Archive for the ‘CR-1 Spousal Visa’ Category

Converting to Islam to “Legally” Divorce in the Philippines

Posted on: April 25th, 2017 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments

The Philippines is the only country other than the Vatican that outlaws divorce. That’s why it’s no surprise that so many of our customers are surprised to find out that their Filipina fiance cannot qualify for a K1 fiance visa and be with them in the United States due to a previous unresolved marriage. While she may be living completely separated from the first husband for many years, under the eyes of the law, she’s still married.

There is one exception that some may think is a viable loophole – “Convert to Islam and be able to legally divorce.” Unfortunately for them, it’s not that simple. According to Presidential Decree No. 1083, there are divorces allowed in very specific circumstances under Shari’a District Court, subject to the provisions of the Rules of Court. But in terms of obtaining a U.S. visa, bear in mind that it’s a U.S. issue, and the consular officer still has the final say.

Most previously married Filipina(o)s find that the only way to be legally free to marry is to secure an annulment. With thousands of dollars, a few years, and a good lawyer, many of them are able to pull it off. However, it is rarely, if ever, a smooth or easy process, and isn’t achieved by all who attempt it.

IR1 Spousal Visa Denied After Sharia Divorce

Redacted version of the actual denial letter. Click to enlarge.
Redacted version of the actual denial letter. Click to enlarge.

In this example, an IR1 spousal visa was denied at the embassy phase for the following given reason:

“Your first marriage was not solemnized under Muslim law or Article 13 of the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines (MPL). Philippine law does not recognize the validity of your Sharia divorce because the Philippine Family Code is the first or sole legal basis of the underlying marriage. This is true even if one party to a civil marriage later converts to Islam. You do not qualify for the IR1 visa category.”

In this case, the embassy didn’t recognize the divorce, because the original marriage was solemnized in the Roman Catholic church, therefore doesn’t qualify as a legitimate Islamic divorce under their criteria.

Results from Congressional Inquiry

Excerpt of the Congressional Inquiry. See full letter here.
Excerpt of the Congressional Inquiry. See full letter here.

Another of our customers was denied for a K1 fiance visa from the Philippines for the same reason. The U.S. sponsor decided to issue a Congressional Inquiry to find out more about why he was denied. The letter he received was very cut and dry:

“The case filed by Mr. on behalf of has been refused and returned to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Ms. ‘s marriage to did not fall within the provisions of the law allowing for Sharia divorce in the Philippines and, as such, their subsequent divorce in cannot be legally recognized. For this reason, Ms. is not free to marry and does not qualify for the fiancee (K1) visa category.”

The conclusion is that if someone marries under traditional (Catholic) law in the Philippines, and then converts to Islam to attempt to divorce their spouse, they will not be eligible for any fiance or spousal visa.

It is best to not attempt this method, as it’s almost certainly a sure way to waste a lot of time and money only to be disappointed and let down in the end.

Green Card Scams

Posted on: March 27th, 2017 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments
Slum
The majority of people on earth survive on less than $10 a day.

This page addresses why green card scams are so prevalent and how to avoid them. Many First World nationals have a tendency to take their citizenship for granted. That is, we sometimes forget just how fortunate we are to be part of the 8% of the world’s population that was born into a developed “First World” nation. The vast majority of the rest of the world didn’t make out as well with their roll of the biological dice. Nearly six billion people on this planet live on less than 10 US dollars a day. Millions right now are refugees from war, famine and repression. For many people, securing residency and eventual citizenship in a First World nation such as the US, Canada, Australia or the European Union is a dream come true. Whether it be for earnings potential, escaping conflicts, educational opportunities or simply providing for their families back home, millions of people around the world place great value on meeting an American (or other national) and securing lawful permanent residence.

Nearly all First World nations provide ways in which citizens can bring in foreign marriage partners. In the United States, for example, the K1 fiancé visa is used for that explicit purpose: As seen on the reality show “90 Day Fiancé,” the paperwork is processed through US immigration and once approved, the foreign national travels to the United States and has 90 days to get married. Following the marriage ceremony, they are then eligible to apply for permanent legal residency and secure a conditional green card.

