Can a Filipina Get a Divorce in Hong Kong for CENOMAR?

10 Nov 2017

ohn84 from Instagram, “I have a question. Is divorce from another country, example, Hong Kong, valid to use for Filipina in the K1 process whose husband is a Filipino national?” I’m not sure who’s who. Let me read this again. Used for a Filipina in … Okay, so I’m assuming the Filipina is the alien, is the person in the Philippines. The husband is … I see.

They’re both.

She’s divorced from a Filipino but she had the divorce done in Hong Kong. Well, that divorce will have to be registered in the Philippines because she’s going to have to get a certificate of no marriage, CENOMAR they call it, so that’s … The Hong Kong divorce, you’re going to have to take that information, that certificate, take it down to the NSO or they renamed it, right? It’s not National Statistics Office anymore.

No, it’s the PSA now, Philippine Statistics Authority.

Yeah, you have to take it down there and register it and give them time to get it in their system and then if they accept it, and they’ll have their own criteria of whether they think it’s valid or not and it was properly done, and once it’s registered, then it would be acceptable. Then, we’re sure then you can get a CENOMAR but you’re not going to be able to just walk into the interview or apply with just a Hong Kong divorce certificate. They’re not going to recognize it that way until you register it in the Philippines. They will use their criteria, and not the U.S. criteria. The Philippines government will use their criteria to determine if they’re going to accept it.

Generally, they do if everything’s on the up-and-up but what we’ve seen in the times we’ve been doing this, we do see people trying to make an end run around divorces because they’re so hard to get. Well, you can’t get a divorce in the Philippines. You can get an annulment. Typically, it takes a couple years and it costs thousands of dollars, in dollars, not pesos. We’ve seen a lot of people try and make an end run around that by getting divorced in … I saw one in the Bahamas where they got the remote divorce and neither one of them went to the Bahamas but somehow they got a … If it’s something like that going on, it’s probably not going to work, probably not going to get away with it but if it’s a legitimate divorce and typically, that means that the prior husband was served papers and offered an opportunity to be involved in the process, yes.

If she went somewhere and got a divorce and he doesn’t even know about it, it’s probably not going to work. That’s the fallacy of a lot of these things people try. I don’t mean to accuse you of anything. You asked the question and I wanted to let you know, what we’ve seen is people trying to get a third party divorce, by that, I mean in a country that neither one of you are really from, it can be problematic. You’re going to have to take that divorce decree, take it down to the PSA. If they will recognize it, you’re home free. If they won’t, you’re going to have to do an annulment in the Philippines, or maybe there’s some defect in the Hong Kong divorce they’ll have you correct and then maybe they’ll recognize it but that would be a question for the PSA.

What’s unclear is where they’re applying for, if the alien beneficiary is still in Hong Kong or if they’re back in the Philippines. The reason why I bring that up, they’re back in the Philippines, we’ve actually heard of a few cases where they were requiring the annulment instead of the divorce decree. We had an RFE where one came back, so a lot of that also depends on where she’s at. If the alien beneficiary is still in Hong Kong, more unlikely they probably would accept it but regardless, as Ben stated, you still have to get that registered through the PSA and you’re going to need to get a CENOMAR, a certificate of no marriage.

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