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May 2009 Newsletter
If you cannot view the Newsletter, please follow thislink: http://www.russianwomendiscussion.com/index.php?pid=53
The RWD Newsletter
May 2009

In this edition:

Introduction

Site Stats

Cultural Exchange (Part 3)

Fewer Western Men Coming to the FSU?

Core K1 Visa Criteria

May Holidays in Russia

Upcoming Events

The GoodWife Report

Introduction

RWD Recognized With "Big Board" Status from TAZ! We are BY FAR the largest and most vibrant internet discussion forum serving our niche. Read the announcement >> here

May is a busy month for some FSU countries as Russia celebrates two significant holidays - Labor Day (May Day) on May 1st and Victory Day on May 9th. In addition, Georgia celebrates one of its TWO Independence holidays, this one on May 26th. You can read about these important holidays in the article below, "May Holidays in Russia", and links in "Upcoming Events".

If you know anyone with the name of Tamara, Alexandra, Elizaveta, Irina, Varvara, Faina or Julia - please check the "Upcoming Events" section for special name-days in honor of those cherished people in our lives.

The 3rd edition of "The GoodWife Report" was recently published providing facts and statistics about the performance of 27 International Marriage Broker affiliate programs. For anyone interested in learning more about the 'back-office' side of these businesses, this report is unprecedented, unavailable elsewhere, and provides a ton of useful information.

You can unsubscribe from this Newsletter at any time by simply clicking on this link.

Please feel free to provide feedback at RWD. We are genuinely interested in your thoughts and concerns and welcome your comments.

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Cultural Exchange

Part 3
Tennis Shoes or High-heels?

Every time I plan another trip to Russia I face a dilemma of sorts – I need to go through my closet to pick the best outfits. Perhaps that is standard operating procedure to nearly all of us, but what does that mean for me and you? Do people in the US and in Russia really dress differently?

To answer, I must establish a simple premise: It’s more difficult to discuss an “average American” than an “average Russian”. American society is a melting pot comprised of people from all over the world with different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. One common theme in the USA is tolerance to others and this tolerance starts with the way people look.

Here it’s more difficult to surprise society with unusual appearances as the definition of “usual” appearance has seen marked change in the past 40 years here (my husband says it was not always so). With individual liberty comes individual expression. This is not to say that there is no cohesive theme to dress. No. What I mean to say is that people choose to look the way they like and sometimes that choice is quite dramatically different. There are certainly some standards within particular social groups and regions, e.g. business attire for work, jeans accepted as casual dress; however, there is no universal fashion and, what is more important, there is no “enforcement” of such. Each person follows their personal criteria often giving equal consideration to comfort ahead of style. A woman in a business suit can walk downtown wearing tennis shoes…need I say more?

This is just one of the important differences between Americans and Russians. For years we have been hiding our personalities in collective society, now we choose to emulate “everybody else”. Having seen Tobolsk, Tyumen (both in Siberia), Moscow and Saint Petersburg within the past month, I have noticed one trend for women in all of these cities: this year it is skinny jeans tucked into high boots with heels. Anywhere you look, you will see young girls and women following this common trend. Having traveled and lived in all different parts of the US, I will only note dominating shorts, jeans, T-shirts, tennis shoes and flip flops. After seeing this kind of clothing, I always find it weird to get back to busy Moscow subway with its high heels and expensive outfits often purchased with their very last dollar (ruble as it were). Russian women tend to spend much time, energy and money (some might say too much) on looking good exaggerating the importance of our appearance. Said another way, looking fashionable for Russians carries with it a steep price and commitment.

Just remember, regardless of how good someone looks on the outside, it is what is on the inside that matters.


Tamara von Schmidt-Pauli at RussianWomenDiscussion.comTamara von Schmidt-Pauli is a native of St. Petersburg Russia who has been visiting, and living in, the United States and Canada since 2002. She holds bachelors and masters degrees, with honors, covering teaching of language and translation and currently resides in the greater Minneapolis area. Tamara is affiliated with Prime Language Services (www.primelanguageservices.com)




Fewer Western Men Coming to the FSU?

In the past year or two we have seen a significant decrease in the number of men who are visiting the FSU (Former Soviet Union) to find a suitable marriage partner. This is especially true for America, but also Europe and Australia as well. Why is this? I think there are several reasons.

First, the news media has been very aggressive in reporting any type of terrorist related “gloom and doom” story they can find. I believe this has made many people a little concerned, if not downright afraid, of international travel. Never mind the fact that Russia, Ukraine and the other FSU countries are some of the safest in the world! I have been all over and never felt afraid or in danger, whether in an airport or even downtown in a strange city at night. How many guys could honestly say the same thing about an urban area in America?

