b-u-s-y. Word has it that once your documents make it to the Embassy before the interview date, they have already made their approval or denial decision. The interview is usually solely to see if the person is real. To be safe, my husband took copies of everything I sent including a few more pictures of us. Essentially, they have everything from the Service Center stage. Due to my medical situation, I was able to “expedite” the interview stage of the process once it was at the National Visa Center.
Again, this is not for the weak and weary. I’m grateful to have had a supportive spouse throughout the whole process. We were and still are each others strength. Now the hard part begins: living together as newlyweds.
Are you going through the process or know someone who is? Share this post!
Do you have more personal and in-depth questions about the process? I am more than willing to answer them privately! You can also view my timeline of dates from the first day I filed and indirectly hear from my husband who details the medical examination and interview stage.
**This is not an endorsement; personal experience only.**
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