Q: I am a 27-year old nurse and I’ve been working abroad for several years now. This year, I am coming home to marry my girlfriend of 4 years, but will soon have to leave again. What papers do I need to file so she can join me abroad as my spouse? How long does the process usually take?
A: Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials, Jerome! Unfortunately, I may have some trouble giving you a complete answer because I don’t know which country you are referring to, nor whether you have already changed your citizenship or if you just have a permanent residence/work visa for that country. Different rules apply to each situation, but for purposes of this discussion, I will assume that you have already obtained an immigrant status in the country where you work since you say that you have been working there for several years. For brevity and convenience, I will refer to the U.S. visa requirements here since I cannot list every country’s requirements. If your country of work is not the U.S., it is best to contact that particular embassy directly for more information.
If you are already a foreigner and you are getting married in the Philippines, you first need to obtain a "Certificate of Legal Capacity of Contract Marriage" from your country’s embassy in the Philippines. However, please note that the U.S. Embassy only provides an “Affidavit In Lieu of Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry”, not a certification. Once you have obtained this Certificate of Legal Capacity from your Embassy, you can file an application for a marriage license at the office of the Philippine civil registrar in the city where your girlfriend is a resident. For applicants who are U.S. citizens, they will also need to present: (1) a divorce decree(s) or death certificate(s) required to verify civil status and capacity to marry (in case the American citizen was previously married); (2) U.S. passport; and (3) documentation regarding parental consent or advice (those aged 18-21 must present parental consent, while those aged 22-24 must have parental advice).
In your fiancée’s case, she will need to present the following documents for the marriage registration: (1) an NSO-issued Birth Certificate, (2) Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR) from the NSO, (3) a notarized declaration statement from two people stating that the Philippine national is not married, and (4) a notarized letter of consent from parents if she is below 25 years. Afterward, you will need to present all the mentioned documents (for both the foreigner and the Filipino) to the civil registrar for an application for a marriage license.