Because of these incidents, some of the countries in the FSU have tightened their visa requirements. It is much more difficult now for a man to get a visa to enter Russia. Hopefully, this will be a boon for Ukrainian travel, since restrictions have been eased. It is now possible for an American citizen to visit Ukraine with no visa whatsoever! There has never been a better time to travel to Ukraine! And trust me, guys, the women will make you feel very welcome!

Secondly, I think this is a decision that can be very difficult to make. Especially for a man. He is supposed to feel confident and sure of himself. Yet, the decision to travel half way around the world, to go to a country he has never been to before (and probably never had any desire to before) is huge. The media in the west has portrayed the FSU as the “Evil Empire” and taught us not to trust their leaders. The fact that we were engaged in a long struggle during the cold war times still has an effect on the American male psyche. Even if this is not voiced consciously.

Third, of course is just the uncertainty. How will I know what to do? I have no clue about the language? Or the culture. I certainly do not want to look like an idiot and make a fool of myself. Nor do I want to unwittingly give offense because I am unfamiliar with Russian and Slavic customs. I think that the language barrier is the biggest issue. In Europe and the FSU many people speak more than one language. This is much less true in America. Because of our geography most people have little day-to-day contact with foreigners. The only foreign languages we are likely to encounter is Spanish. Russian, with it’s funny writing (the proper term, by the way, is Cyrillic. Named after one of the first missionaries to the Slavic and Russian peoples, St. Cyril) and weird pronunciation, seems very intimidating. Especially to someone who may have struggled just learning some basic Spanish!

I want to try and dispel the myths and help people make the decision to come! I have been to the FSU 14 times since September 2001. After actually living in the FSU for a while I married a wonderful Ukrainian woman. Truly the girl of my dreams! If I had allowed these ideas and fears to overcome me I would not be nearly as happy as I am today.

If you are a single or divorced man, having a hard time meeting a quality woman at home, you need to give serious thought to expanding your search to the FSU. Since you are reading this I assume you are at least open to the possibility. Good.

First of all, the FSU is an incredible place to visit. It will be the vacation of a lifetime, if nothing else. The women are incredible. These ladies are well educated, beautiful, sexy, sincere and really want to marry a good man and be happy. Contrary to another widely held myth, they are not all just looking for a “way out.” They want to find a man who can win their heart; someone they can love and make happy for the rest of their long lives together!

It is generally a very safe place to be. Yes, you do have to take proper precautions, just like back home. But in all my time in the FSU I have never felt afraid or threatened in any way. This includes being in downtown areas of major cities late at night, and also being in areas which might be considered by Americans as “slums.” Nowhere was I concerned for my personal safety. The travel routes are well-used and safe. Come…the women are desperately waiting for you!!

Contrary to those old 80’s movies, the FSU of today does not resemble the “Evil Empire” of the past. Yes, the economy is a bit behind most of the West, but you will find the people to be kind, warm-hearted and very friendly. Especially if you try to speak some Russian (there are plenty of resources to help you online and offline). They will go out of their way to help you!

I hope you do not suffer from any of the “Cold War” myths about the FSU. There are no tanks in the streets, nor are there secret police waiting on every corner. There are local, lightly armed police and militia to keep the peace—just like in any Western country.

Another myth some foreigners have about this region is that the mafia controls everything. It would be untruthful if I said there was no mafia in the FSU. However, you will not see this element trying to chase foreigners! In fact, they want to make sure you have a good time and hopefully return! Why? Because most foreigners have more money to speed on luxuries and entertainment than the locals. In fact, many of the doormen in hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, etc.. have gone out of their way to make sure I was taken care of and had a good time, sometimes even introducing me to the ladies (not that I needed any help!). They know where their bread is buttered!

Russia, Ukraine and the FSU have all of the modern conveniences. There are tv’s, computers, internet cafes, showers, etc… As I said before this will be the vacation of a lifetime, if nothing else. Just keep a spirit of adventure with you, because from time to time there are power outages. You may wake up one morning and not be able to use your laptop. Don’t worry…the power will be back in a few hours. There are plenty of internet cafes that will be working! The FSU is also becoming more and more wired every day. So, you will find Wifi hotspots and your wireless card may even work as well (find out for sure before you go, though). From time to time there may be no hot water available. If you have done any international traveling, you undoubtedly know this is pretty much the situation throughout most of the world. So, just keep your wits about you, treat it as a bit of an adventure and have fun! It will be the time of your life…and you may just find that one special woman you have been waiting for your whole life. That is what happened to me and several of my friends.

