Updated: Mar 19, 2019
This might be one of the most difficult things you do in your life. However, with having the available information and the affordable companies in your corner it is now easier then ever!
The idea of going through this process can be a little overwhelming, but rest assured, if I can do it then so can you. This is a general outline of what to expect, but check our future blogs for more detailed instructions.
“Sorry, but a long-distance relationship is not enough to satisfy the USCIS. You must meet in person. ”
If you have considered proposing to your loved one then you have probably done a quick search and learned a K-1 visa is probably the route you would take to accomplish this. The K-1 visa seems completely overwhelming at first, but with a little help, it is achievable for most anyone who has the determination to do so. I will go into more detail in a future article. There are many great and affordable services that guide you through this process.
Maybe you haven't proposed yet, and maybe you don't even know if you ever will. If there is a possibility of a proposal down the road, then you need to start keeping records as soon as possible. The USCIS will want proof of an ongoing relationship. They will want records of your Facebook messages, texts, phone calls, and video chats. So, if you are in the habit of deleting your conversations, or switching phones without making a record (screen shot or phone backup), then this could dramatically effect your process down the road. In addition, they want proof of your physical relationship.
Visiting the Philippines
Sorry, but a long-distance relationship is not enough to satisfy the USCIS. You must meet in person. There is not a set amount of days you have to physically spend with your fiancé to meet the USCIS requirements, but the more time you have spent together the better. I have heard of people getting approved that have only spent 2 days together but understand this will lower your odds of getting approved. I recommend going at least 10 days but 20 would be preferable. While you are in the Philippines you will need to keep records of your trip as well. The USCIS will want to see plane tickets, lots of pictures with you and your fiancé, bus or boat tickets from any trips you might have taken together, and receipts of anything you might have bought her, like maybe a wedding ring (pictures you, her, and her family together are the best).
Financially supporting her
Maybe she has a job or comes from a higher-class family and doesn't need the money. It doesn't matter. They want to see that you are willing, capable, and are supporting her before she comes to America. The amount you should send is really depending on her location in the Philippines. If she lives in a big city like Manila or Cebu, then she could live off of ₱20,000 php a month or $400 USD. This is living tight, but doable. If she is in the provinces you can about cut that number in half. You'll also need to take in to consideration if she is living with family and if she is working. Again, there is no set number by the USCIS, but you want to show that you can afford to regularly send money. A good rule would be no less than ₱5000 php or $100 USD but in most cases, this wouldn't be enough unless she is living with family and or working.
Back To USA
You proposed, your trip is now over, and you're back in the USA. You are probably being bombarded by your friends and family about your trip and you are probably counting the minutes until your fiancé is awake so you can call and tell her how much you miss her. You’re probably feeling a little down, and if you’re like me, if it had been possible, I would have taken the next flight back to the Philippines. Use that feeling to get your butt in gear and start the K-1 visa process. It is possible to do it on your own, but it's EXTREMELY difficult. It's like night and day between doing it yourself and using a broker to walk you through the process.
Here are two great services that can walk you through the process with very affordable prices and plans.
Getting papers ready
Once you have submitted your application, there is no time to waste. There will be a list of documents she will need to get to prepare for her interview. A list is available here https://il.usembassy.gov/visas/immigrant-visas/fiancee-visa/checklist-fiancee-visa-interview/ There is no time to waste. Some things, like an ID, is not as easy to get in the Philippines as it is in America. To get a passport, your loved one will need the proper ID. She may have to travel 5+ hours just to be told she has the wrong ID (And yes, there are many different types of IDs and they are not all accepted). Now she will have to return home, possibly travel somewhere else to apply for the ID they require, and then wait for the ID in the mail. IF you’re lucky, it will be received in 1 month, and not lost in the horrible joke that is the Philippines mail system.
Hurry up and wait
Now that you have submitted your application as fast as you possibly could, and your soon-to-be bride is now gathering the papers that are required for her interview, it’s time to wait. You will probably not hear anything for several months. The wait in 2018 on a case averaged around 5-6 months. She will then be ready to set up an appointment to go to Manila for her medical exam. Once the medical exam has been completed and your loved one has passed, you will be able to set up another appointment for your interview at the US Embassy in Manila. Tell her to be completely honest during this interview. If you are caught in a lie it will be the end of this journey, and she will probably be forbidden from ever coming to the USA.
She is approved!
She is almost ready to come to the USA. The Philippines has a requirement that if any of their citizens are leaving the country, they have to take a brief seminar. But after that, she can come home, pack her bags, and be on the next desired flight to come get married. This process is long and will frustrate you, but if your fiancé is worth it like my wife was, then it’s a no-brainer. With the help of Rapidvisa.com and FilipinoVisa.com this process is very doable. I wish you the best of luck.