Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Coming to America: How to become a US Permanent Resident on your own

Today, I am officially a permanent resident of the US!

Yes, you're about to unlock the secret on how you can become a permanent resident/ green card holder in the US through self sponsorship. You read that right. You don't need to be an international student, get a US based company to sponsor you or be in love with a citizen to become one.
All you need is yourself.
Does it sound too good to be true? It sure does and the best part is that it's true and I am the living proof that it can be done.

Not many people know about this but the US is always open to acquiring international talents who are at the top of their chosen field, whether it be in the arts, humanities, business, education, sports, sciences, marketing or advertising --- All you have to do it prove that the US will gain a lot by taking you in!
While the threshold to qualify for this is very high (shoo-ins for this category are Nobel Prize Honorees, Internationally acclaimed performers like Lea Salonga-- my ultimate favorite!), average people with extraordinary talents can qualify too. It's called the EB1 - Alien Of Extraordinary Ability category.
Hey, if I could do it, so can you! Here's how:
According to the US Citizenship and Immigration, to qualify for this, you must meet 3 out of the 10 listed criteria below to prove extraordinary ability in your field:
  • Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
  • Evidence of your membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members
  • Evidence of published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  • Evidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel
  • Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field
  • Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  • Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases
  • Evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations
  • Evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field
  • Evidence of your commercial successes in the performing arts
While the qualifications sounds daunting, the real secret behind how you can make it happen is simple: HARD WORK.
If you're just starting on your career, take it seriously and make it a goal to rise above your field. For professionals who have been working for almost 10 years, I would encourage you to look at your credentials. Chances are, you could qualify for this immigration category and NOT KNOW IT, just like me!
I actually didn't know about this until a friend of mine, published author of Surreality, Carissa Villacorta - Songalia who went through the same process told me. I had no idea that my almost 10-year worth of hard work in the PR industry could lead me to this opportunity.
So, she referred me to lawyers, Mark Del Rosario and John Rosario (Website Link: to assist me in the process. If you are looking for great immigration lawyers, I highly recommend them. They personally take on your case as theirs, are very realistic about outcomes --- they never sugarcoat things and they take you through all the steps of the immigration process. If you feel that you have the credentials for it, you can book a free consultation with Mark or John. They can coordinate with you through email or phone conversations. It doesn't matter where you are living, you don't have to be physically in the US to apply for this. Mark and John can take care of assessing your credentials and give you a realistic overview, there's really no harm trying.
NOTE: I did not get paid to say all these good things about them, I'm just raving because they actually really did help me out.
Here's my immigration timeline in a nutshell:
November 2013 - Started gathering all documentation to support my petition as an extraordinary alien
December 2013 - Mark & John developed my case and sent it to the USCIS
January 2014 - Received Work Authorization that allowed me to work for any company as I wait for the USCIS to decide on my petition
June 2014 - USCIS approved my petition and proceeded running background checks
January 12, 2015 - Officially welcomed to the US as a permanent resident
So yes, can you imagine how happy I am now? I am proud of the fact that I was able to acquire my permanent residency on my own -- thanks to the hard work that I've put on my PR career + help from my highly qualified lawyers!
My life has come in full circle. I have been working in an international PR firm in the Philippines for almost a decade. I've spent countless of sleepless nights making sure that everything would be executed properly and effectively. Back then, the only reason why I put so much effort into doing what I did is because I loved doing it. I was passionate about my craft. I guess it is true when people say that when you're passionate about something, you're naturally good it at.
I honestly never had the American dream, it was never part of the plan, until I fell in love. Of course, it would have been easier for us if we just got married and I'd immediately become a resident. However, I wanted to do this for myself --- any empowered person would understand where I am coming from.
Brian and I were already in a serious relationship and we both know that marriage was in the foreseeable future but, I wanted to give myself this chance. I worked hard in my career and felt like I deserve to at least give it a try. And now, I am glad I did.
It's my last hurrah, my final life accomplishment as Ms. Miles Montecillo, the career woman. Because soon, my priorities will shift as Mrs. Miles Bonanno.
A Filipino in NY: This photo was taken when the Empire State was lit up with the colors of the Philippine flag to show that NY is together with the PH as it recuperates from Typhoon Haiyan.  
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