Tips on how to pass the Manila visa interview

So you have a Filipina girlfriend or wife and she is still in the Philippines. You are desperate to get her here but you are not sure exactly what to do. I can help you some, but keep on your toes and hire a good immigration lawyer to assist you. Rules and laws change, and believe me, if you mess up it will cost you dearly; both in money and in time, plus time lost that you could be spending with your woman. I have gone through this process already and thank goodness and God above, my wife is now here with me. We made mistakes though and as a result it took nearly 2 years after our wedding before she graced American soil.
There are several different kinds of visa you can apply for. Immigrant visa,  non-immigrant visa, K-1, K-2, Spousal visa, CR-1 visa, etc. Talk to a good immigrant lawyer BEFORE you apply to see which is best and quickest for you. Now for some information that will certainly help you to pass the interview the first time.
First and foremost, document everything! I can’t stress this strongly enough. The purpose of the interview in the American embassy in Manila is to prove that you have a real relationship, or not. The burden of proof is on YOU. The interviewer is not your friend, they are paid to do a job. That job is to prevent just any Tom, Dick, and Harry that wants to come to the United States from doing so. Imagine, if everyone could come to America that wanted too, we would have billions of people here, including drug dealers, prostitutes, and terrorists, and our way of life would be gone. The interviewers job is to weed out the pretenders, and they are trained to recognize such.  On the other hand, true legitimate relationships are rewarded with a visa and a chance for you and your honey to develop a good life, the American way. For that reason I say again, document everything. It is not the interviewer's job to prove that you have no relationship, its your job to prove that you do. If you can't furnish suitable proof, no visa. You will need postal letters with postmarks showing dates, emails showing dates, and phone records showing dates and undisputable proof that your woman friend owns the number that you called. Phone records are really not very good  because you can't prove who you talked too, but keep them and take them anyway. Its expected even though they may not be worth a lot. In the postal letters and emails you need to discuss things like family life, likes and dislikes, religion, more family life, perhaps having children, and lots of talk about ordinary things and comparing interests. The relationship needs to move in a normal manner, at a normal speed. NOT TOO QUICKLY!  The embassy does not believe in love at first sight, especially long distance love. If you are ready to pursue a visa and you have no indisputable proof of your relationship, I suggest that you put off trying for the visa and start sending letters and emails to each other. Print the emails, ecards, etc often so you don't lose all of your info to a computer crash. In my opinion the very best proof you can have is postal letters. They asked my wife for 10 right before the interview. I assume they read at least some of them to make sure we were legitimate.
There are many things to do, but you do them one thing at a time, so don't be intimidated. It can be accomplished and is accomplished by many every day. You don't have to be a rocket scientist, but you do need to think ahead, plan well for possible obstacles, and like I said earlier, hire a good immigration lawyer. I did that, but I hired an online lawyer and that created problems. He really was a good lawyer, and a good man as well.  I have much respect for him, but, it seemed that everytime I needed him desperately His server would shut down his email and I was left hanging. Of course I didn't know that the server was messing up his email and I usually thought that the lawyer had left me hanging. He hadn't, and he stuck with me to the end but the confusion did cost me money and lots of  time. I actually left my pursuit for one visa and went for another kind, all by mistake due to not being able to contact my attorney quickly enough. I was successful at last, but I learned some hard lessons and lost valuable time that I could have been spending with my lovely wife.
I am not going to cover the forms and general process of the visa here. I am not an immigration lawyer, and laws change so much that it takes a lawyer to keep up. What I am offering here is common sense things and information to make your process easier. You do have to make at least one trip to the Philippines to visit your lady friend; take LOTS of pictures of you and her together, in different places, wearing different clothes. Take lots of pictures of you with her family because family is important to Filipinos and no interviewer is likely to believe that a girl would accept a man that doesn't also love her family. Its a great idea if you write postal letters to her family and her to your family as well. Once again, keep everything! You can sort through it all and pick out what is best for the interview, but you want to have lots to pick from. The more, the merrier. If your lady has been married and has children, show much interest in your letters in having them as part of your family. You do not have to be present at the interview, and when my wife was interviewed I was not even allowed into the room. Technically they don't even know the man is there unless the girl mentions it. In days gone by the man would often be allowed into at least part of the interview, and maybe even be interviewed himself, but that has changed; probably due to lots of heck being raised by the gentleman if his lady failed the interview.
