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I currently live in the Philippines with my fiancé. We were in the midst of deciding between a K1 visa and a CR1 visa, when the option of Direct Consular Filing was brought to my attention. Although the Manila USCIS field office is now closed and no longer processing visas, it is my understanding that the embassy accepts local filing for US citizens residing in the Philippines under exceptional circumstances (such as having a job offer in the US and need to relocate). Though I rarely see people apply (or at least get approved) through DCF. Is it particularly hard to get? If I meet all of the criteria, should it be smooth sailing? This option would be a dream come true for my partner and I, but I just want to make sure I’m not missing anything! 
 

After getting married, what are the first steps of this process? I can’t find any official information on the Manila embassy’s website. Do I first need to get approved for DCF, or simply submit the I-130 petition? Either way, is it done in person, via mail, or online? 
 

Has anyone applied for DCF (under exceptional circumstances) at the Manila Embassy recently-ish? What were your circumstances? What was the process like? 
 

I don’t expect someone to have all of the answers, but any information or insight is much appreciated :)  

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The process is:

1) Get married (DCF is not available or I-129F)

2) Contact Manila to request DCF due to [xyz]. Be prepared to support the request with documentation. Typically they would require the actual filing to be in person, but I'm not sure how it works with the COVID restrictions.

3) Manila reaches out to other DOS staff + USCIS to determine if they will accept the DCF filing. USCIS has final say.

 

"Exceptional circumstances" is traditionally only accepted in exceptional circumstances. It is a completely discretionary decision (not a "meet the checkboxes and you get it") and not one they take lightly.


Timelines:

ROC:

Spoiler

7/27/20: Sent forms to Dallas lockbox, 7/30/20: Received by USCIS, 8/10 NOA1 electronic notification received, 8/1/ NOA1 hard copy received

AOS:

Spoiler

AOS (I-485 + I-131 + I-765):

9/25/17: sent forms to Chicago, 9/27/17: received by USCIS, 10/4/17: NOA1 electronic notification received, 10/10/17: NOA1 hard copy received. Social Security card being issued in married name (3rd attempt!)

10/14/17: Biometrics appointment notice received, 10/25/17: Biometrics

1/2/18: EAD + AP approved (no website update), 1/5/18: EAD + AP mailed, 1/8/18: EAD + AP approval notice hardcopies received, 1/10/18: EAD + AP received

9/5/18: Interview scheduled notice, 10/17/18: Interview

10/24/18: Green card produced notice, 10/25/18: Formal approval, 10/31/18: Green card received

K-1:

Spoiler

I-129F

12/1/16: sent, 12/14/16: NOA1 hard copy received, 3/10/17: RFE (IMB verification), 3/22/17: RFE response received

3/24/17: Approved! , 3/30/17: NOA2 hard copy received

 

NVC

4/6/2017: Received, 4/12/2017: Sent to Riyadh embassy, 4/16/2017: Case received at Riyadh embassy, 4/21/2017: Request case transfer to Manila, approved 4/24/2017

 

K-1

5/1/2017: Case received by Manila (1 week embassy transfer??? Lucky~)

7/13/2017: Interview: APPROVED!!!

7/19/2017: Visa in hand

8/15/2017: POE

 

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Other than medical, the most common circumstance I see now a days is the last one in section A:

https://www.uscis.gov/policy-manual/volume-6-part-b-chapter-3

 

Short Notice of a Relocation.   You would need a job offer requiring you to travel soon.

 

I have seen a few cases where petitioners have successfully argued "Threats to Personal Safety" in light of covid 19.  There was one here from southeast Asia a few weeks ago.


March 2, 2018  Married In Hong Kong

April 30, 2018  Mary moves from the Philippines to Mexico, Husband has MX Permanent Residency

June 13, 2018 Mary receives Mexican Residency Card

June 15, 2018  I-130 DCF Appointment in Juarez  -  June 18, 2018  Approval E-Mail

August 2, 2018 Case Complete At Consulate

September 25, 2018 Interview in CDJ and Approved!

October 7, 2018 In the USA

October 27, 2018 Green Card received 

October 29, 2018 Applied for Social Security Card - November 5, 2018 Social Security Card received

November 6th, 2018 State ID Card Received, Applied for Global Entry - Feb 8,2019 Approved.

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36 minutes ago, Ava & Alex said:

Do you happen to know the best way to contact them for this request? Email? Phone? I would go directly in person, but I live outside of Luzon. 

Here is the Email I have IVManilaReplies@state.gov

 


March 2, 2018  Married In Hong Kong

April 30, 2018  Mary moves from the Philippines to Mexico, Husband has MX Permanent Residency

June 13, 2018 Mary receives Mexican Residency Card

June 15, 2018  I-130 DCF Appointment in Juarez  -  June 18, 2018  Approval E-Mail

August 2, 2018 Case Complete At Consulate

September 25, 2018 Interview in CDJ and Approved!

