Stressful Times

Well, after arriving home, I am more than delighted to get my paperwork together and ready to be sent out to the United States Customs and Immigration Center in California. Why California, when I live in Michigan? I don’t know. Ask the United States Government. They come up with their rules, and I simply nod in agreement and obey… for now.

While gathering the paperwork I need, I realize I don’t have anything I need from Joan (my lovely Filipina fiancée). So, when we chat on the computer, which is every day, I tell her what I need. This of course, puts her into a panic mode so we can get everything and process the paperwork quickly. I tell her to priority mail it to me, so I can get it fast and get it turned in. Each day could be another week of processing. I am quite familiar with Red Tape here in the government at that time. :) She says it will be expensive, but after meeting her and knowing that she is the one I want to be with for the rest of my life, cost doesn’t matter. Joan makes her rounds at all the official buildings, which is required to obtain her OFFICIAL birth certificate, and other documents, and mails them to me via fed ex. Cost: $20. That’s not bad, and well worth the expedited delivery. I receive the papers two days later, complete the paperwork, check it, recheck it, triple check it. I seal the envelope, and then I panic. Crap! Is everything in there? I open the package, and check it again! Yep, it’s all there. I seal the new envelope, and drive to the post office. Priority mailed it with signature required. There isn’t any way someone is going to tell me they didn’t get it, and I’ll feel better knowing it is there.

Flowers from WowPhilippines
Lots of Paperwork!
Lots of Paperwork!

I receive my notification from the post office, about the same time that I receive notification from the USCIS that they have received my packet, and my check. Most importantly… to them!

The wait, as they say, has begun. This is the time when everything starts to make you question. Not about whether you have chosen the right woman to marry, or that finding her 8,000 miles away from your home is right, but about whether or not everything really was in the envelope. Or, if I filled everything out correctly. For those of you that will be going through this process, I am NOT JOKING when I say DO NOT leave any space blank, because the paperwork might come back to you. It tells you in very clear English not to do this, but MANY people have done just that. And, they get their paperwork back two months later telling them to finish the paperwork. If it does not apply to you, put N/A, if the best answer is “NONE”, put that! I worked for the government at the time, and had some work paperwork returned to me for that same reason, so I was VERY careful in completing the paperwork that was more important than any other paperwork I had every completed. ESPECIALLY since it could mean a TWO MONTH DELAY in getting the person you love so much into your arms again!

The waiting continued, and the times got harder, but it was nice to know that each day at the same time, or about, we would chat online and see how each others day was. When she wasn’t there, it was because of a brown out or power outage in that area while they did upgrades, or whatever it is they do there. I don’t understand the amount of outages there, poor planning on someone’s part, I’m sure. Or the fact that they do what they can with the resources they have. Either way, it was one of the most frustrating things not knowing if she was ok that day or not. Of course, she was most of those times.

I think the most stressed out I got was in September 2009 when tropical storm Ketsana(I think Pepang in the Philippines). I knew it was there, and then left, and then came back again, and then hung out for a while in northern Luzon. I had no contact with her at first, and read what I would or watched what I could online. I was afraid for her. Then, she contacted me from the internet café. She said that they were releasing the water from the nearby dams and that the water was rising, but that they should be fine because they live on high ground. Well, that wasn’t the case. There was so much rainfall that they had to release the dams a second time, and even her house flooded, but only a foot or so. Much better than in other areas where it was 6 feet deep near her house. Of course, many of you know that a lot of people died in that flood. We know two separate people who lost a loved one to that storm. Once water receded from the area, which seemed very fast, the internet café was open again within a day. Wow. What a remarkable thing for a business to flood, and reopen so fast!!! I was glad because it meant that I could talk with Joan and knew that she and her entire family was ok.

There’s much more to the waiting game, and the stress of her coming to the U.S., but I’ll save that for next week.

Until next time, paalam, ingat, and God bless.

Post Author: Scott Fortune (65 Posts)

At the time of this writing, I am 42 years old. I’ve been married to my Filipina wife since December 2009. She is from the Province of Pangasinan, Philippines. I was born and raised in the Metro Detroit area in Michigan. I’ve worked in many fields throughout my short career, mostly in Architecture, computers, and law enforcement. I’m medically retired from the U.S. Government due to a back injury and look forward to our move to the Philippines. My interests here were yard work, guns, and hanging out with friends. But because of my back injury, I’ve had to shorten what I can do to just hanging out with friends. Not a bad thing when you’re retired, right!? Also, I’m sure I’ll find some new interests when I get to the RP. We don’t yet know where we will be moving to exactly, but I expect it to be on the main island of Luzon. I look forward to moving there, getting healthier, and experiencing island life.

