Why Hire an Attorney
With the increase of terrorist activities within the U.S., it is becoming much more difficult to obtain an approval for a K1 fiancée visa or for an CR1/IR1 spousal visa.
Less than 60% of the fiancée and marriage visa petitions filed ever result in a visa being issued. A denial of a spousal visa is truly tragic in that it usually means that the foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen will never be allowed to enter the U.S. The officers who conduct the visa interviews at the U.S. Consulates throughout the world have tremendous discretion when deciding whether to issue the fiancée or spousal visa. Unfortunately, during the past few years we have seen a disturbing trend, more prevalent in some Consulates than in others, of outright denials of both K1 fiancée visas and spousal visas in situations where all of the requirements for the visa issuance were met and the visa should have been approved. Some of the ways we have successfully overcome this problem are by advising our clients as to the visa that gives their visa application the best chance of success, collection and preparation of documents specific to the Consulate that will be processing the visa application and thorough preparation of the fiancée or spouse for the visa interview starting as early as when we are hired for the fiancée or spousal visa. All of this just makes it more evident that anyone who is really serious about bringing a foreign fiancée or spouse to the U.S. would be crazy not to hire an immigration attorney who has a lot of experience in obtaining fiancée or marriage visas.
YOUR 3 CHOICES
Do It Yourself
It seems like every day someone will call and say to me, “I’ve looked over the forms and they seem simple enough”. Yes, they may look simple, but if you make even one insignificant mistake or omission on one of the forms you will likely receive a “Request for Evidence (RFE)” from the Department of Homeland Security. Each RFE will delay the processing of your visa petition by approximately six months. As small an error as answering a question with “n/a” instead of “none” can result in an RFE being issued. If you are fortunate enough to get your petition approved at the Service Center, you then have the National Visa Center to worry about. The NVC is where the government does the background name checks on your fiancée or spouse. If someone with a similar name is on one of the “lists”, it can delay your petition being processed by the Consulate indefinitely. Without an attorney who is experienced with this problem, how are you going to handle it? Assuming you are lucky enough to get the name checks completed, you still have the Consulate to deal with. If your fiancée or spouse has not been properly prepared for the interview there is a good chance he or she will not be issued the visa. How are you going to prepare them? What some “do-it-yourselfers” do when their visa petition or application is denied is contact us for assistance. Sometimes we can help, but sometimes they have handled it in such a manner as to make it impossible for anyone to get the visa issued. Even when we can help, the delay will be many months.
Hire a Visa Service
The best advice I can give you here is, if your choice is between doing it yourself and hiring a visa service, just do it yourself and save the visa service fee. In addition to everything written above under “Do It Yourself”, you should be aware that ONLY A LICENSED ATTORNEY can represent you at the USCIS (where the initial petition is filed), the National Visa Center (where the name checks are conducted) and at the Consulate (which interviews your fiancée or spouse and issues the visa). Basically, all the visa service can do for you is complete the forms and then tell you what they think you should do if a problem develops during the visa process. They are not allowed to contact any government agency on your behalf. With a visa service, the odds are good that a problem of one kind or another will develop.
Hire an Attorney
If you are serious about getting your fiancée or spouse to the U.S. this is the only option that makes sense. However, some who call us concerning a fiancée or marriage visa really don’t care if the fiancée receives the visa. If he or she does receive it they expect to have a great time for 90 days and if he or she is denied the visa, “no harm no foul”. If you are one of the individuals who is really just fooling around with this, please do not call us for advice.
When I advise you to hire an attorney I do not mean just any immigration attorney. You should look for the following:
1. An attorney with a lot of experience in obtaining fiancée and marriage visas including experience in obtaining these visas through the Consulate which will process your fiancée’s or spouse’s visa. Just during the past 12 months we have handled fiancée and spousal visas through approximately 100 different U.S. Consulates throughout the world.
2. An attorney who DOES NOT use outright lies, false or misleading advertising or drop down small print to get you to hire him. When you see or hear the following, you should immediately depart that web site or hang up the phone.
My absolute favorite. Stop and think for a moment. You want an immigration attorney to handle your visa petition and application who has a lot of experience in the fiancée or marriage visa process. If an attorney has handled a lot of fiancée and marriage visa processing there is no way in the world he or she is going to have a 100% success rate. There can be a lot of different reasons why a particular visa did not get issued and some of them are not the fault of the attorney. The client or the foreign fiancée or spouse may have lied to the attorney, given him false documents or information, mislead or lied during the visa interview, etc. Sometimes a particular U.S. Consulate is very harsh in their processing of visas. The bottom line is that 100% success with any kind of volume is impossible.
