The following list is a general reminder on what your foreign-born fiancé or spouse should bring to the visa interview. Remember, however, that each case is different, every U.S. consulate and embassy has their own specific document list and procedures; if you are working with an immigration lawyer, you should follow your lawyer’s instructions and advice.
Share this article with your foreign-born fiancé or spouse. It was written for the foreign-born fiancé or spouse to help reduce the level of anxiety that is felt prior to the interview.
Bring with you the ORIGINAL of every document and two copies of everything:
- Passport. You may want to bring with you every passport that you have ever owned. Some consular officers may ask to see your old passports to see what visas you have obtained in the past (new heightened vetting procedures). Check with the consulate or embassy and your immigration lawyer. But keep in mind that you must bring an unexpired passport to the interview.
- Birth Certificate. You must have your certified birth certificate, the certified birth certificates of any family members who may be immigrating with you and I would advise the foreign-born fiancé or spouse to have a copy of the U.S. citizen fiancé’s or spouse’s birth certificate or naturalization certificate. If you cannot get your certified birth certificate, check with the consulate or embassy for acceptable alternatives.
- Certificates of Marriage, Divorce and Death, as applicable. If you are married (CR-1) or have ever been married, take proof of the marriage, even if you have been divorced or separated. All certificates must be a certified, official government documents. Generally speaking, your “house of worship” document as proof of a marriage is not acceptable. If you are divorced, bring the official document of divorce. If you are a widow or a widower, bring an official certification of your spouse’s death.
- Police Certificate. Bring with you a police clearance from every country that you have lived for more then six months since the age of sixteen. In some countries, you need a police clearance from every jurisdiction that you have lived within that country. Keep in mind that you will need a clearance even if you have never been arrested. You do not need one for the United States (the Department of Homeland Security and or the FBI will have conducted a criminal background check on you).
- Medical Examination and Immunization Record. Bring your medical exam and immunization records with you. DO NOT OPEN THE SEALED ENVELOPE!
- Employment/Proof of Financial Support in the United States. You must prove that the U.S. government will not have to support you if you get an immigrant visa. If you have employment waiting for you in the United States, bring the employment contract and or a letter from the employer confirming the job (keep in mind that as a K-1/CR-1 fiance or spouse, you do not need to have a job waiting for you in the U.S. However, if you do have employment waiting for you by all means, provide the proof—it can only help—make sure that the employment is legal employment!). You will need to have the completed and signed I-134 Affidavit of Support with supporting documents from your U.S. citizen fiancé or spouse. Finally, if you have diplomas or advance degrees and certificates bring the originals even if they are not in English.*
Remember, you are attempting to convince the consular officer that you will not need to rely on the U.S. government for financial support— offers of employment, diplomas, advance degrees, certificates and certifications help to make that point.
- Proof of your Sincere Relationship with your U.S. citizen fiancé or spouse—bring pictures of you and your U.S. citizen fiancé or spouse together, text messages, telephone transcripts, airplane boarding passes and tickets, the receipt for the engagement ring or wedding band; proof of any arrangements made for the upcoming marriage. You will have to provide actual photographs and print outs of all documents. U.S. consulates and embassies do not allow outside electronic devices of any kind.
- Other Records—Take any and all official records that are required for your case. Some consulates and embassies require military records, official government certificates issued by your home country declaring your marital status and criminal record dispositions. Again, check with the consulate or embassy for what is needed in your particular case.
- Proof of Your Extraordinary Abilities. If you have extraordinary talent in the arts, academics, sciences or sports as demonstrated by national or international awards, by all means bring proof of your achievements and national or international recognition to your visa interview. Again, not required but it certainly can help. However, if you are like me and you have yet to achieve national or international recognition for your extraordinary abilities and talents—that’s okay. The consular officer will not hold that against you!
The visa interview not unlike a job interview is your opportunity to convince the consular officer and the “United States” that you are the right person for the visa. So:
- Dress for the part. Men and women alike should wear business or business casual attire as appropriate in their home country. Leave the flip flops, tee shirts, and shorts at home.
- Have an understanding of the visa process and the purpose of the interview. Come prepared to answer personal questions, know your fiancé or spouse and be able to knowledgeably articulate your history and future with your U.S. citizen fiancé or spouse.
- Be honest and forthcoming. If you do not know an answer to a question say that you do not know the answer or that you do not recall the answer. NEVER make up an answer on the spot! The consular officer is aware of the anxiety and stress that you may be experiencing and they do make appropriate allowances.
- By following the above advice you will be helping the consular officer approve your case!
*Most U.S. consulates and embassies require all documents to be in English. If that is the case, you must obtain certified English translations of all required documents. However, some consulates and embassies will accept documents in the native language(s) of the country in which the consulate or embassy is located. You should check with the consulate or embassy directly.
Fiance Spouse Visa Lawyer
source material: Carl M. Shusterman, Los Angeles, California