Legal residency in a wealthy developed nation is of inestimable worth. And as with all things of value, there are people in the world who twist the process for their own personal gain. One of the more advanced and pernicious hustles are foreigners lining up victims for green card scams. As with other types of relational schemes, the scam usually starts with people “meeting” online and eventually getting into a relationship. From there – and if one isn’t cognizant of the potential warning signs and dangers – it could easily turn into a case of a scammer separating yet another victim from their money and/or happiness.

Types of Green Card Scams

Green card scams typically come in two distinct flavors:

The Short Con

The first hustle involves the scammer “courting” the foreigner while collecting remittance (cash) support as the visa process plays out. With fiancé visas taking up to six months to finalize, the short-con scammer is assured a good amount of steady income – and that’s without even taking the romance/courting time into account. Towards the end of the visa process, the scammer ends all communication and moves on to the next victim. In one instance, the foreign national even went so far as to fake her own death and renew the short-con green card scam time and time again.

The Long Con

The second type of green card hustle involves securing legal residency with a green card and summarily leaving/divorcing the partner that sponsored them. From day one, the foreign national had no intention of staying married to their sponsor. In this instance, the scammer goes through the fiancé visa process, travels to the other nation, gets married and then waits until they can adjust status, get their green card and leave their sponsor – typically for greener pastures. This long con is actually more insidious than the short con – not only are they taking advantage of their spouse’s emotions, but some scammers know they can avoid deportation by filing a waiver claiming that their sponsor abused and/or mistreated them. If you are marrying a foreign fiancé, be aware of the red flags.

Green Card Scam Warning Signs

To avoid becoming the victim of a green card scam, there are patterns of behavior that function as reliable red flags. Although not a definitive list, you might be the potential victim of green card schemes if your fiancé or significant other:

1. Issues endless money requests

If your potential wife or husband is forever having problems making rent, multiple hospitalized family member’s, broken laptops, stolen phones and the like, you should consider this a very obvious warning flag. Although more commonly associated with the short-con scheme, both types of green card scammers are known to employ such appeals.

2. Insists on moving to and living in your home nation

The goal of most green card scammers is to get a “better” life for themselves and this usually means getting to the United States or other First World nation. If your potential mate insists on you not living in his or her home country, there might be an issue.

3. Comes from an impoverished family

The heartless grind of day-to-day poverty provides great incentive to secure financial means and/or permanently remove yourself from that state. Although exact figures are not available, green card scamming is more likely to come from poorer residents of less affluent nations such as Haiti, Nigeria, Ghana, some parts of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and other areas.

4. Doesn’t want to get married in their own country in front of family and friends

If your significant other refuses to get married in their home country in front of family and/or friends, this could be another indication of green card scamming.

5. Massive age differences/attraction levels.

Whether you are male or female, if the foreign national is much younger and much better looking than you are, there’s a good chance it could be a green card scam.

6. Doesn’t want children

Foreigners conducting long-con scams will typically not want to have children. Knowing they are going to leave their sponsor once their green card arrives, they see no need to create lasting legacies with someone they probably don’t even like. Plus, their next partner probably could do without someone else’s kids…

7. Possesses extensive knowledge about the immigration process

If your prospective partner comes across as an authority on your home country’s immigration system, you might want to take your pies out of the proverbial oven. Examples include seemingly innocuous references to USCIS Notice of Actions, I-485 forms and affidavits of support.

8. Possesses multiple social media sites under slightly different names

Utilizing multiple accounts (or profiles) on social media sites that he or she doesn’t tell you about is yet another warning sign that you are possibly being hustled. The same concern applies to a partner having more than one cell phone.

9. Does not talk about family or friends.

People in loving relationships talk about their families and friends quite a bit. Heck, they even tend to introduce them to each other and spend time doing things. If your potential foreign wife or husband does not talk about or avoids these topics, it could be a green card scam.

10. “I love you and want to marry you!!”

Both the long and short-con green card scammers are in a headlong rush to the “I love you” stage. This is an important step in the scammer’s mind as it “sets the hook” and makes it more of an “exclusive” relationship. Soon thereafter, they will be hinting at or talking about marriage. If things are going too fast, you’re best advised to tap (or slam) the brakes.

