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Love And Marriage And Immigration
 

A practical guide to immigration for your Filipino fiancée/fiancé or spouse

If you are reading this, you are probably thinking seriously about marrying a Philippine citizen. This fact sheet will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about immigration to the United States for your Filipino fiancée/fiancé or spouse.

Please keep in mind that this sheet gives only a brief summary. If you have any specific questions about Philippine laws, please consult an attorney (PDF 246KB) in the Philippines. If you have any further questions about U.S. laws, please see the references at the end of this fact sheet.

Is it possible to get a visa for my Filipino fiancée/fiancé or spouse to come to the United States?

Yes. IR-1 visas are for the spouses of U.S. citizens, and K-1 visas are issued to the fiancées/fiancés of U.S. citizens.

What is the difference between an IR-1 and a K-1 visa?

If you already got married, an IR-1 visa allows your spouse to immigrate to the U.S. It is conditional for two years, after which your spouse is eligible to become a legal permanent resident ("Green Card" holder).

A K-1 is a nonimmigrant visa that allows you to bring your fiancée/fiancé to the United States to marry there. Your fiancée/fiancé must marry you within 90 days of arrival in the United States or return to the Philippines.

Is one type of visa better than the other?

That depends on your personal preference. If it is important to you to get married in the Philippines, you will need to apply for an IR-1 visa AFTER you are married. However, if you would like to marry in the United States, there are advantages to a K-1 fiancée/fiancé visa, such as:

  • Generally shorter waiting period for K-1 than IR-1 (average total processing time of 6-9
    months for a K-1 visa and 9-12 months for an IR-1 visa);
  • Unmarried minor children may be included without a separate visa petition.

After we decide which type of visa we want, what is the next step?

You should file a petition with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Service that covers your permanent place of residence in the United States.

  Petition forms for K-1 fiancée visas (Form I-129F) or IR-1 spouse visas (Form I-130, BCIS How-to) are available from any BCIS office in the United States or the Department of Homeland Security at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, located at Window 35 in the Immigrant Visa waiting area. I-130 forms can no longer be accepted at DHS offices abroad. They must be submitted to the DHS field office covering your US home address, or if living abroad, your last US residence.

Procedures for IR-1 (SPOUSE) VISA

(Jump to K-1 Visa info)

First, you must be legally married in order to petition for your spouse to immigrate to the United States. In most cases, this will mean that you will get married in the Philippines.

How do I get married in the Philippines?

STEP 1: Obtain an "Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage at the U.S. Embassy's American Citizen Services Branch Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. The U.S. citizen must present his or her U.S. passport. It is not necessary for the fiancée/fiancé to appear.

STEP 2: File an application for a marriage license at the office of the Philippine Civil Registrar in the town or city where one of the couple lives. In order to apply for a marriage license, you will need:

  • Your U.S. passport;
  • The Affidavit from the U.S. Embassy;
  • A divorce decree or spouse's death certificate, if previously married;
  • Proof that you have informed your parents if you are 22 to 24; or
  • Proof of parental consent if you are 18 to 21.


STEP 3: Get married!

Can my spouse bring her/his children?

Yes. An IR visa allows unmarried minor children to travel to the U.S., either at the same time as your spouse or at a later date. However, a separate immigrant visa petition is required for each child in an IR case. 
Can I file a petition if my permanent residence is in the Philippines?
Yes, you may file a petition if you live overseas.

However, for an IR-1 visa, you MUST be domiciled in the United States by the time your spouse appears for a personal interview at the Embassy. 

NOTE: Active duty U.S. military personnel are considered to be domiciled in the United States while serving overseas.

Are there any other requirements for filing a petition?

Yes. To petition for a spouse:

  • You and your spouse must have been legally free to marry at the time of marriage; and 
  • You must be validly married under the laws of the Philippines (see above)


What happens after I file the petition with the Bureau of Immigration and Citizenship Service?

STEP 1: BCIS Approval. 

IR-1 petitions are sent by the BCIS to the National Visa Center(NVC) in New Hampshire for review of the documentation.

Note: Approval of a visa petition by the BCIS does not necessarily mean that a visa will be issued. ONLY A CONSULAR OFFICER AT THE EMBASSY MAY DETERMINE A PERSON'S ELIGIBILITY TO RECEIVE A VISA. For IR visas, the petitioner must submit an affidavit of support (Form I-864) with the last three years of U.S. federal income tax returns. If the officer determines that the petitioner's financial resources are insufficient to support the applicant, the visa will not be issued.) 

STEP 2: The NVC will send the necessary forms to the spouse.

(You will be also be contacted and asked to complete the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) and return it to the NVC, which will review it for completeness) 

STEP 3: The applicant notifies the National Visa Center in writing when all of the required documents are ready. The NVC will then forward all of the relevant documents to the U.S. Embassy, including your Affidavit of Support. 

STEP 4: After receiving the case from the NVC, the Embassy schedules an interview for the spouse with a consular officer. (It is NOT necessary for the U.S. citizen to attend this interview). 

STEP 4: The Interview! 
If the consul determines that the applicant is eligible to receive a visa, it will generally be delivered to the applicant's residence by guaranteed courier service within a week after the date of the interview; OR
If the consul determines that the applicant is NOT eligible, the consul will either: 1) explain how the applicant can correct the problem and return for another interview or; 2) will give the applicant a written explanation of the ineligibility and return the petition to the BCIS.

