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Weddings via Video Conference


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On 9/2/2021 at 5:45 PM, Gator said:

In seeking ways to legally return to the Philippines this year I came across some info that some board members or readers who are engaged to be married might find useful, but it also raises some questions with regards to Filipinos marrying foreigners.

In response to the pandemic beginning in January of 2020 Utah County (Provo, UT) in the State of Utah (USA) began allowing online weddings. They are done via video conference between the couple and an official from the Utah County Clerk's Office or anyone who is legally permitted to perform weddings in the State of Utah. There are no residency requirements and the process is fairly straightforward, simple and relatively inexpensive. 

The bride and groom don’t even have to be together in the same state or, in many cases, even in the same country. The marriages are fully legal in the USA and also recognized as being legal in most foreign countries as well. Apostilled marriage certificates, which are required by many countries, are available for an extra fee for international weddings.  

https://www.utahcounty.gov/Dept/ClerkAud/Marriage.html
https://www.utahcounty.gov/Dept/ClerkAud/WebCeremonyFAQ.html

The thought intrigued me so I looked into it more with regards to marriages between Filipino nationals and foreigners. Under the “Philippine Family Code” for a couple to get married they must be physically together at the time of the ceremony. Not being sure if the marriages would be recognized as legal in the Philippines and for entry into the Philippines, I sent an email to the Bureau of Immigration; they directed my question to the Port Operations Division (aka POD). Here was their reply:

Good day Sir.

Kindly be advised that under existing IATF guidelines, online marriage involving  Filipinos/former Filipinos  under RA6768  and an alien shall be allowed, subject to primary inspection and compliance with the requirements enumerated hereunder, to wit:

1. Authenticated and/or apostilled Marriage Contract;
2.Proof of citizenship of the Filipino/former Filipino spouse;
3.Pay a visa waiver fee at the airport; and
4. Surrender the alien's passport to the POD to be turned over to the Office of the Commissioner

Please take note that the assessment of the sufficiency of travel documents in relation to the purpose of travel is conducted at the airport, upon primary inspection by the immigration officer. Thus, the final determination on whether or not a certain passenger is allowed to travel, rests entirely upon the Immigration Officer who will be conducting the immigration inspection.

Thank you.
VMCF

Their reply raised a question about #4. The purpose of surrendering the alien’s passport and how long it would be held as well as how to get it back. I’m awaiting their reply and will update with their response.

In addition, if a Filipino leaves the country and travels to a visa free, or visa on arrival country (like Costa Rica or Thailand), to meet and marry their prospective spouse, then when they both return together can the foreigner get a Balikbayan visa. I have not found a clear answer to this. 

According to  RA6768:

Section 2. Definition of Terms. - For purposes of this Act:
(a) The term "balikbayan" shall mean a Filipino citizen who has been continuously out of the Philippines for a period of at least one (1) year, a Filipino overseas worker, or a former Filipino citizen and his family, as this term is defined hereunder, who had been naturalized in a foreign country and comes or returns to the Philippines; and
(b) The term "family" shall mean the spouse and the children of the balikbayan who are not balikbayan in their own right traveling with the latter to the Philippines.


https://lawphil.net/statutes/repacts/ra1989/ra_6768_1989.html


Does anyone on the board know if a Filipino national only leaves the country for say 2 weeks, then when they return with their foreign spouse, would the spouse get a Balikbayan visa? Has anyone here done this?

I'm in the exact situation. Very cool! From what I understand, you could get married in Thailand, and it will be acceptable in the eyes of the Philippine government. It was my understanding that once married, the spouse is able to then visit and be with their spouse even while the Philippines isn't open yet for international tourists. Is this your understanding? What I do know is anything can change at any moment as we have seen already. I've looked at Costa Rica too but the flight is very long from the Philippines. I've also looked into that Utah scenario. 

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In addition, as it relates to getting married in Thailand, my understanding is that it will take months (or longer if dealing with some "countries" ;) ) It will take approximately three months I think for the official documents to be finalized for use in the Philippine government. So, in short, you couldn't travel immediately to the Philippines, but, it's a protection for you as you are now married. And if I am correct, you can go to the Philippines because of you being legally married to someone who is a Philippine citizen. This is how I currently understand it. Does this sound correct?

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On 11/8/2021 at 9:40 AM, Frank from Boston said:

In addition, as it relates to getting married in Thailand, my understanding is that it will take months (or longer if dealing with some "countries" ;) ) It will take approximately three months I think for the official documents to be finalized for use in the Philippine government. So, in short, you couldn't travel immediately to the Philippines, but, it's a protection for you as you are now married. And if I am correct, you can go to the Philippines because of you being legally married to someone who is a Philippine citizen. This is how I currently understand it. Does this sound correct?

