My US Visa Was Right-It Seemed Wrong!

In 1998 I was assigned on board Castoro 10 which had a pipelaying project in Offshore, New Orleans, USA. The job was named “Destin Dome Project” by Shell. It was an exciting work because I would be seeing America for the first time. Moreover, my mother and my sister’s family had been staying in Chicago and I would have the chance to meet them.

Manpower Resources of Asia, our office in Manila asked me to prepare well for the interview knowing how strict the US Embassy was during that time. I readied myself with personal documents and work certificates which I presumed would be necessary.

Fortunately, the Consul simply wanted to see the endorsement by our Company, Saipem, an Italian Oil Company. Upon verification she immediately issued a visa release date. I was asked to return after four days. It was worth waiting – I was given a Business Visa!

Upon entry, the US Immigration stamped on my passport the length of stay according to the expected duration of our pipelaying activities. The next day I took a helicopter flight which brought me to the Pipelaying Vessel offshore New Orleans.

The campaign was so short. It took only about two months. Castoro 10 then prepared for departure from the Area. Customs and Immigration formalities took place. All documents on board were inspected and checked.

Surprisingly most of the crew were holding a Seaman Visa which was so easy to obtain. It was assumed that the work activities were to be done in the sea, thereby that type of permit. Logically speaking it was correct.

The visa issued to me in Manila US Embassy was a Business Visa! The good professional lady Consul approved of it after assessing the Company letter I showed her. Our Agency was surprised too! They thought it was a mistake or rather something impossible.

The US Immigration Law however stated that Offshore Workers should have a Business Visa. In that case, mine was correct but because it was different from the rest it seemed to be wrong.

Upon completion of the project I flew to Chicago. There was no problem at all with the Immigrations Office. I was in possession of a right visa! That occasion proved that indeed God’s Plan would always prevail! Sometimes it looks sad we do not recognize His loving works in us. How could we ever not recognize His caring power and trust that all would end well?

Penniless First Trip to America

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The sky was bright and the clouds were floating like white cotton balls in the air. The sun was up in the horizon as the chopper we were on was on its way to the oil pipeline project offshore of New Orleans. It was morning of February 1998.

“I am in America!” , I said to myself.  Thank God, it was a very beautiful sunny day!

It was the best time to converse with the Lord on my mind during the trip. I was grateful but gently  asked Him why He had allowed my pocket money to be lost in Amsterdam Schipols airport during transit. It was all the money I’ve got.

In my heart He said, “ It’s okay! You have nothing  in your pocket yet  you have entered America !”

It has become possible then to travel without money after all!

Isaiah 55. “Hey there! All who are thirsty, come to the water!
Are you penniless? Come anyway—buy and eat!……”

“…..I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you,
the same that I made with David: sure, solid, enduring love.”

File photo: On board Castoro 12 during the Kashagan Project in 2011. The actual shot during 1998 helicopter flight in New Orleans is not available.