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Welcome to Filipinamates Immigration page. Here we will try to gather information to together for people starting or going through the immigration process. If you don’t find what you need come visit us at our forum.

I by no means claim to be an immigration expert but then I don’t know anyone who truly is for the rules and regulations are always in constant change. This information is being put together as a reference guide to show some of what a K1 (fiancée visa) and a K3 (spousal visa) entails.

We will first cover the steps of a K1 which are not too much different than a K3 except for a little extra paperwork and money needed for the later.

  • You will need one (1) form I-129F which can be downloaded from the USCIS website.
  • You will need four (4) forms G-325A. Two for you and two for your fiancée.
  • You will need copies of your birth certificate front and back.
  • You will need copies of divorce decree and/or death certificate front and back.
  • Copies of evidence that you and your fiancée have met within the last two years. This should consist of pictures, letters, e-mails and can also include copies of your passport, plane ticket and lodging.
  • You will need an original letter from you and your fiancée stating your intent to get married within 90 days upon here arrival in the United States.
  • You will need one (1) adit photo of you and one for your fiancée. Lightly print on the back in pencil or felt pen your names.
  • Note: If extra space is needed to complete any item attach a continuation sheet and indicated the item number. Date and sign all attachments.

    Andrew Russell's Visa & Immigration FAQ & Walk-Through For the Philippines.

    Nothing here is Unimportant. This is the good stuff you NEED to know!!!

    My name is Andrew Russell, and I am married to a Filipina. I've been on the discussion board ASAWA ( for about 2 years now. I am not an immigration lawyer, but I am an immigration enthusiast. Some people like sports. I like laws, rules, and helping people. I've combined every scrap of immigration information (laws, rules, procedures, links, tips, & tricks) with the knowledge of dozens of great folks from the ASAWA Forum into the following topic areas. Aside from the fees (which change without notice), this collective knowledge should be able to answer more than 85% of your questions, and get you through the process!

    There are spelling errors, but the content is good! ;-)
    Its all about knowledge, organization, and wisdom -- not presentation!
    Please send comments, corrections, updates, or bugs to me at:

    Table of Contents:



    If you find this, you probably have questions about the K1 Visa process. It all starts with your initial filing. I'm going to assume that you've already filed. If not, I can make your life SO EASY! Just see
    my Sample K1 Petition Cover letter at the bottom of this post! Copy it, customize it, double check the fees (in case they've increased), fill in the materials noted in it, and get it out! If you have a question about what a "Letter of Intent" is, see that section below too!


    Items to collect from your lady before leaving the Philippines

    Also, for those of you who haven't started yet, here are the ONLY three things that you absolutely need to bring back from the Philippines. If you are just now going to see your girl, remember to get the following before you return:

    • 2 ADIT Pictures of her (Explained Below)
    • A Letter of Intent from her (Explained Below)
    • A Set of all four pages of Form G-325a Bibliographic data Filed out and signed on all four pages by her. (I also recommend brining 2 blank copies (8 pages total) and having her sign the blank copies in the event that you discover an error after your return. With the blank signed copies, you just have to transpose the old information into the blank document!)
    • THIS IS NOT REQUIRED: If you can easily get a photocopy or certified copy of her birth certificate, you can include one with her FORM G-325a in your petition. THIS IS NOT REQUIRED. I included one because I had it. They ask for mine, so I figured one for her would be good too!
  • Items you will need for yourself before you file a K1 Petition:
    • 2 Adit Pictures of you
    • 2 Certified Copies of YOUR birth Certificate (One for K1 Petition & one for Adjustment of Status in about 9-12 months)
    • Court Certified Certificates of Divorce Decree for each marriage if you have been previously married
  • Uncommon and Rarely Required Documents:
    • If your Fiancé is widowed, 2 certified death certificates for her previous husband will be important at some point.
    • If your Fiancé has an annulled marriage, 2 certifications of annulment will be useful at various stages. (Especially if you've never seen one. Trust... but verify. Don't just take her word for it. Someone may have lied or cheated her and only TOLD her it was an official annulment. There is no DIVORCE in Philippine law. Annulments are very hard to come by)
    • CENOMAR (Certificate of no marriage). You can get this, but it is not required. If the US Embassy really wants to know if your girl is single, they can put you on "Administrative Review" while processing your visa and request one directly from the Philippine Census Bureau. They only do this on rare occasions, and they'll often ignore any you provide with your petition because these are so often forged. All marriages in the Philippines get registered centrally in Manila with the Census Bureau. If you are offered a local "Certificate of Singleness" this is relatively useless. The Census office is the only place that can definitely state whether or not a record of marriage exists. A local office won't even know what happened in a town 10 miles away! These are a pain to get, so let the government request one if they want. When is a CENOMAR most likely to be requested?
      • If your Fiancé has children and is not married. (Looks suspicious because un-wed motherhood is less common in the Philippines.
      • If your St. Luke's sees evidence that your Fiancé may have given birth to an undisclosed child during her pelvic exam, they may request a CENOMAR check. Common causes of this are miscarriages or unreported babies given up for adoption.
      • If a lady is older than 28-35 years old and has never been reported as married, a CENOMAR may be ordered. Usually this involves additional circumstances that look "suspicious" or "odd". (The government may want to check an older woman's history. If she is marrying now, they may want to see if she ever did it before. Older never-married ladies are somewhat common, but this may be a factor they check.)
  • Detailed Guide & Task List for your Fiancé after the K1 Filing.

    After you file your K1, you are pretty much done. Your girl has to do most of the work. I prepared the list below to explain STEP-BY-STEP to my Fiancé what she must do. The information includes EVERY detail that you need to know to accomplish the process. It even has hints that are learned from months of reading and refinement via posts to the ASAWA Message board. I updated this list on 03/10/03
    . So, I recommend that you save yourself a lot of trouble and get this to your girl. You may want to rewrite it slightly, but it should also be good as it stands.

    This outline includes every task that you must complete to marry me in the next 3-5 months. You are going to need at least 4 pass port photos and two ADIT VISA photos. Passport Photos are colored photos of your face (full front view) against a black background. They should be 1.77" x 1.37". If you have prints made, you might as well get 8 pictures! The ADIT VISA photos are the 3/4th view pictures showing right ear.


    • We apply for the K1 Visa Here at the INS in the USA (This part is done!)
    • I receive a receipt from the INS that they have the application.
    • We wait for 30-100 days for them to approve the application.
    • I send you an Affidavit of Support document (During this 30-100 days)
    • You get a Passport (See the requirement at
    • After application is approved, they send it to the US Consulate in the Philippines (I also get a copy of the message and FAX you a copy)
    • You call 909-01-0011 and request the "K Packet"; I call the $6 number for foreign citizens (011-63-2-843-8414) and order it; or we print them off from the web site
    • You fill out all of the forms and go to Manila for your medical exam.
    • You give St. Luke's with all of the official paperwork and Affidavit of Support
    • You remain in Manila and attend a walk-in interview at the US Embassy on the Friday following St. Luke's
    • You return to home while St. Luke's sends documents to US Consulate
    • US Consulate approves Visa in several weeks
    • You get your K1 VISA
    • I come to Get you
    • On the way back we stop in Manila
    • We visit the CFO again for a short seminar. You show your passport and CFO certificate to get a special stamp on your passport.
    • We continue on to the United States
    • We get married
  • Seven Non-Visa Items To Think About!
    • Address Book. Start getting the Cell Numbers and addresses for all of your friends and family. Write them down in an address book. You can use the Internet to send them texts when you arrive here. If you know their numbers you can keep talking with them every day! Don't forget to write down everyone's birthdays too!
    • Wedding Dress. If you want to have your wedding dress made in the Philippines before you leave, the cost is 75% less than in America. If you wish to give me estimates, I we will see what we can do!
    • Dentistry. If you need any fillings or major dental work, please go to the dentist and let me know. The cost in the Philippines is 80% less than in the US! It is much cheaper to have it done before you leave!
    • Birth Control. If you wish to consider "the Pill", the cost of one month in the Philippines is 150php. In the US, each month is about 2200php. You should make an appointment with a doctor and buy 18 months worth if you are willing to try this method.
    • Packing/Shipping. Start thinking about what you will take with you and what you will give away to friends and relatives. If you will bring more than is allowed on the plane, I need to make to know how much so I can arrange a shipping method to get the items here.
    • Clothes/Shoes. Shoes, Underwear, Socks, and Bras are all much cheaper in the Philippines. In the US Prices run 800-7500php for shoes, 250php per pair of underwear, 150-300php per pair of socks, and about 1000php per bra! If you need close-toed shoes (for cold weather), consider buying a few new pairs of shoes before I come to get you! Also, if you like tight stretch-pants, you may want to buy them in the Philippines. The women in the US are taller and larger. If you want really nice fitting jeans or stretch pants, you may wish to purchase a few pairs before you leave!
    • Recipes. If you do not have many recipes memorized, you may wish to talk with all of your friends, family and neighbors. As a "going-away" gift, suggest that all of the ladies give write down their 5-6 favorite recipes. Place them in a notebook or binder so you will know how to make all of your favorite foods when you come here!
  • What you need to do now that our K1 Application is processing:
    • Collect the following documents. You will eventually need them by the time you visit the US Embassy to file your paperwork for the VISA. Don't put this off TOO LONG:
      • Barangay Clearance
      • NBI Clearance
      • NSO Clearance
      • Police Clearance from the government of any country where you've stayed or worked over 6 months (if you already have a passport)
    • Start getting the items needed for your Passport Application
    • Make sure you have 1 Passport Style Photo
    • Make sure you have a Photo ID (NBI Clearance, passport, PRC license, voter id, or school id)
    • Travel alone or with someone to Manila or Cebu for the 1st CFO Visit for the "Guidance and Counseling Seminar": (Even if you HAVE a passport, you will still need this to leave the country. But, you can get this certificate after you have the VISA when you go for the 2nd CFO visit to get the Pre Departure Stamp)
      • Attend CFO Guidance and Counseling Seminar for 100p at Cebu or Manila CFO (info at: They may show some videos or tell stories of ladies who had BAD PROBLEMS with foreigners. Do not worry too much if they do that.
      • Get a Counseling Certificate from CFO
        *** NOTE: This may take several days, so leave enough time during your visit!
        This certificate is a requirement to get a Passport if you don't already have one. If you do have a passport, you'll still need this certificate to leave the country. There will be a 2nd visit to the CFO Later after you get the Visa
      • They will ask you some questions about me (Place of Birth, SSN Number, Address, My Employer...). Make sure you know these before you go, or bring a cell phone and call me if you have questions.
    • If you visit the CFO during your visit to Manila get 4 Birth Certificates. (If you go to Cebu, tell me to order them on the web from the Census web site. I'll give you a reference number that you'll have to pay at a local bank before they will be delivered to your house by mail.)
    • Return from Manila
    • Apply for a passport at the nearest DFA Office. The cost is 500p. The requirements are found at You can find the nearest Regional DFA Office at To get a passport, you'll need to take:
      • An Official Birth Certificate on Security Paper (SECPA) issued by NSO
      • 3 Passport Photos 4.5 cm x 3.5 cm new photo (colored with plain white background)
      • Your Counseling Certificate from the CFO(from 3C above)
      • A Photo ID (School ID or SS Card would do)
    • I will prepare and mail you a Notarized Affidavit of Support (Form I-134) document to keep for the US Embassy Interview later
    • Wait until K1 is approved in 30-120 days. In case we get a quick approval, you should have everything above completed as soon as possible. Do not wait! If you do not, we will have to wait until you complete the steps above. We will receive Notice of Action #2 (NOA#2). You will hear about the NOA #2 from both the US Embassy and I:
      • I will tell you when I get it. Then, I will fax or mail you a copy of NOA#2 so you can get into St. Luke's.
      • The INS will ship an approval notice by mail (Diplomatic pouch) to The US Consulate in Manila. The consulate will send a letter when the receive it. They send the letter to the address that I use in the Petition. Their letter will include instructions on ordering a K-Packet (step below).
    • As soon as we know NOA#2 is approved, one of us will call to order the K-Packet and open a provencal file:
      • You can call Manila and ask for the "K Packet" at 1-909-101-0011. It is a toll call about P400-P600.
      • Or, I can order the K-Packet for you using the $6 Credit Card number (63-2-843-8414) in Manila.
      • Or, we can just print out several blank copies of the forms DS-156, DS-157 in PDF Format and the Form DS-156k PDF from the US Embassy web site and send them to you now.
    • NOTE #1: When we order the K-Packet they will need your Passport Number, your Address, your birth date, and a phone number for the courier to call in case he has difficulty finding your house when he delivers the packet.
    • NOTE #2: If we move too quickly, we will go to St. Luke's before the K1 packet and NOA#2 arrive at the embassy. If this happens, we will be placed on "Administrative Review". This only means that our VISA is held until the US Embassy gets the full packet from the US Immigration Service. This packet is placed in a brown envelope and attached to your passport. This is why we may be placed on Administrative Review if we move too quickly. This is not a bad thing.
    • Note #3: If we use the K-Packet forms from the Internet, we should still call and order the packet so that a "Provencal File" gets opened at the US Embassy. We do not need to wait for the K-packet with the blank forms to arrive. We can use the forms from the Internet. We only need to place the call so the Embassy will open a file for your VISA.
    • You fill out all of the "K Packet" Forms
    • We need to pay for the Visa Petition. You do this by going to authorized branches of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) or Citibank. You will pay a $100 fee for the K1 Petition. The bank will give you a "Pink Receipt" when you pay. SAVE THIS RECEIPT! You will need to show it at St. Luke's to prove you have paid. Before you can pay the fee, some banks will ask to see a copy of FORM DS-156 from the K-Packet. You can show a copy from the Internet or one from the Real packet. For a full list of bank locations, look at the very bottom of the this web page (
    • You gather all documentation (Pictures, Letters, Everything, Passport, Affidavit of Support, "Pink Receipt" for St. Luke's Visit, etc... from above)
    • You travel to Manila for the St. Luke's Exam and US Embassy Interview. Plan on attending St. Luke's for 2 days on a Mon/Tues, Tues/Wed, or Wed/Thurs. The Interviews are ONLY held on Friday. You must stay in Manila after your medical exam UNTIL you attend an interview on a Friday. Bring the Following:
      • Your Passport (They will need it to put your VISA in. If you don't have it, wait to go to Manila)
      • Bring 2 ADIT (VISA) photos and 2 Passport Photos to St. Luke's (Often, they refuse the photos and send you about 1 block away to a local drugstore to get new ones. Don't worry if this happens)
        • Many folks recommend bringing a pen to fill out forms and snacks. You will be at St. Luke's ALL Day. You will probably want to arrive at 5:00-6:00am and wait by the door so you can get in early. Bring the food, because you may not get time leave for lunch if you leave, you may loose your place in line!
    • You visit St. Luke's (No appointment necessary)
    • Read my comments on the St. Luke's Visit (See the "St. Luke's" experience Below!)
    • You have a medical exam; get some X-Rays, and a quick pelvic exam. (Don't go during your Menstruation. If you do, they will refuse to see you and you'll have to return later.)
    • Your vaccinations are included in the price of the visit, so go ahead and get them. If you skip them, we'll have to have them done in the US with a special doctor for $60-120. It's much easier to get the vaccination record straight from St. Luke's while you are there.
    • Someone from St. Luke's may ask to see all of your documents for the US Embassy Interview. If they ask, they will help you select the important ones, organize them, and place them in an envelope for you to take with you to the EMBASSY Interview.
    • You return the next day for the results of exam.
    • The FRIDAY AFTER your St. Luke's visit, you must attend an Interview and give your documents. They only see people on Fridays, so plan your St. Luke's visit for a Mon/Tues, Tues/Wed or Wed/Thurs with extra time in case you do not get in on the first day, and plan to stay past the Friday for your interview.
    • After the Interview return home and wait.
    • The Consulate in Manila will approve you and send you a letter. If you are not approved, the Embassy will place you on "Administrative Review." This means that they have not received my petition from the US Embassy in America yet, OR this means they need more information from you. If they need more information, they will tell you what they require. They will also send a courier to pick up the information from you. If they need more information, do not send it by mail unless they tell you. You must wait for their courier. Remember, the US Embassy may take 4-8 weeks to get the NOA#2 from America. Do not be worried if there is a delay!
    • When your passport is delivered by courier, you will see the VISA inside. The passport will be attached to a large brown envelope. DO NOT OPEN OR REMOVE THE ENVELOPE. You must now take the entire passport/envelope and travel to the CFO in Manila or Cebu to get a "Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar Stamp". You must have a Pre Departure Seminar stamp to leave the country. We could do this on our way out of the country IF we can spend 1-2 days in Manila or Cebu, but it may be easier if you get the stamp before I arrive. REMEMBER: you can not exit the country if UNTIL the Cenomar Stamp is in your passport.
    • I come to the Philippines, stay with your family, and we leave together. I may arrange for you to pick up a ticket at a local Airline Office. I can buy a PTA (Prepaid Ticket) from PAL (Philippine Airlines) and send you the PTA Number. With that number, you can visit any PAL office and have airline tickets printed. If you go to get the tickets without me, BRING YOUR PASSPORT. They will need to see your visa (so they know you can leave the country) before they will print the tickets.
    • If you don't have the CFO Predeparture RegistationStamp yet, We stop at Manila overnight so we can visit the DFA for a CFO passport stamp (details:
    • We fly back to the United States
    • We ask the stewardess on the flight for an I-94 Arrival/Departure Document and MAKE SURE the INS agent at the Point of Entry (POE) signs it and staples it to the Passport. (We can't adjust your status without it!)
    • We Apply for a marriage license and select your new "Married" name in the line that reads "NAME AFTER MARRIAGE". We can change your now however you wish. If you want to move your last name to your middle name in a traditional Filipino way... we can do that!
    • We marry within 90 days.
    • We file for Adjustment of Status (about $600 in paperwork for Employment Authorization, Fingerprints, Advanced Parole and the I-465 Adjustment)

