“Ma'am, do you know your husband has been married three times before?” The question from the CFO (Commission on Filipinos Overseas) official stunned the young Filipina. She had no clue that her American fiancee had been married three times before to ladies from the Philippines. A look of shock and disbelief washed over her face. “No” was her soft reply. The CFO employee then said: “Are you going to go ahead with the marriage?” The Filipina's answer: “Yes.”
So another poor Filipina is lied to by some jerk back in the States that did not think the Philippine government kept track of such information. Maybe he did not realize that such information would be released to his future wife at a mandatory seminar all Filipinas have to attend before leaving the country to be reunited with their loved ones.
Or maybe the idiot did know, and figured his new love would still go ahead with the plans since she really loved him. Or perhaps he knew she wanted to escape the desperate poverty she was trapped in. Marrying the American, or kano, would help her family and be her ticket out.
We're all rich Americans in the Philippines. The fact that he had three wives before did not stop her. The above was a conversation my wife heard over ten years ago as she attended her CFO seminar before leaving for America to join me. The CFO sticker you obtain once you complete the class is mandatory if you want to leave the Philippines.
My wife had to show the CFO sticker at the Manila airport to Immigration officers before she could board her flight. I've seen a couple of instances online where some Filipinas did not attend the seminar and were somehow able to get by the airport officials without showing it. Some were caught and had to go back to the CFO to attend the seminar. Why risk it?
I waited over nine months for my asawa to join me, and would not have wanted her delayed by not attending the CFO seminar. The classes provide information on what to expect once you reach Immigration officers at the Manila airport, and provide the attendees with domestic abuse hot line numbers for their destination, along with other information on immigrant-related issues. Here's some additional details from the CFO website:
As a Filipino emigrant, or those who have been granted an immigrant-class visa, you are required by the Philippine Government by virtue of Article 19 of Presidential Decree 442, to register with the Commission on Filipinos Overseas before leaving the country to settle in a foreign land. An emigrant who has properly registered with the commission will have in his passport the CFO sticker which will be inspected by the Bureau of Immigration upon departure.
Registration to the CFO requires the emigrant to present originals and photocopies of relevant documents, fill out a registration form for Emigrants or for Immigrant Workers, attend the Pre-departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) or the Peer Counseling Seminar, and pay the authorized registration fee. The PDOS is a brief, two-hour seminar on settlement issues and concerns such as finding employment, rights and obligations of immigrants as well as policies and procedures on how to secure foreign citizenship. The Peer Counseling Seminar is a special session for those with ages 13 to 19 years, which aims to prepare them emotionally for the adjustments they will have to take.
Provided that all requirements have been presented and submitted, the whole process of registration shall be done in half a day.
I have read of recent reports where attendees of the seminar have been subject to verbal abuse and rude behavior from those conducting the classes. My own wife was not subject to such behavior, but she was in the seminar over ten years ago as mentioned earlier.
My asawa did say that some of the ladies in her class were worried and felt threatened by what they would expect when they faced Immigration officers at the Manila airport. She said that because of the thorough detailed instructions that I had sent her, she knew she had the required paperwork necessary, and did not worry about it.
Let me emphasize to you guys out there planning to marry a Filipina. Please check, double-check, and triple-check all necessary immigration forms that you need from your home country before you send it to your fiancee/spouse in the Philippines. I had a professional typing service in the States that typed in the information that I provided to them on the necessary documents needed. I wanted the immigration process for my wife to go as smoothly as possible.
I did not need an immigration lawyer. I researched the subject of visas thoroughly. My eBook, “Expat Guide to the Philippines,” has additional information on spousal visas, including obtaining a visa for yourself when you move to the Philippines. I know of some guys that had improperly filled out paperwork that cost their loved ones weeks or months of delays in getting them to the States. I even met one man that had waited five years for his Filipina wife to join him. In a case like that, I think I would have to consider seeking out a reliable immigration attorney.
There is no reason, however, that a fairly intelligent, diligent person cannot do the process by themselves. In closing, here's some additional information on the CFO process directly from the CFO website: REGISTRATION AND PRE-DEPARTURE SERVICES What is pre-departure registration? Pre-departure registration is a process which generates an information resource on Filipino emigrants, which in turn, provides accurate reference for policy formulation and program development. It is a requirement to all Filipino emigrants or those leaving the country to settle permanently abroad. What are the requirements for registration? Filipino emigrants are required to present the following documents for registration:
- Original valid passport
- Original and photocopy of visa
- One (1) 2×2 or passport-size photograph
- One (1) valid identification card with photograph*
- Original and photocopy of Immigrant Data Summary (for USA-bound emigrant)*
- Original and photocopy of Confirmation of Permanent Residence (for Canada-bound emigrant)*
- Photocopy of Certificate of Eligibility (for Japan-bound emigrant)*
- Original and photocopy of letter of approval for Work to Residence visa (for New Zealand-bound emigrants)*
- Photocopy of employment contract (for immigrant workers)
- Duly completed registration form
- Payment of P400.00 registration fee
- Attendance in the PDOS, guidance counseling or peer counseling session