resources

Here are some of the resources that have been useful to us in various parts of our journey!

(Sorry, it's a work in progress, pardon the online construction dust)



US immigration


Common Questions/Situations

I want to get a US immigrant visa for my foreign spouse/fiance. Where do we start?
If your loved one has no US immigration or criminal problems, see this summary for spouses or this one for fiances. Also, if the US citizen spouse lives outside the US, check out the link below on Direct Consular Filing for a potentially faster way to file.

If your spouse/fiance has any complications, including prior unlawful presence in the US or criminal issues, they may have a ban that needs to be waived. This link guides you through a detailed overview at Immigrate2US.net, including the paperwork, expenses, time, interview process, links to I-601/I-212 waiver resources, and common pitfalls along the way.

Direct Consular Filing (DCF) - Filing for a spouse's US residency when the US citizen spouse lives abroad. A streamlined and expedited way to file, I highly recommend it if you're eligible (can also be used for spouses who will need to file a waiver, if the US citizen lives abroad).

Document Translations for US Immigration - Tips for translating/getting documents translated for the US immigration process.

Enlisting the Help of an Elected Official - If your case has stalled, you're experiencing a communication problem with a consulate/embassy, or have some other unusual problem, you may be able to get assistance from a caseworker at your elected official's office in the US.

I think my spouse/fiance has complications and may have a ban. How do we know if he/she does and if we can file a waiver?

See this link for a list of the common complications and bans and links to find out more on each. Talking to a recommended lawyer like one of the ladies I list in the next section would be a good way to check if you have a ban before you start spending money on the immigration process.

Waiver Test - Make sure you/your spouse is eligible for a waiver if they have complications in their history. A self-test made by attorney Laurel Scott


Lawyers


The most important first step before you make any decisions. Immigration law is complex, even when it looks straightforward. Even if you don't use a lawyer to handle your paperwork through the whole process, it's super important to confirm that you're eligible for the method you're attempting, and that it truly is the best/fastest/least perilous method for accomplishing your immigration goal. Unfortunately, not all immigration lawyers are experts in even slightly complicated cases, and some unknowingly offer inaccurate advice. This is why it's important to use a trustworthy lawyer who has proven him/herself in similar cases. These are lawyers that we Guerras highly recommend after working with them personally.

Laurel Scott - She's been fighting for our case since the beginning and has always believed that justice has to prevail in the end. She's one of the foremost experts on foreign-filed waivers in the United States, and has an extremely high approval rate. Her extensive experience with consular processing also makes her an expert in dealing with roadblocks at a lot of the US consulates and embassies around the world, and she has succeeded with some of the most complicated cases. Although her office is in Houston, her firm takes clients from anywhere in the world.

Laura Fernandez - I've known Laura personally since before she even went to law school. In those days, she was expertly managing the waiver process to bring her own husband to the US legally. She was successful in that endeavor, and quickly gained exceptional skill in many areas of immigration law. She has been in solo practice for nearly two years and in that time has helped many other families I know break through legal obstacles and even find pathways to become reunited in the US when there seemed to be none. She has experience in consular processing and waivers as well as victim-based benefits, and some removal defense. Laura's office is in Milwaukee but she also takes clients globally. She speaks English and Spanish.

Lizz Cannon - She has provided assistance to our case along the way and offered invaluable advice while we fought for legislative action. Lizz has an excellent reputation among her clients for being incredibly knowledgeable, persistent in fighting for their cases, and easy to relate to, on top of all that. She is another specialist in waivers of inadmissibility, but also takes on challenging cases in other areas.  She also has a great deal of experience with the US Embassy in Brazil. Lizz practices out of her office in Boston but also takes clients from anywhere on the planet. She speaks English, Portuguese, and Spanish.


Online Communities

For those going through the challenges of the US immigration process, it becomes necessary to find people to look to for support, and it's often hard to find those people in the "real world" because most people around us just can't understand why marrying a US citizen doesn't instantly score a green card! :) These are some communities that I've found extremely helpful along the way:

Immigrate2us.net - This forum is the single greatest resource for anyone dealing with inadmissibility or waivers. It's loaded with links and resources to help you understand your own situation, direct you to legal assistance, and become fully informed if you're one who chooses to do it on your own. I have been a member for 5 years and during that time, some of my closest relationships developed through people I met on the forum. Immigrate2us is gently moderated to promote a supportive emotional environment as members go through the most difficult trials in their lives, while also being a massive stockpile of information.

VisaJourney.com - This site is made up of mainly of people going through the spouse/fiance visa process, most without inadmissibility issues, although some are pursuing other visas as well. It is perhaps the immigration site with the highest membership, so it makes it easy to find others filing through the same consulate/embassy or service center. VisaJourney maintains an excellent timeline function that compiles the information provided by members into useful statistics, so if you file an immigration petition or application, you can often get a good idea when your paperwork might be processed. It is less of an emotionally supportive environment, but great for the statistics available due to the high volume of participants.