  • Sample Pictures of a Visa, CFO Stamp, CFO Certificate, and I-94:




    25+ Form examples, Documents, Pictures stored in this directory for reference: <-- A Copy of a Visaya Dictionary (12,000+ Words) <-- Visa Guide <--Language Textbook <--My Phrases Book <---8,400+ Words you can paste in MS Word Custom Dictionary for Auto Correction <---14,600+ Words you can paste in MS Word Custom Dictionary for Auto Correction <---12,550+ Words you can paste in MS Word for Custom Dictionary Auto Correction <-- Joke <-- Me playing the piano. <-- Improved Recordings of myself


    The INS ADIT Photo Definition and Specifications

    A.D.I.T. stands for Alien Documentation, Identification and Telecommunication System (US Immigration).

    In simple terms, it passport-sized picture with the head slightly turned and both ears still showing! This is the style of photo that the INS uses to identify immigrants within their records. Remember, you'll need 2 of these for her and two of these for you! Don't leave the Philippines without hers, or you will have to wait for it to arrive by mail! Here are the specifications:


    • The overall size of the picture, including the background, must be at least 40 mm (1 9/16 inches) in height by 35 mm (1 3/8 inches) in width.
    • Photos must be free of shadows and contain no marks, splotches or discolorations.
    • Photos should be high quality, with good back lighting or wrap-around lighting, and must have a white or off-white background.
    • Photos must have a glossy finish and be un-retouched.
    • Polaroid film hybrid #5 is acceptable; however, SX-70 type film or any other instant processing type film is unacceptable. Non-peel apart films are easily recognized because the back of the film is black. Acceptable instant color film has a gray-toned backing.
    • The dimensions of the image should be 30 mm (1 3/16 inches) from the hair to the neck just below the chin, and 26 mm (1 inch) from the right ear to the left cheek. The image cannot exceed 32 mm X 28 mm (1 1/4 in. X 1 1/16 in.).
    • If the image area on the photograph is too large or too small, the photo cannot be used.
    • Photographs must show the entire face of the person in a 3/4 view showing the right ear and left eye.
    • Facial features must be identifiable.
    • Contrast between the image and background is essential. Photos for very light-skinned people should be slightly under-exposed. Photos for very dark-skinned people should be slightly over-exposed.

    The letter of Intent - A Template For You To Use

    This is a sample letter of intent for your girl to fill out. You'll need this from her before you yon file. Don't leave the Philippines without it, or you will have to wait for it to arrive by mail!


    To Whom It May Concern:

    My name is [FULL NAME], and I was born on [BIRTH DATE]. I have known [Fiancé's FULL NAME] for [LENGTH OF TIME]. We became engaged on [DATE] in [CITY, PROVINCE COUNTRY]. We are applying for a K1 Fiancé Visa petition, and I intend to marry [Fiancée’s NAME] within 90 days of entering the United States when our Visa is approved.

    [Signed Name] [Hand Written Date]



    The easy guide to preparing a K1 Visa Petition - The Cover Letter Template.

    The Cover Letter is an outline of EVERYTHING in the K1 Petition. This is like the "Cheat Sheet" or "Crib Notes" to an exam. All the instructions and everything written about the WHOLE process, boils down to the times outlined below. I've tried to make this as SIMPLE as I can. If you are starting the K1 process, customize this cover letter, fill in the items it describes in the order they are listed, and send it! Be sure to check for updated filing fees the day before you send your petition! Here is my sample letter of intent:



    K-1 Fiancé Visa Petition

    Introduction: I am a single man requesting K-1 Visa approval of my fiancé, [Fiancée’s FULL NAME], who is currently a resident of Philippines, and who is a Filipino citizen. [Fiancée’s FIRST NAME] and I desire to marry and to reside in the United States. Enclosed, please find documents for this petition, including: form I-129F; G-325A forms for both my fiancé and I; and evidence of our relationship.

    Personal Meetings:
    [Fiancée’s FIRST NAME] and I met in person during a visit from [ARRIVAL DATE OF MEETING] to [DEPARTURE DATE OF MEETING] . We were engaged on [DATE OF ENGAGEMENT].

    Why We Want to Live in America:
    I am well established, and I earn a comfortable living here in the United States. I can best support [Fiancée’s FIRST NAME] here in America.

    [Fiancée’s FULL NAME]: [Fiancée’s FIRST NAME] is currently [Fiancée’s OCCUPATION OR STUDENT STATUS] at [BUSINESS/SCHOOL]. [Fiancée’s FIRST NAME] is single and has never been married. After we marry, she plans spend a year adapting to our culture and language before seeking employment in [ANTICIPATED OCCUPATION IN AMERICA].

    About Andrew Russell:
    A U.S. citizen, I am a [YOUR OCCUPATION] at [YOUR EMPLOYER OR COMPANY NAME], Inc. in [WHERE YOU LIVE]. I am [DIVORCED / SINGLE], and I [DO NOT HAVE ANY CHILDREN / HAVE 999 CHILDREN]. I am financially independent, and manage my debts successfully.

    I appreciate your review of this petition and await your notification of approval. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance in any way. Thank you for your time and effort.

    Documents enclosed: Enclosed please find the following:

    • I-129F form and accompanying check for $110.
    • G-325A forms for [Fiancée’s FIRST NAME] and I, along with adit pictures of us.
    • Copies of our birth certificates and a certified copy of my divorce certificate.
    • Statements from [Fiancée’s FIRST NAME] and myself stating our intention to marry.
    • Proof of relationship and meeting, in the form of: plane ticket stubs/boarding passes; passport stamps; pictures of the two of us together; example letters; postmarked envelopes; telephone records; phone card receipts; and statements of wire transfer to her bank account.
  • "Copies of documents submitted are exact photocopies of unaltered documents and I understand that I may be required to submit original documents to an Immigration or Consular officer at a later date."

    Signature: ____________________________________ Date:
                    [YOUR FULL NAME]


    This Cover letter
    should be assembled using the INS Guidelines. This includes using heavy paper dividers (60-80lb paper) with adhesive tabs along the bottom to note the location of individual items. This also means using top-of-page double punches with ACCO fasteners. I took a few pictures items I used to assemble my packet, so that you could see what it looks like:


    Sample Pictures of a Visa, CFO Stamp, CFO Certificate, and I-94

    I got this from's.html but the URL is gone. I made a copy, so I don't feel too bad about reproducing it. It is one lady's personal experience at St. Luke's:

    Remember to bring the following:

    • Documents for K-1 Visa application
    • Two extra passport photos for St. Luke's Patient Data Sheets (PDS)--so that's 4 visa pictures total, including the other two for the K-1 application
    • A pen
    • Snacks
    • Passport
    • $100 medical exam and immunization fee, to be paid in pesos depending on the current exchange rate.
    • Appointment letter from the Embassy or a copy of your NOA #2.
    • Your medical fee receipt if you are asked to come back the next day.
  • Here is the story:
  • Day #1

    It's July 26, 2001. After leaving Quezon City via tax cab at 4:30 AM, I arrived at St. Luke's Extension Clinic at approximately 5:15 AM. I was the first US Embassy applicant there. The guard asked for my appointment letter and passport. I told him I don't have an appointment letter but showed him a copy of the NOA #2 as instructed by the Immigrant Visa Center. After that, he gave me a queue number. Although the clinic information included in the Embassy packet says that St. Luke's opens at 7:00 AM, the receptionists begin handing out documents at around 6:00 AM. When the receptionist called my number, I again showed my passport and a copy of my NOA #2. She then looked for my name in a list of people who called the Immigrant Visa Center to schedule the packet delivery. After finding my name, she gave me forms called Patient Data Sheets (PDS) to fill up.

