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DCF Beijing: retention of original marriage and divorce documents

DCF Beijing Notary Documents USCIS

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#1 syzygy

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 06:13 AM

My wife and I submitted the I-130 petition and I-130a at the Beijing Embassy recently. I had assumed that all Beijing would do would be to check to see if the forms had been properly filled in and the necessary documents and copies had been included. However, they retained the originals of the marriage certificates and divorce certificates (Chinese), and told us that they would be investigating our case, and that we might be asked to provide more evidence to prove the genuineness of our marriage, and might even be interviewed. This was a surprise to me, as I had assumed that sort of thing would only be done by the Guangzhou consulate.

 

My wife had previously been married to another American citizen, and he began the immigration visa process which was not completed. I notice that the new edition of the I-130 petition (p.5, Part 4, #10) does ask "Has anyone else ever filed a petition for the beneficiary?"...which wasn't asked before, if I remember correctly. So evidently the US government is being more careful of such cases...something I have worried about for years.

 

When I asked what the process would involve, I was given a very vague answer...really no answer at all. And I was told that the process might take up to three months to complete before the petition was either accepted and sent on to Guangzhou or denied.

 

Can anyone tell me what Beijing will do as part of its "investigation", and whether it is SOP to retain marriage and divorce documents? I have asked in another thread if I had cause to worry that my wife's previous marriage to another American would cause problems, but didn't receive much response. The fact is that her previous marriage, on the surface at least, does seem sort of shady.

 

Is the retention of the marriage and divorce documents a sign that we will in fact have a problem, or is it just standard procedure?

 

Thanks in advance for your help.



#2 dnoblett

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 07:52 AM

1) It's unusual for them to retain original documents when copies are attached, probably planning on returning them to you when they interview.

 

2) Yes, a prior marriage and then canceled visa petition can trigger red flags.

 

3) Yes, if USCIS so determines an interview is needed they can and often do call people in for an interview at this point you are dealing with a USCIS field office they handle the I-130 petition the Guangzhou consulate handles the DS-260 visa petition interview.  USCIS has two field offices one in Beijing and the other co located in the Guangzhou consulate.

 

4) Actually yes USCIS doing an investigation prior to approving the I-130 is SOP, in most cases the officer has no issues and sees no red-flags so approves it and sends the case on to the Department of State to be set up for a visa.



#3 Randy W

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 08:03 AM

My guess is that he simply responded generically. Yes, it COULD take as long as 3 months before being forwarded to Guangzhou. but the shortest DCF case we've seen was only ONE month from filing to Interview - BE PREPARED.

 

Yes, USCIS CAN interview, but rarely does.

 

Always have COPIES of important documents - SHOW them the original if asked, but SUBMIT the copy.



#4 Mick

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 02:11 PM

As Randy says, unless otherwise required, submit copies, not originals. Later on down the line, originals may be needed.



#5 syzygy

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 10:29 PM

Thanks to everybody for your replies. We took the originals to be compared to the copies. I thought the originals would be returned as soon as they saw that the copies were the same as the originals. So I was somewhat surprised. I was also surprised that there was the possibility of being interviewed at Beijing. My understanding of the process was that after checking to see that the I-130 and I-130a were properly filled in, and that all necessary documents or copies were included, the petition would be sent to Guangzhou, and we would be instructed later how to proceed. My wife's previous American husband submitted his petition in the USA and included no evidence of their marriage. The petition was accepted, and he was informed that further instructions would be sent shortly. At this point I believe the process stopped. I didn't include any evidence of our marriage beyond the required documentation. Since we have been married almost 4 years I thought it was unnecessary, especially since my wife's previous husband's petition was accepted without any additional evidence. My assumption was that any evidence needed would be provided by us at Guangzhou when my wife was interviewed. I have been worried for over 4 years that the fact that my wife had been married to another American and had been sponsored by him for a visa would be a problem. That was why I was troubled by the fact that Beijing retained the originals of the marriage and divorce documents, and said that we might be interviewed in Beijing. This was a different process than what I had expected, and I asked my question here in order to discover whether it was SOP.

