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Traveling soon - Best ways to take money?

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I will traveling to the US on the 13th to be with my fiancé. I was wondering if someone would advise on the best ways to exchange money? There just seems to be way too many options. (Forex at airport, travelers check, US check, US $ demand draft…)

Any help would be appreciated.

Thank You


July 2012 - met through a dating app

Jan 2013 - Officially started dating. Moved in together

Oct 2013 - Because of VISA issues, I move back to India

Jan 2015 - John visits me in India. Engaged!

K1 timeline

I-129 Petition filed : March 5th 2015

I-129 NOA1 : March 12th 2015 (File sent to CSC )

I-129 NOA2 : April 6th 2015

NVC Recieved : April 23rd 2015 (got case number by calling NVC)

NVC Left : April 24th 2015 (according to CEAC status tracker - https://ceac.state.gov/ceacstattracker/status.aspx)

Consulate Recd : May 4th 2015

Biometrics Appointment (Mumbai VAC) : May 21st 2015

Interview Date (Mumbai CAC) : May 22nd 2015

VISA approval date: May 22nd 2015

Travel Date : 13th June 2015

POE Date: 14th June 2015 (Abu Dhabi)


I-485, I-765, I-131 Sent : July 1st 2015

USCIS NOA1 : July 6th 2015

Job Offer: Aug 12th 2015

USCIS Expedite Request for EAD : Aug 17th 2015

Submitted Proof for Expedite : Aug 19th 2015

Called Senator for Expedite help: Aug 20th 2014

I-765 Approved: Aug 24th 2015

I-765 Mailed: Aug 27th 2015

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I will traveling to the US on the 13th to be with my fiancé. I was wondering if someone would advise on the best ways to exchange money? There just seems to be way too many options. (Forex at airport, travelers check, US check, US $ demand draft…)

Any help would be appreciated.

Thank You


I would bring either cash (US Dollars, not your local currency to be exchanged in the US) or a prepaid ATM card (again in US Dollars) with which you can withdraw money in any ATM in the US. Having said that, you should check with your bank if your regular ATM card allows international withdraws. Be sure the check fees charged by the bank and the exchange rate used.

Forex at the airport is expensive. Travellers checks are not as accepted as before. An US Check would have to be deposited and you would have to wait to be cleared (assuming you have an US bank account or know someone who has one). I don't know what a US$ demand draft is.

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Also if you have more then $10,000 USD (or the equivalent in foreign currency after conversion) in hard currency, check the customs form to see what needs to be reported, make sure you answer yes on the customs form when coming into the US. There might be more paperwork that the officer will have you do. Also being proof of where the money came from, such as a receipt from the bank showing the withdraw.

Edited by dhlunar

Here is the information regarding the cases for my in-laws (wife, their daughter, is the petitioner under the IR-5 category, Parents of a USC):

Submit I-130 (2 petitions) to USCIS on May 30, 2013

USCIS approved the cases on March 10, 2014.

Received notice online from USCIS the cases were sent to NVC on March 17, 2014.

NVC received the cases on March 28, 2014

The case numbers were created on Monday, April 28.

We received the numbers by phone on Friday, May 2.

DS-261 became available on both cases late in the evening on Friday, May 2. Both DS-261 filed on Saturday, May 3.

Received emails to my wife regarding AOS at around 8am on Wednesday, May 7. At the same time received emails that were cc of letters sent to my in-laws. However, the date of all of the letters was Monday, May 5.

Received emails regarding the Immigrant Visa Fee at around 11:15am on Wednesday, May 7. IV fees became available online at around 1pm on Wednesday, May 7. Date of invoice was Tuesday, May 8.

Paid all the fees on Wednesday, May 7 at around 1:15pm.

All fees marked as paid and DS-260 become available sometime late on Friday, May 9.

Dropped off IV and AOS packages (in two different envelopes - 1 for AOS and 1 for IV documents) at the local post office at around 2pm on Saturday, May 10.

Submitted DS-260 (for both cases) around 10am on Sunday, May 11.

Both document packages received by NVC on Monday, May 12 (according to Post Office Tracking - one around 1pm and the other around 4pm. Don't know why they got separated.)

Received checklist email for both cases at 4pm on Thursday, June 12 regarding the IV civil documents

Wife called NVC in the afternoon of Friday, June 13 to inquire about the checklist. Told by a representative they are normal and automatic and not to worry. AOS under review. Call back after Tuesday, June 24.
Received a checklist for my father-in-law on Monday, June 16. NVC reviewed his AOS paperwork, but waiting for the documents the requested the week before.

Wife called NVC in the morning of Tuesday, June 17. Told by the agent they don't have the document requested for dad, and they don't have the AOS package for her mom.

Put in a request with our Senator to get more information. Response was mother-in-law is documentary complete and father-in-law was in document review for the military document.

Wife called NVC on the morning of Tuesday, July 1 and spoke with a supervisor regarding her dad's military document. Supervisor said she would look into it.

Supervisor called us and left a voicemail on the morning of Wednesday, July 9 and stated they have located my father-in-law's military documents. Case sent back to document review.

Per conversation with an agent, the expedited request originally requested by email on July 7, was sent to the Embassy on Thursday, July 10.

