CFO Seminar and Emigrant Sticker: How I finally got mine
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After nearly 12 years of marriage, the birth of my son, and more roundtrip journeys between Manila and Chennai than I care to count, the CFO Seminar requirement caught up with me at long last.
I first heard about the CFO Seminar in 2013 when I had a reunion lunch with a former co-worker who had married an American. While sharing tales of homesickness and adjusting to life in a foreign country, she recounted an amusing anecdote about the CFO seminar she’d been to. I was confounded: What seminar? It’s a seminar that all Filipino spouses of foreign nationals must attend in order to be allowed to fly out of the Philippines, I was told. I’d lived abroad with my Indian husband and traveled in and out of the Philippines many times, and not once was I asked to show proof of CFO seminar attendance. I quickly dismissed it as a new requirement that didn’t apply retroactively to those who’d gotten hitched many years ago.
But the CFO seminar quandary continued to hound me. On my numerous trips to the Indian Embassy in Manila to obtain an OCI card, I saw a number of Filipino-Indian couples there and often overhead them talking about the CFO requirement. When I collected my OCI card and visa, an embassy employee gently reminded that me to have an Emigrant Sticker from the CFO affixed on my passport. I’m not one to believe in “signs,” but I finally accepted that the universe had been dropping me hints all along.
CFO stands for the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, a government agency mandated to, among other things, register all Filipinos leaving the country as spouses or partners of foreign nationals. As part of the registration process, Filipino spouses/partners attend a seminar, officially called the Guidance and Counselling Program (GCP), at designated CFO offices. A GCP Certificate is awarded to participants upon completion. If the Filipino happens to have a resident or spouse visa, his or her passport is also affixed with an Emigrant Sticker. Otherwise, the Filipino only gets the GCP Certificate and must return for the Emigrant Sticker when he or she is granted the spouse/immigrant visa. As you might have guessed, the ultimate aim of the seminar and counseling is to help prevent human trafficking, mail-order brides, fake marriages and some such shenanigans.
Participants must set an appointment online at the CFO website to secure a slot in the seminar. Seminars are country-specific and are held both in the morning and in the afternoon. The seminar, which includes one-on-one counseling, runs for four hours and imparts useful information related to intermarriage and migration, the cultural and social realities of living abroad, and available networks of support for victims of abuse.
I reached the CFO office at the Citigold Building along Pres. Quirino Avenue in Manila, 30 minutes ahead of my 1PM schedule. Before being allowed into the seminar room, I had to fill in a registration form and submit photocopies of my and my husband’s passports, NSO Report of Marriage, OCI card and visa. Afterwards, I was instructed to pay the P400 registration fee at the cashier on the ground floor. We were asked to leave our passports with the cashier, where we would be collecting it, along with the GCF Certificate and Emigrant Sticker (if applicable) when the seminar was over. After I showed them my payment receipt, they took a photo of me using a webcam. The photo would later grace my GCF Certificate.
At 1PM, I, along with 12 women and one man, was called into one of seminar rooms. Two other seminars were being conducted simultaneously in separate rooms; ours was specifically for partners of citizens of Asia and the Pacific. The air conditioning was exceptionally cold. I suggest you take a jacket to keep you warm.
While we waited for the seminar to start, each of us was called to a one-on-one interview with the counselor in the main receiving area. Among the questions generally asked by the counselor are:
1. How did you meet your partner/spouse?
2. What is your partner/spouse’s occcupation?
3. How long have you known each other?
4. Have you met your partner in person? (this question is apparently for unmarried Filipinos who have been interacting with their foreigner boyfriend/girlfriend solely online)
5 Have you visited/lived with your partner/spouse abroad?
6. What are your long-term plans, particularly regarding living arrangements, work, family, etc.
The questions had to be modified for me, as I’ve been married for 12 years and have lived abroad with my husband. The counselor was very friendly and professional and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. I actually enjoyed our “chat” and didn’t notice that 20 minutes had passed. Before concluding the interview, he asked to see a family photograph. He took one look at the photo and asked if the my son also had an OCI card and visa. When I answered yes, he informed me that my son will also need to be registed with the CFO and have an Emigrant Sticker stamped on his passport. As a minor, Motito is exempted from attending a Peer Counseling Program for Filipino Youth Emigrants (13-19 years old). To confirm his visit to the CFO, I was advised to first reserve him a slot in the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS), even if he would not be participating, prior to coming to the CFO office to get his Emigrant Sticker.
