The Cheapest Way to Send Money to the Philippines

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Do you send money to your family in the Philippines? I do too, and I found the best way to send money home. With Remitly, I can send fast, easy and secure. Remitly offers the lowest remittance fee compare to Western Union, Xoom, and other remittance company around the globe.

They have a flat rate of $3.99 for a quick transfer within seconds to a minute or if it is not urgent and the transfer can wait for 3 days you can send it for FREE. They also have hundreds of convenient pick up locations to choose from such as Cebuana Lhuiller, MLhuiller, Globe G-Cash, BPI, BDO, MetroBank, and many more or transfer it to a bank account.

With the money you send your family can receive more as they offer the highest exchange rate.

I switched from Western Union to Remitly and I am highly satisfied with their quick service and the high exchange rate. They also accept prepaid debit cards. You can track your transactions from start to finish as they send you emails, so you don’t have to track it manually. You will be notified when your money is ready for pick up and when your recipient received the money you sent.

So if you want great value for your money and you want your family in the Philippines to be happy try Remitly and see for yourself.

St. Lukes Extension Clinic Manila – Medical Exam Experience

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Medical Exam at SLECS is a first come first serve basis. Although, not required but recommended to register online for a faster registration process at the receiving area in St. Lukes Extension Clinic, Manila.

You can register by going here.

St. Lukes opens at 6 am but the line starts as early as 4 am or even earlier. Get your payment ready in Philippine Peso currency as they will not accept payment in dollar currency.

For the latest fees click here.

Day 1 flowchart

Source: St. Lukes Extension Clinic

My Medical Exam Experience back in February 2015

Documents I brought

  • Valid passport
  • 2 Photocopies of passport biographic page
  • 2 Printed copies of NVC Letter with the case number ( my petitioner scanned the NVC Letter and send it to my email )
  • 2 Printed copies of USEM Interview appointment confimation page
  • 4 pcs recent 2×2 photo ( I wrote my name and visa type I am applying for on the back of each photo )
  • 2 Printed copies of my online registration confirmation page

Others: Pen

Day 1

I left Imus Cavite at 3:30 am and arrived St. Lukes Manila at 4:30 am. The Jeepney driver was driving too fast and it was still dark so I coudn’t read the signs. I passed two blocks from where I’m supposed to go down, so I ended up walking back where St. Lukes is located. I was so scared because I have big money in my purse and Manila is notorious for robbery and snatching. It was early in the morning and there are some people in the street. So, I was walking and running while looking at my back to check if someone is following me. I felt relieved when I reached St. Lukes and nothing happened or maybe I was just paranoid, lol. But it is better to be vigilant than to be a victim. Anyway, when I reached SLECS there was already a long line. The security guard opened the door at 5:30 am and started to let us in. He checked if I have complete documents. He gave me a number and stamp my right hand. He will not let you in if you are missing a document, but don’t fret because there is xerox machine copier and photo service just across the street.

Inside the building there is attendant that calls number by batch of 10’s to fall in line for submission of form and documents. It is cold inside good thing I wore jacket.

Step 1: Submission of PDS form at Reception area for data encoding, digital picture-taking and finger printing.

I gave all my documents to the person at the registration counter. He just took one copy of each document and hand me back the rest. He ask me some personal information, had my finger printed and took a digital picture of me. He stamped my passport, hand it back to me with a checklist and told me to go to 5th floor to pay.

Step 2: Payment

I gave the checklist and passport to the cashier and paid P11, 025. She attached the checklist to the receipt, gave it to me, and was told to proceed to 3rd floor.

Step 3: Radiology

I gave my receipt and checklist at the counter. The attendant gave me a form to fill out and told me to write the last day of my period on top of the form. I gave it back to her and told me to wait. I’ve waited for about 20 mins until a nurse finally called my name. In the x-ray area there are two rooms. The first room is the dressing room where I had to put on an x-ray gown (if you have long hair you have to tie it up – so make sure to bring a hair tie). I’ve waited for my turn in a small hallway just outside the dressing room and the nurse called me after 10 minutes and went inside the x-ray room. When the x-ray was done she told me to go to 4th floor for blood extraction.

