- 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
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.
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!
she is absolutely the type of woman I could spend the rest of my life
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!
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!
have definitely fallen completely in love with her and have asked her to
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.
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!!!
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.
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
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.... ;-)
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!!
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.
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!!
all for now... I will keep you all posted! ;-)
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.
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!
back in the next month or so. I am sure there will be more updates!!
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...
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 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!! :-)
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!! :-)
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!
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.
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!!
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!! :-)
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
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!!
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
) . 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!!
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
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
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
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
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
she receives the final authorization. Alera Mae then flew home to Cebu
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
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
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
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
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??!!??
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! ;-)
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
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!!
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
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!!
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
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
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
GOD BLESS EVERYONE FOR SUPPORTING US
AND LOVING US THE WAY YOU HAVE!! :-)
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
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
Thanks for stopping
by!! -- Thomas and Alera Mae Rowley
Copyright © 2004-2010 by
01/02/10 20:07:46 -0500.