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Preparations Before Leaving Your Home Country

By Erika Presson
Last Updated: March 1, 2014


  • The reader has the DUTY/RESPONSIBILITY to verify information from the aforementioned government agencies on their own - Not through hearsays, forums, or blogs (YES, including this blog). Please read my disclaimer here.
  • Make sure you've read ALL the articles under the "Immigration" Menu up top, because I've written and covered all pertinent information about the whole I-129F/K1/AOS/ROC Processes.
  • Search through Frequently Asked Questions about the whole process from I-129F - K1 Visa - AOS - ROC and other processes. Read about the KnowledgeBase here »
  • The articles found on this blog are applicable to all I-129F Petitions, K1 Visa Applicants, AOS (from a K1 Visa), and ROC applicants unless otherwise noted. The I-129F Process and AOS is the same for all foreign beneficiaries/spouses. Some K1 Visa Process articles are written specifically for applicants from the Philippines. Please refer to your country's U.S. Consulate/Embassy website for country-specific instructions.

*Some items may contain affiliate or referral links.

THIS IS IT! You have your US Visa in hand. You’ve booked your plane tickets. You’re singing “Leaving on a Jetplane” in your head… or quite possibly out loud. The only thing left to do now is fly to the US, into the arms of the one you love. <3

Have you made the necessary preparations though? Checked all your documents? Preparations are not just the clothes you’re going to wear, or the documents you’re supposed to bring. Are you ready to leave your home country?


Before leaving your home country, these are some of the things you might want to consider doing/bringing with you:

Extra NSO Birth Certificate | Preparations Before Leaving Your Home Country | ©2014 - onwards, Life As Mrs. Presson (

Extra Birth Certificate Copies

You will need this for AOS and other future processes. Plus, it’s always good to have extra copies.

For those leaving the Philippines: If you’re busy with work, you can order it online and have it delivered to your house / office. After getting your NSO Birth Certificate copies, you may opt to have a copy authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs (This is not required but it might be a lifesaver). If you’re already abroad, You can also order NSO copies online and delivered to your US Address but it will be costly. 

*Country-specfic article coming soon!


University Diploma & School Records | Preparations Before Leaving Your Home Country | ©2014 - onwards, Life As Mrs. Presson (

University / School Transcript of Records

Request it from your University Registrar.  Request multiple copies if you wish.

For those leaving the Philippines:  Have them authenticated by DFA too.

*Country/University-specfic article coming soon!



Certificates of Employment | Preparations Before Leaving Your Home Country | ©2014 - onwards, Life As Mrs. Presson (

Certificates of Employment

– Request one from the company/ies you’ve worked for. It might be handy when it’s time for you to look for work in the US.




Resume, Portfolio, Business Cards | Preparations Before Leaving Your Home Country | ©2014 - onwards, Life As Mrs. Presson (

Resumé and Portfolio

Go work on your portfolio and resumé. You will need this for future employment. Have business cards printed out.





Scanned Photos of Family and Friends | Preparations Before Leaving Your Home Country | ©2014 - onwards, Life As Mrs. Presson (

Treasured Photos/Items of/from Friends and Family

Bring the actual photos. Or Scan them. Whichever you prefer. There’s always social networking too, anyway.

Note: I do not know why I was wearing a Bat Suit. On Christmas. Also, We never celebrate Halloween. I don’t even know why I was wearing a Russian Hat. Or why I was wearing a plaid vest. I should ask my mother about it. That’s my brother in the clown suit, by the way.


External Hard Drives for Backup | Preparations Before Leaving Your Home Country | ©2014 - onwards, Life As Mrs. Presson (

External Hard Drive (for your files)

If you’re like me, and you have a lot of documents, digital photos, digital design work and portfolio, you might want to invest in an external drive for safekeeping of your files. Or there’s always DropBox.



Dental Work by Dr. Joven D. Vinluan | Preparations Before Leaving Your Home Country | ©2014 - onwards, Life As Mrs. Presson (

Dental Work

Go get a full (or at least major) dental work done. Trust me, it will probably be cheaper in your home country. It’s cheaper in the Philippines.