Step 4: Laboratory

There were chairs lining up outside the room, so you can sit down while waiting for your turn. The nurses are pretty organized so it was just a quick blood draw, it’s a little painful though. After this step I was instructed to proceed to 5th floor for physical exam.

Step 5: U.S.A Counter

This is the busiest floor in the building. The wait time here could take up to 30 – 45 minutes. I handed my checklist at the counter and was told to wait. I guess, my name was called after 45 minutes. The lady checked my vital signs and took my height and weight before I entered the room. Inside the room I was asked of some questions such as if I wear glasses or not and so on. Then I had my snellen chart test and was instructed to go to room F after the test. And still, there was a wait time, I was 4th in line.

Inside the room I was interviewed by a lady Physician, she asked me questions about past health issues, medical history, if I smoke, used drugs and so on. After the interview she told me to take all my clothes off and put on a lab gown and lie down on the examination bed. Then she checked all my body parts ( face, neck, breast, groin, skin, and oh yes the private parts ) 😦 . After the physical exam she wrote something on my checklist ( it said follow-up ), she gave it to me and told me to hand it over to the person at U.S.A. counter. The lady at the counter looked at me and said wait for my name to be called. I’ve waited again for another 20 minutes before my name was called and instructed to go to room N.

It was another interview and the lady Doctor checked my breathing using stethoscope. She asked me the same question as in the first room that I’ve been ( I felt so nervous, thankfully, I didn’t have to do the physical exam again ). It was just quick check up and was instructed to go to 2nd floor.

Step 6: Immunization interview

Another long wait, though it was faster than wait time at the 5th floor. The nurse asked if I have allergies from medicine, if I already had chicken pox, etc. She said I’m going to have 2 vaccines. It was just a quick interview. Again, she handed me my checklist and told me to give it to the counter just outside the room.

Step 7: Checkout

There was no attendant at the counter, so I just put my checklist on top of the counter like everybody did and sat down. When finally someone came out from the room took all the receipts, then went back in again. The person who took our receipt came back out and started calling out names. When it was my turn he detached the checklist from the receipt. He wrote something on the back of the receipt ( schedule for the next day ) gave it to me, and said I’m good to go.

I was done by 10:30 am and it took me 4 and a half hours inside the clinic. The nurses and staffs are very organized, it is just the wait time that you have to deal with. The wait time is longer that the exams you’d have to take. So you better bring a lot of patience with you when you have your medical exam, lol.

Note: Steps from 3-6 are in random order.

DAY 2 

My schedule is 8:30 am, I arrived 1 hour early and the security guard let me in. I gave him the receipt, he checked something on the computer and stamped my receipt. Since the other night I was praying so hard and hoping that I would get immunization stamp on my receipt. My heart was pounding so hard that I couldn’t hear anything but my heartbeat. And bam, he stamped for sputum and told me go to 2nd floor. My hand was shaking while taking my receipt from the guard. I felt so upset and frustrated. I gave my receipt at the counter and the lady told me to wait. She called me and two other women. She said they saw something on our xray and we have to undergo sputum test. She instructed us what to do and gave us back our receipt and a schedule for a 3 day sputum test.

2017-05-19_12.37.28

I asked the nurse who gave me the result if I could repeat my x-ray and she said I cannot. There is nothing that I could do but to follow the procedure. I told myself that I should be ready since I had past issues with my x-ray. I’m not a smoker. I never had TB or was exposed with it either. There is a white spot in my lungs that is visible in my x-ray, so every time I had my x-ray done I was suggested to take another test and the result is normal. However, I still couldn’t help but get upset and feel miserable.

Thank you for reading my medical experience. I hope this will help you give an idea on what to expect on the day of medical exam at St. Lukes. I wish you all to have a smooth process. Good luck!

 


How to pay K1 Visa Fee in the Philippines?

