How to Get Married in the Philippines, If you Are a U.S. Citizen
Here are the Steps
1. Affidavit of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage
Philippine law requires a citizen or subject of a foreign country to obtain a Certificate of legal Capacity to Contract Marriage, issued by the diplomatic or consular offices of his or her country, prior to the issuance of a marriage license in the Philippines.
As an American consular officers are specially prohibited from certifying that any U.S. citizen has the capacity to marry, the Philippine government has agreed to accept as substantial compliance with the Philippine law an Affidavit in Lieu of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage (“affidavit”). The Affidavit attests to the absence of any legal impediment to the marriage and is sworn to before an American consular officer. Therefore, u.S. citizens wishing to marry in the Philippines must appear personally before a consular officer, either at the U.S. Embassy in Manila or the U.S. consulate in Cebu City and complete the Affidavit concerning their own capacity to marry. There is a $10.00 service fee, subject to change, for the notarial service.
At the time a U.S. citizen appears to execute the Affidavit, he or she must present the following:
A. Proof of Citizenship. Examples of sufficient evidence of U.S. citizenship are (1) current registration as U.S. citizen at the Passport and Citizenship Office of the Embassy or at the Consulate, (2) a U.S. passport, (3) a birth certificate issued in the United States or a record of birth abroad issued by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, together with identification bearing a picture or a physical description or (4) a Certificate of Naturalization.
B. Evidence of Termination of Previous Marriage (s). If the U.S. citizen has been previously married, evidence of termination of the previous marriage, such as a certified copy of the final decree of divorce or annulment, or a certified copy of the death certificate of the deceased spouse must be submitted.
C. Parent’s Consent or Advice. Under Philippine law, the legal age for marriage is 18. If the contracting parties are between the ages of 18 and 21, they must present written consent to the marriage from their father, mother or legal guardian. Any contracting party between the age of 21 and 25 must present written parental advice, i.e., a written indication that the parents are aware of the couple’s intent to marry.
Military Approval. An active member of the United States Armed Forces wishing to execute the Affidavit must present a letter of approval of the marriage from the appropriate military authority. Military personnel NOT assigned in the Philippines are also required to obtain their authorization from their respective commanding officer. Military members are encouraged to plan well in advance of the intended wedding date and to discuss the requirements with their own command personnel office.
II. Marriage Procedure
The procedure to marry in the Philippines is as follows:
A. Secure the Affidavit in lieu of Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage from the American Service Branch of the U.S. Embassy in Manila or from the U.S. consulate in Cebu City. If both the bride and the groom are U.S. citizens, each one must obtain an Affidavit.
B. Apply for the marriage license at the Local Civil Registrar from the municipality where either the bride or the groom habitually resides. The documents necessary for the marriage license are (1) the Affidavit for the U.S. citizen bride or groom, (2) the death certificate or divorce decree which shows the termination of any previous marriage(s) of the bide and/or the groom, (3) the birth, baptismal or residency certificate for the Philippines bride or groom, and (4) the parental consent or advice, if either party is under age.
C. Philippine law prescribes a ten-day waiting period from the filing of the Application to the issuance of the marriage license. The license is valid for 120 days and maybe used anywhere in the Philippines.
D. Present the license to a person authorized to perform marriage ceremonies, such as judge, justice of the peace, priest or minister of religion.
III. Passport Amendment
A. U.S. citizen women may have her passport amended to indicate her married name. She should bring her passport and a certified true copy of the Marriage contract to the Passport 7 Citizenship Office of the U.S. Embassy in Manila or the U.S. Consulate in Cebu City. This amendment is not obligatory and there is no fee for this service.
IV. Entry of Alien Spouse into the United States
Marriage of a foreign national to a U.S. citizen does not automatically confer United States citizenship upon the alien spouse. He or she must be petitioned by the U.S. citizen spouse as an immigrant to the United States. An alien spouse is almost never eligible for a non-immigrant visitor vista to the United States. In almost all cases, the existence of the marital relationship between the U.S. citizen and the alien makes the alien spouse an intending immigrant to the United States and, by definition, ineligible for a temporary visa.
