Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day 73 - How to apply for a fiancee visa (part 1)

... or more appropriately named "how to make time stop."

A lot of people have been asking us about the visa process for the United States. It is quite difficult to explain it in a nutshell and it was difficult even for us to research it in depth (and we're compulsive researchers). Whenever we're asked, we try to simplify the explanation as much as possible and basically just drop it when our interlocutor gives us the "puppy tilted look". "It's a long and complicated process" has become my default answer.

We're going to try to break it down here, because head scratching becomes really old, really fast.

When we decided to get married we had 2 options to choose from, as a transatlantic couple:

a) get married in Europe and apply for a spouse visa;
b) apply for a fiancee visa and get married in the United States.

We chose to go with the fiancee visa option for several reasons:

1) We wanted both of us to be able to fully participate in the ceremony. Both civil and religious ceremonies here are done in the official language (so not in English). As funny as it would have been to watch Trevor being chased around the church by a priest while reenacting the wedding of Cana Galilee, I'm sure it would have made for a stressful experience at that moment. On top of that, I am not very keen on local wedding traditions and I was more than happy to dodge that madness. (Imagine something like a non-Greek version of My Big Fat Greek Wedding).

2). The religious ceremony means a lot to us, so we wanted to have it in the church which we would end up attending as a married couple. I am not attached to the dogma of my denomination, so this is not a problem for us.

3) At the time we were researching our options, the processing time of the fiancee visa was shorter than that of the spouse visa. We knew the timeline would be fluctuating, but we were still counting on waiting less for the fiancee visa (ha! little did we know...).

4) We didn't want to go through the hassle of translation, authentication and other types of -ation that might have occurred after a marriage abroad.

So we started to prepare the filing of an application for a fiancee visa ...

men and weddings stick figure

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