Your Best Protection Against Scammers

Finally, it is extremely important to be listening to your friends and family. Once you enter into a relationship and succumb to the vagaries of love, your ability to think clearly is severely impaired. The most valuable tool you have when it comes to avoiding green card scams is listening to the people that love you. Although you might not want to hear it (the truth hurts), your friends and family will most likely offer you their opinions of what they think of the relationship. Listen to them. If they are saying that your partner treats you poorly or doesn’t really seem to care, take their input seriously. Even if you disagree, spend some time thinking over their reservations. They are not in the relationship and can see things much more objectively than you can.

Income Requirements for Fiancé (K1) and Spousal (CR1) Visas

Posted on: February 27th, 2017 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments

cost of the k1 process can be highWhether you are looking to sponsor a fiance (K1) or spousal visa (CR1), keep in mind that specific visa income requirements are required by the USCIS. These financial requisites are in place to ensure that the sponsored foreign national does not become a “public charge” – that is, to make sure that they are not financially abandoned and left to the welfare of the state and/or federal government.

Sponsor income requirements are based on the latest federal poverty guidelines published by the US Department of Health and Human Services.  For K-1 fiance visas, the sponsor’s income must be at least 100% of that guideline; for CR1 spousal visas, that requirement increases to 125%. Keep in mind that  in addition to what type of visa you are applying for the state you live in and the number of dependents in your household also contribute to specific amount required.

RapidVisa offers a free Income Requirement Calculator to help you determine if you meet the monetary requirements. We’ve also compiled the most recent tables (current as of 2017) which you can find at the bottom of this article.

Stable, US-Based Income

The USCIS mandates that declared income must be both US-based and stable:
US Income: The reported income must be US-based, with some exceptions being made for military or government personnel based overseas. Proof of income is presented through the last three years US tax returns (gross income), pay stubs displaying “year to date” summaries and a letter from the current employer noting position, date of employment and annual salary rate.

Stable Income:  “Stability” plays a major role in the USCIS decision process. Income derived from active employment, Veteran Administration benefits, retirement pensions and Social Security are all stable forms of income, but income gained from unemployment is not. If the sponsor’s income is determined to not be “stable” by the USCIS, there is a good chance that the visa request will be denied.

Utilizing Assets

House
Do you have a paid-off house? It may qualify as an asset.

For spousal visas or those seeking to adjust status (green card), cash or assets which are readily liquidated can be applied towards the income requirement. Typically, the assets must be worth at least three times the amount required from the poverty guideline. That is, if you are required to earn $30,000 per year, you may be able to utilize $90,000 in assets to meet that criteria. Cash, certificates of deposit, stocks, mutual funds, life insurance policies and home ownership/equity are all examples of readily liquidated assets.

Specific Challenges

Self Employed

Sponsors who work for themselves face additional income requirements. Since they are not on a “traditional” career path (and usually can’t get a letter from their employer), those who are self employed must show bank account records going back at least six months and copies of their IRS 1099 forms. This is on top of the requirements for conventionally employed sponsors to provide US tax returns. For those with their own businesses, a commercial rating concern report from Dun and Bradstreet can also be utilized.

Expatriates and Domicile

Another challenge at this stage of the visa process also faces American sponsors who have lived outside of the US for an extended period of time. For those who are self-employed (common among this demographic), the US tax returns and bank account forms noted previously are still required as is proof of residency (domicile) in the United States. Best practice in this case is to have the sponsor return to the US and establish a residence. Proving domicile can be tricky, as according to US law, the sponsor must possess a primary address in the United States and show that they intend to permanently maintain it.

Income Requirements for Fiance (K1) and Spousal (CR1) Visas

As noted previously, the annual gross income of K-1 fiance visa sponsors must be equal to or greater than 100% of the federal poverty guideline. For individuals seeking to secure CR1 spousal visas or adjust their status to lawful permanent residency (green card), that threshold increases to 125%.  Also note that living in Hawaii or Alaska increases the threshold over and above those required for sponsors in the contiguous 48 states.