Do not worry about the cultural differences or the language. There is plenty of help available in these areas. Many people do speak some English. The ladies in particular. Of course, many are very self-conscious about this ability since they do not often have the chance to practice. There are many books and guides that can help you to learn enough about the culture so you do not unwittingly give offense. Even some guides that can give you a rough knowledge of the language. Many are written phonetically (as the word would sound, using the English alphabet) and not in Cyrillic. You can do this. Isn’t your happiness worth this little bit of effort?

There are plenty of reasons to come. The women are waiting for men like you. Men who are truly seeking their happiness. Too many men in the FSU are not interested in marrying and having a family (due to the economic situation and other reasons), have drug or alcohol problems, or just do not treat women with the same respect a western man will. Come, the ladies are waiting!!

Good luck!

After having traveled to Russia, Ukraine and the FSU over 14 times, and being married to a beautiful Russian woman, Joseph Carducci is truly a man who has ‘been there, done that!’ For more info, advice and details on the process of finding, meeting and marrying a Russian woman, along with a free report and 7-part email course, please visit his site: How To Marry A Russian Woman


Core K1 Visa Criteria
by Richard Bracken, esq.

In order to establish eligibility to receive a K1 Visa, several core criteria must be carefully considered. To even consider filing for a K1 visa for an alien fiancé you must meet the following criteria:
  1. The U.S. citizen and the alien fiancé have met within the last two years.
  2. There are no legal impediments to marry.
  3. The petitioner is a U.S. citizen.
  4. Both parties have a bona fide intent to marry within 90 days of the alien fiancé’s entry into the U.S.
  5. The U.S. citizen must provide a certified criminal record if one exists.
We will now explore these requirements in better detail.

The U.S. citizen and alien fiancé have met within the two years previous to filing the I-129f petition.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) expect that evidence of this meeting will be verified with documentation.

Verifiable evidence of said meeting can include some of the following:
  • Airline ticket receipts of visits to the foreign country
  • Receipts of hotel accommodations
  • Pictures taken together (Recently USCIS has indicated a preference for date-stamped pictures taken within the last 2 years.)
  • Copies of passport with entry and exit stamps
  • Credit card statements, including foreign transactions
  • Other proofs of visit
These are a few examples of the sort of evidence USCIS will expect from you in order to verify that you and your fiancé have actually seen each other in person in the last two years. It is not necessary for people to submit all of the examples listed above, but I recommend to my clients that they try and submit as much proof as they possibly can. This will prevent any unfortunate delays in the case should USCIS ask you to submit additional evidence of meeting in the form of a Request for Evidence (RFE). RFE’s are not detrimental to your case, but it is absolutely necessary that they be replied to on time and holdups often ensue.

When discussing evidence of meeting, I always try to remind my clients that when they travel to or return from visiting the alien fiancé abroad they try to save copies of the documentation indicated above. U.S. citizens should not to forget to obtain a U.S. passport and visa from the foreign country they intend to visit before traveling. Most countries have embassies within the U.S. that can answer questions that you might have about obtaining such a visa. Applications for U.S. passports can be made and obtained from your local post office.

Exceptions to the Meeting Requirement:

There is an exception to the two-year meeting requirement in instances where both parties could not meet because of either extreme hardship or due to a long established custom. 8 C.F.R. §214.2(k)(2). USCIS is granted the authority to waive the requirement in such cases, but it should be noted that such instances must be supported by documentation and are extremely rare. As a result, if you believe that this exception may apply to you and feel unable to travel to your fiancé’s home country to visit, you should consult an immigration attorney prior to filing.

There are no legal impediments to marriage.

In other words, the marriage must be one that would be legal in the U.S. For example if the bride or groom would be ineligible for marriage in the U.S. due to being underage, or a multiple wife in a polygamous relationship for instance, they would be ineligible for a visa even if they would be considered to be eligible for marriage in their home country.

In addition to this point, prior marriages must be properly concluded prior to entering into a subsequent marriage. If either party has previously been married, then evidence must be included which shows that all previous marriage(s) have concluded either by way of divorce, annulment, or death. In this case you should include a copy of the certified final divorce decree(s) (judgment) or death certificate(s). I usually require my clients to obtain these documents before filing with USCIS from either the court or the county which maintains the records if they do not already have a copy because USCIS will likely return to you a request for evidence which places you on a timeline to respond and slows down the case. If these documents are not in English, then a certified translation will be required.

