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February 6, 2011 / thegirlwhotooktheleap

Marrying Timmy the K-1 Way

Timmy proposed to me on March 15th, 2010. I can still remember it like it was yesterday, he looked so cute as he ran to my apartment lobby in his red flannel. I could tell he was nervous, I was too.. and when he popped the question and put the ring on my finger I just felt like wow.. this is really it. This is the man I am going to marry for the rest of my life. I had no doubts and that yes was uttered with 100% pure conviction.

That part was easy, the rest that followed wasn’t.

First of all, how do you plan a wedding when I am not American and he is not Filipino? Where would the wedding be, and when, and more importantly, how? I mean I did have a valid tourist visa, but to come to the US as a tourist and then get married could be viewed as fraud, and I did not want to risk that. So we had some decisions to make, and we knew we couldn’t do it on our own so when I went to the US last May to attend Timmy’s college graduation and Army commissioning, we made sure to set up an appointment with an immigration lawyer in Philadelphia. After checking out various websites, we found one that looked friendly and promising, and so we set up a free consultation with Atty. Jane Schoener from Schoener and Kascavage.

Jane was sooo friendly and gave us amazing information. We discussed our options (fiance visa, spouse visa or student visa) and finally decided on the k-1 route (fiance visa). We also both felt that the k1 visa was the best choice for us, even though it’s the most expensive among the options because we simply didn’t want to rush into marriage just so Tim could petition me. We wanted to take our time and more importantly, I wanted to spend more time with my family as myself, and not as Tim’s wife. After settling on this visa, Jane told us that we could do it on our own and we really didn’t need a lawyer to file it. How great is Jane, right??? She was such a nice lady, and we owe a lot to her.

So now we needed to compile the documents for our k1 packet, which Tim (the petitioner) needs to send to USCIS.

Check out the VJ guide on filing for a k1

Here are the documents we included in our k1 packet:

  • Payment (check for $340)
  • Cover letter (explaining what we are filing for)
  • Letters of intent (from both us stating that we both want to get married)
  • Statement from our Parents (we had both our moms write that they both knew and approved of the relationship)
  • Proof that we had met within two years (pictures, passport and visa stamps)
  • Form i-129F petition for alien fiance
  • G-325A filled up by both beneficiary and petitioner plus passport-style photo for each
  • Tim’s birth certificate and copy of all pages of passport

It took about 2-3 weeks to compile all of this, and once it was ready, Tim had it checked first by a JAG officer on base at Fort Benning, and when we got the go signal we sent it!

Our k1 timeline:

K1 JOURNEY
Service Center: Vermont Service Center
Consulate : Manila, Philipines
06-06-2010 : Filed I-129F
06-10-2010 : NOA1
07-02-2010 :Β NOA2 (APPROVED!!!)

OMG!! It got approved so fast! Tim and I were overjoyed! Okay so once you get your NOA2 or (notice of action 2) they will forward your papers to the NVC or National Visa Center. They will review it again before finally forwarding it to your designated embassy. By August I had already received a notice from the US Embassy in Manila that my case was ready to be scheduled for an interview, which was shocking since we were expecting to wait at least 3-5 months to get the noa2 so when it came in less than a month we were so unprepared. I was still working in China and I was not ready at all to leave my job and move to the US. We decided to delay my schedule till December, which means we had ample time to ready all these for the interview and medical:

  • Passport
  • DS-156 form (2)
  • DS-157 form (2)
  • DS-156K form (1)
  • My certified birth certificate
  • Police clearances from Manila and China
  • Certificate that I had never been married

Evidence of a Meeting:

  • Certificates showing we both studied in China from Fudan University
  • Passport Stamps and Plane tickets showing his visits to Mla and China, and my visit to the US
  • Tons of Photos
Evidence of Relationship:
  • Emails
  • Handwritten Letters
  • My correspondence with his family
  • Engagement Ring Receipt
  • Statement from both our parents
  • Phone Records
  • Photos
Evidence of Support:
  • I-134
  • Military records and orders showing he was in active duty (IOBC) and he commissioned as a LT
  • letter from his commander showing his salary as a 2LT.
  • bank statements.
  • I-134 and a year’s worth of tax returns from parents (co-sponsor)

12-06-2010: Setting up the Appointment
Just to give you some info about the process, the first thing I did was go to BPI to pay the k1 fee, I brought with me my passport/passport photocopy and the letter from the US Embassy. I paid $350. On the following day, December 7th, I successfully scheduled my appointment online and downloaded the appointment letter. Please do remember that k1 applicants should schedule under the immigrant section πŸ™‚

