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sashitaski
29-10-2007, 18:51
Hi All,
I am an American citizen, but currently living in Canada during the academic year where I am in the last year of my BA program. I met my now-husband in 2002 and have been living with him (and working and studying) in Moscow every summer and some winters since then.
This past July we had a Russian wedding. Next in our plans we wanted to have an American wedding so that it could be in a church and all of my friends and family could attend (and also so my husband could finally meet my family!). This wedding is planned for next May. After that we will be going back to Moscow to live. As I mentioned before, I studied and work there, speak very good Russian, etc. I have also been accepted into an MA program (for which I have documentation) that will take place in Moscow, but through an American university.
Since my husband only wants to go over for a month next year, and then we'll move back to Moscow, obviously we can't apply for a spouse (immigration) visa, only tourist. But he applied for a tourist visa and was rejected on the grounds that having an American wife automatically means you'll immigrate. Now that's just stupid! If we wanted to immigrate, we would be applying for an immigration visa! Because his chances would be much better, he'd be legal, etc.etc.
We prepared for his interview thoroughly. I wrote an explicit letter of invitation, we had pictures and e-mails (dated!) back to 2003, proof of his work and studies, proof of trips taken together, proof that I had spent every summer (and worked in Russia), and proof that I have been accepted into the MA program in Moscow. In addition I provided proof that the U.S. wedding had been booked (church and reception venue) and paid for!
However, the consular officer was not interested in any of that. The fact that he had an American spouse was just too suspicious. Now since he is a student, of course I understand that what he has going against him is the fact that he doesn't own property, doesn't have children, doesn't have a huge salary (but a decent one, anyway)... Also he has not really travelled out of Russia except to Turkey, which, of course, doesn't count.
However, isn't this understandable when considering the fact that he's young and a student? I don't know many students in the U.S. who are rich, own property, have kids, and have travelled extensively.
What about the fact that we have the wedding planned and (partially) paid for, we can prove our relationship, that I have been there every summer, held jobs there, and will be pursuing my Master's there?
Of course we can reapply but they say that's not advisable unless your circumstances change considerably.
Well, now I faced with calling off the wedding (and Save the Date cards have already been sent to all the guests!) and telling my family that they can't meet my husband.
It seems like the officers at the embassy are not looking at each situation at a case-by-case basis and interpreting the law very harshly.
Does anyone have any other suggestions on what I could possibly do to improve our chances the second time? Or is it totally hopeless and there is just no way?
Thanks.
Alexandra
p.s. I have contacted my senators (no answer) and congressman (looking into it, not sure if anything can be done)

VladSkywolf
02-11-2007, 07:48
Alexandra,

I am dismayed that the consular officer would take such an attitude with you. This past spring I took my Russian wife to the U.S. for our delayed honeymoon (we were married last October) and to visit my family. The consular officer here was very helpful and was even encouraging my wife to apply for a marriage visa (and happily offered to assist with the process), though at this point this is something we are not interested in. The tourist visa was approved after a very short interview (maybe a couple of minutes - it really seemed to be just a formality) and we were on our way...

Her circumstances are different from your husband's though. She is older (31 at the time) and had been steadily employed for almost ten years by the same employer. Also, she does own her own apartment and had previously traveled to Europe (via Schengen visa) and Korea. Lastly, although there are no children involved, she was able to (truthfully) claim she is the primary caretaker for her grandmother.

What I really don't understand is that being married to you, a marriage visa would almost certainly be approved - it's just a matter of procedure - and he would be allowed entry into the United States, so why not a tourist visa?

To be fair, from what I have heard, consular officers are basically told to view each visa request with suspicion - in other words, guilty until proven innocent. In some respects I can't blame them for this since this is one method people use to enter the U.S. - and never leave. What is certain is that they have wide discretion in deciding these cases, so I tend to think that in this instance, it was your husband's misfortune to have seen this particular consular officer. Maybe the consular officer had a bad hair day, or woke up on the wrong side of the bed - who can say? Another one may very well decide to look at all the evidence you presented (rather than dismissing it out of hand) and come to a different conclusion, though obviously there is no guarantee of that. However, in principle, I don't think it's a bad idea to try again.

Since you do seem to have some time before your American wedding (May), perhaps your husband can try to obtain a Schengen visa? Visit someplace relatively close where it's not too expensive (by train or bus - Poland maybe?) and return? It won't guarantee anything of course, but at least it will show travel (and access) to someplace where the standard of living is deemed higher, and where obtaining a visa is not as simple a matter for Russians as it is in Turkey. Note that I'm not implying that Poland's standard of living is necessarily higher than Russia's, but a Schengen visa does allow travel to most of Europe (i.e., Germany, France, etc) where it definitely is higher, so returning from such a trip should help to illustrate your husband's lack of desire to remain outside of Russia illegally. At least in my mind it would. :)

To be honest, it sounds like you did everything right, and even provided far more information than I did. Consular officers are routinely rotated, so perhaps by your next attempt you'll be lucky enough to run into a different, more sympathetic (and slightly less suspicious) one. Best of luck to you and your husband - sorry I couldn't be more helpful.

sashitaski
03-11-2007, 01:23
Thanks for your reply. Yes, I realize that consular officers have to suspect every applicant, and that is where the problem lies. I am hopeful that we could be lucky and get someone understanding next time though!