A cautionary note: I have had a few clients who after they left prior husbands or wives preferred to assume that they were divorced and free to remarry. In almost all of these cases the presumption proved to be false as no divorce decree had ever been filed for or issued. Do not assume that your prior marriage was dissolved merely because you no longer live with your husband or wife! Moreover, do not choose to try and lie about a prior marriage to the government. Failure to disclose prior marriages can render the beneficiary inadmissible or removable later for making a material misrepresentation. This can happen even if the mistake is discovered after the alien fiancé has become a U.S. citizen!

The petitioner must be a U.S. citizen

By law, only U.S. citizens can request their foreign born fiancé(e)’s to enter the U.S via the K1 visa. Thus, lawful permanent residents must first naturalize in order to request their fiancé(e)s through this process. Proof of U.S. citizenship can be evidenced in the form a of a copy of a birth certificate issued in the U.S., a U.S. passport, a copy of a certificate of citizenship, or a copy of a naturalization certificate.

Both parties must have a bona fide intent to marry within 90 days of the fiancé(e)’s entry.

Both fiancé(e)’s must prove to the satisfaction of the government that they both have an intent to marry for non-immigration purposes. Evidence of this intent is commonly evidenced in a pair of notarized letters from each party. The government may request additional evidence which can include things such as wedding announcements, communications, or other indicators of intent to marry.

The U.S. citizen must provide a certified criminal record if one exists.

This requirement is set out under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) section 214(d)(1). Criminal records can be normally obtained from the clerk of the court in the jurisdiction where the conviction occurred. If the citizen has an arrest record, but NOT a conviction, it may be necessary to obtain a letter from either the arresting agency or the court indicating that the case was never filed or that the matter was dismissed.

If the U.S. citizen has a criminal record, other than minor traffic problems, the citizen should consult with an immigration attorney prior to filing the I-129f petition.

If you have been confronting any issues dealing with this Eligibility Requirement then feel free to leave a comment or question on my site at www.simplek1.com.

Good Luck!

Richard

Article written by: Richard Bracken
Richard is currently practicing as an immigration attorney in Riverside, California and is a founder of http://simplek1.com - an information resource for those seeking a K1 Visa.

May Holidays in Russia

Once a very closed society, Russia has opened up its doors to tourism and in a very short period of time has become one of the most popular destinations on the planet. And romantic as well! Especially in spring, as it is the most beautiful time in Russia when the nature is awake after the winter sleep, flowers and trees are in blossom and all the people look spruce and happy.

May is the warmest month of spring and the most suitable for spending holiday with your loved one in Russia. A lot of things are opening up and you’ll get a wonderful opportunity to walk much around the city, stroll in the parks and avenues, do sightseeing, and even make an unforgettable romantic river cruise. You’ll be also lucky not to feel on your own back famous Russian frosts!

The reason why you should visit Russia just in May is that the Russians celebrate a lot of holidays this month. Traveling at this time could be quite interesting. You can escape the awful rush hour traffic, which is very common during the average work day and as a matter of fact you will get a chance to see cheerful Russians and witness how they party. And believe me - this is something to discover! Another nice thing about Russian holidays is that all the shops, supermarkets and the grocery stores are open throughout the day and usually work until the late evening, especially in big cities and downtown areas.

There’re two main holiday in Russia in May. The first, Spring and Labor Day, is celebrated on May,1. Labor Day in Russia has traditionally been politically charged. Marked with parades, it is used as a day of relaxation for those who do not have a political agenda to emphasize at a rally or demonstration. Though not too romantic, these festive parades are quite amusing to watch, especially if you are interested in Russian culture. The second holiday is celebrated on May, 9 and is called Victory Day. Victory Day is an important secular holiday in Russia, which is also celebrated with parades. Its significance arises from Russia's victory over Germany in WWII. Many Russians still consider this victory heroic and worthy of memories and praise.

Spending time with your beloved one in Russia during May holidays is a romantic adventure for you both and an excellent chance to get to know Russia from the inside!

To learn more about Russian holidays please visit our website http://www.russianflora.com

This article is provided by Russian Flora:
Russian Flora specializes in high-quality, reliable gift and flower delivery to Russia , CIS and Eastern Europe. The company works directly with established, local Russian florists to offer deliveries within 24-48 hours of submitted orders. After the founder and owner David Skol experienced firsthand that many of the existing delivery services to Russia provided either low-quality or over-priced flowers and gifts, he decided to provide a U.S.-based service that would provide the type of service he believed was lacking. Learn more at www.RussianFlora.com.

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