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What does the State Department say about your documents? Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. I just got off the phone with a client and I was teaching him a valuable lesson, and while I was teaching him that lesson, I thought I might make this video so I could teach the same lesson to those who subscribe to our YouTube channel. This fellow has a pending I-130, and an I-130 is a petition for an alien relative. This is when a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident wants to bring their spouse to the United States. Of course, it also applies to other family members, but the I-130 here and the document that we're talking about is a marriage certificate.

He filed pro se, that means he filed without a lawyer, and he eventually received a request for evidence. Now in his original filing, he submitted a marriage certificate, but USCIS did not like the marriage certificate that he received and they sent him a request for evidence. One of the things that people forget when they're filing is they're always concerned about denials, but the other thing you need to think about are delays. Now for this particular fellow, he received this request for evidence and that delayed his case by many months. This case should have been approved by USCIS a long time ago, but he submitted the marriage certificate that he received back in Zimbabwe. And it turns out that the reason the USCIS did not like the marriage certificate is because it did not comport or match what the State Department says is available when it comes to marriage certificates from Zimbabwe.

Here's a great tip for people who are going through the immigration process, especially when you're dealing with documents from overseas. The State Department has taken the time and engaged in real research for every country. And for every country in the world, they have gone through and they say, these are the documents that are legitimate birth certificates. These are the documents that are legitimate marriage certificates. These are the documents that should be accepted to prove that someone was legally divorced. And they've placed all of these documents on their website. It's called the visa reciprocity. Reciprocity is a tricky word. It's R-E-C-I-P-R-O-C-I-T-Y, reciprocity. And what that means is what documents will the U.S. government accept from that home country?

The reciprocity table for Zimbabwe was very detailed and it talked about where the seal on the application was. It talked about what information is conveyed. It identifies which agency issues the marriage certificates. And it turns out that after this young man received his request for evidence, he called up the person who had performed the ceremony and he told them what he needed. Well, this marriage official did not do a good job of getting exactly what the State Department needs and now the case has been denied and the guy is going to have to figure out whether he appeals or starts all over. But the long and the short of it is he never got for the government what the State Department says is available and this is a real problem.

So, he came to me and we looked at the visa reciprocity study table, and I compared what he had and it was off. And so now he's submitted two different documents that do not match what are available from Zimbabwe. I think he might be running into a problem where they might wonder if he had submitted fake documents, but I don't think so. These are pretty darn close. I think he just hasn't gotten the certifications correctly and he hasn't received it quote unquote from the home office. That's what needs to be on the seal on this document. But that's how detailed they are, that's how nitpicky they are. That's the difference between the way life is for immigrants now versus the way it was years ago. But in all honesty, it was his mistake. He submitted documents that do not match these reciprocity table.

So, don't do that yourself. If you're going to file an application, make sure that you look at the visa reciprocity table first. You don't wait till you get the request for evidence. You do that first and you give them exactly what they want. If you have questions about this, give us a call at 314-961-8200. You can email us at [email protected]. Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. And if you liked this video, it would be great if you could share it out on social and we'd love to have you subscribe to our YouTube channel, which allows you to get updated whenever we make new videos, just like this one. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

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