Your idea about getting a Shengen visa is a good one, and we had actually considered it. My husband thought about just going to Finland for a day or two so that he would have that stamp in his passport, but I am wondering if it's worth it. If they didn't want to see our other documents and evidence, I wonder if the fact that he spent one or two days abroad would prove anything... He can't go for more than that because of his job and studies. I am also worried that even his Schengen application might be denied (due to lack of property ownership), although of course his chances are still better than for obtaining an American visa. But it is definitely something we are thinking about.

Thank you again for your post and suggestions!

VladSkywolf
04-11-2007, 07:51
You're very welcome. :)

I wanted to point out, since I didn't mention it in my previous post, that when my wife obtained her Schengen, she was around 26 or 27, and did not own any property. She wasn't married, was not the primary caretaker of her grandmother (or anyone), and had no children - in other words, the type of person (young single female) the US consular officer would have immediately suspected for illegal immigration. :) She only had to show proof of her income and received a tourist Schengen visa without any problems (I just verified this with her). It was, however, processed via a travel agent, and she didn't even have to go to the embassy (it was issued at the French embassy, where it's said they are more lenient).

One suggestion she makes (which I think is a good one :)) is to purchase a very cheap tour and let the travel agent handle getting the visa. If all the tours are for longer than your husband can travel, book any inexpensive tour (such as a bus tour) to any destination, let the travel agent get him his Schengen, and then simply not go with that particular tour, instead traveling to any Schengen country on his own for 1 or 2 days. :)

As for showing a trip of only 1 or 2 days - well, it takes less than 1 or 2 minutes for someone to disappear into a crowd - and not come back! :D

Give it a try - the more evidence you have, the less suspicious they should be!

Margo
04-11-2007, 13:04
Beware that Schengen counties don't like it - getting visa to one country and going to another. Unfortunately, that is why it could be sometimes tricky to arrange a tour through several Schengen countries. So be carefull with it.
Good luck

VladSkywolf
05-11-2007, 03:53
Kinda defeats the purpose of a Schengen then, doesn't it. They may not like it, but I don't think there's much they can do about it - or can they? I admit I'm ignorant of this. What are the potential repercussions?

My wife's bus tour went from Moscow-Poland-Germany-Low Countries-France, and back. She says many people hopped off in Germany and did not continue with the tour, they stayed to buy cars which they were then going to drive back to Russia. :) So I suppose something similar to this is possible (without having to buy a car :D).

sashitaski
05-11-2007, 07:04
Thanks for the info., I'll keep that in mind, and we will be looking into nearby tours!

sashitaski
17-11-2007, 01:29
Just an update, for those of you who are in a similar situation:

1) I asked the Consul in Moscow, Kurt Amend, a question about my situation during a webchat. Here is his response :
Your best option is to have your husband reapply for a tourist visa. As
you know, he'll need to show that he has every reason to return to Russia after a
short stay in the United States. How does he do that? Proof of employment, property
ownership, family ties, and so on. Our consular officers make the best possible
judgment based on the information presented to them at the visa interview.

As you can see, nothing new learned. A similar question was also posted by someone else, and I will post that question and answer as well:
ACS Russia Participant: I am an American citizen living with my Russian husband
in Russia. Last month he applied for a visitor visa to the US so that we could spend
six weeks with my family for the holidays. We had documents proving our ties to
Russia including proof of property ownership, bank account, proof of employment
here for my husband and proof of his son's residency and university attendance in
Moscow. We had included all of these in the packet with the application and my
husband even took my absentee ballot to the interview along with pictures of our
wedding. The interviewer refused to look at any of our documents and told my
husband that he has too close ties with America so no visa! Any Russian married to
an American has "close ties" with America because he is part of an American family.
So why is this a reason to refuse a visitor visa? Of course we can apply again but the
only way to get rid of those "close ties" is to divorce or wait until everyone in my
family is dead. I thought that family unity was an important factor in American
immigration policy but I have heard from many expats that the US Embassy here
has also refused to give visas to their family members also. What do we have to do
to get our spouses visitor visas?
Kurt Amend: Questions of visa eligibility in cases like your husband's are always
difficult. As you may know, to qualify for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa your husband
needs to show close ties to a residence abroad. Since each applicant’s circumstances
differ, it is impossible for me to give you a formula for what your husband needs to
demonstrate to the consular officer.
My recommendation? Have him reapply. Last year close to ninety percent of Russian
visa applicants were approved. I certainly understand your wish to have your family
together at the holidays.

