Updated: Mar 19, 2019
You met a girl and things are going well! You may have even started planning a trip to the Philippines. Marriage is a possibility in all relationships, but there are a few extra steps you need to take in advance when dating a woman abroad.
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 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will want proof of an ongoing relationship when you apply for your visa. 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 affect your process down the road. In addition, they want proof of your physical relationship.
There isn't 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 that this will lower your odds of getting approved. I recommend spending a minimum of 10 days, but 20 or more 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 together (pictures of you, her, and her family together are the best), bus or boat tickets from any trips you might have taken together, and receipts of anything you might have bought her, like a wedding ring.
If you are planning on proposing while you are in the Philippines, then you might want to consider taking some trips with her and knocking out some things she will need to do. Such as getting her a postal ID, SSS ID, Voter ID, and a passport. This will dramatically help her especially if she lives in the provinces and has to travel to acquire most of these. If you are planning a proposal, you should read the article "Proposal & Wedding Customs In The Philippines".
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 it's doable. If she is in the provinces, you can just about cut that number in half. You'll also need to take into consideration whether she is living with family and whether 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.
Letter of intent
When you apply for your K-1 visa you will need your loved one to sign a "Fiancé Letter of Intent". This is simply a letter stating that she has every intention of marrying you, and is not wasting the government's time. This cannot be faxed back and forth. You need an original signature. It is best to bring the letter with you to avoid the long wait of mailing it back and forth. I have attached a copy of the letter to fill out below:
There are a couple great services available to help you through the K1-Visa process. You could start filling out the application while you are in the Philippines to make it easier to get all of her information documented. The two best services we have found are Filipino Visa & Rapid Visa.