It’s been a LONG time since we have posted anything new here. That is because so many things have been happening! It is already December!! Well, since August SO much has happened! I scheduled another trip to go and see Malen and the kids in the Philippines. I left on September 5th and was scheduled to return on September 26th.
Before I left, we received word from the USCIS that our petition had been approved! Then, within a day or two of my departure, we learned that the National Visa Center (NVC) had forwarded it on to the US embassy in Manila, and we got a case number (what we needed to schedule the interview at the embassy). At this point, we knew there was a possibility that we could complete everything while I was with the family in the Philippines. But on a sad note, a week or so before I left I lost my dog of 15 years, Candi-Louise, who passed away.
So, once I arrived, we got busy with all the steps and processing that was needed to finish the visa process. Malen and the kids had to have a ton of paperwork, including passports, birth certificates, police clearances, and a lot more. Malen and the kids had to have medical examinations, which was a two-day process. Malen scheduled her interview with the embassy, but when we arrived we found out that the embassy did not have her her documentation from the NVC yet. So we waited until we could confirm they had the documentation package, and scheduled the interview again.
The interview was long and grueling, taking the entire day. At the end, instead of getting the visas approved as we expected, our case was put in administrative review for two weeks. Finally we heard that our case had been submitted for “visa issuance.” but days later, still no visas. I had to extend my 21–day stay by getting an extension. I was running out of my medications and we had to vacate Malen’s condo because it had been sold. After sending an angry email to the embassy about the delay, our case was put BACK into administrative review (and we were told it could take up to two months)! We were forced to move to another location on a temporary basis.
Finally, towards the end of October, we were told the visas had been approved and were submitted for printing! Once we verified that the delivery service had picked them up from the embassy, we went to their warehouse and finally had our visas in hand! So finally, we had to book our flights to the US, the kids had to attend mandatory counseling (CFO), and Malen had to go and pick up her CFO certificate. Then, after 2 1/2 years of waiting, anxiety, frustration, and hardship, on October 31st, all 5 of us boarded a plane to come to the US!
During this extended stay in the Philippines, and even with so much going on, Malen and I were able to squeeze in a short visit with our great friends Mike and Cathy. In addition, they came and spend a week with us while we were in the new and temporary living space. We also had Malen’s mom and pop come and visit us for a couple of days.
The last little hitch that happened before we left the Philippines was that the flight we booked was delayed for 9 hours. We went to the Delta office at the airport and they put us on different flights so that we did not have to wait another day. We ended up flying from Manila to Nagoya, Japan, then to Detroit, and finally to Seattle. A VERY long day of flying. As a result, Malen and the kids had to go through immigration in Detroit instead of Seattle, and we arrived in Seattle in the afternoon instead of in the morning. So, we stayed at a hotel near Seatac airport on October 31st, and drove up to Sequim the next day (November 1st).
Once the long flights were over and we landed on the 31st, everything has been great and wonderful. Malen and the kids have experienced American coffee shops and restaurants, Jedd has started his last year of high school, Yeng & April will start attending Peninsula College in January, we have been to Costco several times, as well as WalMart, Home Depot, and Ross, and Malen and I were married on November 18th!!
There is still a lot to do, including getting Social Security Numbers, processing Adjustment of Status for Malen and the kids, looking into getting jobs, and adding Malen to all my accounts. But we are together as a family, and that makes everything else easy!!