12-9&10-2010: Medical at SLMC (Passed)

The medical exam is a 2-day nerve-wracking experience. You undergo a series of routine tests that will determine if you are in good condition and have no contagious diseases which could affect your impeding immigrant status. Thankfully I was cleared (No Tuberculosis and AIDS-Yay!) and was given the go-signal to have my interview. πŸ™‚

I brought the payment, my passport, my appointment letter, some 2×2 pictures, vaccine records a pen and a book πŸ™‚

Here is an awesome resource about taking your medical at SLMC

12-20-2010:Β INTERVIEW DATE (APPROVED)

Tim attended my interview with me and boy am I glad he did! We arrived at the US Embassy 6:30am and we finished around 10:30am. There was a lot of waiting and we were just both so nervous. The interview itself with the consular officer took less than 10 minutes. He asked the routine questions such as “How did you meet? When is the wedding? What do you do and how do you plan to support her? (Addressed to Tim) and Do you plan to work in the US? (Addressed to me)” Basically they need to make sure that Tim is financially stable enough to support me and I will not go on welfare when I get to the US, and that our relationship is genuine. Once we had convinced the CO that we had good intentions, he then said the magic words “Congratulations your visa has been approved” and Tim and I just looked at each other, smiled and thanked the CO profusely. He also cancelled my tourist visa. After the interview, I just filled out a form to give the courier my shipping address so that they could forward my passport back to me once my visa was printed.

01-08-2011: Visa Received

On this date I received my passport and the mysterious brown envelope that I am supposed to give to the immigration officer at the point of entry. How exciting! I quickly looked at my passport and saw that my visa had Tim’s name on it, how cool! It just means that when I get to the US, I have 90 days to marry Timmy and only Timmy or else I risk deportation.

01-20-2011: CFO Seminar at PRISM

A requirement by the Philippine Government for all immigrants. Had a very unpleasant experience. The man who gave the introduction was power-tripping and abusive of his power. We had to buy a 13-page photocopied “hand-out” for a ridiculous Php150 plus he tried to convince us to open BDO bank accounts. The whole experience was ridiculous!

I brought my passport with the visa and the payment fee since that is what was indicated on the website. Bear in mind that some people will be asked to present pictures or marriage/death/divorce certificates so have them ready with you just in case πŸ™‚

02-21-2011:Β POE- San Francisco-Newark

So basically thats it! Thats our k1 visa experience! Crazy huh? Well the fun has just begun, coz once I get to the US, my AOS journey starts!

By the way, visajourney is an awesome resource to those interested in going the same route!

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask! Just leave a comment and I will get back to you right away πŸ™‚

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34 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Rain / Feb 9 2011 1:41 am

    Oh how I love to read your blog! I’m from VJ too. We’re on the halfway mark waiting for our NOA2. Congratulations Steph and to your husband Tim.

    • thegirlwhotooktheleap / Feb 9 2011 5:05 am

      Thank you Rain, you are so sweet! Goodluck with the process and I hope it goes smoothly for you! I hope this helps you to be prepared for what’s next πŸ™‚ I hope you get your NOA2 soon! πŸ˜€

      • Rain / Feb 9 2011 8:42 pm

        Yea you’ve given out so many important information I can use later on to our process. I’m excited and kinda sad cuz the more we get closer to finish our visa process the more I’m getting closer in leaving all my loved ones and important things here too T.T And I see your husband is in military too. My fiance is serving the United States Air Force. Thanks again Steph! Oh and I just wanna say.. you are really so cute! :))

      • thegirlwhotooktheleap / Feb 9 2011 8:50 pm

        i will make an AOS guide soon too πŸ™‚ i know, its really sad.. i don’t know how i can say goodbye also.. but at least we can finally be reunited with our men πŸ™‚ and the air force is cool! πŸ˜› hehe thanks rain! goodluck again πŸ™‚

  2. ann / Mar 7 2011 5:45 am

    rain i need to ask you a question, but its kind of private. anyway, i have been awake for a while reading all these horror stories in forums and now i am scared to death of the consul. i dont think i have anything to hide, but 2008 i tried to get a tourist visa and i got denied…so now i am paranoid about them. 😦

    • thegirlwhotooktheleap / Mar 7 2011 7:32 am

      Hey what’s up? Are you in the process of applying for a k1 visa? First of all, I am no lawyer, but for as long as your relationship is genuine and you have all the appropriate documents then there is nothing to worry bout. The tourist visa denial won’t matter πŸ™‚

