US Spousal Visa
US K-3 (Spousal) Visa
This is similar to the fiancťe visa, but is a little more complicated. If you and your girl are already married, you must have consummated the marriage and cohabited together. Even so, you still must meet the US domicile requirements. If so, then you can apply for a K-3 visa for her. At the same time, you can apply for her kids (even those not fathered by you) under 21 years of age. Her kids are K-4 applicants, but there is no K-4 visa. All her kids (including not fathered by you) will be listed on her visa.
But first, you must submit an immigration petition, Form I-130, together with the petition fee ($130 at the time of this article, but check for latest fees) to the regional office serving your US domicile of the Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS.) About two weeks later you will receive an official receipt for the I-130 petition submission. You will make a copy of the I-130 receipt, and attach it to a Form I-129F, which you fill out, attach the application fee ($100); and send it, not to the regional office, but to the National Benefits Center, where all K-3/K4 visa applications are processed.
You can not submit these petitions overseas. The Form I-130 goes to your US regional office, but the Form I-129F goes to the National Benefits Center, which may take about ten months to process, after which it is forwarded to the US Department of state National Visa Center (NVC), which will forward the BCIS approval to the US Embassy in Manila. The K-3 spousal visa is supposed to be processed in the same 60 to 90 day time it takes to process a fiancťe visa. But in my case it took ten months. When the US Embassy receives the approved petition from NVC, it will process it fairly quickly.
The K-3 visa is for her, and the K-4 classification is for her children (including those not fathered by you). In this case her children are processed with her and put on her visa, and if approved, they can get US citizenship upon setting foot in the US Ė 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 get their own US Consular Report of Birth Abroad, and a US passport, and then they donít need the K-4 visa process.
When you file the Form I-130, and subsequently the Form I-129F, you also have to file with each a Form G-325 Ė 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, your wife could be deported, and you prosecuted.
Once the US Embassy received 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 embassy.
Supporting Documents for the spousal 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 isnít always sent before your interview date, if it is sent at all, so download the DS-156 from the internet, and fill it out. Donít wait for the form in the mail, because it may not come. My wife received her official letter notifying her of the interview date by mail two weeks after the interview date, and no packet 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. If there are K-4 applicant children, a DS-156 is required for each child.
Form DS-157. This is a companion form to the DS-156. The US embassy will send you this form in a packet, with instructions on how to fill it out. Unfortunately, the packet isnít always sent before your interview date, if it is sent at all, so download the DS-157 from the internet, and fill it out. Donít wait for the form in the mail. If there are K-4 applicant children, a DS-157 is required for each child.
Receipt of Fee payment. Before you go to the interview, you must pre-pay the non-refundable visa application fee of $100. 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, so make sure it is filled out correctly and completely before you go to the bank. 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) in the US. And, you, the sponsor, will have to fill it out. Your spouse probably 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. Donít wait for your spouse's 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 married and have cohabitated. Proof of marriage is by way of a legal marriage certificate. To my knowledge, the embassy does not accept common-law marriages, as it is not recognized by the Philippine government (see Marriage Certificate, below.) Proof of cohabitation can be copies or originals of dated letters or emails you have written each other, and especially photos showing the two of you together, especially wedding photos and photos with any children between you. If you have children between you, copies of their birth certificates showing you and her as parents, especially US Consular Reports of birth abroad listing you and your girl as parents. Donít take this requirement lightly Ė your wife could be denied the visa if she canít produce them.
Proof of your domicile. You, the sponsor, must be domiciled in the US in order to use the spousal visa. This is an absolute legal requirement. Many sponsors are actually living in the Philippines with their Filipina wife. In fact, the US Embassy interviewing officer seems to be more concerned that you have spent a lot of time in the Philippines with your wife. Nevertheless, the US Domicile requirement is absolute. It is OK to have two residences, but you can have only one domicile Ė and that must be in the US. If you donít have the following documents, or have abandoned your US domicile, go back to the US and re-establish your US domicile, and get the following documents to prove it Ė a current driverís 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 the house you intend to live in.
Marriage Certificate issued by the Philippine National Statistics Office (NSO) and on NSO security paper. Only official copies on NSO security paper will be accepted..
Filipino Spouseís Birth Certificate. Only official copies on NSO security paper will be accepted..
Filipino Spouseís Passport. Should be valid for three years or more.
K-4 childís 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 childís birth certificate, you may be required to have a notarized release from him, or a court order terminating his parental rights.
K-4 childís Passport. Generally not required, as these children will be listed on your wifeís visa. Bur if the child has one, it should be valid for at least a year.
Divorce decrees. If either of you have been divorced, you must submit a copy of your divorce decrees. If you have not had a final decree issued on a former spouse, you cannot get a spousal 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 yours in the US, in which case, they may already be in your file at the embassy.
The US embassy contracts with St. Lukeís Medical Clinic Extension for all medical exams. This clinic is only about five short blocks from the Embassy. There really isnít 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 reception desk will ask for the filled out Form DS-156 with the Bank receipt printed on it. 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 doesnít 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 spouse's time will be waiting in a queue for the various exam stations. Be forewarned, if your spouse is in her menses, the doctors will probably refuse to do an internal pelvic exam, which means she canít 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 spouse is there, you can be sure the doctor will refuse. In that case, she will have 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 wifeís exam, a medical staffer will ask for all your supporting documents, including originals. The staffer will put these in an envelope and seal it. You wonít 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.
The interview is the most dangerous obstacle your Filipino spouse faces. If at all possible, you should be there with her. At my wifeís interview, only one question was directed to her Ė 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 wouldnít 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 spouse 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 at window X to get your specific interview sequence number, and you also give to the window 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 havenít submitted all your documents, originals, and proofs, do so at this time, even if they donít ask for them. They will want to be assured that you have cohabitated, so submit your proofs of cohabitation, and donít forget your proof of domicile, even if they donít ask for it. If they donít ask about prior divorces, volunteer copies anyway. If they donít need a particular item, they will tell you and give it back to you. You will get your originals back later, so donít 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 spouseís fate in their hands. Their determination as to your spouseís eligibility, in conjunction with a US Medical officerís 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 cohabitated, and be looking at your proofs, 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 your medical exam results on a different schedule, so final approval may not be given.
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), driverís licenses or IDís, etc. The embassy will keep the Filipino spouseís Filipino passport so they can insert the visa in it, and send it to her by courier in about two to four weeks.
In a couple of weeks your wife, if she is successful, will receive her passport back by courier service Ė with a visa affixed to it. The visa expiration date is the latest date your wife can arrive at a US port of entry. Visa expiration dates for spousal visas are usually two years from the date of issue. That gives you and her time to synchronize your move with schools, and to pack up or sell your things. In our case, we took seven months from the time the K-3 visa was issued to the time we arrived in the US.
Be aware that your original immigration petition (the I-130 petition you submitted) may be processed during any departure delay. In my case, because the approval of the I-129F was delayed for ten months, the US Embassy actually received my wife's I-130 immigration package before we left the Philippines on the K-3 visa. We then had the choice of processing the immigration petition or continuing on the K-3 visa. (Note: the K-3 visa is not an immigrant visa, it is a special visitor's visa that allows your spouse to travel to the US to wait with you while her immigration status is pending.) I elected to continue on the K-3 visa we already had, and called the NVC and explained that we were already in the process of leaving for the US.
Philippine Government exit requirements
Well, your girl still canít 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 canít 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 to 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 some also start looking around for new partners as soon as their feet touch the ground in the US.
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