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Paying the visa fee is the first step in the k1 visa process. After gaining your case number through mail or by phone you can already pay the visa fee. You may pay online if you have an account of either BPI or Bancnet or pay with cash at BPI branch. If you plan on paying with cash you must print the deposit slip that is available only at ustraveldocs.com website before going to the bank and take it with you at any BPI Branches near you.

source: ustraveldocs.com/ph

I printed two copies of Deposit Slip – $265 MRV fee in case I lose one. Although fees are listed in U.S. dollars, payment must be made using local currencies. The exact fee that is listed on the deposit slip depends on the current exchange rate at the time of your visa application. I brought my passport with me if ever they ask for identification but they did not. I handed the deposit slip to the teller and gave her the exact payment in Philippine currency listed on the slip. She handed me back the customer’s copy with the printed transaction info at the back and that serves as my official receipt. So make sure to keep your receipt in a safe place, because it cannot be replaced if it is lost. Pay on or before the expiration date on the slip. If you are unable to pay the Visa before the date expires you need to generate a new slip by going back to ustraveldocs website. Wait for four to eight hours before scheduling an interview.

What’s Next After Approval of Petition?

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If you frequently check your status online you will soon get notified that your petition has been approved and the next thing you have to do is wait for the NOA2. Your Notice of Action should arrive in 5-10 days after your status had changed. In my case we didn’t check the status online, so it was a surprise when he received the approval notice in mail. Our NOA2 arrived 3 weeks after the RFE was sent and got approved in 4 months from sending the petition.

After receiving the NOA2 the waiting game is not over yet, you have to wait for the NVC letter next. USCIS will send the approved petition to the National Visa Center (NVC), then they will forward it to the embassy or consulate where the beneficiary has to apply for the k1 visa. The NVC will notify the petitioner when it is time for the beneficiary to apply for the visa.

It is important to wait for the NVC letter before you start the visa process. On the letter from the NVC you will find the information record of your case number. If you’re feeling impatient you may call NVC at 1-800-375-5283 and ask for your case number. Once you obtain your case number you can now start the process of your Visa application without waiting for the embassy letter. The first step of the visa application process is paying at BPI. After payment wait for 4 hours before scheduling an appointment for medical exam and interview. Please note that it would take 2-4 weeks for the approved petition from the NVC to arrive at US Embassy, so make sure that you will have it before your interview because it is needed. Some started setting an appointment regardless they haven’t got the embassy letter yet.

Although I already paid the k1 visa after we received the NVC Letter, I still decided to wait for the approved petition to arrive in USEM before I started setting an appointment to make sure. I live in Cavite so I have to travel to Baclaran every week to call USEM because it will cost a lot if I’m going to make a call from Cavite to Manila. It took 1 month until they confirmed that they received the approved petition from NVC and I finally scheduled my appointment in February 2015 which was 2 months from our approval.

The application process is different from each of us, some took just 2 months while others take 8 to 1 year. The process depends on the number of application they are processing ahead of you. When we are anxiously waiting for something everyday seems like forever. You might want to make yourself busy and enjoy the time with your family, because once your petition is approved everything will be faster and you never know it is already time for you to leave.

Request For Evidence on a Fiance’ Petition

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During the initial review of your petition, USCIS begins the background checks of the petitioner. A request of evidence is made when application is lacking evidence to establish an applicant’s eligibility for the petition. The request will indicate what evidence or information is needed to fully evaluate the application.

Getting an RFE after sending form I-129F can be frustrating. After long months of waiting and hoping that your petition to get approve fast and not hearing from USCIS you will just going to get an RFE. That sucks! Right? On the other hand, we should be happy because we finally knew that they are actually reviewing our petition. Getting an RFE doesn’t mean that we have a chance of getting denied, it is actually more chances for our petition to get approve and they just want that missing information before they can decide. We just have to wait additional weeks or months to get approve though. Once you received an RFE don’t get upset instead, follow the instruction in the notice carefully and send it back in a timely manner and as soon as possible. You will get a notice on what other evidence is needed, where to send it, and the deadline for your response.

