Thomas and Alera Mae Rowley

Our 'TIMELINE' for the K-1 Fiancée Visa Process

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Last Updated on January 02, 2010 06:19 PM

Alera Mae & Thomas
(Our FIRST Photo EVER Together!!)

- This timeline is being put together and maintained by Thomas. We hope that the information found here might be helpful to others in their journey together as they go through a K-1 Fiancée Visa Process like we did!

09/20/03 - Proposed to Alera Mae. She accepted!! :-)
10/21/03 - Mailed I-129F Petition to BCIS (Texas)
10/27/03 - NOA1 - (Receipt Number Assigned)
04/12/04 - NOA2 - (Case Approved)
04/19/04 - Received NOA2 Letter
04/19/04 - Called National Visa Center - Case entered into NVC system; Obtained embassy case number
04/26/04 - Received official letter from NVC
06/14/04 - Interview Date assigned at US Embassy in Manila!
08/06/04 - Medical Examination Date
08/13/04 - Interview Date
09/10/04 - Date Visa Received
09/23/04 - Alera Mae arrived in the US
10/08/04 - Date We Were MARRIED!! :-)

Below is a description of events that have taken place from the time I met Alera Mae Castro until the day we were officially married!! Enjoy.

Alera Mae Castro was 26yo and lived in Cebu City, Philippines when first I met her. We met online through a mutual friend and she changed my life forever...  Read on! ;-)

Alera and I hit it off right from the start!! She was totally amazing to me. We had so many common interests. We chatted for 5 hours on the first night that I talked to her!!! (and I really CAN'T STAND the chat programs!! LOL)  Anyway, by the time I was finished talking to her on the first night, she already had me mesmerized and we have been steadily chatting online, using our web cameras, talking on the phone and even using a microphone to communicate through the Internet, ever since. We average at least 2 hours online together every day now and I just can't get enough of her. She makes me laugh, she makes me cry, she makes me really care about life in general. In general, she really makes me want to be a better person!

And she is absolutely the type of woman I could spend the rest of my life with!!

As you can see, I am very serious about her and wanted to share  my experience dealing with a long-distance relationship online with all of you!


Well, I just returned from a visit to Alera in the Philippines. All I can say is...  WOW!!  She is even MORE amazing to me in person than I could have ever imagined...  I already knew she was amazing when we chatted before I met her in person!! But to meet her family and friends...  It was truly an awesome visit!

I have definitely fallen completely in love with her and have asked her to marry me!!

She accepted my proposal on September 20th, 2003. We are still in the process of planning our wedding date and ceremony, but I will continue to update as I have the information available.


I mailed the K-1 Fiancée Visa application to Texas this morning.  Now we will wait to be notified by the Department of Justice of the approval of the visa and then we will start the second phase of the process. This will include Alera going to Manila for an interview and a physical. I will try to update this page as this process unfolds. Our wedding date should hopefully be only 6 months or less from now!!! 


I received notification that my certified mail package was received at the Texas BCIS office. Now we will wait to hear from someone that the first step is completed. 


This is the 'OFFICIAL' date that the BCIS office has on file in which our I129F PETITION FOR FIANCÉE was received.  They also stated that this type of case typically takes between 150-180 days to process. I guess you can say that it could take as long as April 25th, 2004 to process our petition, as long as everything goes as 'typically' planned at the BCIS. The waiting begins....


Well, I am heading back over to the Philippines ONE last time before the end of the year to see my baby! This time, Rob will be accompanying me as he will be meeting Rubi's family for the first time as well. We will be spending one week (Thanksgiving week) there!! I am really looking forward to spending even more time with Alera and her family. I am glad that I have the opportunity to visit Alera again before the end of the year! This waiting period for the fiancée visa is definitely a difficult time, being apart from the one you love dearly!! We will make the most of it....   ;-)

We still have not heard anything from BCIS yet. Again, they did say it could take 150-180 days to hear the outcome of the case. I do not believe there will be any problems as far as that goes. We will just have to be patient. In the near future, we will be together forever!! 


Rob, Rubi and I  arrived home safely after a wonderful, but VERY long trip. Feel free to click (HERE) to see some pictures that I took during the trip.  Alera and I had a great time together! We even managed to spend a few nights at the Plantation Bay Resort in Cebu. It was very romantic!! We will definitely stay there again in the future.

Alera's family also made a very nice meal for us on Friday (what would have been our Thanksgiving Day here in the US) due to the fact that we were unable to eat dinner with our families back home like we normally try to do. I am so lucky to become part of Alera's family!!

