I was running late for the 10:00 am seminar yet luckily arrived five minutes before the said schedule. When I got there, I went to the 3rd floor and filled up a form that was three pages long. When I saw a girl pay for the fee, I suddenly remembered that I left my wallet in the car! I had to wait for 20 minutes before the money was sent to me. Anyway, I finally went back upstairs at around 10:35 am and to my surprise, I was still accommodated for the 10:00 am schedule. I have created a flowchart of how the process went for me.
REQUIREMENTS I SUBMITTED:
-photocopy of passport
-photocopy of visa
-Php 250.00 payment
NOTE: I had my mom compose a parental advise letter for me in the event that I might need it due to my age but it surprisingly wasn't required by PRISM. I have read that women from 18-21 years old need parental consent while those between 22-24 years old need parental advise. SMEF-COW may ask for such paperwork since they're stricter. Sadly, adherence to the mandate is bleak since there are no clear instructions in the first place. The requirements published on their official websites are inaccurate so I have found personal accounts to be so much more reliable.
S1 Window: Submitted requirements and duly accomplished forms (3 pages) then proceeded to the S3 room.
Time check: 9:55 am (I had to leave and wait for my money.)
S3 Room: The male instructor gave brief tips about airport regulations, luggage restrictions and then persuaded us to sign up for BDO's Kabayan Savings account. After that, he assigned the people to their respective rooms depending on the country of destination. U.S.A. bound attendees were asked to stay in the S3 room.
Time check: 10:35 am
Majority of the questions raised were about what we could and couldn't bring to the airport. The Kabayan Savings account has a front-end charge of $7/$8 per transaction for remittances of $499 and below. (West Coast fee: $8; East Coast fee: $7) Your relatives in the Philippines will receive the whole amount you deposit since OFWs and Filipinos with foreign spouses are given a tax exemption privilege.
For more information about the Kabayan Savings account remittance charges, please refer to this link:
NOTE: If you don't wish to sign up for the Kabayan Savings account, you can simply decline and ignore the BDO forms.
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE BDO ACCOUNT:
-one valid ID (a photocopy will suffice)
-payment of Php 50.00 (You can withdraw the amount once the account is activated.)
-one ID photo (1x1 or 2x2)
A female instructor replaced the former one and headed the group and one-on-one counseling. She explained the visa categories in depth and what to expect upon arrival in the States. I was the first to be called for the one-on-one counseling. She imparted stories of Filipinas who had miserable experiences at the airport and the States.
-Several Filipinas murdered by a common American spouse. After an in-depth investigation, it was found that the USC petitioned four other Filipinas before at separate instances. Four of his wives all died in car crashes while the fifth wife survived so that raised a few eyebrows. It was found that once the USC taught the wives to drive, he got them life insurance then tampered with the breaks of the car.
-A Filipina who married a Japanese national was sent back to the Philippines and was permanently blacklisted in all countries. The culprit happened to be a Php 20 Hello Kitty chukchuk which the Filipina used to clip her hair.
-A Filipina arrived in the States on a Fiancée Visa and a few months in, she met a Filipino and married him. She was deported and blacklisted due to her petitioner's complaint.
Things I learned from the talk:
-A two way ticket is open for one year so as soon as you receive the green card, you're free to travel.
-During the AOS, a K-1 status will be converted to a CR-1 status.
-Once you receive the green card, you are free to travel to any country. Keep in mind that if you intend to go back to the Philippines, limit your stay to less than six months. Overstaying will cancel your status in the States.
-It's recommended to apply for a SSN after marriage to avoid hassles. The SSN is the equivalent of a TIN in the Philippines. In the States, all babies are automatically assigned with a SSN unlike in the Philippines where people apply only when they are about to join the work force.
-Apply for a Health Insurance Card as opposed to Life Insurance for obvious reasons. You can do so by visiting a Health Ministry in your area.
-NGOs are located in the vicinity of the Church regardless of the denomination so immerse yourself in the community. Just in case an emergency arises, you'll know where to go.
-A re-entry permit is given to permanent residents who wish to stay outside of the States for more than a year. If you plan to work or study overseas, you have an option to renew your green card at the Embassy for either one or two years.
-At the naturalization stage, senior citizens are exempted from taking the exams. You are free to retake the exams until you pass. At the oath taking, you will renounce your Filipino citizenship but if you choose to apply for dual citizenship, you will be charged a fee of $20. Being an American citizen will limit you to the properties you can buy in the Philippines so if you choose to invest in the Philippines in the long run, apply for dual citizenship.
-Remember to renew your green card three months before the indicated expiration date.
Time check: 12:18 pm
Nakapunta ka na sa States?
Does your family like him?
So you're both 23?
Is he a Filipino living in the States?
What's his mother's maiden name?
When did he visit you?
How long did he visit you?
Do you think that's enough?
Where did you attend college?
What's your job?
When are you leaving?
I answered the questions truthfully and even told her that Jordan talks to my siblings and mom whenever they're around. The consul at the Embassy wasn't as prying as she was but I didn't mind it at the time.
Time check: 12:23 pm
S1 Window: I paid the fee of Php 250.00 and entered the room to have my photograph taken. I waited for the Certificate of Attendance which took twenty minutes. When I descended the stairs, I had to return to the S1 window because my name was misspelled. I got a new certificate after five minutes.
Time check: 12:40 pm
Certificate of Attendance
BDO: I waited for roughly an hour and half before I was entertained. I was given an ATM and bankbook as well as a guide on how to activate the account. You will be asked to sign the back portion of the ATM card and sign a few logbooks. If I'm not mistaken, I signed three.
Things to show:
-CFO Certificate of Attendance (from PRISM)
In totality, I had a pleasant experience despite the wait at BDO. One thing I noticed upon arriving at PRISM was that it reeked of old socks and the place was rather dingy. Other accounts mentioned watching a documentary about abused spouses but my batch didn't go through that. I deduce that the process has been modified for the convenience of the attendees. To clarify, you can attend the CFO seminar even before you receive your visa. I opted to take mine after receiving the visa since there's less paperwork to accomplish in a reasonable amount of time.