Immigrant Visa FAQs

1.    How do I pay my visa application fee?

Where you pay your visa fee depends on your visa category. Are you an immigrant visa applicant? If you didn’t pay at the National Visa Center (NVC), you can pay on the day of the visa interview at the Consular cashier. You can pay in cash, travelers check, or by U.S. Postal Order. The Embassy Manila cashier is located on the second floor.

Are you a fiancé(e) visa applicant?—This includes K1, K2, K3 and K4 applicants. You must pay the visa application fee of $240 before you can request a visa appointment.

There are three ways to pay the K visa application fee:

1. Cash payment at any Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) branch. Please note that K visa applicants are required to present a U.S. visa application deposit slip to pay the fee. Before going to the bank, you must print the applicable U.S. visa application deposit slip. Download the deposit slip on the online appointment website:, then take it to the bank to pay the fee.

There is an expiration date on the deposit slip. Bank agents will not accept payments based on expired deposit slips. Upon payment, the bank will issue a receipt. This receipt cannot be replaced. Applicants will not be able to schedule an appointment without the receipt number.

2. Online payment bill option provided by BPI to their clients.

3. Online payment through Bancnet.

For more details regarding K1 visa payment instructions, visit our website at

2.    I am the principal applicant of a family-based visa petition. Sad to say, my petitioner passed away. Can I still process my visa application?

Although by law a family-based petition like yours is automatically revoked upon the death of the petitioner, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can reinstate the visa petition (Form I-130), even after the petitioner dies. This allows you to continue the process for an immigrant visa. It is important to note that USCIS must first reinstate a petition on humanitarian grounds. You or your representative in the U.S. should contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 to find out more information.


If USCIS has reinstated your visa petition, you need to have a substitute sponsor who is a Lawful Permanent Resident or a U.S. Citizen. Cases reinstated for humanitarian purposes retain their original priority date. Once your priority date becomes current for processing, the National Visa Center will contact you and your substitute sponsor regarding completion of documentary requirements.


 3.    My priority date is now current for processing! I have submitted all required documents to the National Visa Center (NVC). How long do I wait until my visa interview is scheduled?

Your wait is determined by the date you submit all the necessary supporting documents and when the case becomes documentarily qualified. This means that NVC has reviewed all of your documents and found them to be complete. Your waiting time for an interview date is approximately 3 to 4 months from the date your case is documentarily qualified.

When an interview slot becomes available for you, NVC will send you and your petitioner an appointment letter and will forward the case file to Embassy Manila. We will process the case as soon as we receive the file.

4.    I am the principal applicant. I was issued a visa and I am now in the U.S. I am now prepared to have my wife and children follow me here. What should I do?

If your priority date is current for processing, you and your applicants should visit this website: to schedule a visa interview appointment. You can also contact the Embassy’s Visa Information and Appointment Service at (632) 982-5555 or (632) 902-8930 to schedule a visa interview date. The call center is open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, except on Philippine and U.S. holidays. Callers in the USA may contact the call center at (214) 571-1600 between 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time).

You should follow all interview preparation instructions, located on the Embassy’s website at These instructions provide the required documentation and procedures. The applicant or the representative should compile all the required documents and complete the medical examination before the interview date. Please note that the medical examination may take more than one day to complete.

Special for K2 Applicants: Please be aware that K2 applicants (child of a fiancé(e) visa (K1) applicant), must pay the visa application fee of $240 per applicant before requesting a visa appointment. Also, according to U.S. immigration law, issuance of a fiancé(e) derivative (K2) visa must take place within one year from the date the K1 was issued to the principal applicant. We urge you not to wait until the last minute to request a K2 interview.

5.    I was recently petitioned and came to the US. I want my spouse and minor children (below 21) to come to the U.S. on my petition. How do I do this?

The best thing for you to do is contact the NVC and state your request. You may wish to submit Form I-824, which will allow the National Visa Center to determine your spouse and/or your children’s ability to obtain a visa. The National Visa Center mailing address is 31 Rochester Ave., Suite 200, Portsmouth, NH 03801-2915. You can also email NVC at:

6.    I was told that my case was affected by retrogression. What is retrogression? How long do I have to wait until my case can be processed?

Retrogression means that you were originally able to apply for a visa. However, the visa cut-off dates changed and your priority date is no longer current. Visas in the US have per-country limitations. Sometimes demand exceeds supply, and this changes the cut-off date of when you are eligible to apply for a visa.

Understandably, you probably wish to obtain an immigrant visa as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there is no provision within the law that would allow the numerical limitations to be waived in any individual’s case, regardless of the circumstances. You just have to sit tight. 

Want to check on your status? Visit the State Department’s website at for information on the movement of priority dates and visa availability.

 7.    I recently got married but my passport is still under my maiden name. Do I need to obtain a new passport that indicates my married name? On the other hand, my friend just had her marriage annulled; does she need to have her name changed in her passport?

First things first: If you are issued a visa, it must be in the same name as your passport. 

Second: As a Filipino woman, you have the choice to choose your surname after marriage. You can keep your maiden name or use your husband’s surname.

If you choose to use your husband’s surname, you can only revert to your maiden name on three conditions: the (1) death of your husband (2) annulment of your marriage or (3) your divorce from a foreign husband.