Medical Check-up, Record History, and Certificates | Preparations Before Leaving Your Home Country | ©2014 - onwards, Life As Mrs. Presson (

Medical Check-up

I needed to do this because I always get tonsillitis and/or laryngitis. If you think you don’t have allergies, think again. I learned it the hard way. See an Allergy Specialist. See your family physician.



SunLife Life Insurance Policy Amendments | Preparations Before Leaving Your Home Country | ©2014 - onwards, Life As Mrs. Presson (

Update your Life Insurance Policy

My then-fiancé-now-husband put me on his life insurance, why not update mine too, right? Plus you would have to meet with your agent to discuss how to go on about future payments.



CFO Seminar Counseling Certificate and Receipt | CFO Seminar Philippines | | ©2013, Life As Mrs. Presson (

CFO Seminar (Country-specific: Philippines)

Do not forget to attend the Seminar and acquire the Certificate and Sticker ahead of time. You will not be able to board your plane without it.

Read more about the CFO Seminar here » 



It was a bittersweet month. Ecstatic and overjoyed with the K1 Visa Approval; Saddened with goodbyes to family and friends | 2013: In Review | ©2014, US Department of State: Bureau of Consular Affairs, Life As Mrs. Presson (

Meet up with Friends and Family

If you can’t meet face-to-face, give them a phone call. Skype with them if you must. It will probably be a long time before you can go back home to see them again.



Goodies. Declare them on your CBP Form!  | Preparations Before Leaving Your Home Country | ©2014 - onwards, Life As Mrs. Presson (

Goodies that will be hard to find in the US

Bring some of your favorite snacks and candies. But make sure you’re allowed to bring it inside the US. Check CBP’s guidelines for their Customs and Declarations form.



Google is your friend. Check your Airlines' Baggage Allowances. (Screencapped from Delta Air's Website)  | Preparations Before Leaving Your Home Country | ©2014 - onwards, Life As Mrs. Presson (

Baggage / Luggage Allowances

Do a quick search on Google about your airline’s baggage allowances. Determine how much you will need to pay for extra baggages. Don’t forget about your connecting flights and their rules with baggages too.



Google is your friend. Check your Airport's Fees.  | Preparations Before Leaving Your Home Country | ©2014 - onwards, Life As Mrs. Presson (

Airport and Travel Taxes

Do a quick search on Google about your country’s airport / terminal fees / travel taxes. Determine how much you will need to pay for them.

To those from the Philippines: On January 7th 2015, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) announced that the International Passenger Service Charge (also known as the Terminal Fee) will already be integrated into the airline tickets starting February 1, 2015.

As far as the Travel Tax is concerned, consult the TIEZA website. You can also pre-register and pre-pay your Travel Tax online.


These are just some things that I thought was important and were worth sharing. If you have more suggestions, please comment on the form below.


Good luck and have a safe flight to the US! :)



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(Please click on "Show Replies" to read other comments/replies)

  1. L says:

    Hi Mrs. Presson,

    I really admire you for having the time to put up this website, this really helps other applicants – it’s informative and it also soothed my anxiety as I approached my interview. I got approved yesterday! Now I am referring to this site for the preparations and everything else going forward :)

    It was also so funny because I was talking to other applicants at the embassy to redirect my focus from being worried and nervous, we all mentioned Mrs. Presson’s website and I thought to myself, “wow this site is really helpful in helping every k1 applicant who wants to be with the love of their lives.” So i want to thank you and more power to your site :)

  2. mich says:

    hi, I’m leaving soon, but my nbi clearance has expired, does the manila immigration will ask you to show them my NBI clearance?THANK U

  3. Wannie says:

    Hello. The DFA guidelines page for authentication is somehow in error and I’m searching other sites about it so I’m sorry if I will ask you an authentication-related question… Uhm, if my diploma and TOR were issued last 2009, will they still consider them valid? Thanks!