When everybody had finished with the interview, the counselor proceeded with the seminar. He started by explaining the purpose of the seminar, before discussing issues pertinent to spouses /partners of foreigners. Among the topics he touched upon were the social, legal and financial implications of marrying a foreigner, the realities of living in a different country, and adjusting to the ways and traditions of the spouse’s homeland. We heard cautionary tales of Filipinos, mostly women, who had been deceived into fake marriages and became victims of human trafficking. We learned of women who had suffered domestic abuse in the hands of their foreign spouses. The seminar enlightened us of our rights as Filipinos overseas and underscored the importance of forming and maintaining a circle of friends or confidantes for emotional support and safety. We were advised to note down the contact information of Philippine embassies and consular offices in our destination countries, as well as be aware of available support networks for women in distress. The seminar concluded with a pre-departure orientation, which imparted useful advice about how to pack for our destinations, what documents to bring, and what time we needed to be at the airport.
After the seminar, we proceeded to the cashier area on the ground floor to collect our passports and GCF Seminar. I found out I was the only one in our group whose passport was affixed with an Emigrant Sticker. As soon as I arrived home, I logged on to the CFO website to confirm my son’s visit to the CFO office. Two days later, I found myself at the CFO-Manila building again, this time with my son in tow. We approached the registration counter and presented Motito’s barcoded confirmation form, along with photocopies of his passport, NSO Report of Birth, OCI card and visa. The counselor verified Motito’s registration documents before instructing me to proceed with payment of the P400 registration fee. After a five-minute wait, we got his passport affixed with an Emigrant Sticker. Now, mother and son are free to leave the country and settle abroad, if only we could make up our minds about it.
if we apply and got the OCI card visa in india and then we can able to get CFO sticker in philippines embassy on INDIA itself? is ithat possible if yes can you tell me how we can CFO sticker and get in philippines embassy on INDIA
The CFO sticker can only be obtained in the Philippines.
im pil citizen and im staying now in india.i already marry a indian citizen.is it possible i can apply in phil embassy in india a permanent visa?
Hi, Rosie. If you are referring to the OCI card for spouses of Indian citizens, please visit the Indian Government’s website for OCI Card Application.
My wife attended seminar for CFO and got the GUIDANCE AND COUNSELING CERTIFICATE, now me ( indian Husband ) married my wife ( Filipino citizon) legal married and have NSO marriage certificate all and now we are living more than 2 years in india together now my wife going to apply OCI Card in india itself after taking the OCI card can we show the GUIDANCE AND COUNSELING CERTIFICATE in Philippines embassy in INDIA and can take same like you have pasted the Commision on Filipino overseas sticket ( EMIGRANT NO) visa same like that for my wife we can als have that in philippines embassy and do they give the EMIGRAN NO Bisa?
Hello, Ramiah. As far as I know, the CFO sticker can only be obtained in the Philippines, not in the Philippine embassies or consulates. Your wife can get it from the CFO office when she visits the Philippines. She only has to show the Guidance and Counseling Certificate (as proof that she has attended it already), NSO marriage certificate, and copies of your and her passports.
Any advice, my fiancee will have his CFO seminar a day before his flight to the US. You think it’s not a problem? The certificate and sticker are both issue after the seminar right? Thanks
That is correct. The certificate and sticker are both issued after the seminar on the same day.
Hi sis ask ko lng i have already my CFO(GCP) i got it last year my husband is indian his in malaysia now.,now i have baby already plan namin mag travel ng baby ko as tourist visa only so hindi ko na kailangan kumuha ng CFO STICKER?
Dba ang cfo sticker para lng sa mga mag ma migrate? Thnak u po
You are correct. You will only need the CFO sticker if you are immigrating, because you need to show an immigrant visa (or its equivalent) in order to get it.