    I was the first in line, but since I did not have the two ID photos required by St. Luke's, I had to look for a photo shop that was open at the time of morning! This was not in the list of requirements and so it caught me off-guard. One of the security guards gave me a referral slip for one of the photo shops nearby that can do the photos in a few minutes. This has no affliction what so ever with St. Luke's. I assume that this is a commission upon referral collaboration with the photo studio.

    When I came back, I had dropped down to number six in line because it took me about fifteen minutes to look for the photo shop. After having my PDS checked by the receptionist, I was directed to a room where a digital photo was taken for their records.

    After this, I went up to the document checking section on the 2nd floor. The receptionist there asked what visa I was applying for, and when I told her I was a K-1 Visa applicant, I was instructed to proceed to the cashier on the 5th floor. There I paid 4,590 pesos for the medical exam and immunization fee. Have your passport ready all the time. You will need it with every transaction you make at St. Luke's.

    I was then told to proceed to the 4th floor to have a urine sample collected. I assume that this is for a pregnancy test. After this I was directed to another room for blood sample collection. This was for HIV/AIDS testing. After this, I went to the 3rd floor for the chest X-ray. A word of advice: wear clothes than can easily be taken off. The ladies will have to remove everything but panties and change into a hospital gown. During the X-ray, I was given a protective shielding for my abdomen.

    After the X-ray, I had the physical examination on the 5th floor. After giving my passport and PDS to the receptionist, I had to wait for my name to be called. The nurse I was assigned to took my blood pressure, heart rate, and my height and weight. I then had a vision checked. I was led to a room with dim lights and asked to identify letters on the chart. One good thing I found out today is that I still have 20/20 vision.

    After this, I was assigned to a lady doctor who did a thorough physical examination. During this part of the medical, she asked for my medical history. After this I had to undress completely. I was asked to stand, bend over, and lie down. She also did genital examination. I have to say that the physical examination part upset me, though. While she was asking my medical history, there was an item in the questionnaire asking how many pregnancies I had. She asked if I had ever given birth when I was younger, so I answered "No" to her questions. But while she was doing the exam on me, she just had to ask the same question about five times! I was upset because I already told her I had never given birth in my life and so I don't understand why she had to ask the same thing over and over. She did the same thing when she asked about my asthma. I told her I don't remember when my last attack was because my asthma has been inactive. Nevertheless, she insisted that I give an approximate date. At this point, I had to make up a date when I thought my last attack was!

    I had a vaccination interview afterwards. The doctor asked if I am allergic to anything and then gave me the option to either have the shots in the US or at St. Luke's. I opted to get them at St. Luke's since I paid for them anyway.

    That was it for the day. I finished at about 9:00 AM. I went to the check out counter at the 2nd floor where I was informed that I have to come back tomorrow to pick-up the results of the medical and receive my vaccinations. I can't submit my visa application without the results, so I have no choice but to return the next day.

    Day #2

    Today is July 27, 2001. I left the house at 5:30 AM and arrived at St. Luke's at approximately 6:15 AM. I showed the guard my passport and medical fee receipt upon entry. He looked for my name in the list that he was holding and told me to proceed to the 2nd floor and wait for my name to be called. I was scheduled to receive my immunizations today (mumps, measles, and rubella), but by 9:00 AM, my name still hasn't been called. All the waiting was exhausting so I fell asleep until finally they called my name at around 10:30 AM. I submitted my passport and receipt to the immunization doctors and had to sit down and wait again! After about half an hour, I was called into the immunization room to receive my shots. The doctor informed me that I am not supposed to get pregnant within the next four months because the vaccination may cause abnormalities in the unborn child. The needles were intimidating, of course, and it made me nervous just looking at them. They didn't hurt, though. The shots felt like ant bites, which isn't too bad.

    After receiving my shots, I went to the ground floor and waited for my medical results to be released. I waited until about 1:30 PM, and it was a little more difficult for me to endure because I had not eaten breakfast or lunch that day. As a word of advice, eat a heavy breakfast before you go to St. Luke's. You can't bring food inside. Although there are restaurants nearby, I advise against going out because your name might be called and you might miss it. Anyway, the nurse at the releasing counter asked for my passport and confirmed certain entries in the medical report. I was also handed my chest x-ray film and vaccination report. I was told that I will be bringing this to the US, but I wasn't given clear instructions on exactly what to do with them. I left my passport with her and went back to the second floor.

    It didn't take long for the clerk at the document checking section to call my name. The person I was assigned to be actually one of the nicest people I have encountered at St. Luke's (not a lot of them are!). She asked me to give her all the requirements for the visa application. However, one thing I noticed is that she kept excluding documents from my application packet. She gave me back my Certificate of No Marriage (CERNOMAR) and said that the Embassy didn't need it. I found that strange because I have read of many instances wherein the consular officer at the Embassy asked to see a CERNOMAR. She also excluded some supporting documents for the Affidavit of Support such as bank statements, investment reports, printouts of account history, and our co-sponsor's certification of employment. The only supporting documents she included were the W-2 forms and tax returns and my Fiancé's certification of employment. I again found this strange because all the other financial documents are in support of the assets and investments declared on the Affidavit of Support.

    If the clerk had opted not to include all the pictures, letters, and emails I submitted, I would've freaked out. My guess is that the people that check the documents at St. Luke's are not very well in-synch with what the Embassy consular officers are looking for.

    After assembling my application packet, the clerk at St. Luke's handed me a claim stub and told me to proceed to Gate 4 of the US Embassy. There I paid Delbros a 110-peso courier fee for the delivery of my visa. I am supposed to be receiving the visa after 7-10 working days, granting that the consular officer assigned to my case has no questions and does not request more documents for me. I was instructed to call the Immigrant Visa Information Center at 1-909-1010011 if I do not receive my visa on day 7.

    And now, our wait for the visa begins.


    The US INS - General Tips on Assembling Applications for mailing

    • Mark both the envelope and the cover letter as to the nature of the submission. Example: ORIGINAL SUBMISSION - BRIEF FOR AN APPEAL - RESPONSE TO REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION - etc.
    • Use the appropriate mailing address and mark both the envelope and the cover letter as to the form type. Example: I-129; I-130; I-690; I-698, etc.
    • Provide both the receipt notice number and the A-Number as an identifier, if they are available.
    • If the packet is being resubmitted in response to a REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE, please place the notice requesting the additional evidence/information on the top of the packet. Also, please use the special mailing envelope provided.
    • If evidence is being submitted in support of a previously filed appeal or motion, a cover letter stating "BRIEF FOR APPEAL", etc., should be placed on top of the packet.
    • In preparing your packet, please take note of the following:
      • Do not use binders or folders that cannot be easily disassembled.
      • Use ACCO fasteners to hold together thick or bulky applications or petitions. Two-hole punching the top of the material for easy placement in the file is appreciated.
      • The use of tabs assist in locating items listed as attachments. The tabs should be placed on the bottom and not the side for ease in filing.
      • Avoid using heavy-duty staples; instead use < href="#coverletter">ACCO fasteners or heavy clips.
      • Avoid submitting originals unless specifically required (Forms I-94, Labor certifications, etc). Avoid submitting oversized documentation when possible.
    • If you are sending more than one case in an envelope, clearly separate the cases by rubber band or clip fasteners.
    • A form G-28 is not acceptable unless signed by the authorized representative and the petitioner (re: petitions) or the applicant (re: applications). Facsimile signature stamps are acceptable for the signature of the representatives. However, applicants/petitioners must live sign the initial Form G-28 submitted with the application/petition. Any subsequent Form G-28 relating to the same case may be a photocopy of the original, which should be already attached to the relating case.
    • Send copies of any prior approval notices with any new requests for extensions of stay, change of status or amended petitions.
    • Keep copies of all submissions. Don't assume the officer will have access to a prior file or record. Submit as complete a packet as possible so the case can be adjudicated from what you submit. Submit a complete packet of information for each petition or application. If officers have to review prior files or records, the adjudication of the case can be delayed substantially.
    • Be sure to complete all pertinent items on the petition or application. Ensure all entries on the forms are legible. Note the appropriate consulate, embassy, or a request to adjust status on the petition. Do not enter "N/A" when "None" is appropriate.
    • If you believe your situation to be unique, explain it fully in an attachment to the packet, not as a cover letter.
    • Please submit certified translations for all foreign language documents. The translator must certify that s/he is competent to translate and that the translation is accurate.
    • The certification format should include the certifier's name, signature, address, and date of certification. A suggested format is:
    • Certification by Translator
    • I     typed name    , certify that I am fluent (conversant) in the English and                      languages, and that the above/attached document is an accurate translation of the document attached entitled                       .
    • Signature                                                        
      Date                                          Typed Name
    • The BCIS no longer routinely requires submission of original documents or "certified copies." Instead, ordinary legible photocopies of such documents (including naturalization certificates and alien registration cards) will be acceptable for initial filing and approval of petitions and applications.
    • At the discretion of the officer, original documents may still be required in individual cases. Please be advised that the BCIS no longer returns original documents submitted with the exception of Certificates of Naturalization, Forms I-551, Permanent Resident Card, Forms I-94, Arrival/Departure Document, valid passports, or those specifically requested by the officer. Such documents will be returned when they are no longer needed.
    • Reminder: The best way to locate records is through the receipt number and/or the A-Number. Always provide this information whenever possible. If you don't know the A-Number, provide a COMPLETE name and date of birth. ALSO: Provide ANY AND ALL names used by the individual, including aliases, maiden names, names used when originally admitted to the United States, etc. Providing this information is extremely helpful and speeds up processing time.
    • DUPLICATE FILINGS (without fee): Cases will be accepted as a duplicate filing only when the BCIS has specifically requested that a duplicate be filed. In such a case, be sure to submit the receipt number of original filing or any copies of notices received from the BCIS on the first filing when submitting a duplicate petition or application.
    • The address block on the forms is the data field captured for all of our mailings. Consistent with the limitations on the number of characters per line (a maximum of 32) and the total numbers of lines (4) in that field, whatever is in the block will become the mailing address used by the system. The data in these fields is entered exactly as indicated on the forms. Please include internal routing symbols in the address block, especially for large organizations. It is better to abbreviate the name of the organization and have space for the routing codes than to fully spell out the name and have notices sit in the organization's mailroom.
    • Recognized authorities: Many I-129 petitions filed with evidence of the beneficiary's education or accomplishments include documentation submitted by various authorities. For example, petitions for artists and entertainers may include evidence the beneficiary has received an award or other recognition of achievement. Petitions for individuals employed in a specialty occupation may include evidence the beneficiary belongs to a professional organization. When an individual's awards or membership is used to support a petition, evidence establishing the reputation of that organization must also be submitted. Examples of the type of evidence needed includes the following: the size and standing of the organization or the organization's requirements for membership and any other documentation which would establish the reputation of that organization.
    • When an opinion from a recognized authority is submitted, the opinion should state: the writer's qualifications as an expert; the writer's experience giving such opinions, citing specific instances where past opinions have been accepted as authoritative and by whom; how the conclusions were reached; and the basis for the conclusions, including copies or citations of any research material used.
    • Any application or petition for an individual currently in F-1 status needs to include evidence the student has been maintaining status and has been authorized employment if applicable. Such evidence usually can be satisfied by submitting the latest Form I-20AB/I-20ID and a copy of the employment authorization card.