  3. Tina / Apr 19 2011 3:47 am

    Hi, I agree! The 150 pesos “hand-out” is ridiculous! I will accept it if the handout is well organized but it really wasn’t and they are just photocopied sheets of paper which only costs .50 centavos each outside *roll eyes*. And its funny they didn’t give any receipt for that hand-out and also it isn’t posted on the CFO website *being a little suspicious*. And also I didn’t understand why they had to make me return to their office early in the morning the next day just to submit some things about my fiance like his passport, birth certificate and other stuffs when they should have posted it on their website so there’s no hassle. Oh well, I’m done with that counseling and I’m just waiting for my visa now and then I could go to CFO and have my sticker. πŸ™‚

    • thegirlwhotooktheleap / Apr 20 2011 3:30 pm

      Ahhh yes the CFO.. still makes me mad everytime I remember it! Prism was such an unpleasant experience!

  4. Nica / Apr 22 2011 4:10 pm

    Hi Steph,

    I really love reading your blog… I’m from PI too.
    I am a K-1 Filer from CSC. We just got the copy of our NOA2 on april 15.
    Now I’m confused. What should we do next? I am the beneficiary.

    Seems like you have so much information πŸ™‚

    Thanks
    Nica

    • thegirlwhotooktheleap / Apr 22 2011 4:16 pm

      Thanks Nica, and congrats on the NOA2! That’s awesome!
      Well basically your case will be sent to NVC and you’ll get a MNL case num.. Some people call up the NVC to get the case num, in my case we waited till I got the letter from USEM saying that I was eligible to schedule (we weren’t in a hurry). With your MNL number you can go to BPI to pay the fee, the keep the receipt coz you will need it to schedule. The NOA2/NVC letter/Interview Appt should be enough proof for you to do your medical πŸ™‚ Oh and start preparing your docs!

      • Nica / Apr 23 2011 12:12 am

        Thanks Steph Oh ok.. So I can do the medical exam once I paid and have the interview date? ( I am in a hurry ) Hahaha. I have left my kids with my fiance in the US so hopefully things will go smoothly πŸ™‚

      • thegirlwhotooktheleap / Apr 23 2011 9:34 am

        Yes, you can do your medical even with just your NOA2 πŸ™‚

  5. sly / Apr 23 2011 3:40 pm

    Hey
    This is quite a happy story and i took time to bookmark your page basically bcos i am yet to start my own process.
    I am waiting for my woman to get her citizenship come Mid May,thereafter she files for me.Your Journey seems the fastest,i ever read on VJ.i am Glad you r now united with your man.
    I love my woman wholeheartedily,and even though she is older and has kids,i love them as mine and adore every morning.she has visited me twice in Nigeria and my Family accepted her with open arms.
    I hope when i start my own process,it wont exceed the specified duration for normal processing.

    • thegirlwhotooktheleap / Apr 23 2011 4:16 pm

      First of all, congratulations and goodluck on your own visa journey! It is a crazy process, but it’s worth it πŸ™‚ Make sure to do your research so that you can avoid any RFE’s and you can have a quick and smooth-sailing journey! πŸ™‚

  6. marian / Apr 24 2011 11:07 pm

    hi i enjoy reading you blog i hope you can help us with ours, It feels too long to wait we mizz each other so much we had our case number SEPT 2010, we recieve RFE ( review for evidence) this FEB and until now we dont have any news about it, so what do you think we should do? and i wonder how long should we wait?

    • thegirlwhotooktheleap / Apr 25 2011 10:14 am

      Hey! I am certainly no expert at k1 visas but I really think your case has gone over the processing time limit so its time to keep calling and request an expedite! It really shouldn’t take that long! I hope you get your noa2 soon!

  7. Maria / Jun 10 2011 12:48 pm

    hello Steph, I just want to ask you if how long it take to receive packets we got MNL case number already and called NVC last May 13 and said that our case forwarded in Manila consulate on the same day we call. I haven’t get any embassy letter or packets yet. Any idea? thank you

    • thegirlwhotooktheleap / Jun 10 2011 2:56 pm

      All I got was a letter from USEM saying I was eligible to file but really you won’t need that, as long as you have the case number you can pay and schedule already. You can also go to the medical with your noa2. congrats!!! πŸ™‚

  8. Maria / Jun 11 2011 9:50 am

    thanks a lot God Bless!!! anyway I watched ur dance wedding video from rehearsal to final… LOL its was a fun dance and U look so cute on your dress.

