One of the saddest categories of articles I write and comments I answer here on PhilFAQS are those regarding Divorce in the Philippines.
The “sad” truth is, the is no divorce in the Philippics (for Christian folks at least).
And although the laws involved are not openly discriminatory to the women of the Philippines, in actual practice they disenfranchise women here to the utmost and essentially ruin many Philippine women’s lives forever.
Where Does the Divorce Problem Start?
- 0.1 Where Does the Divorce Problem Start?
- 0.2 Today’s Marital Riddle
- 0.3 Marry Here or Marry There
- 0.4 Find Out Before You File
- 0.5 In Between a Rock and a Hard Place
- 0.6 Last But Not least
- 0.7 Just Remember How the K1 Works
- 0.8 A K1 Visa is Null and Void Once The Holder Marries
- 0.9 Marriage to a US Citizen Does Not Assure Entry to the USA. Be Very Cautious Here
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For some background I recommend those who haven’t yet done so read this Marriage, Nationality and Divorce Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Just as a sort of unscientific anecdotal indicator of the size of this problem, note that the majority of my articles get maybe 3 or 4 comments. More popular or controversial ones might garner 30 or 40 (rare indeed for me). But this basic primer on nationality and divorce in the Philippines has more than 400 comments and still counting. It is not an easy riddle to solve, for sure.
Today’s Marital Riddle
A few days ago a long and interesting comment came in from reader Bill. Rather than just bury the comment and answers back in the long string of comments, I thought I’d feature Bill’s questions and my answers (or attempts to answer … there IS no answer for some of these problems) right out here in the “Main Blog”.
Bill’s comments are in blue. Here goes….
A friend of mine plans to move to the Philippines next year, to marry his longtime girlfriend. I will try to give as brief a synopsis of there story as I can.
They applied for a K1 and have gotten as far as being able to to make there apt. at the embassy in Manila for her interview, but there is a problem.
Hi Bill, thanks for commenting. First of all, before we get to the “main bang” of the issues here, let me clarify some points on the US visa system. Your friend may well be heading for a further problem not involving his GF’s marital status and I want to make this clear for other readers.
A K1 (Fiancée visa) allows a foreigner to enter the USA for a period of up to 90 days for the sole purpose of marrying the one, specific American citizen who has sponsored her/him for the K1 visa in the first place. Many men choose to come to the Philippines for the wife’s (not the couple’s) interview at the US Embassy, but it is not a requirement. In fact the prospective US spouse’s presence at the prospective bride’s interview is not even a “given”. Many sponsor’s have come here and gotten totally “bent out of shape” when the embassy Consular Officer has refused to let them into the interview or commanded them to sit quiet and say nothing.
Just saying this so readers happening by will know. Personally I advise K1 sponsors NOT to attend the candidate’s interview. In the past it has caused more problems that it has ever solved … but again, it’s everyone’s privilege to try.
Marry Here or Marry There
The K1 is strictly for those couples who want to marry in the USA. There is no need for any visa for a couple who chooses to marry in the Philippines. Just follow the procedure here. For those who want to marry right away it can be very simple. No waiting, no visa, just the normal Philippine government requirements for any couple wishing to marry. Full information here:
A us-Pilipino couple who is already married may apply for a K2 visa, or several other relative-related visas … won’t go into them all here, but my main point is if you are going to marry in the Philippines, a K1 is a complete waste of time (and money).
Now on to Bill’s next point:
She got an annulment back in 2009 before they met, and thought it was completely finalized by her lawyer, but when they were getting all the papers together to submit for the K1, they found out that the annulment had to also be stamped and registered with NSO.
They got her lawyer to submit them, (why she didnt back in 2009, no one seems to know) to NSO, and went on and sent the Signed annulment papers to USCIS along with all the other papers, because up to the interview part, the NSO stamped documents were not required.
I think back in late January of 2014, they were notified that they could go on and make an apt for her interview, (they were told by NSO that the papers they submitted would be processed within 90 days typically.
One thing I advise every reader interested in matrimony involving a Philippine citizen is to, at their earliest opportunity, go to the Philippines government’s eCensus site and order a CENOMAR (Certificate of No Marriage) for the Filipino partner.
Find Out Before You File
It’s quick, simple and cheap and if the news is good, it’s a great insurance factor. If the news is “not good” as it is in this case, how much better to find out about the problem before money and time are wasted applying for a visa that may never be granted. Bad news never improves with age, so if there happens to be a problem, the earlier one finds out the better, IMO.
