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How To Apply For A Marriage To A Filipina
Keep in mind that the "legal capacity to contract marriage is required by the Philippine Government, not the US Government. And keep in mind it means nothing, only that you swore you were not married to the US Embassy. Evidently the Philippine Government feels you would be less likely to lie in front of your government's consular officer than to them.
This is from the US Department of State, slightly annotated in italics by me July 26, 2009. When you read this and digest it, you may feel like I do it is wise to get an investigator to find out what is really going on behind the scenes more often that not an older person is at least guiding. The Filipino or Filipina fiancée, if not absolutely directing them. That is the way the culture works. There is a hierarchy based on age. The older children and other elders of the family are responsible for the children therefore have the responsibility for guiding and directing them, "bossing," them. They accept it with open arms; don't rebel like Americans to do parental and other authority. This is an interdependent culture, very different from our independent culture. It may be hard for you to "investigate," your intended spouse you love and care for.
But knowing the truth is important. Even if she is being manipulated by some to marry a foreigner does not make her a bad person, nor are "made," marriages uncommon in many parts of the world. But it she is planning to bring a boy friend over when she gets there, children she has not told you about, parents, or even a husband, better you know it. You can accept it if you are so deeply in love. But do remember there are millions of wonderful Filipinas and Filipinos anxious to marry a foreigner, a status symbol to the "D" economic class here, an opportunity they dream of from the time they are born. Surely there is more than one for you.
Marriage in the Philippines: The Philippine Government requires foreigners who wish to marry in the Philippines to obtain from the U.S. Embassy a "Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage" before filing an application for a marriage license. Because here is no national register of marriages in the United States, the U.S. Embassy cannot provide such a certification. As a result, the Philippine Government will accept an "Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage" in its place. This means not only does the US Government really know if the applicant is married or not, but neither does the Philippine Government. I know all agree this law should be amended but evidently there are other more important things. American citizens may execute this affidavit at the U.S. Embassy in Manila Monday-Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., except for Philippine or American holidays. The American citizen must present his/her U.S. passport. The fee for the affidavit is $30.00 or its peso equivalent. Philippine authorities will not accept any substitute document issued in the United States. You have to get this from the US Embassy here. Before traveling to the Philippines to be married, U.S. military personnel should contact their personnel office regarding Department of Defense joint service regulations.
Execution of the affidavit by a U.S. consular officer is a notary’s act, and the consular officer is authorized by U.S. law to refuse to perform the service if the document will be used for a purpose patently unlawful, improper, or inimical to the best interests of the United States (see 22 C.F.R. sections 92.9b). Entering into a marriage contract for the principal purpose of facilitating immigration to the United States for an alien is an unlawful act, and the U.S. Code provides penalties for individuals who commit perjury in an affidavit taken by a consular officer. Relationship fraud is a persistent problem in the Philippines and it is not uncommon for Filipinos to enter into marriages with Americans solely for immigration purposes. Understand the reason they want to immigrate is not because they want to leave the Philippines but every Filipino, Filipina has the duty to support their family and 60 percent of the country is uneducated or underemployed, need money badly for basic medical services and to educate their children. It is all bout poverty and the desperate need for money. That is not in my opinion to be confused with greed. Relationships developed via correspondence, particularly those begun on the Internet, are particularly susceptible to manipulation. To find out just how serious this manipulation can be, do consider joining out mailing list you can join from this website. You will have many telling sad stories how they were bilked by Filipinas many whose husbands and boyfriends put the up to it duress. And there are some who found Maria was not Maria, but Juan who felt he was just as sweet and certainly he looked as good as Maria on webcam.
The Marriage Application Process: Once an American citizen has obtained from the U.S. Embassy an "Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage," he/she may file an application for a marriage license at the office of the Philippine Civil Registrar in the town or city where one of the parties is a resident. The U.S. citizen applicant must present: (a) the affidavit; (b) divorce decree(s) or death certificate(s), if applicable (required verifying civil status and legal capacity to contract marriage); (c) his/her U.S. passport; and (d) documentation regarding parental consent or advice, if applicable. (Persons aged 18 to 21 must have written parental consent to marry in the Philippines; those aged 22 to 24 must have received parental advice. Philippine law prohibits marriage for persons under the age of 18.) A judge, a minister, or other person authorized by the Philippine Government can perform the marriage. But make sure the one who performs the ceremony is truly authorized by checking with the US Embassy and the local Philippine police if you are not absolutely sure. If the US Embassy finds out one not authorized to perform the marriage did so, it will not recognize the marriage for the legal entry of the Filipina, Filipino Spouse into the States. Having a fake judge of minister execute the marriage is often all just part of the scam. I am sure I don't need to stress how unwise that is unless you want to get married and pay for it twice. It takes longer and can get more expensive.
Marriage to a U.S. citizen confers neither citizenship nor an automatic eligibility for entry to the United States. A foreign spouse requires an immigrant visa to live in the United States. Questions about filing a petition to bring a foreign spouse to the United States may be directed to the nearest U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service office, to the U.S. Department of State's Visa Office (telephone: (202) 663-1225) or, while in the Philippines, to the U.S. Embassy's Immigrant Visa Unit. It is not important to know this means just because you marry a Filipina or Filipino they have no right to go with you to the States nor do you have a right to bring them. It is up to the US Consular Officer, who I understand from working closely with the US Embassy when with the US Peace Corps, cannot be overruled even by the US Ambassador. It is important to show the Consular Officer your marriage is valid, not just for the purpose of getting the Filipina spouse or Filipino Spouse to the States.
Additional Information on the Capacity to Marry Certificate, General Comment and Cebu Consulate Issuance
The US consulate in Cebu does not have a way to check if you are single. In the US, all marriage records are kept at the county level, not even state (there are hundreds of counties in the US). No practical way to check. Instead, they make you swear under penalty of perjury that you are being truthful, and it's notarized. I did not have to show my divorce papers to them just my passport. And fill out a 1 page form that was more about her than me. She was not present (good thing I had my notes on her vital statistics). Got the Cert. of Eligibility to Marry that day, by the way, this US consulate is in the ground floor of the downtown Cebu Waterfront Hotel (not the airport one).