Received by postal mail on Thursday, August 21 from our Senator regarding the response of another inquiry. Still the same.

Early in the morning on Friday, August 22:

Wife calls the Embassy and was told the IV section doesn't accept calls, and was given a number in the states that turned out to be scheduling assistance for NIV interviews.

Called NVC as soon as they opened and was told the Embassy denied the expedite request, but the case was completed by NVC on Monday, August 18. Wife inquired about interview scheduling, and was given some good information.

At 5 PM on Thursday, September 11, received the interview letters. Interview is scheduled for the morning of October 9.

Mother-in-law approved. Father-in-law placed in Administrative Processing due to follow-up TB test.

CEAC stated ISSUED for my mother-in-law on October 15. DHL had the package for pick up on October 17 but called the wrong number. Package picked up on October 27.

On December 11 mother-in-law received a phone call from the Embassy that the medical is back for my father-in-law and to DHL his passport to them. Passport sent on December 12.

On December 18 CEAC updated to ISSUED for my father-in-law. My wife is happy!!!! Embassy said they gave it to DHL on December 19

Due to a DHL delay the package did not become available for pick up until December 24. USCIS Immigrant Fee paid the same day.

POE: JFK Terminal 1 - December 26, 2014 - They are finally here!!!

Took them to a local SSA office to get SSN on January 6, 2015. Cards received on January 10, 2015.

Green Cards received by priority mail on January 23, 2015 (four weeks after arrival).

Both went to motor vehicles and got state issued ID cards on April 11, 2015.

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I would exchange your local currency into US dollars at your local bank. The airport is the last place you want to exchange currency because they will give you a horrible transaction rate.

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*** Thread moved from K-1 Process forum to the "Moving to the US & Your New Life" forum -- not a K-1 process issue. ***

06-04-2007 = TSC stamps postal return-receipt for I-129f.

06-11-2007 = NOA1 date (unknown to me).

07-20-2007 = Phoned Immigration Officer; got WAC#; where's NOA1?

09-25-2007 = Touch (first-ever).

09-28-2007 = NOA1, 23 days after their 45-day promise to send it (grrrr).

10-20 & 11-14-2007 = Phoned ImmOffs; "still pending."

12-11-2007 = 180 days; file is "between workstations, may be early Jan."; touches 12/11 & 12/12.

12-18-2007 = Call; file is with Division 9 ofcr. (bckgrnd check); e-prompt to shake it; touch.

12-19-2007 = NOA2 by e-mail & web, dated 12-18-07 (187 days; 201 per VJ); in mail 12/24/07.

01-09-2008 = File from USCIS to NVC, 1-4-08; NVC creates file, 1/15/08; to consulate 1/16/08.

01-23-2008 = Consulate gets file; outdated Packet 4 mailed to fiancee 1/27/08; rec'd 3/3/08.

04-29-2008 = Fiancee's 4-min. consular interview, 8:30 a.m.; much evidence brought but not allowed to be presented (consul: "More proof! Second interview! Bring your fiance!").

05-05-2008 = Infuriating $12 call to non-English-speaking consulate appointment-setter.

05-06-2008 = Better $12 call to English-speaker; "joint" interview date 6/30/08 (my selection).

06-30-2008 = Stokes Interrogations w/Ecuadorian (not USC); "wait 2 weeks; we'll mail her."

07-2008 = Daily calls to DOS: "currently processing"; 8/05 = Phoned consulate, got Section Chief; wrote him.

08-07-08 = E-mail from consulate, promising to issue visa "as soon as we get her passport" (on 8/12, per DHL).

08-27-08 = Phoned consulate (they "couldn't find" our file); visa DHL'd 8/28; in hand 9/1; through POE on 10/9 with NO hassles(!).

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If your current bank is part of the VISA or other international banking networks, then you should be able to use your debit ATM card to withdraw cash from any of the banks in the US that is part of the same network. The advantage of this is that it eliminates the need to carry large sums of money while traveling, things to be aware of:

  • Always select the right account option and withdraw money from the account you have cash, some people accidentally use their credit card and selected the "cash advance" option, which will incur interest
  • You will not know up front the exchange rate, it will be whatever rate the banks offer at the time of the withdrawal - but it's always better than the forex option at the airport
  • As another poster mentioned, there maybe fees associated with the withdrawal
Edited by jjbandero

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Absolutely stay away from airport exchange. They will take you for a very expensive ride.

Also, in general it is always better not to exchange at US banks. Many branches can't do it at all. Those that do charge an arm and a leg. Best to figure out how to convert to US in your home country.

09/12/14 I 129F sent
TSC Assigned
09/18/14 NOA1 received
02/20/15 RFE received
03/17/15 RFE Reply
04/02/15 NOA2
08/04/15 Interview
08/17/15 POE
09/04/15 Wedding

09/29/15 Mailed
10/26/15 Biometrics

10/26/15 Biometrics
12/18/15 Card in production

12/23/15 Card mailed

12/24/15 Card received

1/18/16 Started work



11/13/17 Mailed to VSC

11/14/17 Received by VSC

11/20/17 NOA1 received 

12/09/17 Biometrics letter received 

12/21/17 Biometrics appointment

08/06/18 I-797 Notice of Action 18 month extension

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