    Andrew's Adjustment of Status Guide & Checklist

    (I made this list by reading all instructions in all forms line by line)

    Fee Payment Advice:

    • Check for updated rates on the INS web site in case they have changed.
    • Pay by Money order or Certified Bank Check for safety (No Personal Checks)
    • You can include one payment for all the forms EXCEPT fingerprint fee.
    • Include one sseparate$50 payment for fingerprint fee by itself.  (Not all places charge the fee, and the $50 fee may be returned alone if your district office does not charge the fee.  If you send everything in one payment and no fingerprint fee is required, they will return the whole packet and ask you to submit a different check excluding the amount)
    • Cover Letter
    • Form I-485 -- Adjustment of Status Form ($255)
      • Birth Certificate of Foreign person
      • Birth Certificate of US Citizen
      • Wedding Certificate (Photocopy or certified)
      • Copy of passport page with non-immigrant visa
      • Photos (2 Adit Photos)
      • Fingerprints (We’ll be called to do this later)
      • Vaccination Supplement
      • FORM I-94 (I-102 if no I-94 was issued)
      • FORM I-846 (Affidavit of support)
      • Evidence of Eligibility (NOA#2)
    • Form I-864 -- Affidavit Support (Free)
      • 3 Years of Tax Returns
      • Evidence of Employment
      • Recent Pay Stub
      • Statement from Officer of a Bank
    • Form I-131 -- Application for Advance Parole ($110)
      • NOTE: This application grants your girl the ability to leave the country to leave the country before the 2 year mark when she gets her Permanent Resident Status.  Without it, she will be barred from re-re-entering the country should she leave for any reason!  (Sick relative, dead relative, Cruise, Vacation, Day Trip to Canada or Mexico... Anything!
      • Copy of Biographic Page (G325A)
      • 2 Adit Pictures
      • Statement about why we wish to have
    • Form I-765 -- Employment Authorization Application ($120)
      • 2 Adit Photos
      • No Signature Card is recorded Required (As Per INS Forms Page)
      • Copy of Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record given at Port of Entry)
      • Copy of last EAD (If she had an expired 90-day K1 EAD NOTE: Even if you had an EAD based on the K1 Visa, you still have to pay the fee again.  The Previous EAD was only good for the initial 90 days.  Technically, although somebody might have hired her, she should stop working on the day the old one expires, and she should wait until the new one based on AOS is issued.  There really isn't any liability on her part.  She can not get in trouble.  The employer, however, can be fined significantly if an INS audit is ran during the period between the expired K1 90-Day EAD and the AOS 1+ Year EAD)
    • G-325A -- Biographic Data Sheet for Petitioner (Free)
      • Include another 2 Audit Pictures with this.  (Total is now 4 for the pack)
    • Primary Bank Check or Money Order ($$ Sum of Blue Boxes from Above$$)
    • Finger Printing Fee ($50 separate Check Because it may be returned)
    • G-325A -- Bibliographic Data Sheet for US Citizen (Free)
      • 2 Adit pictures of US Citizen
    • Optional/Office Specific Forms (Free) NOTE: These are General Info Census & Tracking Information that may or may not be required by your service center.  I included all three with instructions to ignore them if they are not required. 
      • FORM WR-702  (Free)
      • FORM WR-703  (Free)
      • FORM I-468  (Free)

  • AOS stands for Adjustment of Status. I'll use that acronym frequently. This section is a discussion about AOS and what it is all about. Just when you think the VISA process is over... you discover that you've only complete one third!!!
  • When you bring a Fiancé to the United States on a K1 Visa, she has a 90 day "K-Class Visa Holder" Status. Should you marry, she needs to adjust her status to "Temporary Permanent Resident". The application is required to allow her to stay legally in the United States.

    The Adjustment of status has 2 optional parts.

    The first is Advance Parole. Both "K-Class Visa Holders" and "Temporary Permanent Residents" are not allowed to enter the country a second time if they leave for any reason. Thus, a Fiancé or wife can not go home, take a vacation abroad, or run across the Canadian boarder for a day-trip. Should she do this, she would not be allowed back into the country. She would be detained and deported. The Advance parole is like a "Hall Pass" that allows either a "single" or "Multiple" entries back into the United States until she receives her "Permanent Residency" (which just FYI happens about 2 years after you file for AOS). Advance Parole costs about $110 and you specify whether you wish a single or multiple re-entries. It generally takes at least 6 months, so don't plan a honeymoon abroad or expect to return to the Philippines soon after your marriage to have a 2nd marriage ceremony for her family!

    The Second optional item is EAD (Employment Authorization) or the ability to work in the United States legally as a "Temporary Permanent Resident". While it is possible to file the EAD during the 90-Day K-Visa period, the EAD obtained during that time actually expires at the end of the 90 days. You would have to file a 2nd one along with the AOS if she wanted to keep working. Technically, should the employer be caught with an employee that he legally hired with an EAD during the 90 Day Visa period and that employee doesn't yet have their 2nd EAD for AOS, the employer can be fined for hiring someone who can not legally work. There is no real consequence for the worker though. And realistically, most employers don't know this. Even more realistically, any person who gets a job during the first 90-days probably is NOT going to want to go and take a 5-week leave of absence from work when their visa expires while they wait for their 2nd EAD Interview to become legal again. If the employer doesn't care... then he can chance it.

    At the end of the 2 year period after the AOS, you file a similar application for your wife to become a "Permanent Resident". It is a very similar filing to the original Adjustment of Status.

    When your wife becomes a "Permanent Resident", she <<IS NOT>> a US Citizen. She is just a legal immigrant that can stay as long as she cares to. I'm not quite sure that she enjoys all of the rights and protections of a full US Citizen. I'm also not sure if a Permanent Resident can vote. If she wishes to become a citizen, that is a 4th procedure that involves some civics, an exam, and a swearing in ceremony.

    So here is the summary of the stages:
    1) K-Class Visa Holder (90-days)
    2) Temporary Permanent Resident (2-years)
    3) Permanent Resident (Forever after conversion from #2)
    4) US Citizen (Optional any time after #3)

    From a logistical perspective, I think that the initial visa process is only about 2/5ths of the Full Visa Process. The paperwork and applications go one for about 2-4 years. The major filings (in my opinion are):

    1) K-1 Petition
    2) K-Packet, Collection of Documents in PI & St. Luke's Visit
    3) Adjustment of Status for Temporary Permanent Residency
    4) Adjustment of Status for Permanent Residency
    5) Application for Citizenship

    I break the initial VISA into two parts because it always seems to me that you (the petitioner) have a whole body of paperwork that you must complete. Your Fiancé also has a number of places (CFO, Passport, Embassy, etc) that she must run and make applications to on her own. While these are actually only "One Part", I consider them fairly separate because they don't really overlap very much. I consider the receipt the Notice of Action #2 (NOA#2) a milestone that states a new set of processes that I outline at:


    How to apply for a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN)

    The Social Security Number is very important because aside from being a means of identification, without it, you practically do not exist in the American system. According to EM-00154, a K-1 Visa holder is eligible for an SSN on the basis of an unexpired visa and an I-94 (Departure Record Card). It also states that a K-1 Visa holder does not need the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to be eligible for an SSN. You have the option of applying for an SSN before or after you get married, but it is important that you get your SSN before your K-1 expires. If you apply before you get married, you will have to apply for a corrected card after your marriage.

    Before looking at the requirements, locate the nearest Social Security Administration (SSA) office by visiting You may contact the SSA through 1-800-7721213.

    The requirements for an SSN application are as follows:

    • Form SS-5 (Application for a Social Security Card)
      You can download the form in PDF format at
    • A valid passport
      this will be your proof of identity.
    • Birth certificate
      This will be your proof of age. You may use certified copies or originals of these. 
    • I-94 Departure Record Card
      This is proof of your lawful alien status. Bring the original, but have a photocopy of the front and back of your I-94 ready. Do not let them take the original!
    • Copy of EM-00156
      Some SSA employees are not aware that K-1 visa holders are eligible for an SSN on the basis of an unexpired K-1 (your I-94 is proof of that) and that the SSA no longer requires the EAD prior to application. Have the memo at hand and show it to them in case they insist on getting your EAD before applying for an SSN.
    • Certified Copy of the Marriage Certificate
      You can get this from your local records office. You will need this in addition to the documents already mentioned if you apply for an SSN after your marriage. If you applied for an original card before marriage and are now applying for a corrected card, you will need proof of your identity in your OLD NAME in addition to the marriage certificate. You will also need your I-94 as proof of your lawful alien status.
  • Note: The SSA will return your documents after they have seen them. You will receive your Social Security Card 7-10 days after the application has been processed. However, you may ask for your SSN over the phone after about a week by calling 1-800-7721213. The customer service agent will ask for verification information before giving out your SSN.


    The Total Cost of the Immigration Process from Start to Finish

    The whole immigration process can be really expensive. And, if you don't have enough money, even getting her here can be quite an expense. But, if you start out with faith, most folks manage to complete the process with a little here... and a little there.

    This might be scary, but I want to give a complete accounting of potential expenses. You can cut or reduce some, and some ar
    e inflexible. This is the most extensive list of "everything I can think of." Before taking the first step, you should read through it and do some personal calculations.

    One time expenses:

    • $800-3000 - Your one time trip to see her (required by K1, you must meet in person) Include money for accommodations trips, gifts, etc...
    • $800-3000 - Your return trip to marry her (if you decide K3/IR-1 and don't marry on your first trip!)  Include money for accommodations honeymoon, gifts, etc.
    • $25 for various ADIT / Passport photos needed along the way (Her)
    • $25 for various ADIT pictures for you (4 total -- 2 for K1/K2/IR-1 Petition & 2 for AOS)
    • $110 for I-129F (K1 application if you go this route)
    • $15-50 - Fees for obtaining State certified copies of your Birth Certificate, Divorce Decrees, or other things you may need to include in your I-129F Petition.
    • $110 (estimated per person) for round-trip plane tickets for CFO Seminar (manila/cebu) required to get passport. Double if sending chaperone.
    • $??? Stay in Cebu/Manila for CFO Seminar
    • $2 for CFO Seminar Fee
    • $50 for Passport application
    • $25 for 4 Birth Certificate copies at NSO
    • $110 (estimated per person) for round trip plane tickets to Manila for St. Luke's visit (Double if sending chaperone.
    • $??? Hotel/taxi/overnight expenses for St Luke's Visit - Requires 2 days (Mo/Tu,Tu/We,We/Th plus 1 Friday for Interview with buffer Best to make it 1 week Sunday-Saturday or so))
    • $100 for Pink Receipt(Visa Petition Fee that you take to St. Luke's)
    • $85 for St. Luke's Exam
    • $110 (estimated per person) for round trip to get CFO Stamp after Visa is issued unless you plan on doing it on your way out of the country.  Then exchange this for the cost of a hotel and 1-2 days stay to ensure you get it)
    • $2 for CFO Stamp Processing Fee
    • $800-4000 - For her to travel to the US Alone or For you to go to the Philippines to escort her back when visa is approved. It's dangerous to buy them before you have the Visa in hand, and unless you are willing to wait after it is... tickets on short notice can be expensive!
    • $35 for a marriage license back in the states
    • $0-$10,000 for a wedding depending on whether you go for a Civil Ceremony or a church wedding
    • $255-595 to file for adjustment of status forms the day after you get married (with 90 days of entering the country). If planning on filing Advance Parole, Work Authorization, and AOS, then uses the $595 number.
    • $50 for finger printing fee related to Adjustment of Status
    • $16-25 to get a new Department of Transportation ID for your lady
    • $??? - Does he have a cell phone? You may want to get her one on your first visit
    • $??? - Did she have to quit a job? You may have to replace the income while she runs to perform the tasks required to get the visa
    • $0-500+ one time costs to buy warm clothes, close-toed shoes, fleece, an electric blanket, rice cooker, and various other things that she may not have because she lives in a tropical climate.
    • $0-1000 for one time medical check ups, dental checkups, doctors visits, etc if she is from a poorer family and she has some health needs when she arrives.
    • $0-100 so she can throw a going away party to say good-bye to all of her friends.  This will inevitably happen.
  • And these reoccurring lifetime expenses:
    • $20-500/month phone bills during visa process depending on whether you use Phone Cards or call direct without realizing the costs.
    • $0-40/month before she arrives to send her so she can visit Internet Cafes to email you or buy cell cards to call and/or text you.
    • $50-100/month more per month for food expenses for two people instead of one after you get married
    • $25-75/month in miscellaneous expenses (toiletries, clothes, personal items, incidentals) to cover your ladies expenses after marriage
    • $??? monthly remittance to her family after marriage
    • $??? monthly long distance so she can talk to her family after marriage
    • $??? monthly cost of birth control (not covered by insurance)
    • $??? monthly cost of life insurance premiums so you can protect her
    • $??? employer charge to go from Single Health insurance to Family health plan if you are not automatically offered Family protection by your employer
    • $100-500 if you decide to put her into drivers education classes
    • $??? if you decide to buy another car so she has her transportation after she gets her license
    • $??? monthly increase in your car insurance for having another driver
    • $??? Monthly entertainment costs. When your girl first arrives, you will probably start the equivalent "dating" even though you are newly weds!
  • This is updated from a previous post. Now, you know how much of a PLANNING freak I am. I tried to cover everything I could think of.


    Why tourist visas are nearly impossible to get and DANGEROUS to use for marriage

    Tourist Visas come up every now and the
    n. I wanted to get this into a legible order for future use. Some of this is a "repeat" but this is the first time it's all consolidated into a single posting.

    As most folks on ASAWA say, the "Tourist Visa" is the holy grail of visas in the Philippines. Even famous artists and some affluent folks have not been able to get them. In general, the INS classifies Filipinos as a "High Flight Risk" when considering Tourist Visas. To qualify, a Filipino must (among other things) prove that they have "compelling reasons to return to the Philippines". Generally this means a big bank account, properties, and/or community ties.

    These requirements alone make it a generally impractical way for most Filipinas to enter the country.

    The vast majority of non-immigrant visa applications received at the US Embassy in Manila are for tourism or business travel. B1 visas are for business, including such things as a need to consult with business associates, negotiate a contract, buy goods or materials, settle an estate, appear in a court trial, and participate in business or professional conventions or conferences. Or, where an applicant will be traveling to the United States on behalf of a foreign employer for training or meetings. The individual may not receive payment (except for incidental expenses) from a United States source while on a B1 visa.