MONEY BACK GUARANTEE
Another favorite. First, under the Rules of Professional Conduct that attorneys are required to follow, we are not allowed to guarantee results. Second, if you read the small print you will probably see that it is not actually a “guarantee”. Often in a drop down or in small print on a different web page they will list the conditions under which the money back guarantee is invalid and the list will include all of the reasons the visa could be denied at the Consulate. Last, but not least, the attorneys advertising this do not usually live up to it. Over the years I have had dozens of calls from clients of other attorneys who hired the other attorneys because of the money back guarantee. When the client did not receive the visa and asked for the legal fee to be returned, guess what happened? That’s right, no refund.
FALSE PROCESSING TIMES
Because we have done so many recent fiancée and spousal visa cases through all five of the USCIS processing centers and through approximately 135 Consulates throughout the world, we know exactly how long these visas are currently taking for your situation. We will use this information to estimate the length of time it will take us to obtain your visa. There is nothing anyone else can do, other than what we will do, to speed up the processing of your fiancée or marriage visa. Often, competitors will give you a shorter time estimate in order to get you to hire them. I would also caution that you cannot always rely on the time estimates of the various government web sites as they are often either incorrect or not current.
Bringing a fiancée or spouse to the U.S. can be a very emotional experience. During the visa process chances are that you and your fiancée/spouse will have questions that you will want to ask us. Often it is just a case of needing reassurance about something, but nonetheless it is very important to you. You will want to contact us by phone or email to discuss whatever is on your mind. We understand and this is part of the service covered by our legal fee. However, this is not always the case with our competitors. For example, one of them, hidden in a drop down list, offers these phone options to their clients who have already paid their full legal fee for the visa service: “Free consultation limited to 20 minutes.” ” consultation for interview preparation limited to 45 minutes.” In other words, instead of being able to have your questions answered whenever necessary, you are limited to 20 minutes for the visa process and 45 minutes for preparation for the visa interview. If you want additional time, their fee is $150 for 28 minutes and $250 for 45 minutes. This equates to $360 per hour and $333 per hour in addition to the legal fee the client has already paid for the visa service.
Many attorneys advertising fiancée or marriage visa services on the internet show a low fee in large type, but when you click on the service provided for that fee you see that it only includes the preparation of forms and submission of the visa petition to the USCIS. If you want them to handle the case at the National Visa Center and handle the visa processing at the Consulate you must pay additional fees.
Many attorneys claiming to be “fiancée and marriage visa specialists” are actually practicing other types of immigration law and even non-immigration law. Some list the other areas on their web site (usually well-hidden) but most do not.
FALSELY CLAIMING TO BE AN ATTORNEY
Some web sites claim to be a “K visa attorney” but when you read the entire site you will find that they are actually a visa service that is somehow supervised by an actual immigration attorney.
When making the decision on which attorney to hire for your fiancée or spousal visa, one of the things you should be on the lookout for is vagueness. For example, you will want to know how long the visas for your situation are currently taking. Often the answer you receive is something like “six to twelve months”. If the attorney has recently successfully processed visas through the U.S. Consulate you will be using, he should be able to tell you exactly how long they are currently taking.
If you receive a general answer like “six to twelve months”, it means the attorney has no recent experience at that Consulate or may even mean that he has never handled a visa through that Consulate. The last thing you want is an attorney who is “going to school on your dollar”.
For the past twenty-five years we have processed fiancée and marriage visas through over 135 U.S. Consulates around the world. We will be able to give you an accurate estimate of the current processing times for your fiancée or marriage visa.
NUMBER OF YEARS EXPERIENCE
Advertising that the attorney has (X) number of years of experience. Unless they state that the (X) number of years of experience were in processing K1 fiancée visas or CR1/IR1 spousal visas, the experience was probably in some other area of law, possibly not even in immigration law.
ADVERTISING AND OFFICE OR OFFICES THAT DO NOT EXIST
Some attorneys advertise that they have offices in other U.S. and/or foreign cities when the “offices” do not exist. They do this solely to get you to hire them. The question then becomes do you want to have an attorney who has already lied to you handling the visa processing of your future fiancée or spouse.
If the immigration attorney is experienced and knows what he or she is doing, there is absolutely no need for more than one office. Immigration law is federal, not state law so every attorney who is licensed to practice law in one state is automatically licensed to practice immigration law in all 50 states. The fiancée and marriage visa petitions are not filed locally, so a local office or meeting with the clients in person is never required.
Also, an immigration attorney who is experienced in processing fiancée or marriage visas does not need a “representative” in the beneficiary’s country. The attorney will be able to handle everything necessary with the foreigner’s visa application by phone and email because they will have direct email and/or phone contact with the Consulate’s officers who are processing the visa.
Our immigration law firm prepares your fiancée or spouse for the visa interview including providing them with a list of questions that particular Consulate is currently asking at the visa interview.