US Fiancée Visa
US K-1 (Fiancée) Visa
This is the absolute quickest way to get your girl to the US. It requires that you apply in a petition on Form I-129F to the regional office of the Department of Homeland Security, which serves your US domicile. You can no longer submit this petition overseas. It is usually processed by the Regional Office of the Dept. of Homeland Security, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), in two or three months, after which it is forwarded to the US Department of State - National Visa Center (NVC). NVC will forward the BCIS approval to the US Embassy in Manila. The US Embassy will process these fairly quickly once received from Homeland Security.
You cannot use this visa if you have already married your girl, although many people marry in the Philippines, then simply hide the fact and apply for the fiancée visa anyway. This has risks, because, in order to marry, you have to get an affidavit of eligibility to marry from the US Embassy – and they might remember that you did so and ask you about it. Of course, you can always tell them you decided not to marry yet on advice of friends, but if they somehow learn you are married already, your girl will be denied the visa, and probably permanently barred from entering the US.
The K-1 visa is for her, and the K-2 classification is for her children by prior relationships (even those not fathered by you). In this case her children are processed with her on her visa, and if approved, they can get US citizenship upon setting foot in the US – in fact, her children can get US citizenship before she does. If you and she have children between you who derive US citizenship from you, they can also get their own US Consular Report of Birth Abroad, and a US passport, and then they don’t need the K-2 visa process.
When you file the Form I-129, you also have to file with it a Form G-325 – one for her and one for you. If you have been married before, you will have to submit a copy of all your divorce decrees. Take these forms seriously, and be truthful. If you lie, and it is discovered, you girl could be deported, and you prosecuted.
Once the US Embassy receives the approved I-129F from Homeland Security, they will set up an appointment for a medical exam and an interview for your girl. Take this interview very seriously. In fact I highly recommend that you, the US sponsor, be there with her. You may only have a few days notice from the US Embassy prior to the interview. The US Embassy is reluctant to reschedule these interviews..
Supporting Documents for the interview
Form DS-156. The US embassy is supposed to send you this form in a packet, with instructions on how to fill it out. Unfortunately, the packet isn’t always sent before your interview date, so download the DS-156 from the internet, and fill it out. Don’t wait for the form in the mail. My wife received her official letter notifying her of the interview date two weeks after the interview date – and no packet of forms was attached.
Your girl has to sign this form, but you will probably have to help her. If so, be sure to sign the form yourself as the person aiding her.
Form DS-156K. This is a companion form to the DS-156. The US embassy is supposed to send you this form in a packet, with instructions on how to fill it out. Unfortunately, the packet isn’t always sent before your interview date, if it is sent at all, so download the DS-156K from the internet, and fill it out. Don’t wait for the form in the mail.
Form DS-157. This is another companion form to the DS-156. The US embassy is supposed to send you this form in a packet, with instructions on how to fill it out. Unfortunately, the packet isn’t always sent before your interview date, if it is sent at all, so download the DS-157 from the internet, and fill it out. Don’t wait for the form in the mail.
Receipt of Fee payment. Before you go to the interview, you must pre-pay the non-refundable visa application fee ($100 as of the time of this article, but check for latest fees). You can only do this at Citibank or Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI). The bank will print a receipt note directly on your filled-out Form DS-156. They will also give you a receipt on a pink form, The US embassy will look at the pink form and give it back to you. They want the Form DS-156 with the banks imprinted receipt on it.
Form I-134. This is a statement of financial support. You, the sponsor are guaranteeing that you will support her (and any dependents accompanying her) during her stay in the US. And, you, the sponsor, will have to fill it out. Your fiancée will not have a clue as to the information required to be attached, such as proof of your income, and copies of your federal and state income tax returns. The affidavit of support, Form I-134 has to be signed by you, the sponsor, and notarized. It can be notarized in front of a consular officer at the US embassy, but if you are in the US, get it done there, and attach two copies of your income statement (e.g., w-2 form, etc.) and two copies of your latest income tax return. Don’t wait for your fiancées interview notice from the US embassy to get this done, as she may not have time. Your income must be more than 125% of the minimum poverty guidelines for the number of dependents you will be supporting.
Proof that you have known each other for one year, and that you have met in person. This can be copies or originals of dated letters or e-mails you have written each other, and photos showing the two of you together. Don’t take this requirement lightly – your girl will be denied the visa if she can’t produce them.
Proof of your domicile. You, the sponsor, must be domiciled in the US in order to use the fiancée visa. This is an absolute legal requirement. Many sponsors are actually living in the Philippines with their girl. It is OK to have two residences, but you can have only one domicile – and that must be in the US. If you don’t have the following documents, or have abandoned your US domicile, go back to the US and re-establish your US domicile, and document proof of it with the following: a current driver’s license with your intended US residence address on it; a current voter registration certificate with your intended US residence address on it; copies of recent utility and telephone bills with your name and intended US address on them. If you own the residence or have a mortgage, get a copy of the title or deed of trust. If you are going to lease, get a copy of the lease contract. Take a picture of your house.
Filipino fiancée’s Birth Certificate. Only official copies on NSO security paper will be accepted..
Filipino fiancée’s Passport. Should be valid for three years or more.
K-2 child’s Birth Certificate. Only official copies on NSO security paper will be accepted. This must clearly show the child is the issue of the mother. If the father is listed on the child’s birth certificate, she may be required to have a notarized release from him, or a court order terminating his parental rights.
K-2 child’s Passport. Not really necessary, as the child will be listed on the mother’s visa. If the child has one, it should be valid for one year or more.