That is all for now... I will keep you all posted! ;-)


Well, it has been awhile since I updated this page, and I figured it was time to get back to it. The time is drawing nearer, but unfortunately, it looks like we still have a bit of a wait in front of us.

According to the BCIS website, at the close of business on February 6th, 2003, they were currently processing requests dated August 25th. Looks like we still have approximately 2 more months to wait until the petition is approved. From this date (approx. April 15th, 2004), we will probably have another month or so before Alera is notified and receives her package from the Embassy in Manila, then another 30 days or so before she will be scheduled for her interview and medical review.

Once all this is done, along with a few other minor details I will not bore you with, Alera will be allowed to join me in the US and we will be married!

Check back in the next month or so. I am sure there will be more updates!!


I wanted to add a link to a website that Alera and I created together. We feel it will be an interesting hobby as well as an opportunity for Alera to easily keep in touch with friends and family back home. We are excited about doing this together as a couple, and we encourage EVERYONE to stop by and say "Hi".  To visit, click on the banner below...


I just checked the BCIS website! At the close of business on February 20th, they were currently processing requests dated September 10th, 2003. Looks like they are still on schedule for an April 15th approximate date of acceptance. Still in the waiting process!!

As soon as the visa gets approved in the US, I will need to send a completed Financial Affidavit of Support to Alera so she will have it in time for her interview. Other than that, I hope we have everything else completed to their satisfaction. I am starting to get anxious here!!  :-)


I just returned home from my 3rd trip to the Philippines to see Alera! Although the trip is getting easier each time, it is nonetheless a VERY long and tiring trip. But, being with Alera and her family for even ONE day makes it ALL worthwhile!! :-)

We have even more GREAT news to share with you!! We checked the BCIS website and found out that at the close of business on March 4th, they were currently processing requests dated October 24th, 2003!! WOW! This is only 3 DAYS from our date of submission. This means that we might now know something as soon as March 18th!! We are very excited!


We are finding out the HARD way that is does not really matter what the BCIS website has posted about the processing times. Unfortunately, it appears that the stacks of petition requests must be distributed to different people to complete and ours happens to be in a stack that is not caught up with the rest yet! :-(  We are waiting patiently and checking the site daily to see if our case has been updated. Once it is updated, the official letter (NOA #2) should arrive shortly after.


We just received notification via the web that our case was APPROVED on 04/12/2004. We are both VERY excited and have finally made our way out of the BCIS black-hole!! We will now wait for the National Visa Center to send us a letter with the Case ID for the US Embassy in Manila. Once we have the ID, we will be able to follow-up with the embassy and try to expedite the interview process. After her interview and medical examination, she will have her visa and I can finally pick my honey up and bring her home!  WOO-HOO!!


We received the official letter (NOA #2) today. It states that my petition has been approved. It also states that the original visa petition has been sent to the Department of State National Visa Center (NVC) located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The INS has completed all action, and that further inquiries should be directed to the NVC.

The NVC now processes all approved fiancée petitions. The NVC processing should be complete within 2 to 4 weeks after receiving the petition. They will create a case record with our petition information. NVC will then send the petition to the US Embassy in Manila, Philippines.

We will receive notification when the petition has been sent to the Philippines. In this notification, we will receive a unique number for our case and the address in which it was sent.

Once the petition is in Manila, we will wait for an interview date to be assigned and Alera will fly to Manila for her medical examination and interview with the US Embassy. After the interview, she will need to attend a seminar at her local CFO office in Cebu City and then she will receive her stamp in her passport to allow her to come to the USA. At that time, I will arrange to fly over and bring her back with me to start our life together!! :-)


We received our official letter from the NVC today. It was dated 04/22/04. It states that they created a case record with our petition information and that they will then send the petition to the US Embassy in Manila, Philippines within a week.

It seems to be going smoothly so far... now we wait for Manila!! I will wait about 3-4 days and then I will start to call the Embassy every couple days to try to expedite the process. (I do not want to make anyone angry with us - LOL) We are VERY excited!!


I called the US Embassy in Manila tonight. The nice lady on the phone informed me that they have received the approved petition in Manila but there was no scheduled date yet for the interview. I asked if there was anything I could do to help speed up the process ( Laughing ) . To my surprise, she said if there was an urgent reason for it that they might be able to do something for us. I calmly laughed and said that there was no other reason except for the fact that we are in love and getting very anxious!!   Very Happy

She said that Alera should receive her packet in June or July. I asked why that long. She replied that is could be sooner. (I am sure she was just playing it safe!!) I asked if it was OK if I called and bugged every few days. She laughed and said "No problem!" So, I will continue to do that!!