Contiguous US

(including Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam and Mariana Islands)

Household Size

K1 Fiancé Visa

CR1 Spousal Visa or Adjustment of Status

2 $16,240 $20,300
3 $20,420 $25,525
4 $24,600 $30,750
5 $28,780 $35,975
6 $32,960 $41,200
7 $37,140 $46,425
8 $41,320 $51,650
Per Additional +$4,180 +$5,225

Alaska Residents

Household Size

K1 Fiancé Visa

CR1 Spousal Visa or Adjustment of Status

2 $20,290 $25,362
3 $25,520 $31,900
4 $30,750 $38,437
5 $35,980 $44,975
6 $41,210 $51,512
7 $46,440 $58,050
8 $51,670 $64,587
Per Additional +$5,230 +$6,537

Hawaii Residents

Household Size

K1 Fiancé Visa

CR1 Spousal Visa or Adjustment of Status

2 $18,670 $23,337
3 $23,480 $29,350
4 $28,290 $35,362
5 $33,100 $41,375
6 $37,910 $47,387
7 $42,720 $53,400
8 $47,530 $59,412
Per Additional +$4,810 +$6,012

Visa Memoirs Podcast #3 (2-25-16) Wyatt & Cheryl

Posted on: February 25th, 2016 by RapidVisa Staff 1 Comment

Wyatt & CherylWyatt and Cheryl met online and hit it off when they discovered their mutual interest in current affairs and politics. After spending many hours on Skype, they decided to tie the knot and bring Cheryl over to Nevada on a CR1 visa.

Visa Type: CR1 visa

Country: Philippines

Would you like to be on the podcast? Please go here!

Visa Memoirs Podcast #2 (2-18-16) Alex & Michelle

Posted on: February 18th, 2016 by RapidVisa Staff 2 Comments
Alex & Michelle
Alex & Michelle

Alex & Michelle met when they were connected by a friend while Alex was doing missions work in the Philippines. Listen to their story of meeting, falling in love, marrying and moving to Nashville, Tennessee on a CR1 spousal visa.

Visa Type: CR1 visa

Country: Philippines

Would you like to be on the podcast? Please go here!

Bringing a Fiance or Spouse to the USA [Infographic]

Posted on: November 19th, 2015 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments

We’ve designed this helpful infographic which is a flow chart depicting the path to citizenship available to fiances and spouses of US citizens and lawful permanent residents. We hope it’s helpful in simplifying the overall big picture of what you can expect.

Bringing a Fiance or Spouse to the USA

Announcing RapidVisa Payment Plans

Posted on: September 23rd, 2015 by RapidVisa Staff 2 Comments

Over the years our customers have, through feedback, helped us improve and build upon the services we offer. This one comes after countless requests from customers having a hard time gathering up the fees to begin the process of their visa. We’re pleased to announce we now offer a payment plan for the K1 visa, CR1 visa, IR5 visa and K3 visa.

A true payment plan, not layaway.

To our knowledge, none of our competitors offer anything like this. A few of them claim to have payment plans, but they are just on the service fees, not the USCIS fee. Also, they don’t allow you to file until the entire thing is paid off. That’s layaway.

Our plan includes everything you need to file your case, including the USCIS filing fee, and you can start the process after just one payment, including submitting your physical petition to us for manual review and assembly. We will actually send it off to the USCIS with the USCIS government fee after just the second payment.

No credit check, no interest, no bull.

How are we able to offer this? We have a lot of personal information on our customers, and the risk for someone going through this process to be a straight up theif is low. The catch – You sign an agreement, and we charge a simple installment fee for this convenience, but no interest will accrue. All you need to do is make 6 simple payments, which are automated credit card charges. That’s it. We want you to have no excuses to delay this process any longer.

Do you want to file for a K1 and have $163? Great, get going now.

To get the full details on the installment program, go here.

The K3 Spousal Visa is Obsolete

Posted on: August 25th, 2015 by RapidVisa Staff 3 Comments

From time to time, we get customers who insist on attempting to file for a K3 spouse visa. The fact is, for all intents and purposes, this visa has been obsolete for years. Unfortunately, the indexing of results on Google seem to favor old outdated information that speaks of the K3 as if it’s still a common or viable solution.

Obsolete Typewriter

The K3 was a non-immigrant visa that allowed certain spouses of U.S. citizens to enter the USA, then adjust status to obtain a conditional green card. The CR1 spouse visa serves the same two functions, but in fewer steps and at a lower cost. With a CR1 visa, the spouse immediately has a conditional green card upon entry.