Am an Indian Citizen and my wife is philippines citizen , we life together around 2 years in INDIA when my come to india with ENTRY (X-Vixa ) which is valid for 5 years and 2 times in INDIA FRRO we register and then the office in FRRO ask us next time when we come to FRRO ( indian immigration office) they ask will issue the OCI card for my wife in philippines passport, so is that my wife once she got the OCI card in INDIA and can travel back to philippines and get the CFO sticker in her passport (she already attended CFO seminar and got the CFO guidance certificate) so she can get the CFO sticket in her passport in manila CFO office or once my wife got the OCI card in INDIA and philippines embassy in INDIA itself issue the CFO sticker in her passport please let me know.
Hello i have attented the seminar last year December… Now I’ve got my visa approved.. Do I need to set an appointment to get the immigrant sticker? Thank you
As far as I know, you don’t need to set an appointment to get the immigrant sticker. You can simply walk-in with all the pertinent documents (passport with visa, CFO seminar/certificate, etc.), and you’ll be given the sticker after a short wait.
Thank you so much. This is really helpful
What if i missed my cfo last saturday but i have my reasons can i walk in tomorrow for another seminar ? I have flight in the 22nd of march . And i need my cfo tomorrow please
Please reply . I am so hopeless right now
Hi, SHai. Only the people at CFO can answer your question. I suggest you reach out to them and explain your dilemma. Good luck.
Hi I just want to ask regarding the sticker of CFO.I had already done with the seminar.My husband is a American and he is working in Japan, i have a tourist VISA for just days. Do i need to a sticker from CFO. please help me regarding my situation.Thank you and God bless
You are eligible for a CFO sticker only when you have been granted an immigrant or fiancee visa.
hi, Am I eligible for a CFO sticker, as I am a Non-EEA family member holding a recidency card permit and were planning to have a vacation there in the philippines this coming june.
As far as I read as well to the forums regarding CFO you can only obtain it from the philippines not on the foreign country.. I need an advice please….
I’ve been living with my dutch husband for 5 years in the carribeans. I attended the CFO guidance counseling and I was able to obtain my certificate but not emigration sticker.I lost my certificate should I apply again?Even if I had attended it before?Will it be a problem in case I want to visit the Philippines and go out again?
I really have no idea, but I think it’s reasonable to expect that the CFO would keep a database of those who have attended the seminar.
Can i get my sticker at the airport or should i get it in your office? Please help me. Your office doesnt anyone to handle my calls. Thnx
Hi, I already attended my seminar at cfo last year and I got my guidance counseling certificate, also I paid 400 pesos. Do i need to set an appointment again when I go there to get my cfo sticker on my passport? I already have my us spouse visa. Thanks
You don’t need an appointment to get the CFO sticker.
NEED HELP! I was married abroad so I only have one original copy of our Report of Marriage. Are they going to take it? I need it for other important legal matters too 🙁
You can obtain certified true copies of your Report of Marriage from the NSO/PSA. To answer your question: they do not keep the original copy/or CTO of the Report of Marriage or any document, only the photocopies.
Hello Kabayan, I was also married abroad and only have my original marriage certificate. May I know kung accept ba nila ung original marriage mo. If hinde, pwede pong malaman kung ano naging advise nila sa inyo., Many many thanks po.
You’ll need to report the marriage to the NSO through the Philippine Embassy where you got married. Otherwise, you can go to the foreign embassy here in the Philippines and have it authenticated to be accepted in the PH.
Hi, just a question po. My passport and visa bears my maiden name. Thing is, I got married here in Australia and is about to report my marriage to one of the Phil embassies here and assumes that once nso releases my marriage certificate MY SURNAME CHANGES INTO MY HUSBAND’s. Does it matter if I have different surnames(my passport and visa differ from my marriage cert) ? Will the cfo require me to update my passport? Thought you might have an idea 🙂 otherwise I will ring them about this thank you . God bless!
I wish I could help you, Sheila, but I’ve always used my maiden name so I’ve never run into this kind of quandary.
What are the requirements for the CFO sticker? When can one go??
Thank you for a very interesting and good article. I have a spouse that is in the Philipines now. She is going to attend the CFO seminar august 8. We have the marriage certificate from the norwegian government, but did not hear anything from the Phil embassy in norway after we registered our marriage. I see that the requirement is duly stamped by the embassy or DFA? Is that really needed you think?
Thanks a lot!!
Your wife can either a.) Get the Norwegian marriage certificate stamped by the embassy or DFA or b.) Obtain a certified true copy of the Report of Marriage from the Philippine Statistics Authority (formerly known as the National Statistics Office). I recommend option B.