Expat Resources


General Resources for US Expats Around the World

Find your nearest US Embassy/Consulate

Register the birth of a baby outside the US/Establish baby's US citizenship (see your nearest US consulate/Embassy website for more specific details and local requirements)

Get a US passport outside the US (again, see your nearest US consulate/Embassy website for more)

Register to vote from abroad

Pay US taxes from abroad -Including who has to file and how you can exclude your foreign income.

Child traveling internationally with just one parent


General Resources for US Expats in Korea

US Embassy Seoul

Gmarket - order just about anything online, get it delivered to your door in about 2 days, for cheaper than in stores if they even exist in stores here

11st - another site where you can find just about anything, very similar to Gmarket

Auction.co.kr - another online/find everything site. It's all in Korean.

USbaby - This site sells lots of US baby gear and supplies that are hard to find elsewhere in Korea. It's also all in Korean.

iHerb.com - Order food/ingredients, baby products, health/beauty supplies and more, straight from the US and with cheap-to-free shipping to Korea. We get stuff like corn masa, spices, nutritional supplements, grains, etc. If you use this link you can get an automatic $5 off your first order.



Life in Korea


Getting a Teaching Job

Korvia - If you are looking for a public school position, which comes with standard, built-in benefits and a steady support structure, you can choose to apply on your own directly with the government programs (SMOE - Seoul public schools, GEPIK - Gyeonggi Province public schools, or EPIK - public schools in the rest of the country). But particularly in the case of GEPIK, having a recruiter to match you up directly with a school looking for a teacher can pay off. If you are like us and are something other than a young, single, recent college grad, you may find that having a recruiter on your side can give you an edge in finding the jobs willing to hire outside the norm. I worked with Ann Park at Korvia and she was phenomenal. She not just labored to connect me with the job, but she made sure we were settled after we arrived. Korvia provides a very useful welcome packet when you arrive, including transportation from the airport, a prepaid cell phone to get you through those first days before you have banking and utilities set up, and even a welcoming party to connect you with hundreds of other teachers (especially useful if your contract start date does not coincide with a major orientation).


Parenting in Korea

Expat Parents Korea - It's the prime place to start if you have questions about life with kids in Korea. The group mixes parents of all backgrounds and many national origins. Some are members of a foreign-Korean marriage, some are military or missionary families, while others are foreign couples like us, just independently trying to make it here on our own. From this group, you can also get directed to local expat parent groups in each region of Seoul/Gyeonggi province and other provinces/cities around Korea.

AFIK (Awesome Families in Korea) - This group arose to address the concerns specific to families who are in Korea "independently" without the support of an outside entity or marriage to a Korean.


Pregnancy in Korea

Women's Hope Center - A center focusing on women in unplanned pregnancy situations in Korea (married or unmarried, Koreans and foreigners alike). They offer counseling, birth and labor education, and overall support.

Birthing in Korea - A great starting place and resource for having a baby in Korea. BIK offers doulas, birth education, fitness, breastfeeding and parenting support, birthing supply rentals, and placenta encapsulation, among many other things.

Medi Flower Women's Clinic and Natural Birthing Center - One of the top birth center choices for expat moms. Located in Seoul (Seocho-gu/Gangnam area), the facilities are excellent, the staff speaks English, and they are fully committed to intervention-free natural birthing.
* This is the birth center where Carolina was born and we absolutely loved everything about it!

Midwife Rosa (Kim OK Jin) - Midwife Rosa is very well-known in the expat parent community. She runs a small birth center in Ansan, just outside Seoul, but also will travel for home births. She speaks English and is heavily committed to all aspects of natural and intervention-free birthing.

Reliable Clinics for Expectant Mothers - This web page details some of the other top choices for English-speaking moms in Korea, particularly for those interested in more traditional birth, C-sections, or for high-risk pregnancies.


English-speaking Birth Doulas


Victoria Berezenska. Seoul area
* Victoria was our doula for Carolina's birth and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND HER!!!

Belly Bliss Doula Services: Casey Kim. Suwon/Seoul/Gyeonggi
* Casey also provides placenta encapsulation services and did so for me, I am extremely happy with her speed, efficiency, accessibility, and friendliness!

Morning Calm Doulas

Korea Baby Network

Birthsweet: Janice Gisler Smith. Bundang area

Praise Babies doula: Gail Lantz. Songtan/Pyeongtaek/Seoul

JejuDoula: Cynthia Loiselle. Jeju
Lara Kling. Seoul/Gyeonggi


Raising Multicultural Children

Getting a child's US passport with the other parent outside the US

Language development




3 comments:

Mom said...

What a great place to find so many answers to very important questions...the time you've spent putting all of this together is sure to be helpful to anyone looking for direction on these issues!

Tyler Jones said...

Very well written and presented. I am so glad that I came across this page. It is very informative, thank you for sharing.

peter kenneth said...

Great !! the website has been bookmarked !!! keep sharing interesting info !!!

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