For many years, getting a K3 visa was a few months faster in processing time than a CR1 because there was a huge backlog in processing the Form I-130. But as of early 2010, the I-130 and I-129F forms carried almost equal processing time. It was so much so, that the Department of State put out the following memo:

 

Important Notice: Effective February 1st, 2010, when both petitions have been approved by USCIS and sent to the NVC or when USCIS approves the I-130 before the I-129F, the availability of, as well as the need for, a nonimmigrant K-3 visa ends. If the NVC receives both an approved I-130 petition and an approved I-129F petition:

The nonimmigrant K-3 visa case will be administratively closed.
The application process explained below will not be available to the foreign-citizen spouse and cannot be used.

The NVC will contact the U.S. citizen sponsor and foreign-citizen spouse, with instructions for processing the IR-1 (or CR-1) immigrant visa. – Source 1Source 2

 

Essentially, this just means depending on which form gets reviewed first determines which visa they follow through with. So even if you start out applying for a K3, chances are, it will be converted to a CR1 by the government, for efficiency purposes.

The chances are getting slimmer and slimmer that a K3 would actually happen, as you can see from the declining granted K3 visas:

Source: travel.state.gov
Source: travel.state.gov

As you can see, in 2013, there were only 144 K3 visas granted nationwide. That’s only 2% of the 2009 numbers. We don’t have the 2014 numbers yet but there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t be even less than 2013. This isn’t because fewer people are getting married, it’s because the government is converting these to CR1 visas.

In our experience, you are likely to get misinformation on the K3 visa even by calling the USCIS, because many of the phone answerers are contracted employees reading from outdated scripts. In reality, K3 visas are just not being granted.

If you’re thinking about trying a K3, you could spend way more money and roll the dice for a less than 2% chance for the possibility of getting it granted a few weeks sooner, but that’s probably futile.

The CR1 process can be daunting. Let RapidVisa help. We have a 99.7% approval rate and have prices much lower than a lawyer.

10 Red Flags That Your Fiancé is a Scammer

Posted on: May 29th, 2015 by RapidVisa Staff 2 Comments

This is a sensitive subject for most, because it’s human nature to stand up for the one you love. But the world is a dark place and unfortunately, scams do happen. This post will go over some of the situations we’ve seen and how to recognize them, so you can avoid becoming a victim. Unfortunately, if you’re a U.S. citizen, you can be subject to some of these scams more often than others. The overwhelming majority of  you reading this are probably worried for no reason, but why not put it to the test to put your fears to rest?

Why would anyone scam me?

Incentive 1: They could be scamming you for money.

granny-scammedThis would be more common in online dating situations – especially if you got engaged before ever meeting in person.

The scammer might not even intend to follow through with the visa process, but leading you on, all online, with the intent to get as much money out of you as they can before pulling the plug.

Incentive 2: They could be using you for a visa or green card.

If you have a family of skeptics, perhaps you’ve had this concern brought up:

“What if he/she is just using you for a green card?”

Of course, if your love is real, this is a pretty offensive thought and probably upsetting to anyone questioned. But in rare cases, this could be true.

The least intelligent scammers might think once they come over on a fiance visa, they could just bail on the wedding and everything is hunkey dorey. “Ha ha. I’m here in the US, goodbye.”

i-should-have-thought-this-through

In reality, when you bring someone in on one of these types of visas, or even via adjusting their status, their residency is still conditional upon your marriage. They’d have to live the life of an illegal immigrant if they went through all that trouble. So they couldn’t work legally or exit and re-enter the USA.

Otherwise, they’d have to stick with the fake marriage for several years to get the removal of conditions (which removes the condition of your marriage). Once the removal of conditions is granted, the alien spouse can essentially just divorce you and remain in the US legally. A pretty terrible thought right?

Red Flags That You’re Being Scammed For Money


#1. There always seems to be a financial need that pops up

They always tend to have a financial need and expect you to solve it. Be especially wary if you’re asked to send money via Western Union, and especially if it’s to Nigeria or Ghana, the world capital for 419 scams. Also, be wary if the name they’re asking you to send it to is something other than their own.

#2. Money is at the forefront of your conversations

They ask about things like your income and assets very early on. They always tend to talk about money like it’s the only thing that matters. They don’t show much interest in you as a person, or when they do it feels fake. Their mood changes for the worst when you change the subject from money.

#3. Excuses keep delaying meeting in person or on Skype

There’s always an excuse why they cannot Skype you or meet you in person. The stories could be elaborate, but the truth is, they don’t want you to see that the pictures they’ve sent you are not of them, and of someone they stole from online. Upload their photos to Tineye to see if the photos are posted somewhere else (stolen).

