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Complicated Marriage Issue - Advice Sought

Procedures, processes, JFRV, potential documentation difficulties, whether to get married in Taiwan or overseas, as well as legal basis for divorce in Taiwan, including all related problems and pitfalls, child custody, alimony payments, abandonment, extra-marital affairs, and other complications...
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Re: Complicated Marriage Issue - Advice Sought

Postby ironlady » 06 Aug 2014, 01:28

Strychnine wrote:Hi ironlady,

Thank you kindly for the information. I'm assuming with the student visa option that she will actually have to attend a school? Also, if we get married on her tourist visa, and she returns to China to wait for the paperwork to go through, do you have any idea how long this will take, ballpark figure? It seems par for the course is somewhere around 1 year...

Thanks again!


My ex-husband was able to get a visa almost immediately, but we were living in Taiwan, and he was not a Chinese or Taiwanese national (though he didn't come from what was considered an "immigrationally desirable country", so to speak. This was pre-911 however; that may have changed things some. We had not been married long when he "suddenly decided" he did in fact want to live in the US.

And yes, that's kind of the point of a student visa. But to set her up to SUCCEED in life in the US, both professionally and socially, having better English will never be a bad thing. That was one key mistake my ex made: I offered to let him not work for 6 months and just study English, but he wouldn't do it. And so he ended up in a succession of crap jobs (made worse by his crap attitude, but that's another story.)
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Re: Complicated Marriage Issue - Advice Sought

Postby tommy525 » 06 Aug 2014, 01:55

Strychnine wrote:Hi tommy525,

Thank you for the very informative post. It was very helpful. It seems like no matter which option I go with, there will be a long wait ahead. That's a bit disheartening, but there doesn't seem to be any other choice. I'll do more research online and perhaps need to contact an attorney who specializes in this type of thing to find out more.


There are many companies in the USA who help with these issues. I engaged one company online who i hired to just help with my initial i129f application for a well deserved fee of around 200 bucks IIRC.

They helped with telling me exactly what documents I needed to put together my ap. And looked over all the data before telling me it was ok to send.

And they were great. Everything was in order .

They also can help (at extra cost) for the initial interview in China and when she is in the USA.

Many online companies charge something like 800 dollars for advice all the way through. If they only consult with you on the phone or online. IF they have to send someone in person, costs go up , way up, depending on what needed to be done.


You generally do not need an attorney (mucho big bucks) unless your case is particularly difficult. If she had overstayed while in the USa before , or she has multiple children from previous marriages, or she had a less then perfect record in China, etc.

Otherwise, for most people you can do the whole thing just by reading all about it online. Or hire a company to look over your ap and help you put it together like i did.

You can google i129f online and get tons of info. And the US embassy websites offer you much info as well.

I can tell you that it is a very very long journey that I would NOT want to ever repeat again. And I should warn you that basically you can only do this one time fairly easily and thereafter its going to be much more rocky.

There is the initial ap, which you better make sure is all in order. Because it can take months before they even get to it.

They took something like 8 months to even LOOK at our application !!

And then there is the interview at the embassy in China for her (you are not needed for this and actually may have to sit out for this interview). Along with the required hospital visit to get her immunizations done and a quick look over at a clinic prescribed by the embassy.

Then if approved there is the security check (which can take days to weeks to months to even years, but usually just days).

Then if that goes through they notify you and you can get the visa stamped in her passport. Then she has a limited time to arrive in the USA.

She will be interviewed by Immigration upon arrival (this is usually a breeze, as long as she follows instructions and brings the packet from the US embassy UNOPENED as instructed).

Then you better get hitched pronto and file the Green Card ap.

If you had already married you would have filed the i130 and I believe you can file for the green card once the i130 is approved , and of course you would already be married so no need to get married.

Both of you must go to an interview with an officer at a certain date they will set up. You have to pass this interview. They may request additional docs as well. There is also a biometrics session that she has to attend at a given location to get her prints taken and pics taken. This happens before the officer will interview you both .

I had 90 days to get certain docs related to my prior marriage in Taiwan after our interview.