8.    I am the petitioner of a fiancé(e) (K1) applicant. I am currently unemployed. Can I submit a joint sponsor?

As a petitioner for your fiancé(e), you need to be able to demonstrate your ability to maintain an income at or above Federal Poverty Guidelines (will be linked to federal poverty guidelines when posted on the blog). This will make sure that your fiancé(e) will not become dependent on the US government for subsistence.

If you cannot meet these guidelines it may be possible to have a joint sponsor. BUT you must know that the Embassy will need to consider a number of factors in order to accept this sponsorship. Joint sponsors are not legally bound to address the financial needs of the applicant and may not always be sufficient to overcome the immigration laws we need to follow. The consular officer will make a thorough evaluation of the sponsor. Things we may look at include: the the sponsor’s relationship to the applicant or petitioner, the length of time the sponsor and your fiancé(e) have known each other, etc.

And just a quick note, even if you are unemployed, your fiancé(e) will need to submit the I-134 form along with a copy of your most recent Federal income tax return (Form 1040). If you can’t do this, you should submit other evidence of your assets to meet the poverty guidelines. For example, you may want to submit bank statements, investment accounts, real estate, and/or pension statements. The assets owned by the sponsor and members of the sponsor’s household must be available to support the sponsored immigrant(s) and can be readily converted into cash within 1 year.

9.            I was told that I need an F2B retention letter. What is this document?

If you are a beneficiary of an F2 visa category and your petitioner has already become a citizen, you may have a longer waiting time than before. An F2B retention letter can help you by allowing you to stay in the visa category that has less waiting time. You can ask USCIS to remain in the F2 category instead of automatically converting to the F1 category. This is good, as the F2 category has less waiting time than the F1 category.

How can you take advantage of this?  Visit USCIS’ website to make an appointment.  

An item in my visa packet needs to be corrected. Should I return the visa to the Embassy?

You need to return to the Embassy’s Immigrant Visa Unit only if any of the following items in your visa needs a correction:

  1. Name  
  2. Date of birth
  3. Place of birth
  4. Gender
  5. Nationality
  6. Passport number
  7. Marital status
  8. Visa category.


10. I already have my visa. Can the plastic and envelope in the visa packet be opened?

You can open the outer plastic envelope to retrieve your passport. But do not open the yellow packet! This is the packet that has the diagonal cut and it contains documentation that helps out with your visa. You need to present this SEALED envelope at the Port of Entry when you arrive.

11. What is CSPA?

The Child Status Protection Act–CSPA–was created to give families relief from administration time so that their children can still immigrate to the US.

CSPA permits certain beneficiaries to technically stay “children,” even if they have already turned 21. CSPA can protect “child” status for many classes of immigrants. But ingat kayo!: Child Status Protection benefits do not apply to everyone or all children!

If your visa petition’s priority date is current for processing and you believe that your child qualifies for immigration benefits under CSPA, he/she may submit a formal visa application at the Embassy. Your child will be required to take the medical examination at St. Luke’s Extension Clinic, submit Form DS-230, a valid passport and birth certificate issued on security paper by the Philippine National Statistics Office (NSO), and remit the non-refundable immigrant visa processing fee of US$230.00 or its peso equivalent to the Embassy’s Immigrant Visa Branch Check-in Counter (Window 38) on any workday at 7:30 a.m.

Submitting a formal visa application is not a guarantee that an immigrant visa will be issued. A consular officer will interview the applicants, review the documents in support of the visa applications and inform them if they qualify for immigrant visas under CSPA. Please be aware that children of K visa applicants are not covered under CSPA.

Please see our recent blog post for more information.

 12. Do applicants need to attend a seminar before they depart for the U.S.?

Philippine law requires that ALL Filipino emigrants over the age of 12 attend the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) with the Commission on Filipinos Overseas. Only emigrants aged 12 years and younger are exempted from attending this seminar. In your visa packet, you will receive information regarding the seminar.

Want more information on how to register for the seminar?  Visit the Commission on Filipinos Overseas website at:

4 thoughts on “Immigrant Visa FAQs

  1. Dear Sir/Mam

    I was granted two (2) US Visas in the past (B1). One is when I was selected to take a one month US Sponsored Training under the Anti – Terrorism Training Program (ATAP) which was held at DC area, and the second one is when my application as volunteer to the Atlanta Security Team Program was accepted and allowed me to join the security team that took care the athletes during the entire duration of the Summer Olympics. Now that I am going to retire soon from the police service here in the Philippines, it is my desire to visit US once again. How can I renew my old visas? Please help me. Thanks. SPO4 Wilfredo V De Vera- NCRPO

  2. Hi i am a B1/B2 visa holder i just came back here in the Philippines last August 19, 2014 after 5 months of staying with my grandmother in the US but unfortunately my grandmother has been hospitalized and nobody took care of her for we dont have any relatives near to her place, can i go back to US even if its just 3 months had past since i cam home?

    • Hi, Jo. If you have a valid B1/B2 visa,then you may use it to travel to the United States. In general, a nonimmigrant visa is valid for use before its expiration date provided that the visa is in good condition and has not been tampered with or altered in any way. However, please be aware that a visa may only be used to apply for entry to the United States. Visa holders are subject to inspection at the port of entry by United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers who have the sole authority to allow or deny anyone admission. The immigration officer at the port of entry will determine whether or not a visa holder will be allowed to enter the United States.

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