    • They are considered valid but there is still a requirement that you need to request from the University Registrar called the “Certificate of Authentication and Verification (CAV)” if you’re from a State University and if you’re from other universities, CHED issues this certification.

      I think there’s just a problem with their upper navigation bar. I used the navigation / sitemap at the footer and I was able to access this:

  4. Wannie says:

    Hey,I just want to thank you for all the things you have shared on your blog! I left a comment/question about 221G documents a few days ago and I just want to share that our Visa application has been approved! (CEAC status: Issued — It means it’s approved, right? Hehe). Just to answer your question regarding the passport copy with Phil entry and exit stamps… During my interview, the consuls mostly focused on my fiance’s visit in the Philippines.(They didn’t even ask for the affidavit of support even though I reminded them about it. The American consul just said, “That’s fine.” without even looking at them.) Prolly because he only visited me once and that was still in 2012. We last saw each other November 8, 2012 then we submitted our petition October 1. 2014.We were still qualified for the two-year rule of 129F petition, but if I wasn’t aware of that, I wouldn’t be able to defend myself to the Filipino consul because he counted ’til my interview date. Anyways, again, thank you! And I will still surely continue to read your future posts!

    • Actually, you may have dodged a bullet. What’s not “advertised” is meeting within 2-years at the time of the interview, too. They only mention the 2-year rule before filing the petition. There were others who got denied because they haven’t met within 2 years at the time of the interview. Congratulations!

  5. Bhea says:

    Hi, been reading a lot from your blog since the beginning of our processing. And i would like to thank you for being so helpful! Keep up the good work!
    My concern right now is that, do i need to get a new copy of my CENOMAR before leaving?

    • Thank you! :)

      You don’t need the CENOMAR for the U.S. During the K1 Visa Interview, your CENOMAR will not be returned to you, as well as other documents you’re going to submit. However, you need a CENOMAR for the CFO Seminar. Please read the requirements on:

      Good luck!

  6. Arnie says:

    Thanks again Erika! :) I think I already figured out the reason why the civil physician placed CLass B on my visa. Hahaha. Thanks to you again! By the way, I will be leaving on May 31. I’m excited! Finally after a long wait. God is good talaga. Moreover, Patience is indeed a virtue. More power to you! May God bless you always. :)

  7. Arnie says:

    Hi Erika! Thanks for your blog. I find this page as very useful especially when I applied for my fiance visa. I would just like to ask regarding my medical annotation. What does it mean if i got class b in my visa? Im a bit worried and nervous at the same time knowing that I have physical abnormalities in my body. St Lukes didnt sent me any letter regarding that matter. Shall I be concerned? Thank you for your response and more power to your blog!

  8. Wannie says:

    Thanks for bringing me here! Since I was not done with the interview yet, I never thought to explore this page but it’s better to prepare ahead of time! Thanks again!

  9. Ming says:

    hi, i have been to the CFO to attend the seminar last July 2014 and got the certificate. i just got my visa this month. my question is, do i have to register again to get the stamp or sticker affixed on my passport with visa or i can just go directly at the office with my passport and visa? thanks

  10. issapropyl says:

    Hi erika! I just want to know if you were able to use your red-ribboned COEs when you applied for work? I mean, do companies in the US asked for COE’s to be red-ribboned? What’s your experience in looking for a job? Thanks

    • I did not have my COE’s authenticated (even though I had it with me). I only had my Birth Certificate and School Records Authenticated.

      It depends on the company you’re applying to if they would ask for your COE’s or School Records.

      • If the job requires proof that you’ve worked at a particular position, then they would ask for it.
      • If the job you’re applying for requires a degree related to your job, then they would ask for your School Records.

      You have to apply for a Social Security Number AND EAD / Work Permit first and be granted the EAD Card before starting a job.

      Quite simple actually, I work in the I.T. industry and have a portfolio (, I just updated my resume and looked for local jobs on the North Dakota Job Service Website and applied to openings, I was hired on the spot as mentioned in: 2014: In Review

  11. Yeng Bibi says:

    Hi, is it okay just to bring the birth certificate you got from NSO online at DFA? no other requirements needed?


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