90%?? That would mean that almost all tourist visa applications are approved! This does not seem to be the case, as I have heard of so many people rejected. Also, this would have to mean that practically anyone can get a visa! Or maybe it's 90% of rich people who are approved?

You can read the whole transcript at http://usinfo.state.gov/usinfo/img/a...w_10_30_07.pdf

Anyway, the main piece of advice I got out of that was reapply, which we will.

2) This past week I was contacted by someone from my senator's office (to whom I had sent a letter about my situation). He was rude, unhelpful, and in fact gave me the wrong advice. I re-explained my situation to him over the phone, and all throughout he kept insisting that my husband needs to apply for an immigration visa, because he will not get a tourist visa. When I asked him whether the American embassy might think it's possible that my husband only wants to visit and not immigrate, he said that no, it is not possible! He told me we should apply for an immigration visa, have him enter, and then exit. The first time he told me my husband will be able to come and leave within one month, and the second time he said that after he arrives he would have to stay in the country for at least 90 days first and then apply for advance parole (which I knew, and why I knew that was not an option). I also asked him whether he thought that we might have problems later on getting back into the U.S. if they see my husband was issued and immigration visa and then left right away. His answer: "Probably not." He said that definitely, the right thing to do is apply for immigration. Based on what I had found out, I was sure that we could not apply for an immigration visa (without intending to immigrate!) but to make doubly sure I called an immigration lawyer today. He told me that no, we cannot apply for any kind of immigration visa now (including K3), and our only option is tourist visa. He also said to reapply.
When I asked the senator's aide whether it would just be possible for him to write a letter of recommendation, he said no. So that was a dead end there.

3)I have also been in touch with the aide to my congressman, and she has in fact been very helpful. She told me she can put an enquiry in to the American embassy in Moscow for a definite answer for reason of denial. I called her again today and she said that she has now made THREE separate enquiries, and all of them have been ignored, that is no one has answered her. She said this was very unusual and she couldn't understand it. (we've been waiting for an answer from them for about a month now)

So she said that she will try yet again, and advised us to try to apply again right away and just try to emphasize the fact to the consular officer that my husband is NOT trying to immigrate.

So that is what we will do, and hope for the best! My husband is going to apply again this Tuesday, and I'll let you know what happens!

fco1922
22-11-2007, 09:22
The immigration official at the Embassy is just plain wrong. Spouses of US citizens are entitled to enter on tourist visas and can only apply for immigrant visas if they plan on immigrating permanently to the US. I know many Russians in this situation.

I suggest you appeal the denial. Alternatively, apply again and state you both plan on living overseas and only visiting the US temporarily.

sashitaski
22-11-2007, 22:00
I would gladly appeal, but apparently there is no such process and what the consular officer says--goes. This is what I have found online. However, if you know of a way to appeal, please let me know! In the meantime we're reapplying.
Thanks.

sashitaski
05-12-2007, 00:14
He got a visa!!! I can't even believe it, I keep thinking it's a dream and I'm going to wake up :) I guess it IS possible, and it does seem to be hit-and-miss! This time the lady doing the interview actually looked at the documents and considered our situation, as opposed to the other time, where he didn't seem to care. I don't know whether the letter from the congressman made a difference, whether the officer still had room on her quota, or we just got lucky with an understanding officer. All I know is I'm so happy/relieved! I don't have to call off the wedding now!
They told him his (1 year) visa will be ready within a few days.
The officer did like the completeness of his application (and I had made a nice detailed index listing all the documents we had, and she asked to look at some of them, for example my old visas to Russia) and she actually asked him "Are you sure you're going to come back?"!
So there's hope! Good luck to the rest of you who are in similar situations, and thank you for your support!

