Since we met in the Philippines and then after our marriage moved to the USA, we have personal experience with the process of immigration to the USA. In addition, from the many people we have known in person and through the website, we have continued to learn about this process. Since many of our members ask us about this, we will share some of this information here. Our apologies to our many members from other countries that we do not have as much information in their respective countries of the details of immigration.
It is nearly impossible for any person from the Philippines to travel to the US on a tourist visa because of the requirement in the visa application process that they prove sufficient ties to their home country. There are very long lines every day outside the US embassy in Manila of hundreds of men and women who pay over $100 each to get a 2-minute opportunity to ask for a tourist visa, and almost all of them are immediately rejected because they are considered likely to overstay their tourist visas illegally.
For this reason, any US citizen who considers marriage with a Filipina should plan to get her a fiance or spousal visa and never waste time, money, or tears on attempting to get a tourist visa. Fiance and spousal visas to the US, in our experience, take 8-12 months to process from initial application to the final issuance of the visa. In order to even apply, the US citizen must have income or assets above a certain minimum. In addition, there must be recent photos of the couple together.
As we have written in previous blog entries, we recommend that our gentlemen plan a trip to meet several of our members in person as friends. Then after meeting in person, if one of those develops to the point of engagement or marriage, that’s the time to begin the process of the visa application (unless of course you intend to live together in the Philippines, which many couples do also).
Some of our members ask how much should they save in order to be ready for this process. While everyone’s experience is different, as a very rough guide, here is a minimal budget:
Airfare for one trip $1000
Expenses for one month $1000
Immigrant Visa application fees $1000
Travel expenses for your fiance/wife $1000
In our case, we also paid for an expert to help us with the visa application process, which was less than $1000. We have met some who prefer to do their own applications, but in our case we did not want to waste time with trying to second-guess the visa forms and preferred to have someone to help us get it right the first time.
Technically speaking, according to some interpretations of the immigrant visas, the US citizen is supposed to maintain a residence in the US while the visa is being processed. However, on a personal level, we feel that our choice to live together in the Philippines during that time was best for us. Consider your own situation, and figure out what is best for you.
We apologize if our blog post on this topic cannot answer the specific details of exact timelines (which can vary depending on your situation) or even budget. You can consult an expert or a lawyer or the immigration department website for more information when you get to the point of making your choices.
As one final note, we sometimes hear that a couple is considering whether to get married in the Philippines or the USA (or both), based on the implications for the visa. We think this is backwards and unnecessary. If you are ready, then consider what is right for the two of you before God and in the context of your families. The visas will be available for you whatever choice makes sense on a personal level.
If you are interested in a free report on immigration visa tips, please request it via our Filipino Visa website, which is part of our trusted and award-winning service Christian Filipina.