The Process: Green Means Go
Yokota Air Base, Japan -- My wife, Joheart, walked up to me with a smile and said the words we’ve been waiting more than four months to hear - “it’s been approved!”
Joheart and our daughter, Toni, are from the Philippines and have never been to the United States, so they needed to obtain their green cards and visas prior to entering the country.
We filled out countless forms and gathered numerous documents to ensure we could move to our next base together as a family. The process is rigorous and can be challenging.
As luck would have it, when we began this journey, several employees from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo visited Yokota in February to save service members and their families the time, cost and effort it would take to travel to Akasaka, Tokyo, where the Embassy is located. During this first part of the process, we had to fill out a multitude of documents, such as a Form I-130 and Form I-864 while also providing various documents to include birth certificates, marriage certificate, passports and passport photos of Toni and Joheart.
Once we finished this portion, the next step was for Joheart and Toni to be seen by off-base doctors to ensure they were medically approved to travel to the U.S. We had to wait until they were given their case numbers, which are for the green card process, by the U.S. Embassy to set up the appointment.
Next we obtained background checks for Joheart from Yokota, and the countries of Japan and the Philippines by early April. Since Toni is a minor she didn’t need to have a background check done.
After checking and double checking, we gathered all necessary documents together for their final visa interviews with the embassy on June 4.
I woke up that morning feeling nauseous, doubtful and hopeful for what lied ahead of us. If we didn’t have everything we needed, we would have had to get the documents and mail them to the embassy, delaying my family’s ability to stay together as we prepare for our move.
Fortunately, we had everything we needed and their visas were approved.
I wanted to stand up in my chair and scream excitedly, but I knew other people there going through the process were just as stressed as we were, and may not have had the same outcome as we did.
Remember, do your best to remain calm, you’re working to keep your family together, you love each other and you are going to get through this stressful process together no matter how long it takes.
Everyone’s journey to obtain a green card and visa for their dependents who need them may be different depending on your family’s situation and where they are from. The best advice I have for anyone who is currently going through or will go through the process is to constantly ask questions; whether it’s with people at your base’s legal office, the Military Personnel Flight or anyone who has gone through this before.
For more information contact the U.S. Embassy by phone or on their website at https://jp.usembassy.gov/visas/.