Assuming that you have met her and took pictures with her, then it’s on to the next steps. Save everything – plane tickets, emails, letters, bills, or any exchange or communication you have with her. If you have to, print screen it if you chat online. Have all the possible evidence that you have a relationship. You will need all that information when you file for a Petition.
The next question is – do I marry her in the Philippines (Spousal Visa) or should I just apply for a Fiance Visa (still your girlfriend)?
Both actions are okay because you want her with you but you have to think of the time it will take to process your Petition.
K1 Fiance Visa Petition
If she stays as your girlfriend, you will petition her through a K1 Fiance Visa. This may only take months for you to get approved provided that she has no child/ren or has never been married, or has not been out of the Philippines for over 6 months. The US Embassy in Manila will conduct investigations on her. You will receive notices from the USCIS Immigration Services of any progress on your petition and she will be called to the US Embassy in Manila for an interviews. During this period, questions will be asked about your relationship and about you and she needs to bring proof of your relationship. So, it’s good to keep copies of all your documents. If she is approved, she will get a notice from the Embassy and you need to get ready for plane her ticket. She will then go through the remainding steps in the process such as the medical exam and the CFO orientation before she can leave.
Once she gets into the US, you and your girlfriend will have 90 days to get married. This gives you both time to learn each other and to affirm your decision. If you don’t want to marry her, then she needs to go back and yes, you have to send her back with a plane ticket. If you do decide to get married, then you do so however you want – in a church, courthouse, or any legal person who can marry you. You will then get a Temporary Green Card for her which is good for two years. After that time, you will be called to the nearest Immigration Office for an interview. Basically, they will ask you and your wife questions separately to see if you are in a relationship. If approved, then she will get her Permanent Resident Alien Card. Be aware that if she goes home to the Philippines or go out of country for any reason – vacation or emergency, during her Temporary Green Card period, her two-year temporary period will be extended equal to the time she was out of country. Basically, you will have to wait longer (equal to the time she was gone) before she gets a Permanent Resident Alien Card.
Overview: What Is a K-1 Visa?
The fiancé(e) K-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) of a United States (U.S.) citizen. The K-1 visa permits the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) to travel to the United States and marry his or her U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival. The foreign-citizen will then apply for adjustment of status to a permanent resident (LPR) with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Because a fiancé(e) visa permits the holder to immigrate to the U.S. and marry a U.S. citizen shortly after arrival in the United States, the fiancé(e) must meet some of the requirements of an immigrant visa. Eligible children of K-1 visa applicants receive K-2 visas.
What Is a “Fiancé(e)”?
Under U.S. immigration law, a foreign-citizen fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen is the recipient of an approved Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), Form I-129F, who has been issued a nonimmigrant K-1 visa for travel to the United States in order to marry his or her U.S. citizen fiancé(e). Both the U.S. citizen and the K-1 visa applicant must have been legally free to marry at the time the petition was filed and must have remained so thereafter. The marriage must be legally possible according to laws of the U.S. state in which the marriage will take place.
In general, the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) and U.S. citizen sponsor must have met in person within the past two years. USCIS may grant an exception to this requirement, based on extreme hardship for the U.S. citizen sponsor to personally meet the foreign-citizen fiancé(e), or, for example, if it is contrary in the U.S. citizen sponsor’s or foreign-citizen fiancé(e)’s culture for a man and woman to meet before marriage.
For more information on K1 Visas, please visit the USCIS site: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/immigrate/types/family/fiance-k-1.html#4
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