Frank, As I mentioned in an earlier post, A Filipina I know very well here met a guy from America online July 2020.  Late August 2021 they married online, I attended the zoom wedding, he arrived here in the Philippines last week on a 9a visa (married to a Filipina). Less than 2 months from wedding till he arrived here.  The 2 lovebirds are VERY happy.  It can be done.

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Last government meeting and discussion regarding a LEGAL option for online marriage was in September 2021. Is it an approved method according to the Philippine government? No at the moment. Unless it's a government approved option, it's only a risk. Believe me, I hope I'm incorrect. And I encourage anyone to help me see this avenue as a viable option because, if not, Thailand here we come! I won't start trusting and second hand information personally, while I appreciate your comment. I guess any specifics would be appreciated. As is, my plan is December or January in Thailand.

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On 11/7/2021 at 8:40 PM, Frank from Boston said:

In addition, as it relates to getting married in Thailand, my understanding is that it will take months (or longer if dealing with some "countries" ;) ) It will take approximately three months I think for the official documents to be finalized for use in the Philippine government. So, in short, you couldn't travel immediately to the Philippines, but, it's a protection for you as you are now married. And if I am correct, you can go to the Philippines because of you being legally married to someone who is a Philippine citizen. This is how I currently understand it. Does this sound correct?

My understanding is we can visit the Philippines. However, I'm not sure if we could visit right away. I'm doubtful. After marriage in Thailand, it could take approximately 3-6 months for it to be on record at the Philippine statistics something something idk. For sure after that we will have less chance of rejection. Currently I'm planning on going to Thailand in December. Planning the tasks as we speak. Taking notes of all the steps, timetables, and waiting periods. Could be accomplished within 30 days which I'm hopeful I'll be able to do.

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Just now, Frank from Boston said:

My understanding is we can visit the Philippines. However, I'm not sure if we could visit right away. I'm doubtful. After marriage in Thailand, it could take approximately 3-6 months for it to be on record at the Philippine statistics something something idk. For sure after that we will have less chance of rejection. Currently I'm planning on going to Thailand in December. Planning the tasks as we speak. Taking notes of all the steps, timetables, and waiting periods. Could be accomplished within 30 days which I'm hopeful I'll be able to do.

If December isn't financially viable as I'm not rich 😭 I'll do the same steps and plan for January for 30 days. Where are you located BTW? We should stay connected for sure. We need two witnesses in Thailand anyways lol 😜

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On 11/8/2021 at 11:40 AM, Frank from Boston said:

n addition, as it relates to getting married in Thailand, my understanding is that it will take months (or longer if dealing with some "countries" ;) ) It will take approximately three months I think for the official documents to be finalized for use in the Philippine government. So, in short, you couldn't travel immediately to the Philippines, but, it's a protection for you as you are now married. And if I am correct, you can go to the Philippines because of you being legally married to someone who is a Philippine citizen. This is how I currently understand it. Does this sound correct?

You are correct it can take 3/6 Months to get your conformation of your marriage if in another country and another thing she will need to do an seminar to get out of the country. To many hurdles with the way your trying to work your marriage. My advise get her to line up a civil ceremony for the day you arrive, get married, lodge your papers and if you get them back before your 30 days visa runs out, well and good, if not extend. Once married the pair of you fly on a cheap return ticket you won't have to do seminars, your married and you'll get your Balikbayan on return. The only thing I'm not sure off, you might have to buy a exit ticket once your Balikbayan visa runs out to show BI of your intent, but you can work that out, someone on here will know, or read the requirement's of travel before you book your ticket, remember travel requirements change from day to day. :cheersty:

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17 hours ago, Frank from Boston said:

Note: keep up to date with updates as they do change all the time.

 

See attachment regarding 9a Visa  for foreign spouses traveling alone. Screenshot_20211111-124825.jpg

And for foreign spouses what they don’t tell you is that in order to get the 9(a) visa you must provide either a PSA stamped ROM (Report of Marriage), or the stamped copy of it sent back to you by the consulate / embassy (they stamp it to say it’s been registered and submitted to the PSA). The PSA stamped ROM will take 6 months to a year to get. 
 

The San Francisco consulate has jurisdiction over marriages in Utah. Due to the high number of ppl now getting married online the current wait time is up to 3 months to get the stamped copy back from them. For reference purposes they used to return them within a few days; occasionally within 24 hours. Or so I was told when I called. And (insert deity) forbid they add extra staff to help with the backlog!

Already a month of waiting for me. Then likely another 3 weeks or so to get the visa. 

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