#4. They send you love letters they claim they wrote

One common practice of these scams is to plagiarize love letters and convince you that they’re head over heels for you. The scam is to flatter you to the point of vulnerability, then go in for the strike. Take a sentence from your love letter, go to Google and search for it with quotation marks around the phrase. This will show you every other instance this ‘love letter’ was used.

#5. They try to get your personal info

Be very wary of anyone digging into matters of your life that scammers would love to be in to. One scam is to find out personal, revealing secrets about you, then extort you for money later on. Until you meet in person, it’s best to be smart with this kind of thing.

Red Flags That You’re Being Used For a Green Card

 

#6. They are pushy about marriage early on

This isn’t necessarily a flawless tell-tale sign, what with cultural and religious factors playing a role, but if you are moving at a pace you’re not comfortable with, it could be. Nobody should be pressured into something as important as marriage.

#7. They know an awful lot about US immigration

If the person truly is in the relationship for you, the immigration process is merely a background detail. Sure, it’s a major detail, and some interest is to be expected. But if you start talking about the form I-130 or affidavit of support by your second Skype date, you may want to back the breadbasket up.

#8. They’ve tried to get to the US before

If your fiance has a long history of trying to get to the US, whether it be through a tourist visa, student visa, or other marriage based visa, it could be a sign of their true intentions. Use your gut, and ask questions.

#9. You keep catching them in lies

If your fiance is a perpetual liar, you probably have bigger problems. Don’t be blinded by exotic infatuation of a love story that could be too good to be true. Nobody is perfect, but a liar usually stays a liar.

#10. They show no interest in you as a person or your family

If the level of attraction and interest is lopsided in your favor, or they seem to avoid meaningful time or conversations, it could be a red flag. If they get moody when you want to be with them, or want them to spend time with your family, take that into account.

It is entirely possible that some of the items above could be the case with a legitimate relationship, but it’s important to be cautious if the deck seems to stack high. At the end of the day, you know your situation best, and nobody can make the call for you. You will need to make a personal decision whether or not you’re ready to move forward with your marriage.

How to Bring Your Partner’s Filipino Children to the US

Posted on: May 22nd, 2015 by benives 13 Comments

U.S. citizens may petition their fiance or spouse to join them in the United States. In many cases, the fiance or spouse may have children that wish to accompany or “follow-to-join” them. If the child(ren) is unmarried and young enough, they may qualify to join or follow-to-join. This post will give you a starting point on what the ins and outs of bringing Filipino children along with their parent.

Filipino mother and daughter

Children of K-1 Visa Holders

Children of a K-1 holder would be eligible for a K-2 visa if they plan on accompanying the parent, or plan to follow-to-join as long as:

They are unmarried
They are under age 21

Children of CR-1 Spousal Visa Holders

Children of a CR-1 holder would be eligible for a CR-2 visa if they plan on accompanying the parent, or plan to follow-to-join as long as:

The child is unmarried
You married before the child turned 18
You filed the CR-2 petition before the child turned 21

Depending on who has custody of the child(ren) and your particular situation, the U.S. Embassy/Consulate may want to see evidence that the alien fiance or spouse has received the requisite permission to travel outside the country with his or her child(ren). Usually this is accomplished with a court order or a notarized letter written by the child’s other parent indicating his or her consent for the child to travel with the alien fiance or spouse.

If your fiance or spouse and their ex-spouse have joint custody and/or the children are legitimate and both biological parents are listed on the children’s birth certificates, you may require a court order allowing the children to immigrate to the US or a notarized document from the biological parents allowing the children to immigrate to the US. Check with the local U.S. Embassy/Consulate for the required documents.

Filipino Kids

Important Note: Check your own country’s law on removing your children if their other parent is staying behind.

If you are planning to bring children of your fiance or spouse to the United States it will be up to your fiance or spouse to comply with their country’s custody requirements. Even if the children are legally in your fiance’s or spouse’s custody they may be required to obtain a court order or written consent from the other parent for you to take the children out of their country.

Custody of Children

Under Philippine law, a child born out of wedlock is illegitimate. Being illegitimate, the parental authority over his/her person is vested in his/her mother as outlined in the Family Code of the Philippines, which provides:

Family-Code-of-the-PhilippinesArticle 176

Illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the parental  authority of their mother, and shall be entitled to support in conformity with this Code.

