Moving from the Philippines to the USA is a life-changing adventure! Before boarding that plane, plan carefully and prepare for a smooth transition to your new life!
I’ve done this journey and I know it’s not easy. In this guide, I’ll share essential things to do before making the big move.
Visa and Immigration Matters
Get the Appropriate Visa.
Before anything else, make sure that you have the necessary visa to enter and stay in the USA legally. You may need a tourist visa, student visa, work visa, or immigrant visa. Check the official website of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines for up-to-date information and requirements. Keep in mind that visa application wait times can be long. Book your interview schedule as early as possible.
Gather Required Documents.
As part of the visa application process, you’ll need various supporting documents, such as a valid passport, passport-sized photos, financial documents, and letter of invitation (if applicable). Prepare these documents meticulously to avoid delays or complications.
Understand Immigration Laws.
Familiarize yourself with the immigration laws and regulations of the USA. Knowing your rights and responsibilities as an immigrant or non-immigrant will help you navigate the system with confidence. There are immigration requirements in the Philippines as well. If you are going to the US as an overseas Filipino worker, you may need to go through a Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS). You may also need to secure an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC).
If you’ve been working as a religious worker in the United States for at least two (2) years, you can start the process of becoming a permanent resident by applying for USCIS Form I-360. Here’s a step by step guide on how to fill out USCIS Form I-360.
Go to https://uscis.gov/i-360 to download the form, the instructions, and the optional checklist. Familiarize yourself with the form and start preparing the supporting documents you’ll need.
Take your R-1 Visa Supporting Documents and use them as reference.
Almost all of the documents that you and your employer submitted for the I-129 petition for your R-1 visa will come in handy for the I-360. In fact, thanks to those documents, I was able to easily navigate the requirements for the i-360.
Watch this step-by-step video guide.
If you’re more of a “show-me-how” type of person, please watch this video tutorial I published on my YouTube channel.
I came to the United States with an R1 Visa, which is the visa issued for religious workers. If you don’t know this type of visa, don’t worry. It’s not a very popular type of visa. In fact, in 2021, according to the Department of State website, there were only 1,942 R1 visas issued out of 2,275 applications. R2 visa, on the other hand, is issued to the dependents of R1 visa holders.
If you want to know more about the R1 Visa, I have created several videos that I have uploaded to YouTube. I have compiled them here for easy reference. Below, you can watch basic information about the R1 visa: what it is, how to apply for one, what are the limitations, and how to renew your R1 Visa.
Please keep this mind. If you have had your Visa for at least two (2) years, you are eligible to apply for Permanent Residence (Green Card) through USCIS Form I-360. My suggestion, though, is to renew your R1 visa first so you’re covered and remain in good status while applying for your green card.