The procedure to obtain an immigrant visa for an alien spouse is as follows:
A. File the Immigrant Visa Petition. The Petition Form I-130 for an immigrant visa for an alien spouse should be filed at the INS office nearest the Petitioner’s place of residence. Only a U.S. citizen who is also a resident of the Philippines may file the petition at the INS office at Room 1036 of the U.S. Embassy in Manila. All others MUST file the petition at the INS office in the United States closest to his or her residence.
When filing the petition, the following documents must be submitted: (1) a certified copy of the marriage certificate, (2) proof of U.S. citizenship, (3) a certified copy of evidence of termination of any prior marriage(s) for either spouse, if applicable, and (4) $75.00 or its equivalent in pesos, to cover the statutory fee for filing the petition.
B. Obtain the Immigrant Visa. When the approved petition is received by the immigrant Visa Branch of the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Manila, it will notify the foreign spouse and provide guidance concerning the subsequent steps to be completed in order to obtain a visa. The applicant must obtain a passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, police certificate, affidavit of support, photographs, and medical examination according to specifications provided in the instructions. The visa is good for four months from the date issuance.
It can take anywhere from two to four months from the date the petition is approved by INS to the date of the issuance of the immigrant visa. If a field investigation is required, the time period may be even longer. Therefore, a U.S. citizen should not plan to take the alien spouse back to the United States immediately following the marriage. The non-resident US citizen spouse should be prepared to leave the alien spouse behind to complete the required documentation.
Because of the time involved in processing the petition and the application for an immigrant visa, those individuals living in the Philippines on assignment, either government or private, are advised to initiate the required documentation for their spouse’s and/or step-children’s visas as far in advance of the anticipated rotation date as possible.
Note: A separate visa petition must be filed by the U.S. citizen spouse for each child of the alien spouse under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage who wishes to immigrate to the United States. Those children 18 years of age and older at the time of the marriage must be petitioned by the alien spouse after he or she becomes legal permanent resident in the United States. Under U.S. immigration law, only stepchildren under the age of 18 at the time of their natural parent’s marriage to a U.S. citizen are considered a “child” of the U.S. citizen for immigration purpose.
V. Fiancee Visa
It is possible to file a petition for an alien to enter the U.S. as the fiancee of an American citizen. The procedure is similar to the procedure for filing a petition and obtaining an immigrant visa for an alien spouse.al;l fiancee petitions must be filed in the INS office within the U.S. nearest to the petitioner’s residence. The petitioner will be asked to submit evidence of his or her U.S. citizenship and evidence that he or she has met the fiancee in person within the last two (2) years. He or she may also be required to present evidence of the bona fide of the relationship with the fiancee.
When approved, the petition will be forwarded to the Immigrant Visa Branch of the U.S. Embassy in Manila. The Philippine fiancee will subsequently be provided by the Embassy with instructions on how to proceed with his or her fiancee visa application. Again, the time period from the date the petition is approved by INS to the date the visa is issued is approximately two to four months and can be longer if a field investigation is required.
The fiancee visa grants the fiancee six months from the time of issuance to enter the U.S. Upon entry, the fiancee has ninety days in which to marry the petitioner. Once the marriage has taken place, the alien spouse can apply to adjust status to that of legal permanent resident at the INS office nearest to his or her place of residence.
U.S. immigration law concerning the children of an alien fiancee is not the same as that concerning the children of the alien spouse. The U.S. citizen fiancee does NOT have to file a separate petition for each of the alien fiancee’s unmarried children under 21 at the time the alien fiancee enters the U.S. The U.S. citizen only needs to indicate the names and date of birth of the children in the appropriate block on the petition for alien fiancee. The children will automatically be included in the petition. Unmarried children over the age 21 can be separately petitioned by the alien fiancee after he or she has adjusted status in the U.S. to that of legal permanent resident.
Best of Luck on your marriage!!!
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