Our interview went well, but those officers are not known to be super friendly . You have to convince him/her that your marriage is genuine. IF they feel you are fraudulent they will call in the heavies for a several hours long interview that can get ugly. And you may get denied. This is where you can call lawyers to help. We were so lucky, our interview was to the point and over in 15 mins. She just asked how we met and how we kept in touch and what we intended to do in the near term as a couple. OUr families. She asked for some pics showing us together. She asked me questions and her questions. Basically just wanted to know how we spent the time before arrival to the USA together and how we spent the time together after her arrival in the USA and before the interview. Just wanted to feel you out to see if there are any holes to your story. And trust me, they are known to be very good at detecting anything amiss. Our lady was nice but very professional. She didn't smile or make small talk. Her questions were all loaded ones !! She also left the room for a few minutes (and possibly you were being video-ed and recorded so what you say when she is out of the room is very important). They were probably watching and listening to see if you behaved like a couple would . I held her hand and told her she was doing fine and not to worry. This was the right reaction to being there and she promptly came back in and just said ok the interview is over and we will be contacted. They do not tell you on the spot if you passed or not anymore though.

IF you pass, you will be notified that you passed and a Green Card will be issued and mailed to the address listed on your ap.

Good luck on your endeavor. It is a very very long process and very frustrating at times.

And Ironlady's advice about her going to school is an excellent one. She could attend school while you guys wait out her visa approval. She will have to return to China to receive this visa though. As well as attend the embassy interview(s).

She will have to show that she paid a whole year's tuition at an approved school if she intends to apply for a student visa to the USA.

And she should actually attend this school. So there is no fraud on her part.

You guys have to play by the rules carefully because a falsehood of a substantial nature can get her banned for life from the USA.
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Re: Complicated Marriage Issue - Advice Sought

Postby Hokwongwei » 06 Aug 2014, 13:50

ironlady wrote:
Strychnine wrote:Hi ironlady,

Thank you kindly for the information. I'm assuming with the student visa option that she will actually have to attend a school? Also, if we get married on her tourist visa, and she returns to China to wait for the paperwork to go through, do you have any idea how long this will take, ballpark figure? It seems par for the course is somewhere around 1 year...

Thanks again!


My ex-husband was able to get a visa almost immediately, but we were living in Taiwan, and he was not a Chinese or Taiwanese national (though he didn't come from what was considered an "immigrationally desirable country", so to speak. This was pre-911 however; that may have changed things some. We had not been married long when he "suddenly decided" he did in fact want to live in the US.

And yes, that's kind of the point of a student visa. But to set her up to SUCCEED in life in the US, both professionally and socially, having better English will never be a bad thing. That was one key mistake my ex made: I offered to let him not work for 6 months and just study English, but he wouldn't do it. And so he ended up in a succession of crap jobs (made worse by his crap attitude, but that's another story.)


Sorry to derail, but I may have a similar situation in the near future. My wife is Taiwanese, but we're only legally married here. I was under the impression that it's not totally kosher for her to apply for a regular student visa to learn English since we're already married (though I've been told the authorities won't find out if we don't tell them. But I'm a by-the-books kind of guy). I guess that would require an immigrant visa for her to enter the country for any reason? Any insight on this?
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Re: Complicated Marriage Issue - Advice Sought

Postby Strychnine » 06 Aug 2014, 22:03

Thanks ironlady and tommy525 for your advice. About the student visa, she already speaks fluent English, French, Mandarin, and decent Cantonese. We are actually planning to start a business together which is one of the reasons why I would like her to be able to come the the US more quickly.

Wow, I already knew this was complicated but reading your posts made me realize it's even more complicated than I thought. Our relationship is indeed strong enough to handle the long distance, it's just that it really sucks to have to be away from each other for that long. Waiting months just for them to look at the paperwork, and then waiting more than a year for everything to go through....quite disheartening really...but it's what we want to do. So we just have to suck it up and do it I guess...
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Re: Complicated Marriage Issue - Advice Sought

Postby tommy525 » 07 Aug 2014, 01:01

Yes for us, the longest single part of it was the waiting for them to get to our case. Apparently the various centers (too few of them altogether) can handle only about 3000 cases a month and there are something like 20,000 to 30,000 cases outstanding, just to initially look at the paperwork.