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  1. Bobby Harmon says

    Just relax. The process can take upwards of a year. It is SOP. A good friend of mine just succeeded in bringing in his fiancee after twelve months of processing and another friend applied just two months ago and his will take eleven to twelve months as well. Both men went to the Philippines as you did and met their future wives and then went back and started the process. No big deal so do yourself a big favor and Relax. It is a given it will happen successfully. Be happy you are not Canadian where the process can take well over a year. They are stricter up there. I am still undecided as to what I will do. I Still have to meet Ms. right. No hurry as there are lots of internet pen pals yet to meet.

    • Scott Fortune says

      Bobby, I don’t know what a SOP is, but guessing from the twelve month wait, it probably isn’t a good thing! :)

      One thing I can say for sure, DO NOT rush into meeting “Mrs. Right”. She’ll come along soon enough. Besides, if you’re having fun chatting with them, it’s a good thing. One will end up standing out more than the others and then you’ll be wanting to fly out and meet her.

      Good luck with your search!


      • Bobby Harmon says

        (SOP) Standard Operating Procedure. Trust me I am in no hurry whatsoever to find Mrs. Right. There are still a few thousand I need to meet first before deciding hahaha. They are all so nice and all motivated by more or less the same thing. To be with me and my $$$????. We shall see. I have motivations too of course XXXXX. Maybe I will meet one with common ground. But again I am in no hurry

  2. Matthew says

    Going to take upwards of one year or longer. Your problem will be with the State Depart and the Embassy in Manila. Be patient the more you think about it the longer it takes. Been their done that. I do think you are over reacting ALOT!

    • Scott Fortune says

      Estimates given from the USCIS site for K1 visa’s is a six month waiting time estimate, as long as all paperwork is correct the first time.

      One thing I’m not matthew, is patient. I’ve tried working on this issue, but it runs in the family. My mom and all four kids are the same way. Some of us are worse than others, but seeing her every day, or nearly every day, on the internet chat sure did help! But, as men, we’re “fixers”. And when you’re 8,000 miles away and the house your wife lives in is flooded you can’t do anything. You just sit and hope everything ok. Another thing I am, is a worrier. Not all the time, but with something like this. I prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. It’s worked for me this long, so I think I’ll keep up with it for now. Heck, I’m using it to prepare for my retirement to the Philippines!!


  3. Bret says

    My asawa has been here for 6 mos. When I first started process in Oct 2011 I found and joined. They have great guides for every step of way. I got approved in 146 days and was with her every step of way. It takes teamwork and much patience. She will have much to do also. I was able to travel to Davao, Tagum, and Manila during process. I did do K1 and have to do her AOS/EAD yet. The biggest issue now is to complete this so we can get back “home”. We now just plan steps to move and retire.

    • Scott Fortune says

      Oh yes, there was MUCH to be done on her end too. Criminal history clearances, birth certificates, etc., etc. She was busy, and running all over Pangasinan to get the paperwork she needed, and then sending them to me.

  4. Bret says

    My advice..Keep paperwork clean and simple, dont front load. One copy to send in, one copy for her especially if you cant be there for interview, medical, or cfo. Keep a third complete copy for backup. I was prepared for all originals and copies at each step while being there.

  5. says

    The world was a lot more welcoming 30 years ago. We got married, we went to the (Dutch) embassy and she acquired citizenship and a passport. No requirements beyond our marriage certificate. It was my right as a citizen to bring my wife to my home country, if I wished. No need for “swearing allegiance” or any of that. She could keep her Philippine citizenship too.
    How much citizens everywhere have become “subjects”!

    • Scott Fortune says

      WOW!! I am sure many people going through their process now sure envy your situtation of immigration back then. Times have sure changed! I don’t know why, but when I think of long periods of time, I think of the price of gasoline. LOL!! Wishful thinking! I’d still have a 4×4 truck and maybe even a boat or some other luxury that burns fuel like it doesn’t matter!


  6. says

    Ahhh yes the waiting game, again your article brings back memories for my wife and I when I was applying to bring her here. However to our delight it only took a week until the application was decided and then she was here a month later! Talk about luck and good fortune! Now two and a half years later we are still in the UK waiting 11 more months before we apply for her Nationalism / Dual citizenship and then moving back to the Philippines to live. Good times and more stresses ahead! Thank god it will be 100% over for us in the visa department soon. As this is a whole process I can not wait to see behind us.

  7. Scott Fortune says

    A month!? Wow! That’s fast. It took me a month just to get confirmation they received my paperwork! LOL!

    100% over? Not from the stories I’ve read here!! Hers may be over, but yours will just begin!! You’ll have to do some work to stay there legally too. I need to read more on the options for doing that, but I know we’ll have some running to do when we get there. These guys can tell you more about that than I can though. I think Paul Thompson just wrote an article about getting his renewed and having to return a week later to get it. Paul’s a great writer, and his stories are interesting and fun to read. Chick his out.