I am hoping to be able to pick up Alera by the end of June or early July. We will keep our fingers crossed!! 

In the meantime, I will keep calling....


Here is a quick update..... Maybe the lady at the Embassy was right. It looks as though we will have to wait longer than I expected!! :-( I continue to call every 3-4 days and I we still have not had an interview date assigned. Looks like I might be spending my summer apart from Alera Mae after all.....   :-(

Alera and I are remaining strong and hopeful. All we can do is hope for a smooth turn-around AFTER the date has been assigned. At this point, we still might get lucky and get a July interview. Once her interview date is assigned, I will be able to schedule my time off from work to fly over to Cebu, spend a week with her family, bring her back to the US, get married, have a honeymoon, and do LOTS of shopping!! LOL

I love Alera Mae with all my heart and all my soul... I will wait as long as it takes to be with her. She is my everything, and I am just thankful that God has allowed us to meet and fall in love with one another!! We will make it....   :-)


I called the US Embassy tonight. I was expecting the usual response that no date has been assigned yet. However, to my surprise, the Embassy employee cheerfully told me that Alera's interview date has been assigned for Friday, August 13th at 7:00AM!!! WOO-HOO!

I called Alera Mae immediately! I did wake her, but she did not seem to mind it after I told her the AWESOME news!! We are both so happy to find out the news and are relieved that the wait is finally over. Now it is time for me to schedule my flight arrangements to escort her back to her new home as well as send her the finalized documents she will need for the interview and necessary funds to complete the interview and medical examination.

It has been a pretty difficult time for us to be apart from each other. But we both can sense the end is near and we will be able to start our beautiful life together. Thank you all for your kind words and support through this process. We feel very blessed to have such wonderful friends and family to help us keep our chins high!!  :-)


I just wanted to provide a quick update...

I have already scheduled my vacation and made flight arrangements to meet Alera Mae in Cebu. I will be leaving on August 25th and will spend 10 days in the Philippines before flying back home. We plan to be married fairly quickly as I will only have a couple weeks of vacation left before having to return to work. The closest Saturday happens to be September 11th!! (9-11) I am not sure yet if we will be married on this date, but it might happen!! If anything, we will make it a happy day for our lives, anyway!

We will keep you posted on the progress. I will also post Alera's itinerary for Manila once I have the details. We hope that this timeline is able to provide other's help in terms of what to expect during the process of applying for a K-1 fiancée visa!!


Alera Mae flew to Manila on Thursday, August 5th. She attended her medical examination at St. Luke's on the following day (Friday) and then went back on the following Monday to get her results. She found out that there was some question regarding her chest x-ray result. They wanted to run some more tests (sputum cultures) 2 weeks from that date. She will need to go back to St. Luke's on Monday, August 23rd. So, at this time, she has not officially passed her medical exam yet!! Sad

Alera Mae attended a local doctor (when she arrived home from Manila last week) who specializes in heart and lung disease in Cebu. He had another chest x-ray done and has ruled out any major issues so far (tuberculosis, cancer, etc.) He says that she has some scarring and streaks that are old and look like they might have been from some sort of virus long ago or that perhaps she has asthma. She has never been diagnosed with asthma, but she very well could have it!!!

On another note, St. Luke's DID authorize her to attend her interview at the Embassy, even though she was not medically cleared yet. She attended her interview on Friday, August 13th. She said she felt like everything went OK, but she will need to bring her results from St. Luke's back to the US Embassy once she receives the final authorization. Alera Mae then flew home to Cebu that afternoon.

Her extra testing will begin at St. Luke's on Monday, August 23rd. She flew back to Manila on Sunday and we are hoping for the best.

I will be flying to Manila on Tuesday, August 24th and will meet up with Alera on Wednesday at 8:40pm (Manila time) and hopefully we will have the good news that she can re-visit the Embassy for her final interview on the following day.

We will keep our fingers crossed and I will post an update soon after!!  


Alera Mae visited St. Luke's for 3 days in a row to do the sputum tests. I went with her on the 4th day (Thursday) and was able to visit the doctor with her. He explained that there have been a very large number of tuberculosis cases that have been discovered in Filipina visa applicants and that many cases were discovered once they arrived in the USA. So the USA has put strict guidelines on applicants x-ray examinations. The doctors are all instructed to check the x-rays carefully and when there is any sign of possible lung disease, they need to have the applicants undergo further testing and/or treatments. When I was in the sputum test area, there must have been 50+ Filipinos getting tested!!

