The Visa Process Begins…

So the process begins… as you know.. we have decided to start the process to move back to the states.   I decided to use an attorney from the small town I grew up in because I figured I would get a little better support system and small town feel.  However, I didn’t know that I would not be getting a small town price.

I choose to go with an attorney because I know things are always changing on the immigration front and if I ran into a situation I could not handle I would have someone who had my back.  Mind you the attorney I have chosen has spent a year in China, can speak Chinese, Spanish and English.. (like myself) and we share some common friends.  So she is he best choice for us.   However, I think the chick has forgotten that Chinese Yuan is not equal to the US Dollar.

It seems this process is going to take longer than we thought.  The fee break down started with $1000 retainer, 30 days later.. another $1000.  Then the filing fees we need to pay Uncle Sam… totally about $1000… plus an extra $500 if she needs to do anything beyond the usual filing process.   So that totals about $3500… in China money… that is  22,000 rmb.   (to bring it home to you … think if you had to pay a lawyer $22,000 to do it in the states that is equal to 22,000 rmb in China) … Yeah… a lot and we don’t happen to have that lying around.

So begins the saving process…. We figure if we tighten our belts… work harder and longer, we may be able to make that money in about…. 6 months.. maybe.   That is to get the visa… that is leaving out the fact that we will still need to save money .. to actually fly back to the states, live until we can find jobs…. oh and ship our things back … it hurts me just thinking about it.   By the way … to fly back to America cost about $1000 bucks each… another 12,000 rmb.   This is going to be a rough ride people…. That only includes the money…lord help us on all the paper work we need to come up with…..

By the way… I need letters… Letters from people who know me or know of me that can say that our marriage is real.  Now all of you have been traveling thru our lives with us… so I would love to some of you reach out and email letters written in word to vouch for us… anyway… wish us luck… on the beginning of our long, long  journey.  Good thing we are not in a hurry.

until next time…




22 thoughts on “The Visa Process Begins…

  1. Hi Jo. Just stumbled upon your blog and read some of your posts on the visa. I’ve been there, done that (I’m American and my husband is Chinese); I petitioned for his fiance visa in spring 2006 and the visa was granted in Guangzhou in Sept 2007 (after two interviews in Guangzhou–what a pain in the butt!). We did not have a lawyer and I honestly don’t think one would have been of any help to us. I simply filled out all the forms as they came and then we went to the interview (though only my husband was allowed in).

    My advice for the interview is to bring lots of photos, letters, etc. You could even print out your blog! Also, anything that is in both your names (I know, this is difficult in China because bank accounts, leases, etc aren’t set up that way). Proof of your wedding ceremony and any trips taken together. These are GREAT things to have. The official interviewing you may not look at it all, but at least it’s there.

    I understand your approach to “worse-case-scenario” it. But despite your age difference, I think it will work out. Just be patient.

    Good luck! I will be reading your blog. Love your take on things!

    PS Ironically, we are now back living in China. Sigh.

  2. Sherry J

    hey jo,

    ive followed your blog for a while and i just want to say that i enjoy your stories and insight into being immersed into another culture and life and i give you kudos for staying true to your self and following your heart!!! I love your blog!!!

    I want to wish you luck in you and your beloved’s journey trying to get back to the states…and if i come across anything that will help the process go even more futher ill pass it along

    wishing you luck and sending you my blessings !!!!!!

  3. Pingback: Support Letters « Life Behind The Wall

  4. Rebecca

    Hey Jo,

    Maybe try and link up with someone who has been through this process themselves, and have them walk you through it versus paying a lawyer. I filed every USCIS application of my husband’s myself, it wasn’t too bad.

    Either way best luck to you guys!

    1. @rebecca… thanks for the advice.. I have spoken to several who have dont it before… However, my situation is totally different thank anyone. I am again a Pioneer in a situation. Please remember I am 14 years older than my husband… which is often in seen when the man is older than the woman… but with double standards out there… when the wife is much older than the husband… issues arise. That is why I need everyone’s support.

  5. Simone

    Hi Jo,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while and love it! Am I able to send in a letter? And if so, where can I sent it?
    Also, speaking of visas, is it true that one can fly into China on a tourist visa and then go to Hong Kong to apply for a work permit if they already have a job set up before they leave the US? I’ve been hearing mixed messages about whether or not this can be done.

    1. @simone… Thanks so much for the support .. yes you can also send a letter. I need to prove that our marriage is real and not some hoax to get him to America. Actually, the rules have changed on the visas… now you need to get your visa in your home country… find your job before you get here. Hong Kong is no longer the stopping point to get your visa. If you come over on a tourist visa..after the maximum 3 months you will have to return to your home country to get the work visa. Therefore, I suggest before you do anything you find a job to get your visa in the states.