  8. says

    Just hang in there. It sounds like you’ve been very attentive to your forms and paperwork needed. I went through the same process for my previous wife from Mexico so, I know the feeling. Even though she and I aren’t together anymore it was all worth it, she was and still is a wonderful woman (and friend). So just keep checking your email for those Immigration updates and I’m confidant all will go well for the both of you! :)

    • Scott Fortune says

      Henry, it is all worth while, isn’t it?! Best decision I’ve made in my life was going there to meet her in person, and bringing her to the U.S.

  9. Ron says

    Scott reading your post brought back so many memories. Our fiance visa took about six months. You might regret living in Michigan though. The time it takes to process paperwork through the Laguna office in California is much longer than the time for Vermont. Nothing you can do about it though. Here is a web site that you will learn to love. There are forums, how to fill out paperwork info and tons of testimonials, questions asked and those same questions answered. Most helpful are the timelines for different types of visas and so much useful information you will wonder how folks do this process without it. Good luck. Enjoy visa journey as you are for sure on one. Ron

    • Todd E. says

      Actually, the Vermont Service Center is moving at a snail’s pace right now. Sometimes it is California. Sometimes it is Vermont. According to the statistics, CSC has been approving K-1 petitions within 3-5 months while the VSC average has been consistently around 6-7 months. This has been going on for a few months now. I am an April filer at VSC. Almost 5.5 months and still waiting. I think I will be lucky to be approved by the end of October at this pace.

      Scott, I am thinking that your petition was sent to CSC for distribution purposes. VSC is probably backlogged with the current volume and may be attributing to the current lag in the average processing times when compared to CSC. This is actually probably going to be a good thing for you. Good luck!

    • Scott Fortune says

      Regret living in Michigan? Tell me something I don’t know!! LOL! I was born here, and have lived here in Michigan my entire life. I remember liking the snow and cold when I was younger. However, now that I have been in numerous car accidents(none my fault) and fallend own some stairs, and hurt my knee and back(not necessarily in that order) I have grown weary of living here. I’ve wanted to move away for so long now, but never did because I didn’t want to do it and be alone. Now that I have my wife, I won’t be alone. We’ll have each other. Plus, a lot of her family is still there, so we can spend some time together at the beach and other fun things.

  10. Todd (Gillracing) says

    Scott as someone already said this brings back memories as i have done this twice! I heard it takes longer when you marry rather than wait and get married here in the states. So that’s what i did waited till my fiance and her daughter which now is my wife and new daughter.they have been here roughly 2 1/2 months since then we have married gotten her social security card and fixing to change her name to her married name to get a I.D, then the other long process of the AOS (adjustment of status) Funny thing is if my wife had it her way i would have just moved there but can’t afford to support us there at the moment got about 15 before retirement so they are here! Our daughter love the school she goes to here which by the way is right across the street from our house. if you haven’t already check out the site that someone else has already mention that site is a really big help. It helped me on the second time i did this because i had forgotten everything from before and i also this time i had a child to do as well. But everything is well worth it that’s for sure. We will be coming back to the phils to have the big wedding so her family can attend next year. and hope to meet Bob and maybe some of the others on here while in Davao City? Until then keep up the great writing as i will keep on reading it.

    • Scott Fortune says

      Todd, I had heard the same thing about taking longer if you marry there, vs. here, so we got married here. I wish I had just done it there. The wedding is really for the bride and her family anyway. besides that, it would have cost a lot less. (I’m cheap)

      Then, when I got back and checked, the completion times on both types were the same time frame. Then I KNEW I should have just gotten married there. But… then there’s different paperwork to prove the marriage is legit. And it is very easy for the U.S. government to contact a state agency to check on a marriage license.

      It’s all good either way. Whatever anyone chooses, you end up with the same result… HAPPY!

  11. Ellis Hathaway says

    Something I never see mentioned in these posts is the trick the Embassy pulls on couples where the fiance/wife has children.
    In my case my wife had two boys and was unmarried, as so often happens. We had married in the Philippines which does take much longer but when finally approved they come to the States as an immigrant and get a “green card” immediately.
    However, at her visa interview the very nasty interviewer stated that we had no proof that Imelda had not been married previously.
    I had no idea that information would be needed and it was mentioned no where in the literature.
    Because of this she was denied a visa and instructed to get a “Certificate of no recorded marriage” which must be obtained at the National Records Center in Manila.
    This delayed her visa by nearly six months.

    I would advise EVERYONE to get this form even if your lady has no children and especially if she does.
    Since my experience I know of two couples that followed my advice and were able to stop the government game playing. It cost a few dollars to get the form but I feel it is good insurance.

    • Scott Fortune says

      Ellis, I’m glad you mentioned this, because I remember reading about it, and had my wife get that paperwork anyway. I think it might even be needed if you are single and no children!!!! Just to prove you’ve never been married before. They don’t want any bigamists leaving the country!

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