If you have cruised the Internet much over the past 15 years or so in search of information about the Philippines, there is a good chance that you know who Ray Bacon is. I first came to know of Ray about that many years ago, or so. I used to operate an e-mail list in the early to mid-90′s called “Asialink” which was mostly a group of men who were married to Filipina wives. We gathered on this on-line e-mail chat group for support, sharing information and such. After a few years, the group splintered into two groups, and that other group later splintered again, and a new e-mail group called “Mag-Anak” was born. Ray was one of the original founders of the Mag-Anak group.
Over these many years, Ray Bacon has been active in assisting people who have married Filipinas. He has assisted people get through the Immigration process so that the couple could be re-united in the United States and begin their families. While the process of a wife immigrating to the USA has been fairly straightforward, when a problem does arise, or for those who are unsure how to proceed, Ray has been a godsend. As a matter of fact, on the Mag-Anak group, Ray has a nickname, or at least he used to in the days when I was active on the group. Ray is known as “The Pope.”
I don’t normally write about issues regarding marriage in the Philippines and that kind of thing. It’s something I did a very long time ago (nearly 20 years already), so it is not something that consumes me anymore. This site tends to focus on expat issues instead. However, nobody can argue that there is not a cross over between the two issues. Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of requests for information on this sort of thing, lots of questions like, “Bob, I just married a lady in the Philippines, what do I do now, I want her to come live in the States.”
So, because of the interest that I get on this, I decided to do a little interview with Ray Bacon. Ray is a guy who can help you greatly if you need this kind of assistance.
So, here is my interview with Ray Bacon.
Hi Ray, nice to talk to you again, it’s been a long time since we’ve been in contact. I remember that you used to do a lot to help people who got married or engaged here in the Philippines. Helping with things like Immigration and such. Are you still doing that, and if so, can you direct the readers how to get to your website, or how to contact you?
We maintain a resource website called Multi Ethnic Services with links to immigration-related sites, our enhanced versions of the latest U.S. immigration-related forms and some information about what we do.
A lot of people ask me, what is best… getting married in the Philippines, or getting married in the States. What do you think, in terms of the Immigration process?
It’s a personal choice, but sometimes influenced by the fiancee’s parents. The Spousal Visa procedure, after marriage, has a stronger legal basis for the young lady’s eventual Immigrant and Green Card status, but currently averages about 2 months longer than the Fiancee Visa process.
Are you able to help people with immigration concerns in countries other than the USA?
We have assisted with Immigration paperwork for nationals from more than 10 other countries inthe last year. The requirements are the same for most countries, except for minor local procedural differences once the paperwork arrives at the foreign U.S. Consular Post (Embassy or Consulate).
What kinds of visas are available for wives or fiancees of American Citizens?
Spouses of U.S. Citizens are eligible for the Immigrant Visa, CR-1, or the Non-Immigrant Two Year Spousal Visa, K3. The K3 Visa was originally touted as getting wives to the U.S. much faster, but that is no longer the case, though a one to two-month faster timeframe may still be experienced with the K3 Visa. Use of the K3 Visa, however, results in significant extra expense and waiting before the young lady can get an SSN, work approval or Green Card once in the U.S.
About how long does the immigration process take?
From 7 to 10 months, on the average. Any “Fiancee or Spouse of a U.S. Citizen” Visa taking longer has experienced unusual delays due to improperly prepared paperwork or failure to have all evidence available when needed.
After getting the spouse to the States, are they then US Citizens?
U.S. Citizenship is not available to spouses of U.S. Citizens until the spouse has Green Card Status for 2 years and 9 months (for filing an application). If the immigrant enlists in any branch of the U.S. Military, it is possible for U.S. Citizenship to be available much sooner than 3 years.
Once the Immigration is complete, are there other steps that must be completed in the future?
Yes. If on a K3 Visa, the entrant must apply for Adjustment of Status, to get a Green Card, within two years of arrival in the U.S. If in the U.S. on a Spousal Immigrant Visa, CR-1, and the marriage is less than two years upon arrival in the U.S., she must apply for “Removal of Conditions” to obtain a 1-year Green Card before her second-year anniversary of Green Card issuance arrives. This requirement also applies to K3 entrants who’s subsequent Green Cards were issued for only 2 years.
After the lady arrives in the States, what if she wants to become a US Citizen? How long does it take? What is the process?
After she receives her Green Card, she can apply for U.S. Citizenship at 2 years and 9 months from the Green Card issue date. If the marriage terminates before then, or she is not married to a U.S. Citizen, she must wait until 4 1/2 years from the Green Card issuance. The Naturalization Application fee is currently $675 and requires submittal of Form N-400 with supporting documents. After acceptance, she will be scheduled for biometrics (fingerprinting), then an interview and test consisting of civics, history and basic English questions.
How long have you been doing this kind of service, Ray? About how many people have you assisted?
We have been doing Immigration-related work for fees for about 10 years. We started by assisting with Citizenship Applications on a contract basis and assisted about 2,000 Citizenship Applicants at different locations around the country. When that private contracting program was terminated, about 10 years ago, we began working primarily with Fil-Am couples doing fiancee and Spousal petitions and adjustment of status packages. We’ve probably worked with about 600 couples, as well as other relative categories during the last 10 years, from at least 14 different countries.
Last question, Ray, because you are a busy man! I believe that you have an online group that delves into this whole type of thing, can you tell me about that? Who can join? What is the procedure to join?
We assist in moderating Mag-Anak, an online listserve, with a Yahoo Groups messaging application. This group, Mag-Anak, has been active for more than 10 years. Information about this Online Community can be found at: Mag Anak Website or Yahoo Groups Mag-Anak page.
The Mag-Anak Web Forum, linked from the Mag-Anak website is no longer active.
Thank you very much Ray, for sharing your expertise and information with the readers of my LiP Web Magazine! All the best to you and Ampee.
Thank you, Bob, for your longtime help to the Expat Community in the Philippines!
So, that wraps up my interview with “The Pope,” Ray Bacon. If you have needs for Immigration assistance I highly recommend Ray as a resource with experience and a great deal of knowledge.
I would like to point out that I receive no remuneration from this interview at all. I only recommend Ray because I really believe that he is the best man to provide the type of assistance and information that somebody would need and desire if they are embarking on the journey of helping their wife or fiancee immigrate to the USA.
Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur who is based in Davao. Bob is an American who has lived permanently in Mindanao since May 2000. Here in Mindanao, Bob has resided in General Santos City, and now in Davao City. Bob is the owner of this website and many others.