    B2 visas are issued for general pleasure/tourist travel, such as touring, visits to friends and relatives, visits for rest or medical treatment, social or fraternal conventions and conferences, and amateur/unpaid participants in cultural or sports events.

    In most instances, consuls will issue a combined B1/B2 visa, recognizing that most business travel will also include tourist activities.

    Most B1/B2 visas issued in Manila are "Multiple/10," which means that the visa holder may make multiple entries to the United States during the visa's ten-year period of validity. Consular officers may, however, issue more limited visas under certain circumstances.

    B1/B2 applicants may wish to bring the following documents:

    • Bank Statements or passbooks showing account activity, including your old passbooks as well as current
    • Bank Certifications of accounts showing current balances
    • Credit Card Statements going back at least three months, or more if available
    • Income tax returns from the prior year, including bank receipt of payment and Community Tax Certificate
    • Business persons should bring a Department of Trade and Industries certificate and records showing business activity (e.g. invoices, payments, payroll records)
    • Original Land Titles (no copies)
    • NSO issued Birth Certificates and/or Marriage Certificates on security paper (not Local Registrars)
    • DSWD Certificate for Minor to Travel Abroad or Parental Travel
    • Permit (See Frequently Asked Questions for more information)
    • Professional License (PRC card, Membership in the Bar, etc.)
  • Please note: All documents must be originals. Photocopies will not be accepted.
  • Demonstrating Ties:
    Applicants must be able to demonstrate to the interviewing officer that they have ties - economic, social, or other - that will cause them to return to the Philippines following their visit to the United States. This is true whether you apply through the Courier Drop Box or appear for an interview.

    Why it’s a bad idea to marry on a Tourist Visa:

    This information is laid out at the following address:

    A major reference of this web site coverers the 30/60 day rule posted by a "non-lawyer" on Usenet at:

    This document explains the 30/60 day rule in plain English. The actual law is in pages 4, 5, & 6 of the department of state document at:

    As far as Tourist Visa's go, here are some of the FAQ questions from the US Embassy web site in Manila at:

    Q: I presented all the documents I was told to bring, but my application was turned down anyway. What else could I bring?
    A: Officers interview the applicant, not the documents, and refer to documents only if they can provide some additional insight into your situation. If there are additional documents required, the officer will indicate that during the interview.

    Q: What constitutes evidence of income?
    A: Please see the What to Bring To An Interview section for more information.

    Q: Is it acceptable to submit an authenticated birth certificate/marriage contract from the National Statistics Office (NSO) in lieu of the NSO certificates on security paper? It takes a while before we can get these documents from NSO.
    A: We only accept birth certificates/marriage contracts from NSO issued on security paper.

    Q: If I present a letter of guarantee of return from a person of high stature, will I get a visa?
    A: A letter, even from a highly placed person, does not necessarily establish the applicant's ties outside of the United States. U.S. law requires each applicant to qualify for a visa in his or her own right.

    Q: Will it help my application if I present a letter from my relative's U.S. Congressman or Senator?
    A: Such letters will be considered, but do not guarantee issuance of the visa for an applicant otherwise deemed unqualified.

    Q: Isn't it better not to disclose that I have close relatives living in the U.S., that I have an immigrant visa petition on file, or that I have previously been denied? What are the consequences if I conceal or misrepresent information or submit fraudulent documents?
    A: Full disclosure is best. We understand that many people have relatives in the U.S. but intend only a short visit, or have immigrant visa petitions on file but do not plan to immigrate at this time. It is therefore to the advantage of the applicant to disclose these facts. When an interviewing officer uncovers any attempt to conceal or misrepresent facts, the application will be denied and the applicant may in certain cases be ruled permanently ineligible to enter the United States.

    Q: I don't have an original copy of my Land Title because it is mortgaged with the bank. Should I buy a substitute title so I can present something at the interview?
    A: Never purchase documents to present at your interview. The genuine documents in your possession provide you a better chance of qualifying for a visa, whether now or in a future application. When an interviewing officer uncovers any questionable documents or attempts to misrepresent facts, the application will be denied and the applicant may in certain cases be ruled permanently ineligible to enter the United States.

    Q: I am an only child and must therefore return to the Philippines after studying in the U.S. so I can take care of my parents. Why did the officer say I have insufficient ties to compel me to return?
    A: Experience has shown that being an only child has not deterred some travelers from remaining indefinitely in the U.S. While this factor may be relevant to an individual's personal circumstances, it would not usually, in itself, be sufficient to establish eligibility.

    Q: Can I mail or fax in information about my application in advance of my interview?
    A: Due to the large number of applications we receive, it is impossible for us to match up correspondence with applications. You should bring any information relevant to your application to the interview. Any supporting documentation should be as brief and concise as possible, as the consular officer does not have time to read a lengthy letter.

    Q: What are the allowable uses of a B1/B2 Visa?
    A: The B1 visa allows for temporary visitors to conduct business in the U.S. This includes such things as a need to consult with business associates, negotiate a contract, buy goods or materials, settle an estate, appear in a court trial, and participate in business or professional conventions or conferences. This visa does not generally allow for gainful employment. The B2 visa is issued for the purpose of touring, visits to friends and relatives, visits for rest or medical treatment, social or fraternal conventions and conferences, and amateur/unpaid participants in cultural or sports events.

    Q: I am a U.S. Citizen and would like to bring a relative over to provide companionship and domestic help for an indefinite period.
    A: United States Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents may not employ B-1/B-2 visa holders in the United States. While we will sometimes issue visas to allow applicants to provide short-term assistance to family members (e.g. a parent helping a U.S.-based son or daughter with a newborn), the applicant must still demonstrate to the consular officer that he/she has a residence in the Philippines that he/she does not intend to abandon.

    Q: I have an immigrant petition on file. Can I still qualify for a tourist visa?
    A: There are so many different situations regarding persons who have been petitioned to immigrate that the best answer is "It Depends." While the existence of an immigrant petition is in one sense evidence that you are an intending immigrant, and thus subject to refusal, we also recognize that you may not be intending to immigrate at this time. Having an immigrant petition on file is not grounds for an automatic refusal, but as an applicant you will need to provide strong evidence that you intend to leave the United States after your planned visit.

    Q: I am a former Legal Permanent Resident of the United States. Can I now obtain a tourist (B-1/B-2) visa?
    A: You may apply for a B-1/B-2 visa, but must surrender your "Green Card" before one can be issued. You may do this at the Immigration and Naturalization Service (Window # 35 in the Immigrant Visa Section). If time permits, please do this prior to your NIV interview.

    Q: For how long is a tourist visa valid?
    A: B-1/B-2 visas issued to Philippine citizens are generally for multiple entries and valid for 10 years, unless the consular officer feels there is caused to issue a more limited-duration visa. Other classes of visas typically have shorter durations. The length of validity for other nationalities varies.

    Q: How long can I stay in the United States?
    A: The period of your stay is determined by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officer at the U.S. Port of Entry, not by the consular officer who issues the visa. . INS generally grants permission for the visitor to remain in the US for the amount of time needed to accomplish the purpose of the visit. If you wish to remain beyond the time granted, you must submit a request for extension to the INS. Failure to do so could result in your being ineligible to enter the United States again.

    Q: If refused, how soon can I apply again?
    A1: If you are refused under Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and are requested to provide additional information or supporting documents, you will receive a sheet outlining what you need to present and instructing you on when you may return. You will not need to make another appointment or pay another application fee.

    A2: If you are refused under Section 214(b) or any other section, you may reapply as soon as you can pay the application fee and secure an appointment through our telephone appointment system. While on a second interview you will meet with a different officer, please be aware that you must still demonstrate strong ties to your country. In most cases it is better to wait until your personal circumstances have changed significantly before reapplying. Quick re-applications based largely on the hope of finding a consul more inclined to issue will likely result in refusal.

    Q: I only want my fiancé/fiancée to meet my family...
    A: While it is understandable that you might wish to do this, a foreign national engaged to a U.S. citizen must still prove that s/he is not an intending immigrant. This is usually difficult to do; however, as the fact that an individual is engaged to a U.S. citizen is usually considered evidence of intent to immigrate.

    Q: I was told by a travel agent that immigrant visas are hard to get, and my wife should go into the U.S. with only a tourist visa...
    A: Unfortunately there are people who, usually for a tidy sum of money, will offer inaccurate or bad advice. Such advice can, at best, waste time and distract you from the necessary paperwork. At worst, it can lead to fraudulent statements that can see your new spouse found ineligible for any visa to travel to the U.S. It is always the type of travel-- a short visit or a new life living and working in America-- which governs what visa is appropriate.

    Immigrant visas do require more time and preparation than a simple tourist visa, but in the end will allow you and your spouse to begin your new life in the U.S. without the worry and hardships that fraud can place on your relationship. If you begin early, and follow the instructions carefully, your new spouse can begin life in the U.S. with legal permanent resident status that will allow him/her to live, work or study as desired. LPR status is also the first step toward naturalization, the process by which a foreign person becomes an American Citizen.

    However, under the new LIFE Act, there are now some instances where spouses and children are eligible for a special Non-Immigrant visa while waiting for their Immigrant Visa. For information on the new K and V visas, and to find out whether you qualify for them, please see the Immigrant Visa Section.

    Q: Should I buy my plane ticket before getting a visa?
    A: We do not recommend purchasing tickets before qualifying for a visa. Should you choose to make such arrangements, we advise you to make a refundable reservation. Prior to making any final arrangements and payments, you should make certain to have a visa. The fact that you have already committed funds to a trip does not compel a consular officer to issue you a visa if you are not otherwise qualified.

    Q: I have a valid B-1/B-2 visa in my official passport. I will now travel using my regular passport. Will I need another visa in my regular passport?
    A: Simply staple the official and regular passports together and you can travel to the U.S. anytime. However, you may apply for a B-1/B-2 visa in your regular passport. You will have to pay the application fee and submit completed applications as well as proof of income.

    Q: How can a company be included on the list of preferred companies of the U.S. Embassy Non immigrant Visa Branch?
    A: Companies interested in participating in the "Preferred Company Program" should mail their company profiles to the Nonimmigrant Visa Branch, 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Ermita, Manila, Attention: Preferred Company Program. After review, if it appears your company will qualify for the program, we will mail you an application form. Once you return the application, if accepted, we will mail you a notice of acceptance. See also the Preferred Companies page.

    IF the immigrant has ANY complicating or "adverse" factors, such as

    • Having lied to an Immigration or U.S. Consular officer at any time including before or after entrance into the US (this includes when the immigrant may have applied for a tourist visa or entered at the port of entry),
    • having a previous criminal record inside or outside the US, or
    • having a serious medical problem such as HIV/AIDS or a medical condition which might lead to inability to work (e.g., might lead to the immigrant being a "public charge" or "ward of the state"),
  • THEN consultation with an immigration attorney is definitely recommended prior to proceeding with adjustment of status from a tourist visa or visa waiver.
  • Marrying on a tourist visa

    Q: I am in the U.S. as a tourist. Can I marry my U.S. Citizen boyfriend/ girlfriend and adjust my status to that of a permanent resident (green card holder) without leaving the U.S.?

    A: Generally, the answer is yes. However, if you have any complicating factors such as obtaining your visa fraudulently, lying to an INS or consular officer, a previous criminal record, or HIV/AIDS or other serious diseases, then you should FIRST consult an attorney before filing for adjustment of status. When in doubt, ALWAYS consult an immigration attorney before marriage and before filing for adjustment of status.

    Q: But what is the K-1 Fiancé visa or I-130 spousal visa for? Don't I need one of those?

    A: Those visas are designed for aliens who are NOT in the U.S., who desire to enter the U.S. as Fiancés or spouses of U.S. Citizens. They may NOT be necessary, if the alien is already in the U.S. as a tourist and then decides to marry a US citizen, and IF the case has no complicating factors such as obtaining your visa fraudulently, lying to an INS or consular officer, a previous criminal record, or HIV/AIDS or other serious diseases.

    Q: I entered as a tourist, but not with a tourist visa. I entered under the VWPP (visa waiver). Can I still marry, stay, and Adjust Status?

    A: Generally, yes. Although in general, VWPP entrants cannot change or adjust status, a specific exception is made for Immediate Relatives (including spouses) of U.S. Citizens. See the I-485 form instructions, read the part about who is ineligible to adjust status, pan to the part where it mentions visa waiver. BE AWARE OF THIS: If a person who entered on visa waiver and filed for adjustment of status based on marriage to a US citizen is found NOT adjustable at the time of the interview, that person can be deported immediately without any legal recourse. The reason for this is that when one enters the US on visa waiver, he/she signs away his/her rights to legal recourse. So one should consider preceding with adjustment of status from visa waiver ONLY IF their case is simple and uncomplicated.