In My case, on November 2014, 3 months after our petition was sent, my petitioner received an RFE due to lack of documents that will support his affidavit of divorce decree. In my post about filing form I-129F checklist I stated that my petitioner just sent an affidavit from his 1st marriage whereas he cannot obtain a divorce decree form since it was a long time ago. He sent another affidavit powered by attorney with more clear and precise explanation of why not having the divorce decree documents. On Dec. 8th of 2014 we received an approval notice in the mail, 3 weeks from receiving the RFE. We didn’t really expect it to get approved fast after the RFE, but it did. Just be positive and be patient, as the saying goes “Everything happens at the right time”.

 

 

 

Adjustment of Status Timeline

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The ordeal of filing the petition and fiance’ visa is finally over. Once you marry your U.S. Citizen petitioner, you can now file for an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjustment to lawful permanent resident status or most commonly known as simply Ajustment of Status (AOS). The Form I-485 is used to file AOS with USCIS, while form I-765 is used to file for Employment Authorization Document(EAD) and Advance Parole(AP). You can file the EAD and AP together with AOS. 

Here is my AOS Timeline

Nov. 04, 2015 – Send form I-485 (AOS) together with form I-765 (EAD/AP)

Nov. 19, 2015 – Received the NOA 1

Nov. 24, 2015 – Received the Biometrics schedule notice

Dec. 08, 2015 – Biometrics appointment at USCIS Louiseville, Kentucky

Jan. 26, 2016 –  Form I-765 – Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and Advance Parole (AP) approved

Jan. 27, 2016 – EAD/AP NOA2 hard copy received in mail

Jan. 29, 2016 – EAD/AP combo card received in mail

Mar. 28, 2016 – Received an RFE for Form I-485

Mar. 30, 2016 – RFE Sent back

Apr. 08, 2016 – Form I-485 Approved

Apr. 14, 2016 – NOA2 for Form I-485 hard copy received

Apr. 15, 2016 – Got my Green Card

My application got approved in just 5 months from sending the form without an interview.
 

K1 Visa Timeline

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Form I-129F is used to file petition to bring your foreign fiance'(e) (k-1) to the U.S. for marriage. When the petition is approved the k1 visa process will then follow. K-1 is a nonimmigrant visa that permits a foreign national fiance'(e) of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States to marry the petitioner within 90 days of admission to the U.S.

Here is the timeline of my K1 visa process in 2014, from filing the Form I-129F to getting married.

July 31, 2014 – Form I-129f sent to USCIS

Read more here ➡ Filing Form I-129F

Aug. 07, 2014 – NOA 1 received

Nov. 05, 2014 – Received an RFE

Nov. 14, 2014 – RFE Sent back

Dec. 08,2014 – NOA 2 received

Jan. 08, 2015 – Case Number available

Jan. 12, 2015 – NVC Letter received

Jan. 22, 2015 – Paid visa at BPI

Jan. 23, 2015 – Submitted DS-160 online

Feb. 11, 2015 – Approved petition form from NVC arrived at USEM

Feb. 18, 2015 – Scheduled medical and interview online

Feb. 26, 2015 – First day of medical exam at St. Lukes | Letter from USEM received in mail

Feb. 27, 2015 – Medical Exam result for sputum

Mar. 11-13, 2015 – 3 days Sputum Exam schedule

Mar. 18, 2015 – Pulmonary evalution – negative

May 11, 2015 – End of 2 months Sputum Culture | Called St. Lukes – Immunization scheduled

May 14, 2015 – Back at St. Lukes for immunization

May 19, 2015 – USEM interview – Approved

May 28, 2015 – Visa on hand

June 1, 2015 – CFO seminar

June 8, 2015 (PH time) – Departure at NAIA Terminal 3

June 8, 2015 (US time) – Arrived at Kentucky International Airport

July 10, 2015 – Applied for social security number

July 14, 2014 – Received Social Security Card in mail

Sept. 04, 2015 – Got married