On the day of the interview buy your girl some nice clothes, if she doesn't already have some, and instruct her to enter the interview room with a friendly but genuine smile, and confidence. Too much nervousness is viewed as guilt and may cause the interviewer to be more strict. Ok this next suggestion is important.  She needs only to answer the questions asked. Do NOT volunteer information. Why? Its simple. The more information the interviewer has, the more questions they can ask. Some delight in trying to trip up the girl so that they can fail her. Let me mention again that the interviewer is NOT your friend. But, they do have to follow protocol. They are instructed to ask certain questions, that your lady should answer simply and well. For example, the interviewer says "How long have you known Mr Jones"?  The girl should say something like "2 years and 4 months". She should not say something like  "Well, we talked on the phone a few times a long time ago and then when I moved to Manila I used to go to internet cafe's and we would chat. We fell in love quickly and finally we got to meet, I think we have known each other for about 2 years". When answers are given the interviewer has the right to question them. An answer that gives out all that information leaves the door open for the interviewer to literally ask a hundred more questions. The more questions asked, the more chance for a mistake to be made. An honest mistake yes, but honest or dishonest doesn't matter to the interviewer. I'll say it a third time; the interviewer is NOT your friend! They are not ogres or monsters either, its just the job thing again. Most of them are very polite in fact, but that is part of the job also. Instruct your lady to always smile and be polite. That goes far as long as she looks legit. Whatever you do, DON'T be impolite, rude, or threatening for any reason. You are at their mercy and they are certainly not at yours.
Some questions that my wife was asked in her interview for a CR-1 immigrant visa.
What is your name and age?
What is your husbands name and age?
When is your birthday?
When is your husbands birthday?
How long have you known your husband?
Where did you meet for the first time?
Has he visited you here in the Philippines?
How long did he stay?
Where does he work?
What is his job?
How long has he worked there?
Has your husband been married before?
How many times?
Does he have children?
My wife had a pretty simple straight forward interview. If there are any suspicions on the interviewers part, the questions can get more probing. Your lady friend should know a lot about your family, your lifestyle here in America, or wherever you live, your job, how long you have worked there, your friends, and anything else you can think of. You and her should practice Q and A until the answers flow from her easily and naturally. Like I said before, the interviewers are not monsters or ogres and there is no need to fear them. However, there is need to prove the legitimacy of your relationship and love for each other. I am one that over-prepares for everything and we went to the embassy with all we could carry. We were somewhat ashamed when we got there to see that the other girls usually only had a simple folder of papers. Our idea was to cover every possible base, because Manila is a long expensive trip from America, and also because I wanted my wife here with me as soon as possible. We wasted lots of time, work, and money due to my over-preparation, but I still believe it was not in vain. If something unforseen had popped up at the interview, we would probably have had something to cover it. I had copies of my birth certificates, previous marriage licenses, W2 forms for the previous 3 years to prove my earnings. I had a certified statement of employment from my employer. We had our relationship proof, emails, letters, phone records, etc. We even had addresses and customs stickers cut out of packages that we had sent each other. We had the flight and taxi ticket stubs and hotel receipts where I had visited her, and pictures of activities we had shared. You name it, we had it. Its better to have too much than not enough. Just one missing paper and its all over. Of course you can try again, but trying from halfway around the world gets very expensive.
Let me say here that my Filipina wife is an angel. She is less than half my age but we have a closeness and deep love that I had only dreamed about before I met her. I honestly never thought I would ever find that kind of love. I feel that I am the luckiest man alive. For the first year or so of our relationship, I often questioned my sanity, and asked myself it it was really worth it to spend so much time, worry, and money for a wife. Now, after having lived with my wife here in the USA for more than 3 years I say to myself that it was only halfway around the world. It wasn't nearly far enough to go for such a wonderful lady. Would I do it again? You bet I would!
Ok, that being said, let me say this. Nearly all girls in the Philippines have wonderful friendly personalities. Be careful though. Not all are what they seem. In fact I estimate that more than half are not what they seem. Some just want to come to America and will do anything to get it.  If you are lucky and careful like me and get a good girl, you can have no better wife. If you are not careful or lucky and get one of the bad ones, you will have a hellcat on your hands that will have no qualms about causing you all the trouble she can. Know this, you are responsible for them for many years after they get here. Its not fair because for some reason Mexican immigrants seem to have it better, but you will be responsible for any government help your Filipina lady might get for at least 10 years!  And that is 10 working years; if she doesn't work I guess the time goes indefinitely. As Elmer Fudds says, "Be extweemly cawhful".  Pick a bad one and you  just might end up being single again, but paying her way while she parties.  Spend lots of time getting to know your lady, and if it doesn't seem right listen to your head instead of your heart. There are lots of girls there that you can talk too so don't think you have to marry the first one you talk too. Marry for LOVE! Marry for SHARED INTERESTS!  On the other hand, be patient. Their culture is not like ours and they have some identical words in their language that mean something totally different than ours. If she says something insulting to you, or gets insulted by something you say, talk it out. Probably its a case of mistaken understanding. That has happened to my wife and I several times. We laugh about it now, but at the time it could have ruined our relationship if we hadn't talked it out.
As I think of more information I will add to this article, so come back often. In the meantime, may God bless you and your relationship, and may you soon start your new life with your lovely Filipina wife!

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