And I was really mad/depressed/frustrated when after 8 months they sent a letter saying they intended to deny my application because I had filed once before for i129F and I had not sent in my divorce decree. I had to physically go to their office in San Francisco to speak to one of their agents. The agent had no authority but told me what I planned to do was best. To write them a letter stating that I had sent them the doc about my divorce and to send them another copy and to state that I had never filed i129f before. I did this and fully expected to wait another 8 months for someone else to look at it. But luckily within ten days, another officer looked at my docs and stamped it APPROVED and I got notice of that approval by text and by mail.

And since they courier your docs to the embassy (thats part of the reason why the 350 application fee) we got word from the embassy that they received the docs and they told us what to gather up r document wise and do the physical exam and will set up appt for us. We did the steps in days and got an appt in only a week. And this was great as people have waited months for an interview at an embassy. The interview with her alone was only minutes long and she was told she was approved. I then booked an air ticket for the week after.

But then, we got stuck in SECURITY . And was told that various govt agencies from the FBI, the CIA , the office of NUCLEAR NONPROLIFERATION (im not kidding) had to approve her individually. And this can take days or weeks or months or years ! And there is no ONE BODY that can keep track of it or anyone we can ask to help. I was told I could write my congressman and that may help.

At this stage I was really upset about it. Lucky i could cancel her air ticket with only a small penalty.
I learned one lesson then. Even though they said she was approved after the interview and to come get her visa "next week". THat alone is not reason to buy a ticket. She must get the actual visa in her stamp.

4 indonesian girls were at her interview that morning and all were told they were approved. She kept in touch with the girls and all 3 got their visa next week. And she was the only one put in SECURITY. Apparently they are selected at random for security check or they smell something fishy.

I was really bent out of shape. Online readings told me numerous horror stories. I decided to email the US embassy in JKT on a DAILY BASIS. They would not reply. I called the embassy on a daily basis, no luck. I emailed various US govt entities. Nobody responded.

Finally three weeks later, someone at the US embassy in Jkt responded and said that indeed she is approved and that the security check is not in their hands but for sure she has been approved.

I thought this was very nice. And indeed in just a few days we were notified she had passed her security and she quickly went over there got her visa stamped in her passport.

She went through SFO U.S. immigration in a breeze. Had to go to secondary as is the custom.

The next hurdle came after the interview at the same office I had gone to previously in San Fran. And they said my divorce doc was not "stamped" by the relevant Taiwan authorities and was insufficient proof I had was divorced from my first wife.

Luckily I had my sister in TAiwan who could help me sort this out . My ex wife was in China and was unable to assist. I couriered my original docs to her to go to the relevant office and have them stamp an original copy. She mailed this back to me and i mailed it onwards to them. This was accepted in about a week, and we were then notified we would be receiving the green card by mail. Which we then got in another 2 weeks or so. So all in all we were stuck for longer then usual in the initial wait (which is typically 4 months we were told, but took us 8) and we were stuck in security for about 3 weeks (which is very fast if one is selected for security check, and 90pct of people are NOT). But otherwise all our other steps moved extra fast for us. So our total time from application to receipt of Green Card of about 19 months (visa in hand in about 13 months) was considered very timely overall !!

BEfore receiving the green card, we got the Advanced parole cum work permit card. Which she used to get back to the US after a month long visit to JKT no problem.

WE went to the social security office to get her social security card. They gave us a temp one and once we got the green card we went back to get a permanent one. There was a short interview at the social security card office when getting the card.

So all in all not a cake walk. And apparently one is allowed TWO i129F or i130 applications and after that one must seek prior approval before applying for another one !

So i used up one i130 and i129f and now I have to marry an American if this marriage does not work !!

And just to add, I am responsible for my wife's care in the USA until she completes ten years of work in the USA (even if we divorce and she remarries) or until she moves out of the country !!

As an aside, some cases do move very fast and very seemlessly.

My friend and her college chum decided to marry. Shes TAiwanese and hes an American.

She supervised her fiance in filling in forms and sending them in, etc. And because neither of them had been married before and they were of the same age and had nothing unusual or outstanding. They actually went from initial application to visa in hand in something like 6 months IIRC.

They only waited a few months , something like 4, IIRC, to get their case initially looked at and her visit at the AIT was a breeze and she got her visa very fast as well.

She then called off the marriage because she decided it was not going to work (and shes probably right).

But they got their visa quite fast. So maybe you will get it in six to 8 months? And once in the USA, waiting for green card is not so bad as you will be together there.
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