    Q: I entered as a tourist from Canada with no documentation because I am a Canadian citizen. Can I still marry, stay, and AOS?

    A: Generally, yes. Canadians who enter without a visa may still AOS without having to submit the I-94 or I-94W form normally required from other aliens who must enter with a visa or under the VWPP. Again, one should consider preceding with adjustment of status from visa waiver ONLY IF their case is simple and uncomplicated.

    Q: I entered as a tourist but have overstayed my visa. Can I still marry, stay, and AOS?

    A: General. Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens are permitted to file for adjustment of status, even if they overstayed their original entry, or did not maintain their original status. It does not matter if the overstay was for years, as long as the alien can demonstrate that they entered the U.S. legally by submitting their original I-94 or I-94W form (exception made for Canadians, of course). However, INS will likely want an explanation for the overstay, and the foreign spouse may benefit from using attorney services in this situation. Again, one should consider preceding with adjustment of status from visa waiver ONLY IF their case is simple and uncomplicated.

    Q: What if I lost my original I-94 or I-94W form? Or I never got one?

    A: A replacement can be obtained by filing the I-102 form.

    Q: I entered the U.S. not as a tourist, but as a student (F) or a worker (H, L, and TN) or other visa. Can I still marry, stay, and AOS?

    A: With a few exceptions, yes. As long as you entered the U.S. LEGALLY, you may still AOS, regardless of the length of time that has passed since your original entry. Your I-94 form proves your legal entry. However, be aware that applying for adjustment of status within the first 60 days after your arrival in the US on some other kind of visa MAY open the possibility that INS will accuse you of visa fraud (using a visa for a purpose other than the one for which it is intended, in this situation), so you may benefit by waiting a minimum of 60 days before filing for adjustment of status.

    Q: What are those "few exceptions"?

    A: Some of them include: entering under a C or D crewman's visa, as TWOV (transit), with a J visa if subject to the 2 year HRR requirement, or with a K-1 Fiancé visa, if you did not marry the person who petitioned you. (Fiancé visa recipients are eligible to adjust status ONLY if they marry the person that submitted the original petition and adjust status based on that marriage...if they do not adjust on that basis, they are not adjustable)

    Q: I entered the U.S. by sneaking across the border (EWI - Entered Without Inspection). If I marry a U.S. Citizen, can I stay and file AOS?

    A: Generally, no. You may NOT file AOS if you did not originally enter the U.S. legally; there is no provision in the current law for someone who entered the US illegally to file for adjustment of status. Generally, you must depart the U.S., and obtain a K-1 Fiancé or I-130 spousal visa; however that may subject you to being banned from the U.S. There are various exceptions. It's best to consult a reputable immigration attorney.

    Q: I've read elsewhere that I can't have a big wedding, because I need to show to the INS that my marriage was "spur of the moment". Is this true?

    A: No. A long standing BIA (Board of Immigration Appeals) precedent decision dictates that a mere "preconceived intent to remain" (i.e. prior intent to marry and stay in the U.S.) is not grounds to deny an Adjustment of Status.

    Q: What does this BIA decision say? Where can I read it?

    A: It says: "In the absence of other adverse factors, an application for adjustment of status as an immediate relative should generally be granted in the exercise of discretion notwithstanding the fact that the applicant entered the United States as a nonimmigrant with a preconceived intention to remain.” You can read the entire context of the decisions at:

    cavazos.pdf (Matter of Cavazos, Int. Dec. 2750 (BIA 1980) clarified and reaffirmed)
    ibrahim.pdf (Matter of Ibrahim, Int. Dec. 2866 (BIA 1981))
    Q: Does the INS have to always follow this BIA decision?

    A: According to:

    "Decisions of the BIA are binding on all INS officers and Immigration Judges unless modified or overruled by the Attorney General or a Federal court."

    Q: This BIA decision is over 20 years old! How do I know it still applies to the INS today?

    A: See this letter written by the District Director of the Baltimore INS office on February 1, 2000:

    Q: So what would constitute "adverse factors" and result in a denial of an application for AOS?

    A: Generally, if any proven fraud or misrepresentations were made to any Consular or INS Officials, while attempting to obtain a tourist visa, or at the Port of Entry (POE) while attempting to enter the U.S. as a tourist, then you will likely be denied AOS. You may also be denied adjustment of status if a criminal record with "moral tuturpitudeuot; crimes is found, or if you have HIV/AIDS. YoYouay be denied AOS if you have a serious disease which will likely lead to your being debilitated and unable to work. If you are not sure about your position regarding "adverse factors", then you should consult a reputable immigration attorney.

    Q: What are some examples of fraud or misrepresentation?

    A: If on your tourist visa application, you lied about having a Fiancé in the U.S., or lied about having a job, in order to make it appear that you would return to your home country. Or, if at the POE, you lied to the INS Inspector about the purpose or intended length of your visit. Bear in mind, it is the documentation which proves the actual lie, so be careful about documentation and what may be documented in INS or consular files from what you have said.

    Q: What if I told the INS Inspector that I only intended to stay for 2 weeks, but after entry, I changed my mind and want to get married and stay?

    A: You may be required to prove to the INS that you really did change your mind, and did not intend all along to get married and stay. If you do not think that you can prove this information, then you may want to consult a reputable immigration attorney.

    Q: What is this 30/60 day rule I keep reading about?

    A: This is a rule developed by the State Department for Consular and INS officials to determine if a visa was properly issued. If you make statements to a Consular/INS official about your intentions, and then change your mind (i.e. get married and file AOS) within 30 days of entry into the U.S., it will be assumed that you lied, unless you can prove otherwise. If you changed your mind after 30 days, but before 60, there is no presumption of fraud. If you changed your mind after 60 days, then your statement about your intentions cannot be used against you to make a finding of fraud.

    Q: Where can I find this 30/60 day rule?

    A: See:

    (This is a 17-page PDF file; go to page 6 to find this rule. The item is 9FAM 40.63 N4.7-1)
    Q: But this 30/60 day rule doesn't make sense! What about the BIA decisions?

    A: The BIA decisions address the issue of entering the U.S. as a tourist with a preconceived intention to remain. It "forgives" your intent, if you had any, of USING a tourist visa to enter the U.S., marry, and stay.

    It does NOT "forgive" any lies or misrepresentations that you made in order to obtain a tourist visa, or entry into the U.S.! If you made oral or written statements which are inconsistent with your actions, you can still be denied AOS.

    However, the 30/60 day rule does provide the INS with a guideline to determine if your statements about your intentions were lies, or a genuine change of plans. In general, if your plans changed > 60 days after entry, your statements about planning to return to your country can not be used against you.

    Q: Does this mean I should wait at least 60 days before marrying if I entered as a tourist?

    A: Maybe. IF you made oral or written statements to a Consular or INS Inspector that you intended to return to your country after your visit, then it would be wise not to marry and file AOS immediately after entry as a tourist.

    If you made no such statements - for example, if you were just waived through at the POE, then waiting 60 days may not necessary. However, when in doubt, one may want to wait the 60 days.

    Q: What if I truly did NOT have the intention of marrying and staying when I entered the U.S. as a tourist, and I was never asked about my intentions at the POE?

    A: Then you are clear on the issue of intentions. The BIA decisions will not even apply to you, because those are necessary only for people who DID have immigrant intention while entering as a tourist. It is perfectly legal to change your mind after entry into the U.S.

    However, other adverse factors in your case, if they exist, such as HIV/AIDS or previous criminal record may still be a problem....if you have any doubt about your position, then you should consult a reputable immigration attorney.

    Q: What if I lied about having a job or owning a house? Will waiting 60 days before marrying protect me?

    A: No. The 30/60 day rule only covers statements about intentions. It does not forgive lies about facts. In this case, it would be safer to depart the U.S. and obtain a K-1 or I-130 spousal based immigrant visa. Lying to the Immigration & Naturalization Service is a serious offense, and can cause denial of adjustment of status.

    Q: What if I was ALREADY married to a U.S. Citizen, and I entered the U.S. as a tourist. Can I stay and file AOS?

    A: Generally, Yes, same rules apply regardless of when or where you married. What counts is that you ARE married. However, you may benefit by consulting an attorney in this situation, to be sure that you have entered in a manner that will allow you to successfully adjust status. Be very careful in this situation, as there are several things that may cause you assistance is definitely recommended.

    Q: I'm not in the U.S. yet. Why should I obtain a K-1 or I-130 based spousal visa? Why can't I just enter as a tourist, and file AOS?

    A: Because, if your intention to marry, stay, and file AOS became known to the POE Inspector, you would be denied entry into the U.S. You may even be subject to Expedited Removal, and be banned from the U.S. for a period of 5 years or more! Bear in mind, the immigration inspector at the port of entry has absolute power over your entry, and even has the power to ban you from the US for a period of time, even for life---unfortunately, under the current immigration law, the decisions of that inspector are final and are not appeal able in court, so proceed with great caution. It is wise to not make a decision regarding marriage until after you enter the US.

    Q: Isn't that inconsistent with the BIA decisions?

    A: Absolutely! I never claimed the law made sense. It's kind of like the Cuban Adjustment Act. Coming to the U.S. on a leaky boat is against the law. If they catch you at sea, they'll send you back. BUT, if you make it to land, you can stay. Assuming, of course, you didn't shoot a Border Patrol agent to make it to land.

    Likewise, if you try to enter the U.S. as a tourist with the intention of marrying and staying, the POE Inspectors may find that out, and it they do, they will likely send you back. But, if you make it in without otherwise breaking the law (i.e. lying, or shooting an agent), then you may be able to stay and AOS, again providing there are no other complicating factors in your case.

    Q: Wow, that's a lot of rules. Can you summarize it?

    A: If you entered the U.S. legally, without lying, you can marry, stay, and probably successfully file for Adjustment of Status, providing that you have no complicating factors in your case. If you have complicating factors in your case such as HIV/AIDs, criminal record, if you did not enter the US legally, obtained your visa fraudulently, or lied to an INS or consular officer anywhere in this process, and then you need to consult an immigration attorney before proceeding with anything. When in doubt, ALWAYS consult a reputable immigration attorney.

    Other Miscellaneous Questions

    Q: Why would anyone enter using a K-1 or I-130 based spousal visa, if entering as a tourist was an option available to them?

    A: If you enter as a tourist, and file AOS, in some areas, it could be years before you obtained a green card. Some countries permit Direct Consular Filing, where you could obtain an Immigrant Visa/green card in just a couple of weeks! Also, certain INS offices, such as Detroit and Dallas, perform same-day AOS for people with K-1 visas. It is always wise to consider all of your options before filing for adjustment of status, as other options may have distinct benefits for you in terms of adjustment of status or work authorization. Bear in mind, entering on a tourist visa with the INTENT to marry and file adjustment of status and stay in the US is technically visa fraud, which is a serious offense. Tourist visa adjustment should only be considered if at the time of entry you did not plan to marry and stay in the US, and if you have no "complicating factors" in your case.

    Q: My I-129F (K-1) or I-130 (spousal) application is taking too long for the INS to process! I am a U.S. Citizen, and I deserve special treatment! How can I get my application expedited?

    A: In FY1998, the U.S. admitted 660,447 new Immigrants. The single largest classification was spouses of U.S. Citizens, with 151,172, or about 1/4th of the total number of new immigrants. Bet you didn't know that, huh? Trust me, you're not special.

    In fact, if you count other Immediate Relatives, such as children and parents of U.S. Citizens, they total nearly half, or 283,368 of all new immigrants. Other relatives make up most of the rest. Only 77,517 immigrants were admitted in FY1998 due to employment based reasons.

    Q: How many people use a K-1 visa, vs. a I-130 spousal Immigrant visa, vs. AOS from a tourist or other visa?

    A: Here are stats from FY1998

    151,172 - total spouses of USC who immigrated in FY1998

    44,577 - 29% entered using an I-130 spousal Immigrant Visa
    101,837 - 67% entered using another visa, and filed AOS
    4,758 - 3% entered using a K-1 Fiancé visa


    Why Student F-1/M-1 Visas are not a good immigration method for Fiancés

    Student Visas come up every now and then. I wanted
    to get this into a ledger for future use and forum searches. Some of this is a "repeat" but this is the first time it's all consolidated into a thread of its own.

    Student Visas are called F-1 (academic) or M-1 (non-academic/vocational) visas. You can find out more about these at:

    Sometimes these are also referred to as S.E.V.P. (Student and Exchange Visitors Program).

    This requires an exhaustive interview, enrollment in an approved course and checks on bank records to ensure she complies with their rules which are: That she has to have enough money to support herself independently for the period of the course, pay for accommodation and meals, a ticket home and all to her likely expenses. This money has to have been accumulated over a reasonable period and must be in her bank at least 6 months prior to application. She also has to prove that she has the income to save this kind of money over a reasonable time. Not withstanding Government grants.

