Question 1.: Who are required to attend the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) – Guidance and Counseling Program (GCP)?
Answer: The following are the Filipino migrants who are required to attend the CFO-GCP:
- Fiancé/e/ spouse/ partner of Foreign national;
- Fiancé/e/spouse/ partner of former Filipino citizen;
- Fiancé/e / spouse/partners of Filipino with dual citizenship;
Question 2.: Who are a Filipino citizen and a Filipino with dual citizenship?
Answer: Answer: A former Filipino citizen is a Filipino who acquired foreign citizenship by naturalization process and did not re-acquire his Philippine citizenship. Filipino with dual citizenship, on the other hand, is a Filipino who become naturalized citizen of other country and re-acquires his/her Filipino citizenship through Philippine Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003(RA 9225). Basically, s/he is a holder of two valid passports: a foreign passport and Philippine passport.
Question 4.: How can I attend the CFO Guidance and Counseling Program?
Answer: Answer: Those who would like to take the Guidance and Counseling Program to CFO Manila office, must set an appointment on-line Only clients who have confirmed slots/ appointment will be accommodated to the country/ region specific session. You can start by following this link: http://www.gcp-appointment.cfo.gov.ph/. CFO Cebu extension office, on the other hand, still implements the GCP on a first-come; first serve basis. Open this link to know the schedule for each country/region specific session: CFO-Cebu Counseling Schedule
Question 5.: When can I attend the guidance counseling session?
Answer: Answer: You could attend the guidance and counseling program base on any of the following cases/situations:
- Before lodgment of visa application;
- Before the required medical examination;
- Before the visa interview;
- Before the release of the visa or while waiting for the visa;
- After lodgment of visa application;
- After the medical examination required by the Embassy;
- After receiving the visa (spouse, fiancé/e or partner visa);
- Requirement for passport application; and
- If you successfully reserved an appointment for yourself for the appropriate counseling session.
You can start making reservation online by opening this site: http://gcp-appointment.cfo.gov.ph/
Question 6.: What are the requirements needed to attend in the guidance counseling session?
Answer: Answer: There are two (2) sets of requirements. For a non-visa holder counselee and for an immigrant/ spouse/ fiancé(e)/ partner visa-holder counselee, follow this link for the requirements (http://www.cfo.gov.ph/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2345:requirements-with-images&catid=110:frequently-asked-questions&Itemid=858)
Question 7.: Can I receive the CFO guidance counseling certificate right after attending the guidance counseling session?
Answer: Answer: Provided the counselees have complied with the documentary requirements, satisfactorily underwent the counselor’s one-on-one evaluation among others, most counselees receive their counseling certificates right after the two stages of the counseling sessions. However, others might be required by her/his counselor to come in a set follow up session.
Question 8.: If I had already attended the counseling and received my counseling certificate, does it mean I am already registered at CFO?
Answer: Answer: No. Guidance and Counseling Certificate (GCC) is not a proof that you already registered at CFO. It is only a proof of your satisfactory compliance to the GCP which is one of the requirements for registration for marriage migrant.
If you are intending to attend the Guidance and Counseling Program of CFO you may click this link (http://gcp-appointment.cfo.gov.ph/) to get an online appointment
Question 9.: How can I register with the CFO as a spouse, fiancé/e or partner of foreign national or former Filipino?
Answer: Answer: If you are issued an immigrant visa/ spouse or fiancé(e) or partner visa and is intending to migrate to your fiancé(e)/ spouse / partner’s home country / country of citizenship, you can register with the Commission (CFO) prior to your departure.
Please follow this link for the requirements and procedure:
Question 10.: My spouse is a foreigner and we’ve been married for several years. Am I still required to attend the Guidance and Counseling Program (GCP) of the CFO?
Answer: Answer: Yes, all fiancé (e) s/spouses/partners of foreign nationals or former Filipinos applying for passports and are traveling overseas must attend the Guidance and Counseling Program regardless of how long they’ve been married. Please visit the CFO for more information on your situation or call telephone numbers: 552-4740, 552-4769 or 552-4744
Question 11.: My spouse is a Filipino and was born in the Philippines. He has been naturalized and now holds foreign citizenship. Do I attend the PDOS or the Guidance and Counseling Program?
Answer: Answer: Since your husband now holds a foreign citizenship, you are required to attend the Guidance and Counseling Program of the CFO.
Question 12.: I have already attended the Guidance and Counseling Program and was given a certificate. Do I need to attend the seminar again if I need to renew to my passport?
Answer: Your CFO Guidance and Counseling Certificate is a lifetime copy or has no validity date. You will only be required to attend another GCP session if you have changed your petitioner or sponsor meaning -spouse/ fiancé(e)/ partner.
Question 13.: I need to renew my passport and my spouse is a foreigner. I am not going to migrate or live permanently abroad. Do I still need to attend the Guidance and Counseling Program?
Answer: Answer: For fiancé/ (e)s/spouses/partners of foreign nationals or former Filipinos, the guidance and counseling certificate is a requirement for passport renewal and is usually presented at the port of exit. You are required to attend the Guidance and Counseling Program.
Question 14.: I already have a guidance and counseling certificate and hold a temporary/ visitor visa. Do I still need to register at the CFO and be issued a sticker?
Answer: No. If you are fiancé (e)/ spouse/partner of a foreign national or a former Filipino and you hold a visitor/ tourist visa, you only need a guidance and counseling certificate from our office. Kindly present the CFO Guidance and Counseling Certificate (GCC) to the port of exit and show them your temporary/ visit visa and other requirements asked by your host country.
Question 15.: What is the legal basis of CFO?
