When Tyler and I decided on him moving here to the states, the first thing we thought is that we’d need to find an immigration lawyer. I immediately started looking up Visas online and for lawyers in my area who specialize in immigration. Through my countless days of searching I came across a few sites promoting a Do It Yourself approach. I couldn’t wrap my head around filing a petition and going through the processes without legal help. It seemed way to daunting and way too involved for someone as legal ignorant as I am to even do. However, the more I read the more I found out that it really isn’t as hard as it seems. Once you understand the processes and the steps (there are many), hiring a lawyer seemed like an unnecessary expense on an already expensive journey.
When I first began researching the visa process I was very misinformed on how this actually proceeds. Before you can even get to the visa part of the process, you must first file a petition which pretty much is asking permission to apply for a visa. By that I mean you have to send biographic information on yourself and your fiance along with proof of your relationship and a few other items. Then you wait. And you wait. And you wait. This is where the gray area is. I had this idea that when I filed, my fiance would have his visa in 5 months.
That’s where I was totally wrong.
The petition itself can take between 5-7 months to get through the US Citizen and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) before it is then handed off the the National Visa Center (“NVC”) and eventually onto the US Consulate of whatever country your foreign fiance lives. At the end of the process it could very easily be 10 months.
Once you understand all of this, it takes away the lawyer dynamic. Now, some people have very specific circumstances which warrant the use of an immigration lawyer. There’s a myriad of reasons for that and most having to do with criminal history and customs barriers which may need the expert advice of someone who can act as a liaison. But typically, two people with a solid background and access to a computer and internet connection should have no trouble filing without the use of an attorney.
There are so many free resources out there which can practically walk you through each step of the way and offer free support through forums. You can interact with people who have actually been through the process. Baring that, the USCIS website itself has become very transparent on what it expects in a petition and what happens next. The entire process has become very “user friendly.”
These are just a few. There are several various sites with all different levels of help and support. A simple Google search for the particular visa you are researching will provide many results sorted by popularity.
Next blog post will start my official progress.