    AND you probably find the visa has a "No change permitted" stamp on it, given her age. This means she'd have to go back and apply for fiancé or spouse in the Philippines anyway.

    Realistically, the student visa takes as much paperwork as about any other type of visa. And, when you are done... you still have to do all the marriage visa paperwork on top of it. It’s like doubling the stress, cost, and trouble of a IR-1, K1, or K3 Visa.

    Basically... I would recommend against doing this. Plus, every person who gets a student visa, marries, and goes into hiding until they can be naturalized makes it 10 times more difficult for the next legitimate student to get into the country.


    Why H1-B Work Visas are not a good immigration method for Fiancés

    Work Visas come up every now and then. I wanted to get this into a legible order for future use. Some of this is a "repeat" but this is the first time it's all consolidated into a single posting.
    An H1-B Work visa has some rather strict requirements that make it virtually impossible for a Filipino to get unless they are highly qualified. I worked on a project called (never came to pass) but I learned a great deal from the Immigration Lawyers that I worked with. I dealt with one of the best firms in the country, Jackson Lewis.

    In general, a H1-B Visa is not practicable requires a number of things:

    1) Verification of her education/qualification for the position
    2) Medical Exam
    3) Criminal background check
    4) A US employer willing to sponsor must furnish:
    4a) Research, Market data, etc... showing market salary for position he is applying for
    4b) An agreement to pay them the same wage as they would pay a US Citizen as in '4a'
    4c) Documentation proving that no American can be found to take the position using reasonable means -- this is justifying the hire outside of the country.
    4d) A letter of intent to hire and keep the person for some predetermined length of time (6 months?)

    There are about $2500-3700 in costs for the company to get the legal help to sponsor

    The process takes about 3-6 months. If she quits the job specified in the H1B Visa, she must return to her country. H1B Visa's are not transferable from one employer to another. The employer loses all of their investment if the applicant backs out before the visa is issued. It is a "One-by-one" deal. There really isn't a "routine" hire for this.

    I don't know if there are other types of work visas than the H-1B. That is the one that large companies use to hire Computer Programmers from India & Asia. Recently, due to the difficulty and expense of reporting requirements, most H1-B Visa folks have started to just simply hire folks to work in their foreign countries without immigrating.


    How the RIR (Reduction in Recruitment) Health Visa could get a relative over in 2-4 years

    H1-B Work Visas are difficult to get. Tourist Visas are nearly impossible to get. Student Visas require a great deal of work. And Family Related Visas are also quite hard to get. So what is your best chance? You could try sending your relatives to Nursing School for 2-4 years, and then attempt to bring them over on the RIR visa.

    For anyone interested in learning more, the official name of this type of visa is the "Reduction in Recruitment"
    or (RIR) Visa. This is done through the Department of Labor (DOL) and the State Workers Agency (SWA). It is done through FORM ETA750 and an I-140. The "normal process" can be expedited by the use of RIR procedures. The employer must request RIR when submitting the Form ETA 750 to the SWA.

    The details of the RIR work visa for health workers are available at:

  • For regional RIR processing times, check out:
  • Because this is a Department of Labor request, the RIR seems to be processed on a "State-by-State" basis that seems work independently of the INS (somehow). I don't pretend to completely understand it, but the processing times vary greatly state-to-state, and city-to-city within a state. Probably these are reflective of the need and age of the population

    Why bringing Mom/Dad/Sister/Brother/Children (18+) from the Philippines is not realistic

    The US only allows a total of 675,000 immigrants (Family & Employment based -- from all countries combined) into the US each year. They have a predetermined number of each sub classification that they will allow to immigrate. If the quota for that type of visa is not met, a lower priority visa can use the slack, =. If you've never seen it, the info is interesting:

    Subject to certain transitional laws, total immigration into the United States is limited to 675,000 persons per year. However, that figure is divided into three distinct categories: 

    A. FAMILY-SPONSORED IMMIGRANTS: Persons who are relatives of United States citizens and lawfully admitted permanent resident aliens are limited to a total of 480,000 visas per year. Immediate Relatives listed in Part I above are included in this number, as are preference relatives. (However, there is no upper limit on the number of visas which may be issued to immediate relatives.) Preference relatives receive all of the visas not used by immediate relatives, but in no case fewer than 226,000 visas per year. Family-based preference categories subject to the numerical limitation are: (minimum preference limits in parentheses)

    1. First Preference: Unmarried sons and daughters over 21 years of age of US citizens, and children if any (23,400).

    2. Second Preference: Spouses, children, and unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent resident aliens. NOTE: At least seventy-seven percent of all visas available for this category will go to the spouses and children; the remainder will be allocated to unmarried adult sons and daughters (114,200). 

    3. Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and children (23,400). 

    4. Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of United States citizens, and their spouses and children, provided the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age or over (65,000). 

    B. EMPLOYMENT-BASED IMMIGRANTS: A total of 140,000 immigrant visas (sub-limitations listed in parentheses) are available for this category, which is divided into five preference groups:

    1. Priority Workers: Persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers; and certain multinational executives and managers (40,000).

    2. Members of the Professions: Professionals holding advanced degrees, and persons of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts and business (40,000). 

    3. Professionals, Skilled and Unskilled Workers: Professionals holding baccalaureate degrees, skilled workers with at least two years experience, and other workers whose skills are in short supply in the United States (40,000). (Unskilled workers are subject to a subsumed 10,000). 

    4. Special Immigrants: Ministers of religion, certain international organization employees and their immediate family members, and specially qualified and recommended current and former employees of the United States Government (10,000). 

    5. Investors: Persons who create employment for at least ten unrelated persons by investing capital in a new commercial enterprise in the United States. The minimum amount of capital required is normally $1,000,000, depending on the unemployment rate in the geographic area (10,000). 

    C. DIVERSITY IMMIGRANTS: The Philippines is NOT included in the diversity immigrant program because large numbers of Filipinos receive visas through regular immigration categories.

    Now, as of MARCH 2003, here are the current processing times. Use the post above to figure out which category your girl's adult children would be in. And, please note how much LONGER they wait times are for the Philippines:





    China (PRC)


































    Note: If the above table is not clearly readable, see the State Department Visa Bulletin.

    Now, note the processing times for work visas below. As you'll see its better/easier/quicker to bring a family member over that way than via a relationship. Especially if they are from the Philippines!


    How to marry in the Philippines - The IR-1/K3 Visa Process


    First, you must be legally married in order to petition for your spouse to immigrate to the United States. In most cases, this will mean that you will get married in the Philippines.

    How do I get married in the Philippines?

    STEP 1: Obtain an "Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage" at the US Embassy’s American Citizen Services Branch daily from 7:30 to 8:30 am (Room "P" on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; Window "L" Tuesday and Thursday). The US citizen should first get a red number on the wall across from Window L. The applicant must present his or her US passport. There is a fee of $55.00 or its peso equivalent in obtaining the Affidavit. It is not necessary for the fiancé/e to appear.

    STEP 2: File an application for a marriage license at the office of the Philippine Civil Registrar in the town or city where one of the couple lives. In order to apply for a marriage license, you will need:

      • Your US passport;
      • The Affidavit from the US Embassy;
      • A divorce decree or spouse’s death certificate, if previously married;
      • Proof that you have informed your parents if you are 22 to 24; or
      • Proof of parental consent if you are 18 to 21.

  • STEP 3: Get married!
  • STEP 4: File the Petition.

    After you return to the United States, you should file a petition with the nearest office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) that covers your permanent place of residence. Petition forms for IR-1 spouse visas (Form I-130) are available from any INS office in the United States or at the US Embassy in Manila, located at Window 35 in the Immigrant Visa Unit waiting area. STEP 5: Petition Approval. INS approves the petition and sends it to the National Visa Center in New Hampshire for review of the documentation. (Note: Approval of a visa petition by the INS does not necessarily mean that a visa will be issued. ONLY A CONSULAR OFFICER AT THE EMBASSY MAY DETERMINE A PERSON’S ELIGIBILITY TO RECEIVE A VISA.).

    STEP 6: The National Visa Center will send the necessary forms to the spouse and petitioner (You will be also be contacted and asked to complete the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) and return it to the National Visa Center, which will review it for completeness)

    STEP 7: The petitioner and applicant will return all required forms to the National Visa Center. NVC will then forward all of the relevant documents to the US Embassy, including your Affidavit of Support.

    STEP 8: After receiving the case from the National Visa Center, the Embassy schedules an interview for the spouse with a consular officer. (It is NOT necessary for the US citizen to attend this interview).

    STEP 9: The Interview! If the consul determines that the applicant is eligible to receive a visa, he/she will approve the application and direct the applicant to pay the issuance fee of $65.00 and arrange for courier delivery of the completed visa package, which will normally take 7-10 days after approval. If the consul determines that the applicant is NOT eligible, he/she will either 1) explain how the applicant can correct the problem and return for another interview or 2) will give the applicant a written explanation of the ineligibility and return the petition to the INS.

    Can my spouse bring his/her children?

    Yes. An IR visa allows unmarried minor children to travel to the US, either at the same time as your spouse or at a later date. However, a separate immigrant visa petition is required for each child in an IR case.

    Can I file a petition if my permanent residence is in the Philippines?

    Yes, you may file a petition if you live overseas. However, for an IR-1 visa, you MUST be domiciled in the United States by the time your spouse appears for a personal interview at the Embassy [NOTE: Active duty US military personnel are considered to be domiciled in the United States while serving overseas].

    Are there any other requirements for filing a petition?

    Yes. To petition for a spouse:

    • You and your spouse must have been legally free to marry at the time of marriage; and
    • You must be validly married under the laws of the Philippines (see above)
  • What is the K3 Visa? The overview is best summarized by the announcement on the INS web site at
  • INS Implements the “K” Nonimmigrant Visa Provision of the LIFE Act

    WASHINGTON –– To reduce the separations immediate family members of U.S. citizens may experience while waiting abroad for an immigrant visa, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) is implementing a new K nonimmigrant visa provision, which was published as an interim rule in today’s Federal Register.  

    The rule expands the K visa status, currently available to fiancé (e) s of U.S. citizens, to include the spouse of a U.S. citizen, who is waiting abroad for an immigrant visa, and the spouse’s children.  This will allow them to enter the United States as non immigrants-unite with their family here, and then apply for immigrant status while in the country.  It is one of several immigration benefit provisions created by the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act (LIFE Act) enacted last December.

    Under this new nonimmigrant visa classification, spouses of U.S. citizens may be granted K-3 nonimmigrant status, and the spouse’s unmarried children (under 21 years of age) may be granted K-4 nonimmigrant status.  Obtaining a K-3/4 visa is not required, however.  Spouses of U.S. citizens and their children may skip applying for a K visa and directly obtain their immigrant visa abroad from the Department of State.

    For those who wish to take advantage of this new provision, to be eligible for a K-3 nonimmigrant visa, an applicant MUST:

    • Be the spouse of a U.S. citizen;
    • Have a Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) filed on his/her behalf by his/her U.S. citizen spouse, that is pending;
    • Have a Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)) completed and submitted on his/her behalf by his/her U.S. citizen spouse to:
    • U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
      P.O. Box 7218
      Chicago, IL 60680-7218
    • (Note: The INS must approve the Form I-129F before the beneficiary becomes eligible to apply for the K Visa from the U.S. consulate abroad.); and
    • Submit a completed Form I-693 (Medical Examination) when he/she appears at the consulate to apply for the K-3 visa from the Department of State.
  • To be eligible for a K-4 nonimmigrant visa, an applicant does not need a separate Form I-130 or a Form I-129F filed on his/her behalf.  The K-4 applicant MUST:
    • Be an unmarried child (under 21 years of age) of a K-3 visa applicant or holder;
    • Submit a completed Form I-693 (Medical Examination) when he/she appears at the consulate to apply for the K-4 visa.
  • Applying for Immigrant Status
    The K-3/4 nonimmigrant classification does not provide immigrant status.  To obtain immigrant status --once in the United States -- a K-3 nonimmigrant must file a Form I-485 (Application for Adjustment to Permanent Residence).  A K-4 nonimmigrant must have a Form I-130 filed on his/her behalf by his/her U.S. citizen parent/stepparent and must file a Form I-485.  K-3/4 nonimmigrant will become lawful permanent residents and receive their Green Card when both the Form I-130 petition and their Form I-485 application have been approved.
  • K-3/4 non-immigrants may elect to apply for an immigrant visa instead of adjustment of status and may wait in the United States until they must appear at the consulate for their visa interview.

    Employment Authorization
    K-3/4 nonimmigrant may also apply for authorization to work in the United States while they wait for their immigrant status.  To do so, they must submit a completed Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) along with the $100 application fee to the INS post office box (P.O. Box) address specified above for filing the Form I-129F.