cobraryder
30-01-2008, 05:48
Hi All,
I am an American citizen, but currently living in Canada during the academic year where I am in the last year of my BA program. I met my now-husband in 2002 and have been living with him (and working and studying) in Moscow every summer and some winters since then.
This past July we had a Russian wedding. Next in our plans we wanted to have an American wedding so that it could be in a church and all of my friends and family could attend (and also so my husband could finally meet my family!). This wedding is planned for next May. After that we will be going back to Moscow to live. As I mentioned before, I studied and work there, speak very good Russian, etc. I have also been accepted into an MA program (for which I have documentation) that will take place in Moscow, but through an American university.
Since my husband only wants to go over for a month next year, and then we'll move back to Moscow, obviously we can't apply for a spouse (immigration) visa, only tourist. But he applied for a tourist visa and was rejected on the grounds that having an American wife automatically means you'll immigrate. Now that's just stupid! If we wanted to immigrate, we would be applying for an immigration visa! Because his chances would be much better, he'd be legal, etc.etc.
We prepared for his interview thoroughly. I wrote an explicit letter of invitation, we had pictures and e-mails (dated!) back to 2003, proof of his work and studies, proof of trips taken together, proof that I had spent every summer (and worked in Russia), and proof that I have been accepted into the MA program in Moscow. In addition I provided proof that the U.S. wedding had been booked (church and reception venue) and paid for!
However, the consular officer was not interested in any of that. The fact that he had an American spouse was just too suspicious. Now since he is a student, of course I understand that what he has going against him is the fact that he doesn't own property, doesn't have children, doesn't have a huge salary (but a decent one, anyway)... Also he has not really travelled out of Russia except to Turkey, which, of course, doesn't count.
However, isn't this understandable when considering the fact that he's young and a student? I don't know many students in the U.S. who are rich, own property, have kids, and have travelled extensively.
What about the fact that we have the wedding planned and (partially) paid for, we can prove our relationship, that I have been there every summer, held jobs there, and will be pursuing my Master's there?
Of course we can reapply but they say that's not advisable unless your circumstances change considerably.
Well, now I faced with calling off the wedding (and Save the Date cards have already been sent to all the guests!) and telling my family that they can't meet my husband.
It seems like the officers at the embassy are not looking at each situation at a case-by-case basis and interpreting the law very harshly.
Does anyone have any other suggestions on what I could possibly do to improve our chances the second time? Or is it totally hopeless and there is just no way?
Thanks.
Alexandra
p.s. I have contacted my senators (no answer) and congressman (looking into it, not sure if anything can be done)

Sash,

I went through the whole marriage visa thing to bring a Russian bride here to the USA, we got the K1 visa. But since you have married your husband already in Russia and told authorities at the US Embassy they are bound by the US Immigration laws to not let your spouse come into the USA w/o a K3 marriage visa. You were not aware of this and so you made your plans, innocently enough, but not legally. They are not concerned that you spent money already for your American wedding, the US Embassy now probably cant issue your husband a Tourist Visa because they know you are maried and you need to apply for a K3 marriage visa for him. I had to file an income report to the Immigration disclosing how much I made a year. The lawyers said it need ed to be at least 20 to 25k. I told my Lawyers I owned a business that did six figures but i did not have a personal income, the Attorney's reply was, get one. So I had my CPA fix it so as to show a personal income, had to pay taxes on it too. So they have it set in a certain way, this is the US Embassy I am talking about, not the Russians, however I am reading here on this forum that the Russian Prime Minister is making it harder to stay there for foreigners with a business visa. I went straight up with the Best Law Firm that specializes in Russian marrige visa applications. They got it done with a few major problems, though i did not like being in the dark much of the time, but when the US Govt made the mistake of issueing the visa from the Ukraine instead of the Russian Federation, I was glad to have my attorneys straighten it out, although it too another 6 months of going through channels. The Law Firm is Lolly and Holmes out of La Jolla Ca. You can do a google search and get their phone number for a free initial consultation, but you are going to have to cancel the wedding until you get a visa for your Russian Husband, the odds are against you just getting a tourist visa now since they know your already married and your US marriage plans. Try to understand our Govt policy, once they found out that you were married in Russia and that now you wanted to come back to the US and get married here, Red flags went up everywhere, no k3 visa, no deal with the US. Get this Law Firm, you can thank them and me later when you get it straightened out, but I will bet my bottom dollar, you will need a K3 visa approved either way. Senators and Congreemen can do little really but this Law Firm can get it done because they work with Lawyers there for your husband and they will work with you. I am sorry for your troubles, but the less you say that it unfair and go through the channels with qualified Attorneys the sooner it will get done. I am sort shocked that it was so easy for you to get married there in Russia. It is really abig deal to get a Russian Bride over here and most applications fail because they dont have good legal counsel. As for the advise of other well meaning souls here, unless you have done it since 9/11 dont advise this young lady to just re peal their decision to grant a tourist visa, because it is probably too far gone for that. I do agree with everyone here that Good People should not have to go through this, but unfortunately bad people, who set up prostitution rings from as far away as China, The Ukraine, Israel, and God know where, cause us all problems evn though we are innocent. Lolly and Holmes, contact them asap. Good Luck

sashitaski
30-01-2008, 06:34
Hi,

If you read my previous post, you'll see that my husband was indeed issued a tourist visa!

But thanks for the advice!

cobraryder
30-01-2008, 19:23
Hi,

If you read my previous post, you'll see that my husband was indeed issued a tourist visa!

But thanks for the advice!

Sash,

That is wonderful, and no I did not see that post, but having dealt with it from this side of the ocean, I thought I could help. And at least now you know the Immigration Attorneys for Russian American relationships in case there are issues later. God Bless you guys with everything......fireworks: