~ K1 Visa Timeline ~

10th September 2001

Sent I-129F, 2 x G-325a, Check for $95, ADIT photographs, letters of intent, copies of divorce decrees and basic evidence of relationship to the Vermont Service Center of the Immigration and Naturalization Service via a tracked United States Postal Service (USPS) service. Also sent OF-230 Part 1*,OF-156* and OF-156K* to the Visa Branch of the US Embassy in London via registered post. After sending the stuff in, Simon belatedly found this, containing useful information on how to prepare your petition. Bugger.

*These forms have now been replaced by new forms DS-230 Part 1, DS-156 and DS-156K

11th September 2001

Petition received by P. Novak at the Vermont Service Center (according to online tracking).

21st September 2001

Prepared I-134 "Affidavit Of Support" and sent IV-15 to US Embassy in London via USPS.

26th September 2001

Received the Notice Of Action ("packet 1") from the INS in Vermont stating 21st September 2001 as the date of receipt. The notice claimed that the current waiting time for an approval was 15-21 days. The check was also cleared. The website detailed how the INS procedure works.

6th October 2001

We started phoning the Vermont Service Center status line every day to check on the status of our petition.

15th October 2001

We received a letter (dated 10th October 2001)from the Vermont Service Center stating that they required a copy of a divorce decree (from Deborah's first marriage) but we had already sent them a notarized copy of the original decree - the original itself was filed, of course. The letter was a Request For Evidence (RFE) and you can find info about that here.

16th October 2001

Returned the Request For Evidence, along with another certified copy of the divorce decree via USPS. The news was filled with stories about how INS procedures had been substantially delayed by the threat of anthrax.

19th October 2001

Simon travelled to the US on a visitor visa. He was bored of waiting and it said he could on this page of the US Embassy in London's website.

31st October 2001

Simon managed to get through to the Vermont Service Center (1-802-527-4913) and speak to a human. He called at 8:00am and got through first time, but had to wait until after the usual automated message before being given the option to speak to an operator. She said the VSC had received the packet with the divorce decree the previous day (30th) and that the hold up was at the mail contractor and probably due to the anthrax scare.

She then said that she could not give specific information to the beneficiary (Simon) but only to the petitioner (Deborah, who works during VSC hours). However, she did say that once the divorce decree had been "united" with the petition packet, the whole lot would go off to be processed and that this would take 15-21 working days.

2nd November 2001

Simon decided to extend his stay in the USA until the petition approval (at least) or until the visa waiver expiry (18th January 2000), whichever was sooner.

4th November 2001

According to the VSC status line, the petition was approved on 2nd November 2001.

8th November 2001

Notice Of Approval arrived in the mail. The date of action given on the notice was the 1st November 2001. That meant that the time between Notice Of Action (NOA1) and Notice Of Approval (NOA2), with a single Request For Evidence (RFE) was 40 days. This appeared to be slightly longer than average for the Vermont Service Center.

20th November 2001

Simon called the US Embassy in London on +44 20 7355 3335 to find out if they had received his papers/Notice Of Approval. Woman on phone said "Yes, you have an interview on the 29th November". Then he hastily arranged flight back to England for interview.

21st November 2001

The packet from the US Embassy in London finally arrived confirming what had been discovered on the previous day. It said that Simon needed to fill out an OF-156 (which he had done already) and then take it to a Barclays Bank and pay the bank giro slip at the bottom.

27th November 2001

Simon flew back to the UK, arriving on the 28th. He filled-in the OF-156 (again) and then took it to a Barclays Bank and paid the £32 fee.

29th November 2001

The Medical - 8:00am

Simon stayed in a hotel across the street from Dr Michael Phelan's office (Hotel Concorde, £65 per night for tiny room with hard bed) and he was waiting outside by 7:30am. By 8:00am, there were around 10 waiting. They opened the door and everyone filed in. All applicants had to show their appointment letters and passport at the door. After filling in a brief medical questionnaire and giving them the vaccination record and a normal passport photo, everyone was sent downstairs to a waiting room.

First everyone was called for a blood test, then sent back to the waiting room for a while. Next, each person in turn was called for the chest x-ray. They were asked to strip to the waist (including watches, chains etc) and wait. One by one, everyone were called for the x-ray. Simon noticed after his x-ray that his arm was covered in blood and it seemed that the nurse and made a poor job of the blood test. After cleaning him up, he was called to be examined by the doctor. This took about 10 minutes, where he was told he needed to get MMR before Adjusting Status - this is despite having the illnesses when he was young. Simon was handed his chest x-ray and told to proceed directly to the US Embassy.

The Interview - 10:00am

Security at the Embassy was tight. Simon had to show his appointment letter to be allowed near the place. Once inside, his cell phone was taken from him and he went into the Immigrant Visa unit. He handed over his OF-156, passport, I-134, photos, birth certificate and police certificate and was asked to wait.

About half an hour later, Simon was called for his interview. He was given his original documents back and asked a few of questions:

Where did you meet Deborah?
In an AOL chat room, and then in person may times since.
Do you intend to work in the USA?
Not immediately. Deborah is in a position to support me but eventually I'd like to restart my career.
Have you had a cheese steak?
Actually, I declined it. The one offered didn't seem worth having.

Then the officer said that provided the medical result was okay (which was to arrive after 12:00pm) I could have the visa. Simon asked if he needed to see any proof of relationship, or supporting evidence for the Affidavit Of Support and he said that it wasn't necessary. In fact, Simon was asked for nothing, but it was obvious from the stack of labelled envelopes that he could have supplied anything if so asked.

The medical results arrived at 12:30pm and the passport was returned with a K-Visa attached to it. He was also given a sealed, brown envelope and told to present it to the immigration official at the Port Of Entry. Everyone who attended on that day was successful, as far as Simon could tell.

11th December 2001

Simon flew to Philadelphia on the K-Visa. The brief interview took 5 minutes with a few simple questions. Nobody asked to see his chest x-ray.

19th December 2001

Deborah and Simon were married in Media, Pennsylvania.