Hello…need help…I got CFO certificate and stamp in my passport (that was 2 years ago in fiance visa) My question is,do I need to do the seminar again if I change my name in my passport? I haven’t change it though..(its still in my maiden name),just want to make sure coz Im thinking about visit the phils soon..thanks
There would be no need to attend the seminar again.
My question is, can i just have nso birth certi marriage certi? Are they going to accept it if its in nso not psa? Because im worried. I gave my original docs to the US embassy. I only have photocopies of it.
They’ll accept the NSO certificates. It’s the same agency under its old name. But I’m not sure if they’ll accept the photocopies without seeing the original. They’ll need to compare the original to the photocopies.
I mean original NSO/PSA certificates, which are certified true copies of the original and printed on security paper. Not the original marriage certificate or the original birth certificate.
Very useful article. I am in the exact same situation as you were. Must have traveled to India countless times and just today this bummer came stopping me to get my passport renewed. Really tired of Filipino ways of doing things but your post here is very helpful
I’d been really lucky to have unwittingly dodged the CFO requirement for a long time.:)
hello this is len I just wanna to ask if after the seminar they will give us the cfo certificate together with the stamp of the cfo sticker in our passport at the same day? my husband is a korean and they required as to attend seminar of 2 days …thanks
You will get the CFO certificate on the same day, right after the seminar. If you already have an immigrant visa/status, you will also have the CFO sticker affixed to your passport.
hi tanung kulang po my husband is frm new zealand pero nasa australia cya ngayon at kuha po aq ng torist visa to australia ..kailangan ko pa ba bumalik sa cfo ofice for the sticker?
Hi im amera in im married arab jordanian i just want to known how i apply CFO.
Its ok i GO direct in the office without online..i have already visa…
Good day po .. just wanna ask . .my husband is from sri lanka he is working i uae and he plan to take family visa in uae .. do i need to get the stickers if i have the entry permit only in uae .. ( i have the cfo certificate already ) . Thank you in advance for the reply 😊
You will need the sticker only when you receive your immigrant visa/status.
Hi! Same tayo ng situation. Nakapunta ka na ba ng UAE? Ano ginawa mo? My husband is dutch but living in UAE. I will be under his visa so entry permit lang din makukuha ko hindi immigrant visa.
Asked ko lng po regarding cfo plan po kc nmin ng indian bf ko na mgpakasal sa uae don po kc sya based.My appoinment npo ako sa cfo this coming week..
May visa na rin po ako 3months
Hi ask lng po’ ako kaka renew ko lng nang passport witch is I have change my maiden name I’m married to indian d pa po ako nka kuha ng cfo plan to travel next month kmi ng mga anak ko so need ba tlaga kumuha ng cfo kc oci holderfdn mi sa India ..thank u
Yes, you still need to get the CFO.
CFO is mandatory for immigrant spouses?
Yes, it is.
Hello po,may anak po ako na 17 years old. Kinuha ko po xa ng eligibility papunta s japan. Need pa po b nya mag seminar cfo? At need po b dapat my visa na bago mag seminar?at ano ano po mga requirements. Thank u
Hello admin, I just wanted to ask about one particular requirement for the CFO’s guidance counseling program — the marriage certificate. Since I got married in US, the requirement is an authenticated marriage certificate by the Philippine embassy in US or DFA. The thing is I wasn’t able to register my marriage certificate in the Philippine Embassy in US before I moved out of the country. I went to DFA in Manila for authentication but they said they said they won;t be able to since the marriage was not done in the Phillippines. What should I do ? hoping to hear a response from you. Here is my email as well. email@example.com
Hi sis. Ask ko lang sana ano requirement ng pagkuha ng cfo sticker ng 3 year old. Dual na kasi ngayon siya meron siya philippines passport at korean passport. kapag dual citizens naba baby ko. Do i need cfo sticker sa philippines passport niya.
Hello po ask ko lng po ng siminar n po ako 6 yrs ago then nag expired visa ko po so ngayon apply po ulit. Do i need to go for another siminar and my 2 kids? Kailangan po ba my appt before pumunta sa cfo.