Here is where the big problem starts, it was discovered that some counterfeit annulment papers that were not actually signed by the judge were submitted by another person from the Cotoboto area, which was also where her’s were from, so NSO and the govt. there working the way they do, put an indefinite hold on processing all other annulments from the area, so they don’t know what to do, or if the hold will ever be lifted, and if it is if it will be lifted before there time to finish the K1 runs out, which is in Nov.
In Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Sorry to say, I underrated what’s happening but I don’t know what to advise they do, either. It’s funny in a way how you make the comment “ so NSO and the govt. there working the way they do“. It sounds as if you are criticizing the steps being taken to try to right an obvious wrong.
Virtually everyone, foreigner and Filipino criticizes corruption and failure to follow the law when talking about the Philippines. here comes a case that appears to be blatant corruption or lawlessness involving the records of annulments. What do you think the government ought to do? Just ignore it?
I really don’t see what else they should have done except to clamp down on the whole area until the culprit can be rooted out and the valid annulments sorted out from the invalid one.
I know it hurts the people waiting, but I think the government should be applauded for taking positive action to “fix” an era of obvious wrong. The law has to be made to work. But, of course, again, that’s just my opinion.
Last But Not least
He had always planned to move there anyway after a few years in the US first,
Well I could not be more in agreement with the idea of getting her the K1, bringing her to the US, marrying her and then putting in the three or so years it will take to get her US citizenship. It sounds like forever, but that is the route my wife and I took, and trust me, the time will just fly by.
If she has US citizenship a whole world of options open up for her, not the least of which being if her husband dies before her, she’ll be able to claim benefits based on his US Social Security.
I might suggest he write a careful, measured, non-angry letter to the US embassy, stating the facts of the case, with dates, requesting an extension due to the fact the delay is being caused by the Philippine government and is beyond the couple’s control. It can’t hurt.
Another suggestion is for him to consult with a US attorney who actually knows the ropes in these cases. This fellow is well known in this field and has a record of success. http://www.gurfinkel.com He won’t work for free, but he consistently produces results. Considering the amount of both time and money this couple already has invested, Attorney Gurfinkel’s modest initial consultation fee seems well worth it to me. (and by the way I have no business relationship of any kind with Michael Girfinkel, I have just read his articles and watched him on TV for years and I’m impressed with his record of success. There certainly are other attorneys to choose from.
Just Remember How the K1 Works
but now he is planning to do it much sooner than before. If the K1 is never granted, but at sometime they can legally marry, will it be possible for her to then get some kind of a visa (probably tourist type) so that she can come to the US for a few weeks when he comes back to visit his family, they will be living in the Phil. though, but if she cant get a K1, they would like to at least be able to travel together to US. Sorry I wrote so much!
No need for any apology at all, Bill. Your friend certainly has an interesting and tough to s0lve issues, an issue which is shared in part by hundreds of visitors here every month. If my clarifications and (strictly) “lay” opinions can help in any way, I’m a happy camper.
One last caution is your friend must take care to remember how the K1 works.
If his fiancée should indeed be granted her K1, as the couple is still hoping for, REMEMBER, if they marry in the Philippines the whole process of the K1 is nullified and down the drain. A person holding a KI Visa can NOT enter the USA if s/he is married, even if the person s/he marries is the one who sponsored him/her for the K1.
Thousands of couples over the years have stubbed their toe on this issue.
A K1 Visa is Null and Void Once The Holder Marries
A Fiancée Visa is strictly for a Fiancée (or Fiancé), which by government definition is an unmarried person eligible under the laws of the Philippines and the USA to marry.
A person already married is NO LONGER a Fiancée’, and believe me the USCIS inspecting officers at the US port’s of entry know this and are very adept at “rooting out” secret, “jumped the gun” marriages.
If s/he shows up at a US port of entry with a K1 in her passport and is found to be already married, she will be unceremoniously detained and put on the next available aircraft going back to the Philippines at the petitioner’s expense. Trust me, it happens.
If the marry in the Philippines and she later wants to go to the USA as a visitor, with her husband, there are a number of different options, none of which are easy or quick.
Marriage to a US Citizen Does Not Assure Entry to the USA. Be Very Cautious Here
Way too may options to delve into here because the couple’s options depend a lot on where and how they marry. Le’s get the marriage out of the way first.
But a foreigner has no special privileges in getting a visitor’s visa because she may be married to a US citizen. That’s why I always advise the tactic of getting US citizenship, because if she does, she will be able to go freely to the USA at any time, with or without her husband. Any other route is difficult. Sometimes impossible.
Hope this helped at least a little in explain some of the issues of US visas, annulment or divorce in the Philippines.