#6 Randy W

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 11:36 PM

Thanks to everybody for your replies. We took the originals to be compared to the copies. I thought the originals would be returned as soon as they saw that the copies were the same as the originals. So I was somewhat surprised. I was also surprised that there was the possibility of being interviewed at Beijing. My understanding of the process was that after checking to see that the I-130 and I-130a were properly filled in, and that all necessary documents or copies were included, the petition would be sent to Guangzhou, and we would be instructed later how to proceed. My wife's previous American husband submitted his petition in the USA and included no evidence of their marriage. The petition was accepted, and he was informed that further instructions would be sent shortly. At this point I believe the process stopped. I didn't include any evidence of our marriage beyond the required documentation. Since we have been married almost 4 years I thought it was unnecessary, especially since my wife's previous husband's petition was accepted without any additional evidence. My assumption was that any evidence needed would be provided by us at Guangzhou when my wife was interviewed. I have been worried for over 4 years that the fact that my wife had been married to another American and had been sponsored by him for a visa would be a problem. That was why I was troubled by the fact that Beijing retained the originals of the marriage and divorce documents, and said that we might be interviewed in Beijing. This was a different process than what I had expected, and I asked my question here in order to discover whether it was SOP.

 

 

It IS SOP, but not UOP (Usual Operating Procedure). That is, it's unusual, but nothing really out of bounds for them.

 

Like we've said, interviews by USCIS are very rare, but DO happen, whether state-side, or in China.

 

It's not entirely clear from what you're saying whether keeping your originals was intentional, or inadvertent.

 

Front-loading your petition has a double advantage - it helps grease the skids through the USCIS processing and places favorable evidence in the hands of the Visa Officer BEFORE the interview.



#7 dnoblett

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 07:01 AM

You must have included them in the packet, the recommended practice is to have them separate and in your possession when you turn the petition in , and when they are going through the contents of the petition in front of you IF they ask to see the origional document only then would you show them the origional and they would give it back.

More than likely the prior petition came up and they want to pull that file and look at it, this can happen stateside too.

#8 syzygy

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 05:54 PM

Thanks again to everybody for your input. Yes, I did keep the originals separate and showed them when asked. The person I talked with conferred with (I guess) her supervisor 2 or 3 times before saying they were keeping the originals pending an investigation. Recently I asked about the disposition of the older petition. I was told it had expired and that all files had been destroyed, but obviously they still had my wife's ex-husband's name and the case # on file, so who knows what is still there for them to check? I wonder why, if Beijing does so much, the interviews can't be done in Beijing as well as Guangzhou?

#9 dnoblett

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 10:19 PM

Thanks again to everybody for your input. Yes, I did keep the originals separate and showed them when asked. The person I talked with conferred with (I guess) her supervisor 2 or 3 times before saying they were keeping the originals pending an investigation. Recently I asked about the disposition of the older petition. I was told it had expired and that all files had been destroyed, but obviously they still had my wife's ex-husband's name and the case # on file, so who knows what is still there for them to check? I wonder why, if Beijing does so much, the interviews can't be done in Beijing as well as Guangzhou?


Two different departments, USCIS has its field offices in Beijing and Guangzhou, however Department of State has its immigrant visa unit only in Guangzhou.

#10 Randy W

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 12:19 AM

Thanks again to everybody for your input. Yes, I did keep the originals separate and showed them when asked. The person I talked with conferred with (I guess) her supervisor 2 or 3 times before saying they were keeping the originals pending an investigation. Recently I asked about the disposition of the older petition. I was told it had expired and that all files had been destroyed, but obviously they still had my wife's ex-husband's name and the case # on file, so who knows what is still there for them to check? I wonder why, if Beijing does so much, the interviews can't be done in Beijing as well as Guangzhou?

 

 

This is unusual - normally, the Visa Officer accepting your petition would simply make sure the paperwork was in order, and all the blanks were filled in. But I'm still not seeing a reason why they would keep the originals - the copies would do just as well once they were verified.

 

Like Dan said, your petition is processed by USCIS in Beijing, Her application will be processed by the immigrant visa unit in Guangzhou.





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