Hall of Mirrors

One of creative attractions to see in City Museum, St. Louis, MO

Boracay Island, Philippines

Breathtaking view from a helicopter

My First Snow

A peaceful snowy day of early 2012

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Jul 18, 2012

Amazon.com Free Super Saver Shipping Review

I am excited to receive my first and free Amazon.com order. Free because I used Amazon gift cards I snagged from Swagbucks. I will have to post about how I got free gift cards and what Swagbucks is. But for now I want to share my experience with Amazon's shipping service -- the Free Super Saver Shipping (SSS). It's free shipping when you order eligible products that reach at least $25.

As you know, it was my first time to place an order online so I'm pretty excited in receiving it. I tried to combine items to take advantage of the Free Super Saver Shipping but I ended up redoing my orders until I settled for one and placed an order on July 10, 2012. The delivery estimate is on July 19, 2012 as shown on the picture below based on my Amazon.com order summary.

I learned that Amazon.com uses various carriers like the USPS, Fedex, UPS and a regional carrier in the area.  For the Free Super Saver Shipping Amazon utilizes Fedex SmartPost where the final delivery is serviced by the USPS. I searched reviews about SSS and Fedex SmartPost most of them are negative reviews -- not a good impression for me. Although I had to give the shipping services benefit of the doubt because a free shipping is obviously going to take days or weeks. If you want free, be ready to wait. Duh.

Anyways, I have been checking the shipping status since it was shipped the next day July 11, 2012 (hooray!) The screenshot below is from Fedex tracking page. So my package just got forwarded to USPS today but I wasn't pleased with the adjusted delivery date a day later than the original delivery date. I don't like how Fedex adjusted the delivery date and still indicate it's on schedule.

I tracked it on USPS site and below is the screenshot. Maybe my package will arrive on time after all. Now it's in the hands of USPS. We'll see...... This post won't be a complete review until I receive my package.

Update: I received my order ON TIME! Yahooo! I was so happy and satisfied with the Free Super Saver Shipping from Amazon. It took 7 days excluding Sunday. So far so good I'm definitely using their free shipping again.

Jul 14, 2012

The Second Step: Applying for K-1 Visa

After USCIS approves the petition, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing, and NVC will send it to the U.S. Embassy where your fiancé(e) will apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa.

I remember my excitement after our petition got approved but I was very confused on what to do next. Below are the processes I did prior to applying the K-1 Visa.
  • Obtain your Manila Case Number from NVC - call/email NVC after you receive the NOA2 (Approval Notice from USCIS) between 2-3 weeks. 
    Note: Visa interview may be set up before OR after the medical exam. In my case, I scheduled my interview AFTER I completed medical exam.  Also, don't wait for the Packet 4 because the U.S Embassy seldom send them to the applicants and it would arrive late usually and I never received mine. But here is the link to Packet 4
  • Your  fiancé(e) can proceed to a complete medical exam at the St. Luke’s Medical Center Extension Clinic (SLMCEC) before the visa interview Applicants are advised to have their medical examinations done at least one week before their interview appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. Click here for the Medical Exam required documents. I suggest register online because you will skip the registration process at SLMCEC so you save time.
    Current Medical Exam Fee:  $223.00 - SLMCEC does not accept credit card or dollar payments. The fees must be paid in Philippine pesos at the prevailing exchange rate.  
Documents I brought with me for my medical exam
  • Make sure your income meets the current  Poverty Guidelines because it is a strict requirement that you can support your  fiancé(e) when she/he arrives to the U.S and some applicants have been denied or delayed the process of a visa because of this. Click here for the current Poverty Guidelines.
  • Pay the Visa Fee at any BPI Branch (your Passport Number will be the Receipt Number.) Wait 3-4 hours before scheduling your interview date.
  • You may either call U.S Embassy and have them schedule your interview or you may set it up online: www.ustraveldocs.com/ph/  
  • Below are the documents I prepared:
  • BPI Receipt
  • Visa Interview confirmation 
  • PASSPORT. You must have a passport valid for at least six (6) months. 
  • Form DS-156 (2) copies 
  • Form DS-157 (2) copies 
  • DS-156K (1) copy 
  • Visa Photos (3) copies. I pasted two of them on the Form DS-156
  • EVIDENCE OF A GENUINE ENGAGEMENT. Photos, e-mails, chat transcripts, Western Union Receipts, engagement ring receipt
  • Form  I-134 Affidavit of Support (Original copy) 
  • Supporting documents: Form W-2 (2010-2008), ITR 2010, Recent Pay Stubs, Letter of Employment, Bank Statement, US Petitioner's Birth Certificate
  • We also prepared our co-sponspor's documents just in case the CO would determine that my husband (fiance at that time) didn't meet the Poverty Level required. But the Consul didn't ask for it so I was very relieved. 

Jul 12, 2012

The First Step: Filing the Petition

You, the U.S. citizen sponsor, must file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), with the USCIS office that serves the area where you live. You will send your petition to the address below:

The USCIS Dallas Lockbox
For U.S. Postal Service:
P.O. Box 660151
Dallas, TX 75266

For Express mail and courier deliveries:
Attn: I-129F
2501 South State Highway 121 Business 
Suite 400 
Lewisville, TX 75067

Current Filing Fee: $340.00 (Money orders or personal check are accepted. Click: Guidance on paying immigration fees)

Required Forms for the petition:
Form I-129F - Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)
G-325A - Biographic Information
G-1145 - (Optional) Clip this form to the first page of your application (on top of the cover page). By completing this form and attaching it, USCIS will send you an email and/or text message to alert you when your application was received.

Here is how we assembled our K-1 Packet.
Cover Letter - this is optional but it helped organize our documents
Payment ($340.00) Payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Form I-129F - Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)
I-129F Supplement: Part B, Question 18, explanation of meeting in person
G-325A and passport style photo (Petitioner)
G-325A and passport style photo (Beneficiary)
Birth certificate/US Passport (Petitioner)
Letter certifying intent to marry (Petitioner and Beneficiary)
Proof of having met in person in the past two years (Pictures, visa stamps, boarding passes)
Proof of ongoing relationship (Western Union receipts, chat transcripts)

Make sure to sign and date the forms. Triple-check everything before sending your petition to USCIS. Good luck on filing your petition!

P.S. below is our K-1 Timeline
03-24-2011 Filed i-129F Petition for Fiance(e)
04-06-2011 NOA1
07-11-2011 NOA2
07-15-2011 NOA2 (Hard Copy)
11-02-2011 Visa Interview
11-25-2011 POE (Chicago)
01-27-2012 Civil Wedding

Personal Experience