Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Direct Consular Filing (And How We Made the Move)

For the longest time we stayed in the Philippines (about seven years) and did not think much about moving to the US.  But after the many health crises that my husband had, and a recent increase in his VA disability rating, we realized it was better for us to make the move.

So how does one who reside in the Philippines, convince consular officers that he had the intent to reside in the US? Remember the term "residence" and "domicile" are two separate concepts where the former is more flexible than the latter. I have previously discussed on this topic to show that "domicile" is the place where you intend to return.  Consequently, even though you may presently reside in the Philippines, you can still make a case as to how you have the intent to return to the US, and reside therein.

Unlike filing a Petition for Alien Relative in the US, Direct Consular Filing in the Philippines, particularly in the US Embassy in Manila, requires that you reside in the Philippines.  The US Embassy in Manila lists the following documents as sufficient proof of residence in the Philippines:
  • Resident Alien Card
  • Foreign Property Deed/Rental/Lease
In addition, other evidence of residency may include, but is not limited to:
  • Utility bills
  • Housing lease
  • Work contract or other employment documents
  • Proof of local registration
  • Local bank statements
  • Proof of school enrollment
  • Vehicle registration
  • Valid local driver’s license
  • Tax documents listing an address in the Philippines
  • Passport entry stamp
  • Foreign property deeds or registration (although proof of property ownership in itself, may be insufficient if there is no evidence that the petitioner resides at that property)
Take note that the approval of the petition and the approval of the visa are two different things.  Once you hurdle the approval of the petition, you have to hurdle the visa interview.  An important document to be submitted is the Affidavit of Support (AOS).

In the AOS, you need to prove that you are living abroad temporarily. If you are not currently living in the United States, you must provide proof that your trip abroad is temporary and that you have maintained your domicile in the United States.

Examples of proof of temporary residence abroad are: A. Your voting record in the United States; B. Records of paying U.S. state or local taxes; C. Having property in the United States; D. Maintaining bank or investment accounts in the United States; E. Having a permanent mailing address in the United States; or F. Other proof such as evidence that you are a student studying abroad or that a foreign government has authorized a temporary stay.

In case you don't have either of those, you have to establish that you intend in good faith to reestablish your domicile in the United States no later than the date of the intending immigrant’s admission.  It may be proven with the following documents, as follows:
  • A declaration of intent to reestablish U.S. domicile
  • Accepting a job in the United States
  • Signing a lease or purchasing a residence in the United States
  • Registering children in U.S. schools
  • Any other documents that prove you have taken steps to establish domicile
Some websites propose coming up with an actual statement (Letter) declaring the intent to re-establish domicile.  But in our case, my husband literally started our lease during the period just before we scheduled for the visa interview.  Thus, he was already living in the US even before my interview schedule came-up.