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).

Financial Preparedness

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.

Before you proceed, make sure that you have read this article:

Download the USCIS Form I-360

Go to 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.

List of Documents You Need to Prepare

Here’s a list of documents you need to prepare.

  1. Cover Letter. Download a free cover letter here:
  2. Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant
  3. Letter of Support from employer, with additional supporting documents (see below)
  4. Copies of current passport with current R-1 visa, R-1 Extension Approval Notice, initial R-1 Approval Notice, prior passport with R-1 visa, and most recent I-94 Admission Document;
  5. Copies of spouse’s current passport, R-2 extension approval notice, prior passport with R-2 visa, and I-94 admission document;
  6. Copies of child’s current passport, R-2 extension approval notice, prior passport with R-2 visa, and I-94 admission document;
  7. Copy of marriage certificate;
  8. Copy of the birth certificate of child; and
  9. Filing fees in the amount of $435 (Form I-360) in Postal Money Order.

Additional documents in addition to letter of support from employer:

  • Excerpts from the website or organizing document of your employer, showing the kind of work it does, including work that you do;
  • Tax exemption notice from the IRS confirming the tax exempt status of your employer
  • Recent printout from the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Select Check Website ( confirming that your employer and the religious organization it belongs to remains tax-exempt;
  • Letter from the IRS confirming the Employer ID Number (EID) of your employer;
  • Job Description for your position
  • Consolidated Financial Statements and Schedules of your organization (to show that it is in good financial standing and has the ability to pay for your salary).
  • Your certificate of baptism or proof of membership in your church or religion;
  • Letter or certification from your pastor, bishop, or religious leader that you’ve been a member for at least two years prior to applying for the R1 visa and Permanent Lawful Residence.
  • Carefully review the Instructions for the USCIS Form I-360 and provide any other document that could support your application.


If you have any questions, suggestions, and if I miss anything, just leave them in the comments below and I will answer to the best of my knowledge and experience!

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.

All the information you need about the R1 Visa can be found at this USCIS link: