After 2 weeks I finally received my visa, the 2go shipping company texted me and told me that my visa is ready to pick up to their office at Lipa City downtown. But before I say bye-bye Philippines I have to attend the CFO seminar first.
Note: Do not open the visa you just can open the plastic pouch to get the passport inside, nobody is allowed to get/open the visa inside the envelope because it’s confidential, the immigration officer to the US port of entry is the only one who can open and get the visa.
Now that my visa is on my hand my next thing to do is attending CFO seminar this is the last step to do in my K1 visa journey. Other countries don’t have CFO requirements but the Philippine government requires it to any spouse/fiancé/partner of a foreigner or a former Filipino.
CFO Guidance and Counseling Program video
What Is CFO Guidance and Counseling Program
For those who don’t know what is CFO means, it stands for Commission on Filipino Overseas. All Filipinos going abroad as fiance or spouse and other partners of foreign national is required to attend Guidance and Counseling Program (GCP) in order to get the CFO Certificate and emigrant sticker on their passport. This is a MUST do, you cannot ignore this seminar because you cannot leave the country if you don’t have emigrant sticker on your passport and CFO certificate. For you to know a little about CFO I copy the meaning of CFO and what is their main objective, I get it from the CFO website.
For the past 3 decades, the Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO) has implemented the Guidance and Counseling program (GCP) for fiancé(e), spouse and other partners of foreign nationals or of former Filipino citizens. Republic Act 10906 ( Anti-mail Order Spouse Act of 2016) and Republic Act 10364 (An Act Expanding the Anti-Trafficking in Person Act of 2012) requires the conduct of mandatory pre-departure counseling services for Filipinos in intermarriages.
The GCP is also a requirement under the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 8239 or the Philippine Passport Act for Filipino fiancé(e), partners, and spouses of foreign nationals or former Filipino citizens who are applying for a passport for the first time or adopting the surname of the foreign spouse.
The main objective of the program is to assist the integration of Filipinos in their host countries by counseling them on the realities of international migration and preparing them to meet the practical, cultural and psychological challenges in cross-cultural marriage and migration.
For more info, you can visit the CFO website here.
Setting Up Of Appointment To CFO
After I prepared all the documents I need, I go to the CFO website and made an appointment for my CFO seminars. It’s very easy to set up an appointment to their website, after filling up the forms you will just need to submit it and pick the schedule available. Good thing the appointment I get is not too far, it just needs to wait 1 week for my appointment, the time is 2:00 p.m/September 19, 2016. After I get the confirmation appointment I print it right away.
CFO don’t accept walk-in attendees, you must make an appointment to their website for you to have a slot. Some people choose to attend CFO even if they don’t have yet visa on hand, they just come back to CFO office to get the emigrant Sticker right after they get their visa, but others including me prefer to attend CFO seminar when visa is on our hand because I want to do it in just 1 day, I hate traffic and don’t like to go back and forth to Manila.
How To Make An Online Appointment
1. Click the GCP online Appointment System to their website here is the link. You can see there the option of CFO offices, just click the place where you intend to attend the Guidance and Counseling Program (GCP).
2. You will be going to fill out a form, just to verify if you need to attend the Guidance and Counseling Program (GCP).
3. If eligible to GCP, you will have to put your e-mail address then click on the link sent to your email after that you will need to choose your preferred date of appointment and provide personal information of yourself and of your fiance/spouse/partner.
4. After you did all in number 3, you can now print the barcode confirmation form or save a digital copy of (PDF format) in your mobile phone or tablet.
5. Take note of your date of appointment. Go to CFO office on the confirmed date at least an hour and a half before an appointment and bring the complete set of required documents.
Documents You Need To Bring During CFO seminar
Photo credit to CFO online site
My Own Experienced
I arrived in CFO-Manila office at exactly 1:00 p.m from LRT Buendia we ride a taxi, my sister is with me at that time. The taxi driver drops us across the street of the CFO building, it’s because he has another passenger, this is what I don’t like to Manila some drivers are greedy and don’t think and care to their passengers. But anyway, good thing there are some police officers who stop the cars when there are people need to walk across the street. We are stuck across the street for about 15 minutes because the cars are non-stop and the stop light is not working. I supposed I was late for my appointment but thanks’ God I’m on time, I left my sister outside the CFO because they are not allowed inside the building. When I finally got inside the office, the security guard check my bag and the staff in the desk get my I.d and give me a visitor I. D then he told me to proceed to the third floor for the attendees of the GCP seminar. I go inside the GCP room seminar on the third floor and the lady there check my appointment and asks my passport then she took me a picture for my files. After that she gave me forms, I need to fill it out manually. I don’t remember how many pages it is but it’s a long information need to fill out, it’s about myself, and the petitioner. After I fill it out I return it to the lady at the desk then she told me to eat first then come back before 2:00 p.m. But I paid my CFO first on the first floor, then I go outside to eat. After I and my sister ate I go back to the room of GCP attendees, I’ve met some new friends inside the rooms and talk while waiting for the counseling officer, she was 1 hour late because she’s been to another seminar.
What We Did To Seminar
It’s because the session started late, the counseling officer said sorry about that then she started the discussion about CFO and why we need it then she gave us a CFO book, we need to read it to know more about our rights and how to adjust easily to other countries, allowed and not allowed to bring to the flight, etc.. After that, she group us into 3 according to the state in the US where we going. Then she continues the discussion about domestic violence, we knew from her that there’s a lot of Filipina was abused by their foreign fiance/spouse/partner, how many Filipina has been rescued and then she gave us the contact number where we can call if something happens to us. She also teaches us what to do in case our partners abuse us. She then discusses what to do right after we arrived in the US because of a drastic change to our lives, she told us to join some Filipino community, volunteer to some churches close to our place etc.
After a long discussion she gave us an activity, need to answer some question about moving to other country and what is our plan in the future, then after that she started to do the one on one interview outside the room. When it’s my turn she asks my name and my husband name then look on my husband birth certificate, what is his job, the name of his mother and father then she explained to me what is the difference of using the middle initial in a Filipino way and American way. She didn’t ask me too much because she said she knows that I already know my fiance well because we were in a relationship for a long time and we have a child then visited me many times. Then she told me to go back to the room and get my sticker and certificate later on the first floor. We finished the session at exactly 6:30 p.m
If you have your visa, you will get your CFO certificate and Emigrant sticker after the seminar, but if you don’t have yet visa you need to come back to the CFO office once you have a visa but even if you don’t have yet a visa they will give your CFO Certificate. Some people get their emigrant sticker to the airport the day of their flight which is I think hassle and can’t tell if the line to CFO in the airport is not long at that time. My advice is either wait for your visa before attending CFO seminar or attend a seminar even without a visa then come back to CFO office right after you get your visa to get your emigrant sticker.
CFO seminar is very important to all Filipinos, we can learn a lot from them and if we need their help we can contact them anytime. Some people who choose to marry a foreign national are lucky for their chosen partner but some are not. It is very sad to read some sad story, they are telling that their foreign partner abuses them after a couple of months or not buying food and worst abuse physically and emotionally. It’s very important that you knew somebody in other countries, like join and make friends through a Facebook group. There are certain people who are willing to help even if they don’t know you personally. I join some Facebook group exclusively for Filipino married to foreigners and Facebook group about Visa and Adjustment of status. Members in that kind of group have the same life and experienced that is why they are willing to help each other. By reading the experienced of other members you can learn a lot, and sometimes answering the question of other members of the group helps them a lot too. You’ll never know one of the members of the FB group is living close to your place.
Now that my K1 visa journey application is done, I will post some possible interview question next time and my experience to US port of entry as K1 visa holder.
We just pay Visa services because I and my husband are both busy to our work plus the major reason is we need to apply K1 visa and CRBA of our daughter at the same time which is confusing for us but if it’s only K1 visa I believed we can do it on our own.
Here are some tips for you to do if you want to start to file K1 visa for your foreign fiancé(e) or if your budget is tight:
- Go to the USCIS official website and get information about K1 visa.
- Buy K1 visa step by step guide, Their guide is a big help if you can’t afford or don’t want to pay immigration lawyer or visa services.
- Join the Facebook group that exclusively for a K1/Spousal visa only.
- Don’t be shy to ask for help inside FB group, they are willing to help anyone.
- Do research about K1 visa to google and YouTube, people who have been through to this process are willing to help for free through their blogs and story.
Hope those tips can help you and don’t forget to work together as a team with love and care, avoid misunderstanding just because one does not agree to the decision, before you know it you are done to K1 process.
Please visit and like married to a foreigner facebook page click here
If you are a Filipino married to a foreigner or even not yet married I’m inviting you both to join Married to a Foreigner facebook group click here