Answer: Batas Pambansa 79 which created CFO defined Filipinos overseas as those who are permanent residents abroad, or immigrants in the countries where they live, or are spouses/partners/fiancé(e)s foreign nationals or former Filipinos residing abroad. It also includes Filipino emigrants who are citizens or awaiting naturalization in foreign countries, and their descendants.
For the past 3 decades, the CFO has implemented the Guidance and Counseling Program (GCP) for fiancé (e) s, spouses, and other partners of foreign nationals or former Filipino citizens. The Republic Act 10364 or the (“An Act Expanding the Anti-Trafficking in Person Act of 2012”) requires the conduct of mandatory counseling services for Filipinos in intermarriages.
The GCP is also a requirement under the implementing rules and regulations of the Republic Act 8239 or the Philippine Passport Act for Filipino fiancé/ (e) s, partners, and spouses of foreign nationals or former Filipino citizens who are applying for passport for the first time or adopting the surname of the foreign spouse.
Question 16.: Will I be required to present the Guidance and Counseling Certificate (GCC) at the port of exit or airport?
Answer: Section 16 of the Republic Act 10364 ("An Act Expanding the Anti-Trafficking in Person Act of 2012") states that: “Bureau of Immigration (BI) - shall strictly administer and enforce immigration and alien administration laws. It shall adopt measures for the apprehension of suspected traffickers both at the place of arrival and departure and shall ensure compliance by the Filipino fiancé (e) s, spouses and other partners of foreign nationals with the guidance and counseling requirement as provided for in this Act.”
The CFO Guidance and Counseling Certificate which is issued to the counselee after compliance to the program is presented to the Bureau of Immigration as indicated in the existing Guidelines on Departure Formalities for International- Bound Passengers. (http://www.immigration.gov.ph/)
Question 17.: How long will the GCP seminar/ session be?
Answer: The CFO counseling session takes a minimum of four (4) hours. It aims to provide you with adequate information regarding intermarriage and migration, the cultural and social realities abroad as well as available support networks for migrants in distress, among others.
In addition, we would like to stress that the CFO counseling program for fiancé(e)/ spouses/ partner of foreign nationals is based on the country of citizenship of the foreign national or former Filipino sponsor/petitioner. It can only accommodate 15 participants per session. We designed this small group’s session of four (4) hours to allow the participants greater interaction and more freedom to ask questions. The counselor or facilitator summarizes and synthesizes the participants’ interaction and sharing.
The final session is geared towards individual counseling where the counselor spends more time with counselee depending on the latter’s situation and may encourage submission of relevant documents (such as divorce papers, court decisions, annulment paper, certificate of no marriage, family registration, additional valid IDs, etc.) to address issues that surfaced during the counseling. This follow-up or one on one session could last for over an hour. In some cases the counselee and the counselor would agree to set another individual counseling appointment.
Question 18.: CFO is it a scam or promotes marriage fraud?
Answer: In the counseling process done by CFO, it was gathered that while many Filipino face the normal adjustments as foreign fiancé (e) s/spouses/ partners in their host countries, some became victims of abuses, exploitation and domestic violence, sexual exploitation or being sold for prostitution or forced labor.
Many counselees have reported numerous violations of the essential requisites of marriage evident in their respective marriage certificates. They claimed that the individuals who convicted them to marry the foreign nationals and facilitated the processing of their marriage documents may have access in the Local Civil Registrar. The CFO regularly works with the local enforcement agencies to track down and penalize unscrupulous agent/ individual or group that take advantage of marriage migrants and promotes human trafficking in the guise of intermarriage.
Several case operations with Presidential Anti-Organized Crime (PAOC), Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and other members of the Interagency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) were implemented against the marriage brokers and bureau through the information gathered from the Guidance and Counseling Program of the CFO.
Question 19.: How many marriage migrants are registered with CFO?
Answer: For the last ten (10) years (2003-2012), the number of Filipino female fiancé(e)s/spouses/ partners outnumbered their male counterparts by a ratio of approximately 12:1; or for every 100 spouses and partners registered in CFO, 91 are female and only 9 of them are male. Out of 206, 728 marriage migrant registrants over a ten year period, only 8% or 17, 513 were male while 92% or 189,215 were female. For the last 10 years, United States consistently emerged as the top destination of spouses and partners accounting to 45%, followed by Japan (22%) and Australia (7%).
Between 2003-2012, the highest number of registered marriage migrants was in 2006 with 24, 904 or 12% of the total number of permanent migrants registered with the CFO; next was in 2007 with 23,927 also 12%, then 2012 with 21,409 or 10%. A 6% increase from 2011 to 2012 was recorded.
Question 20.: What are the qualifications of the counselors?
Answer: The CFO which has been existing for more than three (3) decades has handled cases of overseas Filipinos in distress of varying circumstances: those who need to be repatriated; trafficking survivors needing legal assistance; marriage-related abuses of spouses of foreign nationals; victims of mail-order bride schemes, etc. the CFO’s Migrant Integration and Education Division (MIED), has invested for the longest time in maintaining professionals that will help counselees with marital issues, trafficking survivors and other overseas Filipinos in distress. These experts have been chosen on a multi-disciplinary basis, given the multi-dimensional and multi-faceted nature of the cases. (For your information, to date, the CFO has required the services counseling psychologists, registered guidance counselors and paralegal officers to handle the Guidance and Counseling Program.
Question 21.: Where does CFO get its funds?
Answer: All national agencies, including the CFO, are directed to remit all cash inflows to the National Government’s Treasury which generally aid in the national government expenditures. CFO’s budget is determined by the General Appropriations Act that requires annual deliberations of the House of Representative and the Senate, only after enactment of the bill will then the fiscal year for the national government agencies, including the CFO starts.