Anyway, Alera Mae had negative results concerning her sputum being contagious. The doctor mentioned that there might be a possibility of asthma or maybe remnants of an old case of the flu or pneumonia that could have caused the concern for the streaks and scarring found in her x-ray. The doctor authorized the release of her medical records and we will take them to the Embassy on Monday. Hopefully everything will go smoothly and Alera will be approved at that time!!

On a final note, the doctor mentioned that the Embassy tends to reject 20% of all cases that have been re-tested like Alera. He said it all depends on what the consulate feels at the time about the seriousness of the cause for why a person is re-tested. We will keep our fingers crossed!!

We hope that the fact that Alera Mae got tested in Cebu (in addition to the Manila testing), that we will have no problems! And we will be sure to provide those results to the Embassy (if needed), too!!


Well, we just wasted our time here in Manila waiting to see a consulate! When we arrived today, we found out that St. Luke's had not delivered the results yet to the Embassy!! And the lady behind the counter told us there was nothing we could do about it and to go home and wait to be notified!! So we spent a weekend here in Manila for nothing!! That really got me fuming!! I went to a security officer and found out that we could go to 'Window X' and possibly get more information. It took about 30 minutes or so, but the nice gentleman there told us that they just received the medical results and that a consulate should be reviewing the documents within the nest 48-72 hours or so. He advised us to fly back to Cebu and mentioned that if the consulate denied our visa request, we should be notified right away. This still did not make me comfortable, but it was a better explanation than we got at the other window. 

We are flying back to Cebu tomorrow and will hope for the best!!!


I waited until this week to call the Embassy to find out the progress. According to their records, the case still needed to be reviewed by a consulate. They told me it might be another week or so before that happens. I asked if there was anything I could do to speed the process up!! The simple reply was "NO" and "be patient". Anyway, I will continue to call every 2 days or so.  I am mostly aggravated right now due to the fact that normally a person knows whether or not they are approved for their visa BEFORE they leave the Embassy!! We are STILL sitting around waiting for the results and we were SUPPOSED to fly back to the USA yesterday (the 5th)!!

Hopefully, things will be positive for us and we will do our best to remain strong for each other as we wait for the verdict! We will keep our fingers crossed!!


We called the Embassy today for the third time. We received the same info as usual... a consulate still needed to review the case. We were so angry that we decided to visit the consulate for the US Embassy located there in Cebu City. (The Embassy office is located in the Waterfront Hotel near the Marriott we were staying at.) However, when we arrived there, the office was closed due to the observance of the September 11th attacks!!! We were not having a very lucky week!!

Well, the day was the 'same ole, same ole' until we received a call from Alera's mother at 5:15pm. She called us to inform us that Alera Mae officially received her visa this afternoon!!!! OH MY GOODNESS!!!! Were we hearing this right??!!?? WOOO-HOOOO!!!

We took a taxi over to her place and saw it for ourselves! It was a dream come true!! WE FINALLY RECEIVED OUR GIFT FROM GOD!!

Alera Mae and I will be flying back to the United States this coming Thursday, September 16th!! We are both VERY excited and are glad that the wait is over!!

So, to EVERYONE who IS or MIGHT BE going through this process... have patience and faith throughout the whole thing!! Your dream might feel like waiting forever... but in the end, it is well worth it!

I called the airlines and scheduled our flight for the 14th. All that is left now is to get the CFO stamp in Alera's passport on the 13th!! Wish us luck! ;-)


Uhhh-Ohhhhh!! We ran into ANOTHER snag. We went to the CFO office for Alera to get her official stamp placed in her passport in order for her to be able to leave the country. (This is normal process. Alera already attended the CFO seminar a month earlier!!) Anyway, a representative in the CFO office accidentally tore the page in Alera 's passport while she was attempting to remove the stamp tool. The page was not completely torn out of the passport, but they claimed it was damaged bad enough to require a NEW passport to be issued!!! When we heard this, we about passed out!! Why, oh WHY are we going through ALL THIS!! Sheesh!! They said it would take 2 days to get the NEW passport and then we could pick it up.

When I called the airlines to reschedule our flights for the 16th, they informed me that the soonest we could get a flight was on the 21st!!!! I could not believe what I was hearing!! I was SO stressed at this point!! But we had to accept the date and move on!