  9. xeanrose / Sep 28 2011 1:10 am

    this is really a helpful info, thanks… hope we could be friends. if you feel like it…
    by the way, how’s the feeling of being a married woman now?

    • thegirlwhotooktheleap / Oct 11 2011 9:58 pm

      Thanks April! Hope you can join us on our fb group πŸ™‚ it feels great to be married to the man you love :p

  10. xeanrose / Sep 28 2011 1:26 am

    thanks for those info.. i’m from vj too… and i like how you detailed everything… best wishes!!!

  11. James / Apr 22 2012 5:59 am

    Hi, we are just starting.. working on I-129F now.. hoping to have it in mail May 8. I so want to do e-thing right. I especially liked that your fiance was there at the interview. I really wish you could talk to my wife to be. It would give her so much comfort.

    • thegirlwhotooktheleap / May 17 2012 3:42 pm

      Hey! Goodluck with the filing! Is your fiance pinay? If yes we have a FB group exclusive for pinays going through k1 πŸ™‚

  12. tingya / Jun 24 2012 10:48 am

    Very nice information here! Congratulations! I’m a Filipina and about to marry an American. We’re starting our K1 visa process. What’s your FB group? Can we be friends?

    • thegirlwhotooktheleap / Jul 1 2012 6:25 pm

      Hey! Its called HAPPY LADIES VIP CHATROOM on FB. πŸ™‚ Join us! Congrats on your engagement! πŸ™‚

  13. Rea / Aug 3 2012 1:58 am

    Hi! just wanna say I loved reading what u wrote here… aside from the good information about how to process K1-VISA… Its nice to know bout your story with ur husband… (Giggling)… im on visa journey too,.. my Fiance just filed the i-129f july 16,2012 and got the NOA1 july 20,2012… now were still waiting for the NOA2… and I belived in saying… “Good thing comes to those who wait..” πŸ™‚

    • thegirlwhotooktheleap / Aug 10 2012 12:57 pm

      Aww congrats on the engagement and goodluck!! Before you know it, you’ll be here!! πŸ™‚

  14. James / Sep 4 2012 4:51 pm

    I filed I-129F and received the NOA1 on 8/10/12. I was just doing the math and it seemed the process would not be done till around mid March. It seemed you received your NOA2 extra-quick. I read it is a 5 month process just to get the NOA2. I so hope we get it quicker than my guesstimate: January 10, 2013.

    I think I read that you were delaying the process due to school/job obligations in China; is that correct? It could have been a much quicker process for you.

    I hope nothing stops or delays the NOA2; its tough being away from someone you really care about. Yes, she is filipina.. you used another term I’ve never seen used. I am thankful to God that we have modern day communication.. she and I talk prob. 2-4 hours a day off/on while she is working, etc. If the Lord wills, I hope to go see her again soon.

    She is leaving Hong Kong where she works at the end of this month. I am so excited for her as she’s not seen her daughter much over the last 4.5 years. I wanted her to get back to the Philippines so she could be with her daughter, spend time with her family, etc. Also, there will be things she needs to do to get her and her daughter ready to come here. I so hope they like it here!

    I just returned fromt he Post Office. I sent a box full of fun-things for her daughter: stickers, fun books, educational books and a barbie doll she wanted. I also sent a few surprises for my best friend.

    Question: what is the best way to propose to someone so far away?
    .

    • thegirlwhotooktheleap / Sep 6 2012 8:10 am

      Yeah we actually got really lucky and got approved at a record pace! Goodluck on your k1 process πŸ™‚

    • thegirlwhotooktheleap / Sep 6 2012 8:32 am

      That’s so great that she can spend time with her daughter again! I miss my mom so much so I can imagine how hard 4.5 years must be.. As for the proposal.. if a surprise visit can’t be arranged, get some of her neighbors or friends involved and plan something special for her! Like talk to her friends, tell them to invite her to go out for dinner and then they can sneakily take out a laptop with you on skype and you can propose to her while they are there! πŸ™‚

  15. Joanne / Oct 7 2013 8:24 am

    Hi! I would like to ask how did you delay your schedule for your interview in Manila? Did you call the US Embassy? I’ll be taking my US boards so we decided to finish my exam before I start the process. Thank you.

    • thegirlwhotooktheleap / Feb 18 2014 12:04 pm

      I just delayed scheduling the interview, I didn’t ask them anything or tell them anything πŸ™‚

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