PROCEDURES FOR K-1 (fiancée/fiancé) VISAS

First, you must have met your fiancée/fiancé in person within the two years prior to your petition. In most cases, this will mean that you will have been in the Philippines within the past two years.
A K-1 visa will enable your fiancée/fiancé to travel to the United States to marry you within 90 days of his/her arrival. After the marriage takes place in the U.S., your fiancée/fiancé will need to apply to BCIS to "adjust status" (Form I-485)to permanent residence.

Can my fiancée/fiancé or spouse bring her/his children?

Yes. K-1 visas allow unmarried minor children to travel to the U.S., either at the same time as your spouse or at a later date. All of the children may be included in the petition of your fiancée/fiancé. A separate petition is not required for each minor child.

Can I file a petition if my permanent residence is in the Philippines?

Yes, you may file a petition if you live overseas. For a K-1 visa, you must either maintain a permanent residence in the U.S. or plan to establish a permanent residence in the U.S. after you marry your fiancée/fiancé.


NOTE: Active duty U.S. military personnel are considered to be domiciled in the United States while serving overseas.

Are there any other requirements for filing a petition?

Yes. To petition for a fiancée/fiancé:

  • You must have met your fiancée/fiancé in person within the last two years; 
  • Both you and your fiancée/fiancé must be legally free to marry; 
  • You must intend to marry your fiancée/fiancé within 90 days of her/his arrival in the U.S. 
  • Your fiancée must not have any prior un-terminated marriages. Divorce is illegal in the Republic of the Philippines.


What happens after I file the petition with the BCIS?

STEP 1: BCIS Approval. 
K-1 petitions are approved by the BCIS and then sent to the U.S. Embassy. This process generally takes 3-4 months.

Note: Approval of a visa petition by the BCIS does not necessarily mean that a visa will be issued. ONLY A CONSULAR OFFICER AT THE EMBASSY MAY DETERMINE A PERSON'S ELIGIBILITY TO RECEIVE A VISA. For K visas, the petitioner must submit an affidavit of support (Form I-134)(checklist) with evidence of current income, ideally the three most recent U.S. federal income tax returns. If the officer determines that the petitioner's financial resources are insufficient to support the applicant, the visa will not be issued.) 

STEP 2: After receiving the approved petition from the BCIS, the Embassy sends a letter to the fiancée/fiancé with the necessary forms and instructions on how to apply for the visa.

STEP 3: The applicant notifies the Embassy in writing when all of the required documents are ready. The Embassy then schedules an interview for the fiancée/fiancé with a consular officer. (It is NOT necessary for the U.S. citizen to attend this interview). 

STEP 4: The Interview! 

If the consul determines that the applicant is eligible to receive a visa, it will generally be delivered to the applicant's residence by guaranteed courier service within a week after the date of the interview; OR
If the consul determines that the applicant is NOT eligible, the consul will either: 1) explain how the applicant can correct the problem and return for another interview or; 2) will give the applicant a written explanation of the ineligibility to and return the petition to BCIS.

What are some of the reasons a consular officer might deny a K-1 or IR-1 visa?

Even if all of the paperwork has been completed correctly, there are some common problems with IR-1 and K-1 visas that can prevent the issuance of the visa. These include that:
 

  • The Filipino spouse or fiancée/fiancé is already married to someone else and the marriage has not been legally terminated;
  • The U.S. petitioner's prior marriage has not been legally terminated; 
  • The U.S. petitioner is unable to provide evidence of enough income or financial resources to support the spouse or fiancée/fiancé.

In addition, the following may delay issuance of the visa:

  • The Filipino spouse or fiancée/fiancé has lived outside the Philippines for more than a year, but does not present police clearances from the other countries of residence;
  • The petitioner did not submit separate petitions for each of the children of the Filipino spouse from a prior relationship (this applies only to IR-1 visas).
  • The petitioner did not acknowledge in the petition the children of the Filipino fiancée/fiancé from a prior relationship (this applies only to K-1 visas).


How do we receive the visa after it has been approved?

After the officer approves your visa, you will be directed to the courier delivery service representatives on the Embassy compound to arrange for guaranteed courier delivery of your visa to any address you designate in the Philippines. From the date of approval, delivery will normally take 3-5 days within Metro Manila and 5-7 days for provincial addresses.

Okay, we finally have the visa! How long is it valid after it has been issued?

Both K-1 and IR-1 visas are valid for one entry into the United States during a period of six months from the date of issuance. 

Where can I find additional information?

For general visa information, please see the Immigrant or Non-immigrant sections of the Embassy's website.

Information about K-1 or IR-1 visas is available from:

  • The U.S. Embassy's Immigrant Visa Information Call Center in Manila at 1-909-101-7878 (Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. Cost is about 53 pesos per minute). Callers in the USA can also contact the Call Center at 1-888-877-9888. There is a fee assessed to callers by the call center for its services; or

Information about immigrant visa petitions is available from:

  • The DHS office at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Window 19 (open Monday to Friday from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.); or by phone at (632) 301-2000, Ext. 2224; or
  • The nearest field office of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Service in the United States, the BCIS website; or
  • The U.S. State Department's National Visa Center in New Hampshire at (603) 334-0700.

Additional information regarding the "Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to contract Marriage" is available from:

  • The Embassy's American Citizen Services Unit at (632) 301-2000, Ext. 4106.