On a side note, we decided to go to Bohol tomorrow with a few members of Alera's family!! Feel free to click (HERE) to see some pictures that I took during the trip. Perhaps a small 3-day getaway will get our minds off of the visa thing and help us to remain positive throughout this process!!!


We got back from Bohol yesterday. We went to the CFO office today to pickup the NEW passport. Alera Mae was very nervous because her original passport was attached to the documents for US Immigration. Special instructions informed us that the passport needed to stay attached to the documents and not be tampered with. She was afraid that the NEW passport being attached would nullify the visa and/or the documents would be tampered with (or something of that nature!) Anyway, we received the NEW passport, but it was stapled to the OLD passport, which was STILL attached to the immigration documents!! This seemed weird to me, because she now had TWO passports!! When we inspected it, the only problem I could see was that the visa issued has the OLD passport number printed on it!! We were not sure if this would create a problem with US immigration, so we called the US Embassy in Manila to inquire about it. The lady on the other end of the phone said that we indeed would have to go back to Manila and visit the Embassy to have them reprint a NEW visa with an updated passport number on it!!! I was a bit suspicious, so we decided to  pay another visit to the US Embassy consulate in Cebu City (Again, it is located at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino near the Marriott.) When we explained the situation, the consulate conformed that we should visit the US Embassy in Manila before leaving the country.

So, we will plan to leave Cebu one day sooner and be sure to do that!! And when I called to confirm our flights one last time, I was just informed that our flights are actually scheduled for the 22nd (and NOT the 21st as I had already planned!!) So, we need to re-schedule our flight to Manila to make it the 21st now!! Arrrrggghhhh!!

Wow, does this whole process start to make you sick like it has already done to me!  :-(


We had dinner with Alera's family today. We took some really great pictures to share with you. Feel free to check them out if you like by clicking  (HERE) .


We had a very nice going away party with Alera Mae's family last night. We must have had over 170 different friends and relatives show up to wish us luck and see Alera one last time before she left for the USA. We had a wonderful time!! We will miss her family very much, but will make it a point to visit as often as we can afford n the future!!

Feel free to click (HERE) to see some pictures that I took during the party.

As for Manila, we are heading there today to take care of the final change and hopefully we will have NO MORE ISSUES to deal with!! :-)


We just wasted our time here in Manila, AGAIN!! After submitting the NEW passport (along with the OLD passport) at 'Window X', we waited for over 2 hours!! Finally, when we get called up to pick it up, THEY GAVE US BACK THE PACKAGE BUT NEVER DID ANYTHING TO THE VISA!! They left the NEW passport attached to the OLD passport and told us that "the passport was fine just the way it is" and "do not worry about US Immigration". Now, why in the world did they tell us to come back to Manila if they did not need to do anything???!!!???

Oh well.... we are officially flying to the USA tonight. Our day has come at last!!! It is just a shame that we did not have another day to spend with Alera's family instead of hanging around Manila for another day!! :-(


Ok, Ok!! This is the LAST update I will make to our timeline. We arrived in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, September 23rd at 2:35pm. We finally arrived at Alera's NEW home!!

Alera Mae and I officially were married on Friday, October 8th at approximately 3:15pm!!! We decided to have a civil ceremony for now! We will plan a nice ceremony for a date in the not so distant future... hopefully before the year's end!!

We are very happy to be together but are amazed at the amount of hurdles we needed to clear in order for us to finally make this whole thing happen. When we read this timeline, it is simply astonishing to see how much effort and patience the entire process took us! Sometimes, it got VERY hard for us emotionally. It definitely took it's toll on the BOTH of us!!

But, as we have posted before to everyone.......  please be strong for each other and be willing to have plenty of patience!! You CAN get through this! And when it is ALL said and done, you will know in your hearts that if it is meant to be, it can & will happen for you, too!!



Here is a quick update:

Alera Mae gave birth to our first child on March 8th, 2007! His name is Tyler Joseph Rowley and he weighed in at 6 lbs. 15 oz. and measured 20 3/4 inches.

Here is a link to his birth photos:  CLICK HERE


Another update:

Alera Mae gave birth to our second child on August 21st, 2008! His name is Christopher Thomas Rowley and he weighed in at 6 lbs. 1 oz. and measured 19 1/2 inches.

Here is a link to his birth photos:  CLICK HERE


Thanks for stopping by!!   --   Thomas and Alera Mae Rowley
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