  6. Regi

    Sorry to hear ya’ll(yes I’m from Texas) are coming back to the US. I just discovered your blog last month. Oh well. Best of wishes. Hope you keep blogging once you’re back over here. So, until then I’ll enjoy every post of yours while you guys are in China.

    1. Hey everyone… I am not going to stop blogging… i still have a lot of adventures to share… My husband had never been to America and has never met my family face to face… so that is just another adventure in our lives as a mixed cultural couple. Also, we are not in a hurry to leave… so it will take a while. No worries… I will still be here.

  7. blackandyellow


    Wishing you and your husband all the luck in the world. I am sorry that you are having to go through such a daunting process.

  8. I must be out of the loop, I didn’t know that you were planning on going back to the US. Good luck with the process. In autumn of this year I have to change over from the visa I am currently on, so expensive. From your posts it seems you have helped so many others coming to China. I hope everyone rallies behind you and gives you the support you need and deserve.

  9. Ged

    I know what this feels like. I went through the same process 2 years ago, only mine was for the UK. My advise is to stay calm and be patient. It will eventually happen. I know you said you’re happy with your current attorney but it might be worth it to investigate local help like Global Visas or similar. Good luck! 🙂

  10. Good luck with this, Jo!

    I know you’re clearly committed to your lawyer, but you may want to consider using Candle For Love ( which is what I used to navigate the visa process. In fact, I found that this place was often more up to date on what was going on in China than the lawyers, and many others found this to be true. They even have a subforum where you can ask questions to the Guangzhou immigrant visa section.

    The vast majority of folks on CFL never use lawyers and have no problem getting their green card — plus the advice is often better than the lawyers. Check it out.

    1. I know Jocelyn.. but our situation has a few issues… that may make it difficult for us. One is our age difference.. some people cant believe that he would not be wanting to just use me to come to the states, and I dont want to be separated at any point during the process. I know of several people who had to live apart for a year before they could be togther in the states… just a lot of horror stories. I havent commited to my lawyer yet… since we are short of funds for the retainer.

      1. @Jo, thanks for the explanation. I could see how that might be a concern.

        As for being apart during the process, yes, there are horror stories; but most of these horror stories come from a situation where the US citizen resides in the US and files their green card application in the US. If you decide to do the green card application as a Direct Consular Filing (DCF), you would submit the green card application to your closest consulate (Shanghai for you), and the whole process happens in China so you and Michael would not have to be apart. I would assume you’re doing this as a DCF, right? If not, you might consider it. From my experience, it is also much faster. I don’t know what the timelines are now (CFL can tell you how fast, on average, the wait times are for the green cards depending on how you file it), but last time I remembered, DCF process can usually could be completed within one year. When I did it, one girl w/ a Chinese hubby got hers done within 6 months.

        I’d be happy to write you two a letter of support — let me know where I can send that and what you would like me to write.

        1. @Jocelyn.. your as awesome as always. Unfortunately, now we all have to file in guanzhou. I can pay for the fees in Shanghai but everything is processed in Guanzhou now. I did talk with the hubby and he seems to believe i have the ability to do this paperwork myself… he has tremendous faith in me. So I guess we will try ourselves. I will do DCF and use your suggested website for assistance. As for the letter, I am thinking that fact that we are so well known is in our favor. So just a letter stating how long you have known us and that we are honest, real marriage, not criminals out to cheat my government. Basically that we are awesome…. blah, blah, blah… you know the drill. All letters can be scanned and emailed to me .. or mailed directly to Jo Bai, #41 Da Huang Qiao Lu, Yuyao, Zhejiang Province, China 314500.

  11. Jo: Funny but last night I pondered if I am ready to return to the US this summer and about the opportunities for staying another year or so. China is not heaven but in the autumn of my life I dread re-entering the brutish nastiness of racism. But the States are home, for better or worse. Let me know if I may be of help to you an Michael. You have been an anchor during my sojourn here.

  12. John

    Jo… It might cost more because gas here is going up so all airline are raising their fees, because of gas prices and see where else they could scam the customers. That why I don’t fly, I use to travel to Las Vegas four time a year but now I don’t travel to Las Vegas, I go to those small casino that they have here. Maybe in the small town it will be cheaper on gas. I heard that oil companies want to make more profit so they raise their gas prices higher or ship it to other states or out of countries to make more profit, people here are too greedy, is all over. I’m glad you can find an attorney to help you, good luck on your plan

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