Divorce decrees. If either of you have been divorced, you must submit a copy of all your divorce decrees. If you have not had a final decree issued on a former spouse, you cannot get a fiancée visa. Separation orders and temporary divorce decrees (issued in some states) are not sufficient. Bring the original decree(s) along in case the consular officer wants to verify the copies. You should have already submitted these in the US, in which case, they may already be in your file at the embassy
The US embassy contracts with St. Luke’s Medical Clinic Extension for all medical exams. This clinic is only about five short blocks from the US Embassy. There really isn’t a reservation system, but it is important to get there early in the morning, as there will literally be hundreds of people getting medical exams. The clinic serves the US, Canadian, and New Zealand embassies, so it is busy.
The medical exam will take all day, and the embassy recommends at least two working days between the medical exam and the interview. If your schedule doesn’t allow for that, you can ask for the results the same day, and the medical clinic will stamp your application forms accordingly.
Most of your girl’s time will be waiting in a queue for the various exam stations. Be forewarned, if your girl is in her menses, the doctors will probably refuse to do an internal pelvic exam, which means she can’t complete the exam. If you, the US citizen, are there, and you complain about it, the doctor may agree to go ahead with the pelvic exam. But if only your girl is there, you can be sure the doctor will refuse. In that case, it is better to reschedule the medical exam. She can still go to your interview, but the embassy will withhold approval until the completed exam results are submitted.
At the conclusion of your fiancée’s medical exam, a medical staffer at St. Luke’s will ask for all your supporting documents, including originals. The staffer will put these in an envelope and seal it. You won’t know the results of the medical exam. DO NOT OPEN THE SEALED ENVELOPE. This sealed packet must be given to the embassy pre-interview staff, usually at the window where you get your interview sequence number. (Window X in Manila.)
The interview is the most dangerous obstacle your Filipino fiancée faces. If at all possible, you should be there with her. At my wife’s interview, only one question was directed to her – was she the person in the application? All other questions were directed to me, and there were plenty. Some of those questions were of things and events my wife wouldn’t have known. I fully believe my wife would have failed her interview had I not been there to elaborate on the answers to the questions raised.
The first hurdle for the interview is to get to Window X inside the embassy and get a sequence number for the interview. If the American sponsor is there, it is easy to bypass the outside queue by stating you are going to the American Services Section and then walk in through the Gate 2 or Gate 3. However, if your Filipino fiancée is by herself, the guard may only let a dozen or so people in at a time, regardless of her appointment time.
Once inside the Embassy, you will stand in a queue in the immigration section at window X to get your specific interview sequence number, and you also give to the Window X attendant your sealed package from the medical clinic.
You then sit down before a big electronic board and wait for your sequence number to display, which will indicate which window you go to. Be aware that a hundred or more people may be ahead of you, and many may be left over from the day before. It is normal to wait for three or four hours, or even more before your number displays.
You may have one or two pre-screening interviews by US embassy Filipino staffers to make sure your application package is complete, and all the forms are signed and dated. If you haven’t submitted all your documents, originals, and proofs, do so at this time, even if they don’t ask for them. They will want to be assured that you have written to each other for at least one year and have actually met in person, so submit copies of your letters and photos of you two together, have the originals with you (they will be returned to you), and don’t forget your proof of domicile, even if they don’t ask for it. If they don’t ask about prior divorces, volunteer copies anyway. If they don’t need a particular item, they will tell you and give it back to you. You will get your originals back later, so don’t hesitate to offer them.
About the third time your sequence number is displayed you will be called to a booth for an interview before a consular officer. Be aware that the consular officer holds your Filipino fiancée’s fate in their hands. Their determination as to her eligibility, in conjunction with a US Medical officer’s approval of the medical exam results, determine whether a visa is issued or not.
Be respectful, courteous, honest, and prompt in your replies. Be quick to offer, or point to, documentation to back up your statements. The consular officer will probably ask you about how you met, how long you have known each other, and be looking at your proof that you have met in person, and trying to cross-check them for consistency with other documents. If the consular officer suspects any deception or falsification of documents, your visa application will be rejected. Once rejected, it is very difficult to impossible to get that rejection reversed.
If your documentation is insufficient, you may be asked to submit additional documents, which may entail another interview. When your interview is over, you will know if you have been rejected, but not necessarily if you have been approved. A US embassy medical officer may be reviewing her medical exam results on a different schedule, so final approval may not be given at the interview.
If at the end of the interview with the consular officer, you are told to go back and wait for your sequence number to be displayed again, that is a good sign that you have passed the interview. The next window you will be called to will be for fingerprinting. This is an electronic device, and no ink is involved.
The final window you will be called to, if you are successful, is to tear apart the package and give you back any originals you have submitted, such as Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, original photos (you should have submitted copies), driver’s licenses or ID’s, etc. The embassy will keep the Filipino fiancée’s Filipino passport so they can insert the visa in it, and send it to her by courier in about one to four weeks.
In a couple of weeks your girl, if she is successful, will receive her passport back by courier service – with a visa affixed to it. The visa expiration date is the latest date your girl can arrive at a US port of entry. Visa expiration dates for fiancée visas are usually six months from the date of issue.
Philippine Government exit requirements
Well, your girl still can’t leave the Philippines until she has received a certificate from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) certifying she has attended a seminar and received counseling for Filipinos leaving the Philippines. Never mind that the Philippines is a third-world backwater country which can’t even extend its dominion over all the islands, nor even bring basic infrastructure to all its population. Someone who has never left the country will be advising her on what t do if you abuse her after she arrives in the US, and what the Philippine government can (and cannot) do for her, and oh, by the way, send US dollars home often, as the government is in dire straits. But to be honest, some Filipino women are not treated well and have legitimate complaints, but also many start looking around for new partners as soon as their feet touch the ground.
US Port of Entry
There are several ports-of-entry
that could be utilized, depending on your choice of airlines and itinerary.
All flights to the US originate in Manila.
The next step is file a Change of Status application for Permanent Resident Status