October 7, 2018 In the USA

October 27, 2018 Green Card received 

October 29, 2018 Applied for Social Security Card - November 5, 2018 Social Security Card received

November 6th, 2018 State ID Card Received, Applied for Global Entry - Feb 8,2019 Approved.

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*** One comment removed as requested by the poster.

 

VJ Mod


“When starting an immigration journey, the best advice is to understand that sacrifices have to be made... whether it is time, money, or separation; or a combination of all.” - Unlockable

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14 hours ago, angeljolie said:

Hmm I wonder why my reply was deleted.

I don’t know why your comment was deleted...luckily I could read it via an email notification! Thank you for sharing your experience with DCF at USEM—that’s exactly the kind of information I was looking for. 
 

What month did that happen? Has anyone else heard USEM saying that they won’t be doing DCF at this time? Could it perhaps have been due to covid-related staff shortages, etc? 
 

Also, do you have any insight on which form of communication with the embassy was most responsive and/or helpful? 

Edited by Ava & Alex

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15 minutes ago, Ava & Alex said:

I don’t know why your comment was deleted...luckily I could read it via an email notification! Thank you for sharing your experience with DCF at USEM—that’s exactly the kind of information I was looking for. 
 

What month did that happen? Has anyone else heard USEM saying that they won’t be doing DCF at this time? Could it perhaps have been due to covid-related staff shortages, etc? 
 

Also, do you have any insight on which form of communication with the embassy was most responsive and/or helpful? 

Great! Good you were able to read it. We tried from 3rd week of July. We sent an email first and got a template reply (same email address provided above). Then everyone here suggested for my husband to call, which he did. He insisted speaking to an American. He was able to but only to be directed to sending an email to the same email address. It was like chicken-and-egg. But please try to call them too. They can be unpredictable. And you could get lucky! Good luck! Please let us know how it turns out for you.

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6 minutes ago, angeljolie said:

We tried from 3rd week of July. We sent an email first and got a template reply (same email address provided above). Then everyone here suggested for my husband to call, which he did. He insisted speaking to an American. He was able to but only to be directed to sending an email to the same email address. It was like chicken-and-egg. But please try to call them too. They can be unpredictable. And you could get lucky! Good luck! Please let us know how it turns out for you.

That sounds so frustrating. I’m sorry you went through that! I hope we will get lucky, but the fact that they told you DCF isn’t available worries me.
 

I will try being persistent. I remember someone on VJ suggesting to show up at USEM and insist to speak with an American. 
 

Anyways, we have to get married first :) Thank you so much for the help, and I will absolutely keep updating. I wish you all the best for you visa process and beyond! 

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34 minutes ago, Ava & Alex said:

That sounds so frustrating. I’m sorry you went through that! I hope we will get lucky, but the fact that they told you DCF isn’t available worries me.
 

I will try being persistent. I remember someone on VJ suggesting to show up at USEM and insist to speak with an American. 
 

Anyways, we have to get married first :) Thank you so much for the help, and I will absolutely keep updating. I wish you all the best for you visa process and beyond! 

 

Yes you need to be persistent. 🙂 

 

Read your other post about doing K1 or CR1. Looks like it's wiser to do CR1, given the current situation. Btw, you also need a local CENOMAR for yourself. When we filed for our marriage license, we didn't have my husband's CENOMAR from PSA. Our thinking was since he's not Filipino and he has the affidavit of legal capacity from the USEM, he won't need it anymore. But we were wrong! I had to  beg the city hall staff to accept our application and promised to bring his CENOMAR as soon as I get it. She was so nice and agreed to accept it. But for you to avoid this hiccup, it would be wise to get one for yourself.

 

Thanks, and good luck to you guys too! 

Edited by angeljolie

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3 hours ago, angeljolie said:

Read your other post about doing K1 or CR1. Looks like it's wiser to do CR1, given the current situation. Btw, you also need a local CENOMAR for yourself. When we filed for our marriage license, we didn't have my husband's CENOMAR from PSA. Our thinking was since he's not Filipino and he has the affidavit of legal capacity from the USEM, he won't need it anymore. But we were wrong! I had to  beg the city hall staff to accept our application and promised to bring his CENOMAR as soon as I get it. She was so nice and agreed to accept it. But for you to avoid this hiccup, it would be wise to get one for yourself.

 

Funny, as I am just reading this after coming from a couple hours at the local civil registrar where my fiancé and I both applied for a CENOMAR (among other things). I had also assumed only he needed it and was confused when they presented us with two forms, but now I’m so glad they did! Thanks again :)

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