However, illegitimate children may use the surname of their father if their filiation has been expressly recognized by the father through the record of birth appearing in the civil register, or when an admission in a public document or private handwritten instrument is made by the father.

Thus, the custody of an illegitimate child shall always remain with his/her mother. This is his/her mother’s inherent right, which the latter cannot be denied of, unless there is a compelling reason which renders her unfit to exercise such right.

Only the most compelling of reasons, such as the mother’s unfitness to exercise sole parental authority, shall justify her deprivation of parental authority and the award of custody to someone else. In the past, the following grounds have been considered ample justification to deprive a mother of custody and parental authority: neglect or abandonment, unemployment, immorality, habitual drunkenness, drug addiction, maltreatment of the child, insanity, and affliction with a communicable disease.

The act of recognizing an illegitimate by the father gives rise only for the opportunity to obligate the latter to give support to the child but it does not bestow upon the father the right to demand the custody of the child.

If the father has an existing visitation or custody arrangement approved in court then he may take steps to prevent the child from leaving the country including alerting the Bureau of Immigration. There is no specific guarantee against this move because the father has a right to have access to his minor child.

Note: If the child or children bears the surname of the father the mother should be prepared to show proof of her relationship to the child or children usually a birth certificate.

Legitimate Children

Family-Code-of-the-PhilippinesArticle 255

Children born after one hundred and eighty days following the celebration of the marriage, and before three hundred days following its dissolution or the separation of the spouses shall be presumed to be legitimate.

Children conceived or born during the marriage of the parents are legitimate. Legitimate children shall have the right to bear the surnames of the father and the mother.

Illegitimate Children

Family-Code-of-the-PhilippinesArticle 165

Children conceived and born out of a valid marriage are illegitimate, unless otherwise provided in the Family Code, Illegitimate children as defined under the Civil Code of the Philippines who were born prior to August 3, 1988 and whose births were not previously registered shall be registered under the following rules in addition to those provided for delayed registration of births:

Recognition or acknowledgement of an illegitimate child may be made jointly by the father and mother or by only one of them (Art. 276 C. C.) When the father or the mother makes the recognition separately, he or she shall not reveal the name of the person with whom he or she had the child; neither shall he or she state any circumstance whereby the other parent may be identified (Art. 280, C. C.)

An illegitimate child has the right to bear the surname of the parent recognizing him (par. 1, Art. 282, C. C.) However, an illegitimate child who is not recognized or acknowledged by both parents in accordance with law shall be registered under the surname of the mother (Opinion No. 147 S. 1986, Minister of Justice).

Recognition shall be made in the record of birth, a will, statement before a record, or any authentic writing (Art. 278, C. C.). If made on record of birth at the time of registration the affidavit of acknowledgement printed at the back of the certificate of live birth shall be signed and sworn to jointly by the parents of the illegitimate child, or only by the mother if the father refuses (Sec. 5, Act No. 3753).

Travel Clearance for Minors

dswdA DSWD travel clearance is a document that is required by Filipino children below the age of 18 who intend to leave the country with someone other than their parents. It’s issued by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Note: A travel clearance is not needed if the minor is traveling with at least one of their parents. 

The mother has absolute parental discretion over any “illegitimate” children by the above definition. That means the father would need to secure a court order to have any ounce of custody.

If the child is the subject of an ongoing custody battle, they wouldn’t be eligible to be issued a travel clearance unless a court order is issued. You will be responsible for notifying the Bereau of Immigration to include the name of the child in the watchlist.

Traveling with Minors

When traveling with minors, there are a few things that you will want to prepare for in advance. Here is a list of a few items to help you prepare:

  • Your child or children will need a valid passport with at least 6 months left in its expiration period. Always check passports for expiration dates and apply for a renewal passport at the earliest opportunity.
  • Parents with pending child custody cases should first obtain a favorable order from the court regarding any foreign travel to avoid being stopped at the airport (port of exit).
  • Make photocopies of the children’s passports and keep them with you in the event a passport is lost. This can facilitate applications for new ones in case of loss or renewal.

Resources:

DSWD travel clearance
Bureau of Immigration
Follow to Join
US Embassy in Manila, Philippines
Family Code of the Philippines