    Additional information and application forms regarding the K visa and other LIFE Act benefits are available on the INS Web site (forms can be downloaded from the site), or by calling the INS toll-free customer telephone service: 1-800-375-5283.

    Application procedures are explained in the Federal Register notice.

    Now, to file the K3, here is basically what you do:

    • Citizen spouse files I-130 to Service Center. Obtains notice of receipt from Service Center, files I-129F to Chicago Center.
    • Chicago sends I-129F to Missouri Center, Missouri approves the petition and forwards to foreign US consulate.
    • Consulate sends Packet #3 to foreign spouse, spouse gets medical exam, police certificate, documents, has interview scheduled.
    • Spouse gets K3 visa at interview, enters US as K3, and applies for adjustment of status, even if the I-130 is not yet approved.
  • There are a number of other steps involved in the I-129F steps. From this point forward, it is very similar to a K1 Visa except that you include a marriage certificate. You must file:
    • Form I-129F
    • 2 G325a (All 4 pages - One for you. One for wife)
    • 2 ADIT Style Pictures of each of you
    • copy of I-130 notice of receipt
    • copy of marriage certificate
    • cover letter
  • When you do, you'll get a Notice of action #1 (NOA#1) that they've received your K3 application. Several months (2-24months) later, you'll get a NOA#2 saying that your K3 is approved. Then you can send your Fiancé this list of tasks to do. This is my K1 list, but I think that over 95% of it is correct for your process.

    The Whole K3 Visa Process Overview for the Philippines
    • I'll get my baptismal record and bring it with me if we will marry in the Catholic Church
    • I arrive in the Philippines for a Minimum of a 21 Days stay.
    • I stop in Manila between 8-9am M-W-F to get my Legal Capacity to Marry
    • We apply for a Marriage certificate on the day I arrive. (I know it takes 10 business day wait does not normally include weekends/holidays, so we'll have to wait at least until day 14 to marry!)
    • We will attend the seminar to meet the Counseling Requirement
    • We will meet with the Priest to see about the Baptismal requirement (If married in catholic church)
    • I will start the 4 weeks of Catholic Seminar on Wed Nights (Or make a "Donation" to your Priest so we can do it all in one day.) to meet the Catholic Seminar Requirement (If this is a civil Ceremony or protestant wedding, it may be easier)
    • We Get Married and I'll return to the US.
    • I begin to file an IR-1 Visa with Form I-130 at the INS
    • I get a receipt for the I-130 and we apply for the K3 Visa
    • I receive a receipt from the INS that they have the application.
    • We wait for 30-500 days for them to approve the application.
    • You get a Passport (See the requirement at
    • After application is approved, they send it to the US Consulate in the Philippines (I also get a copy of the message and FAX you a copy)
    • You call 909-01-0011 and request the "K Packet" Or I call the $6 number for foreign citizens (63-2-843-8414) and order it for you. (This call also opens a Provincial File for us at the US Embassy.)
    • You fill out all of the forms and go to Manila for your medical exam.
    • You give St. Luke's for a 2-day medical exam (Mo/Tu,Tu/We,We/Th)
    • You go for a Friday Walk-in Interview (only on Fridays, that's why you go to St. Luke's before Friday!)
    • You return to your city while the US Consulate Processes the Visa
    • US Consulate approves Visa in several weeks (unless we enter Administrative Review)
    • You get your K3 VISA
    • I come to Get you
    • On the way back we stop in Manila
    • We visit the CFO again for a short seminar. You show your passport and CFO certificate to get a special stamp on your passport.
    • We come on to the United States
  • PLEASE NOTE, The individual procedures for the K3 (like CFO Visits, Getting Passport, Police Clearances, St. Luke's Visit) are all almost identical to the K1 Process. For reference, please see the K1 Steps above. They are too similar to rewrite and reproduce at this time!

    Don't forget, filing the K3 is actually filing 3 visas. You file an IR-1 visa, and then file a K3 with your notice of action on the IR-1.

    The biggest delays are related to 2 major things:
    • Geting a certified copy of the marriage certificate to file the IR-1/K3 can 30+ days after you marry. The certified copies on NSO paper come from Manila. And, the filing system (to get it recorded) takes a while because they have a central registry of all marriages. There's a lot to sort, add, and file in their mail room.
    • If you have ever wondered why most folks claim that the K1 Visa is quicker, it has to do with more than just the processing time. There is a great deal of "Lead time" involved too. For most, the Spousal Visa requires an one more visit to the Philippines than the K1 Visa. If you are meeting your pen pal for the first time, it's easy to get engaged and file a K1 when you return. If you want to marry, its a bit odd to show up on day 1, get engaged on day 2, File for a marriage license on day 3, and get married on day 13. That's a bit much for the first meeting. Chances are, you get engaged on that trip, and plan to return to marry in 6 months. Then you spend the next 6 months getting the IR-1/K3 visa.
  • Do you follow why #2 is longer?
    K1 - Trip#1
    (Get Engaged) --> FileUpon Return --> 6-12 months Later Get Visa
    K3 - Trip#1 (Get Engaged)
    --> Trip #2 (6 Months later, Get Married) --> File Upon Return --> 6-12 Months Later Get Visa

    K1 = Together 6 months from first trip
    K3 = Together 6+6 or 6+12 Months after first trip
    <-- The extra return trip takes time!

    Unless you want to marry on your first trip or can afford to make extra trips, or are already on your 2nd trip.... then it really does probably take longer. You could be approved by the time that you return just to get married.

    The other thing I like is that with the K1, all the paperwork is done by the time you marry. With the IR-1/K3, the paperwork is all due AFTER you marry. If you encounter any unforseen problems that prevent a visa issuance, you know about it with a K1 and probably call off the marriage. With a K3, tough luck. You are married and your girl is out of the country.

    BEST OF ANDREW RUSSELL - Packing for your trip!

    • Camera to use or leave when I return -- ($200 camera Bought at Ritz Camera Clearance center for $29. Clearance link is in left column 1 page down)
    • Lots of film to use or leave when I return (16 rolls - 400 Speed Kodak Max. Good film hard to find in Philippines)
    • Toiletries for me:
      • Wash cloths for you (2 or 3 if you stay with girl and wash from bucket. Hard to finding PI)
      • Shampoo
      • Band-Aids
      • Neosporin (small tube)
      • Non Aerosol Shaving Gel (Because no Aerosol allowed on Airline)
      • Razor and non-aerosol shaving cream (because of flight regulations)
      • Small Shaving Mirror (If you stay with girl, don't assume they will have a mirror to use!)
      • Toothpaste & two toothbrushes (One for girl)
      • Hair Gel
      • Handy-wipes
      • Skin-so-soft bug repellent
      • Leaver 2000 anti-bacterial Wipes
      • Bar 'o soap
      • Breath Mints
      • 1 Roll of 1-ply Septic tank safe Toilet paper with cardboard center removed, flattened, and put in a zip-lock
      • My Emergency Pill Assortment (little pill case)
        • Alive (10)
        • Tylenol (10)
        • Tylenol w/ codeine (5)
        • Advil (10)
        • Aspirin (10)
        • Caffeine (200mg) (25)
        • Bindery (15) (to put me to sleep on the plane)
        • Seeped (20)
        • Contact [Cold Capsules] (10)
        • Travis D [Allergy Pills] (20)
        • Imodium [Diarrhea Pills] (35)
        • Pepto Dismal [Diarrhea Liquid] (20)
        • Gas-X (15)
        • Roll of Rolaids
        • Cipro (Emergency Travel Antibiotics) (30)
        • Lariam (Malaria Pills) (4)
    • Spare pare of glasses (incase mine get broken)
    • Travel Alarm
    • Games:
      • Uno -- VERY POPULAR! (Consider brining extras sets to give as gifts)
      • A Frisbee (they had never seen one!)
      • Phase 10
      • Travel Checkers
    • Clothes
    • Twin Air Mattress (for me and my girl because they sleep on the floor!
    • Slippers (thong thingies -- May be easier to buy there. They can be hard to find in some parts of the US depending on season.)
    • Two photo copies of my Passport (in case lost/stolen)
    • Rio Volt CD/MP3 player (Walkman style)
      • 80 hours of Audio Books on MP3 for flight (3 cd)
      • 150 hours of music (5 CD)
      • 2 sets headphones so we can listen together if we want
      • 4 packs AA Batteries (6)
      • Patch cords to plug into Karaoke or stereo so they can listen to it too:
        • 9mm Stereo Headphone Jack to 2 RCA Female Plugs
        • 9mm Stereo Headphone Jack to 1 Mono Female 1/4" Mic Plug
        • 9mm Stereo Headphone Jack to another 9mm Stereo jack
        • 9mm Stereo Headphone jack to 2 9mm Female headphone jacks + another set of headphones (to listen with your girl)
    • Book - Culture Shock USA for my girl
    • Bible - Give to your girl or her family as a gift. I recommend a good family bible which includes a commentary (Thompson’s Learning Bible or NIV Living bible recommended. English is fine. A separate cover with sipper is a bonus. They will love you for this one!)
    • Cash
      • $100 in $20 for travel
      • $500 in $100 bills (in shoe under insole - MUST BE IN PERFECT CONDITION or nobody will take them)
    • New Wallet (Just for trip with only CRITICAL bits of info)
      • Drivers License
      • Emergency Contact Numbers
      • ATM Card
      • One Credit Card (KNOW YOUR PIN NUMBER! Or you can not get a cash advance. You and still use it for purchases though. Call them and have them make a note that you will be in the Philippines. Otherwise, transactions may be blocked.)
      • Xerox copy of Passport folded inside
    • Gifts for family
      • Suitcases (If you can pack a collapsible suitcase in your suitcase, then you can leave your behind. Then your girl will have some when you come back to get her)
      • A bottle of my favorite perfume for girl
      • Cassette or CD Dubs of my favorite music
      • Some clothes for my girl and her family
      • BELTS -- None of the men in my girl's family owned a belt. I brought 2 and left them. The braided leather ones were the best. Due to the small size of Filipino waists, the largest CHILDS belt (30-32") will probably work even for the men. The cost is often 1/2!)
      • Medicine for my girl's family (Bulk from Sam's Club):
        • 500 Advil
        • 500 Aspirin
        • 500 Aleve (Neoproxin Sodium)
        • 500 Tylenol
        • 1000 Centrum Silver Vitamins
      • Couple bags of Hershey's Minibars for the family
      • American Condiments and sauces for them to try:
        • Bottle of Tabasco Sauce (red, green, or both)
        • Two bottles of Liquid Smoke Marinade (Hickory & Mesquite)
        • One bottle of Whitehorse Sauce
        • One bottle of Louisiana Hot Sauce
        • Assortment of American Barbeque Sauces (Cookies, Old Smoke House, etc... from sweet to tangy)
    • Materials that she may or may not need. I did not want to wait on mail, so I am taking everything! Each item below is packed in an individual 9x12 envelope. If there are 2 sets, I label each envelope as original or copy. All items are sorted and bound.
      • 3 G-325a's (1 to fill out & 2 to sign)
      • 2 Certified copies of my Birth Certificate
      • 1 Set of copies of all her letters to me (Evidence of support for Interview)
      • 1 set of copies of all postmarked envelopes she sent me (Evidence for Interview)
      • 1 set of copies of all my letters to her (Evidence for Interview)
      • 2 sets of receipts from Western Union Transfer (Evidence of support for Interview)
      • 2 sets of receipts from PNB Bank Transfers (Evidence for Interview)
      • 1 Copy of the Guide above so she knows what she must do!
      • 1 copy of the St. Luke's Experience
    • One cloth laundry bag to keep my dirty clothes clean and together!

    BEST OF ANDREW RUSSELL - Vaccinations & Inoculations Before my trip, I went and made an appointment to go and see my doctor. I thought I'd ask if I should get any immunizations. I also wanted to get a prescription for antibiotics just incase something happened when I was out. So we went through the list. I was good for:

    • MMR (Measles, Mumps, & Rubella)
    • Tetanus
    • Hepatitis B (From my nurse days)
    • Small pox
  • He gave me injections and prescriptions for:
    • Hepatitis A
    • Malaria
    • Capron Pills (Same Antibiotics use in Anthrax treatment!)
  • Then, he told me to go to the state health clinic. Evidently they have a travel nurse with a list of immunizations for each country. I wandered over, and she gave me 5 injections:
    • Typhoid
    • Yellow Fever
    • Adult Polio Booster
    • Flu
    • Japanese Encephalitis
  • This may be overkill, but I thought others might find the information useful. In the United States, every state county is supposed to have a "County Health Department". They keep list of all recommended injections for foreign travel based on country. They also keep the serum for most of them. Your local doctor is not likely to have them in stock!

    Comments or questions? / Email Andrew Russell at







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