Good day! Just want to ask for some clarifications about the seminar and having the certificate and sticker.. After attending the seminar can you have your certificate and sticker right away? or need to go back another day to get it? thank you
Yes, immediately after the seminar, you will receive the certificate and sticker. Sorry for the late post. I’ve been busy with my online job.
Hello good day, ask ko lang po, my boyfriend is an Indian, and we are planning to get married here in Philippines by October. After our marriage, should I process my immigrant visa even without my visa going to India. And my surname is still in my maiden name or I should renew my passport that shows my husband surname? Thank you?
Do you mean the sticker? You are advised to take the CFO Seminar and get the Emigrant Sticker before going to India with your soon-to-be-husband.
Hello po, aatend po sana ako ng seminar kaso po isa lang yung ID ko school ID lang ..nag try po akong kumuha ng postal I.D kaso 3 weeks pa bago dumating? Ok lang ba na isang school I.D at passport ? Tapos mga supporting documents .Tinatanggap ba nila yung Marriage Certificate na issued ng Local Civil Registrar?
Requirements for Registration (according to the CFO Website): For your queries, better call them up, because they’re the ones to decide. Good luck.
Original and Photocopy of Passport (biographic page with information and photo);
Original and Photocopy of Birth Certificate (From NSO or CTC from Local Civil Registrar duly authenticated by NSO)
Original and Photocopy of Visa, if applicable
Original and Photocopy of Marriage Contract, if married (From NSO or CTC from Local Civil Registrar duly authenticated by NSO)
Photocopy of Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR)
Photocopy of proof of termination of any prior marriage(s) (court certified copies of divorce decrees, annulments or registrar certified copies of death certificates), if applicable.
Original CFO guidance and counseling certificate;
Duly completed emigrant registration form; and
Payment of the authorized registration fee.
hello po! uuwi po ako ng pinas this week. ditto po ako kinasal sa Denmark. meron po ako permanent resident ID card. need ko pa po ba ng CFO? Salamat po
Yes po, kailangan po talaga.
hello po! uuwi po ako ng pinas this week. Dito po ako kinasal sa Denmark last January. meron po ako permanent resident card. need ko pa po ba ng CFO? 6 days lng po ako sa pinas sundo lang sa anak ko. Salamat!
Hi po my fiance is sri Lankan and we are 4 years relationship and last 4 years we are working together in Qatar and 2016 he visit me and my family in the Philippines and this Sept I’m back to Philippines for good and now I want to visit him in sri Lanka and we plan to get married there and I plan to travel alone to sri Lanka . Since I’m not married to him and he’s not with me for attend the seminar it’s a problem to get the CFO ?
I hope someone can help me. My fiancé is a British citizen and I just got my Visa last Thursday 11th October. However the appoved date for my visa to be valid would be on 23rd December this year. I haven’t done with the CFO seminar yet. My problem is that my fiAncé already booked a flight for me on 23rd December at 4am departure, my solicitor told me I can’t get the CFO sticker not until the 23rd of December. My question would be, do I really have to wait til 23rd of December to get the sticker after I attend for a seminar and get a certificate within this month?
23rd of December falls on Sunday I’m afraid their office is close and the next following days will be Christmas holidays. Can I just attend a seminar, and get a certificate and sticker before December?
Your answer is highly appreciated
What were the documents you uploaded on the oci website? I know you’ve posted a link on the requirements but they’re not specific. Did you give attested documents (either by Indian or Phil foreign affairs) like marriage contract your birth cert your son’s birth cert husband’s passport anything else?
Hi po ask ko lng po kailangan ko pa po bang kumuha nang CFO sticker kung meron na po akong CFO cert. Kasi kukuha po ako nang visa sa malaysia wala kasing embassy yung country nang husband ko dito sa Pilipinas so balak ko po sanang pumunta nang Malaysia para kumuha nang visa at pag na approved didiretso nlng sa country nang husband ko!
Pwedi po ba yun?
hello po..ask ko lng po kung ok lng na mag attend ng CFO at the same day flight paalis ng pinas po???nabook na po kc ng fiance ko ung tiket ko ng june19, 2019 ng 9pm flight..pero ang available na slot nlng po sa CFO eh june 19 ng 2-5pm..pwd po bang dumiretso sa airport pagktpos nung seminar po??