Our Fiance Visa Saga: Chapter Two
LJ Salceda Schroeder
(pic c/o my Aunt Vivian)
Akala ng iba madali, masarap at bongga kapag may bf/fiance/asawa kang 'Kano. Ang 'di alam ng marami, sangkatutak na papeles, red tape at sakripisyo ang titiisin mo para lang sa lovelife at loved ones mo. Bago maging isang nobela ito, back to K1 tayo. If you missed Chapter One, here's the link.
After passing the medical exam, it's time to PAY AND SCHEDULE THE VISA INTERVIEW.
The interview process was both exciting and nerve-wracking for me. I've been granted a 10-yr tourist visa before I applied for the K1 so I am aware of the routine. What made it worrisome was, some of the documents that I needed for the interview did not arrive on time because John sent it via post office! This is a NO-NO for very important and original documents. (Use Fed Ex or UPS or other shipping companies, NOT the post office if you or your significant other need to send anything valuable to each other!) I had to re-schedule the interview (twice) if I'm not mistaken because I wasn't sure if I should go through with the interview with our incomplete documents. When it did arrive (two days after the interview) in the mail it was opened and a masking tape was used to re-seal it. Sigh!
The day before my interview, I was scrambling and petrified. After chatting with John and praying together, I asked him to scan and e-mail whatever copies he has left of income tax/investments/bank accounts or anything to prove he is financially liable of myself once I get there (another important requirement for the K1 application). I also asked him to write a letter to the Manila US Embassy explaining what happened to the rest of the financial support papers which I brought to the interview.
FYI: If the petitioner does not reach the "poverty guideline" in his state, he may look for a qualified co-sponsor.
In spite of our dilemma, we entrusted everything to the Lord then I reviewed some of the possible questions for the interview.
ON THE DAY OF THE INTERVIEW July 1, 2011, I woke up at 4am, got ready, double-checked my list, asked my mom to pray for me before I left (a lot of help to calm my nerves) and arrived at the US Embassy gates by 5:30am. My interview was at 6:40am and the line was already loooong as expected.
I was in-line for at least 30 mins (protocols and specific requirements at the embassy are included in the interview confirmation e-mail) before they started letting people in, getting checked by security and going through some of the documents (interview confirmation letter, receipt etc.)
K1 visa interview is slightly different from the Tourist Visa Interview. Once inside the embassy grounds, your documents will be initially checked and you will be given a number. By batches (using you number) you will be fingerprinted (biometrics), then you will have to wait again until your initial interview.
When my number was flashed, I went to a room with a Filipino consul/staff. He checked my docus (I organized them in a huge plastic envelope) and just asked the basic questions- my name, the petitioner's name, do I have all the documents etc. I showed him John's "explanation/apology" letter and explained what happened to the rest of our papers. I think he said it's up for the interviewer to decide. When he was done, he told me to wait (in the lobby) until my number pops up above one of the windows where the actual interview will happen.
I silently prayed and practiced some more while waiting for the "actual interview". I also observed how some of the interviews went (you will learn a lot just by observing.) I noticed that one of the girls that was being interviewed (who was either denied or given the "colored" slip I don't remember how it ended) was having a hard time explaining her annulment. She was a little feisty too!
When my number was shown, I was thankful that I was assigned to a very friendly American (Caucasian) man probably in his 30's who was wearing a barong tagalog. He again asked me the basic questions- my name, my fiance's name, how we met, what he does for a living, wedding planning etc. Then he noticed John's apology/explanation letter. I started explaining and apologizing and promised him I will come back and submit the rest, but he assured me and this is his exact words because I clearly remember to this day, "Your fiance seems to have enough money to support you. No need for additional documents." (Whew!) Then he congratulated me and swore me (to get married within 90 days) and gave me the white paper (where you have to put your mailing add for the visa delivery.)
A miracle! An answered prayer! A relief!
It took more than a week for my visa to be ready for pick up in one of the 2Go branches. You can also have it delivered as an option. I stayed in the Philippines a few more weeks to spend time with family and friends, work on the rest of the wedding, attend the Commission on Filipino Overseas or CFO seminar (another requirement prior to departure) and on July 31, 2011 I flew for the third time to the US to be with my man for the rest of my life.
Again, it's not an easy journey. It doesn't end once visa is in your hands or once you are married. K1 is just the first process among the succeeding processes you will go through if you decide to marry a foreign (American in this case) national. It is not for the faint of heart that's for sure.