Monday, July 22, 2013

Expat-Blog Post: FAQs Part II

This is supposed to be part two of my blog written last 23rd of February (see blog here), but honestly, the following questions are already randomly gathered from my Facebook and from Expat Blog Forum. There might me few questions already answered in part one, but I have to post again, because I have been receiving the same question again and again. Here it goes!

Q: What is the difference between Marriage Visa and Fiance Visa?
A: Nothing. These two visa are one and the same. It just so happened that in the Philippines (or maybe in other parts of the world too), we often hear people referring to it as fiance visa because for one, he is your fiance, and secondly, applying for US visa uses more of this term. But for Germany, they use the term marriage visa.

Q: Is it easier to get Marriage Visa than getting married in the Philippines?
A: It all depends on which city or state your fiance/e lives. Most of the people I know (my classmates in Goethe Institut Makati) waited for at least six months before they get their visa. But I know one who took only a month for her to get the fiance visa. It all depends, whether the background check is necessary for the place you would be migrating, and whether the agent who would conduct the background check does it fast and the lawyer signs it immediately. Just a tip: once you had your interview, follow up after three weeks or a month would not be harmful, in this case, your application remains on top of their priority. Your fiance can do the follow up through email, they do answer immediately.

Q: Which one did you apply?
A: We got married in the Philippines, so I applied for family reunion visa (Familienzusammenführung). For more information about this visa, I answered it already in part one of this FAQs.

Q: Is background check really necessary?
A: Yes. And it takes a while, especially when you lived in different cities from the time you are 18 years of age up to the present. My friend who got her fiance visa was not investigated prior to waiting for visa, but she was after their marriage here in Germany, that's why her residence permit took a bit of a time. There is no way out of this investigation. In my case, I was also not investigated (or maybe I was but I am not aware because no one told me or my family because my husband paid €200+ while processing his Ehefähigkeitszeugnis [Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage] and if they did, they did not send a copy of this investigation to the German Embassy in the Philippines for the reason I don't know) but the embassy asked me to submit an NBI clearance a week before they released my visa, because they said the Ausländersamt where my husband lives sent them an email that a background check is not necessary, and they do not have any legal records about my personality and history. Am I sounding clear on this part? Because I guess the Ausländersamt here are getting some pleas from German fiances or spouses asking them to scrape out the background check in order to get the visa as soon as possible. It is possible, but one must not force the government agencies deciding for the visa to do so because it is also for your own good. Imagine that you have met your fiance or spouse online, and spent only 3 months together every year, how sure are you that he/ she is a good person? That the intentions are clean, that they are not just after your money or after the citizenship? It is all for the security and records, nothing would be lost having this background check. I was glad that my visa took only a while, but also questioned why they did not conduct a background check on my part. They made my husband sign a document that he is capable of providing for me as his wife once I live here in Germany and I would never register in Arbeitsamt in order to get a monthly stipend from the government once I am here. Everything worked in my favor, but it was a bit unfair for my husband in a way, and I was thinking this background check would have been one way for me to repay my husband. But at least they asked for my NBI clearance. I guess, it was fair enough (sorry, my line of thoughts here is a bit complicated, but I hope you did get my point. ;) ).

Q: I have a kid from my past marriage/ ex boyfriend. How will I be able to bring him/ her with me to Germany?
A: I am afraid, I can only answer this question IF you are applying for family reunion visa. Your kid would also have family reunion visa. You may apply for it together with your visa application. Just make sure that his/ her name is also stated on the invitation letter of your husband/ wife. If he/ she is below 16 years old, he/ she does not need German language course. But once he/ she is 16 years of age, he/ she needs already language certificate, the kid must reach the level of C1 of language proficiency. If you are applying for fiance visa, I still haven't heard of anyone who got here to get married and travelled together with her kid. Logically speaking, it is still not possible to bring the kid, because the marriage has not yet taken place, and it can still happen, that the marriage would not happen at all. So for marriage visa application, it is only you on first application and once you got your residence permit, you may already apply a visa for your kid, via family reunion visa. It is however difficult to leave this visa application while you are in Germany, because they are strict against child trafficking or any related crimes. They would not process passport application with only a authorization letter, the mother must be there. If the kid do have a passport already, the guardian needs a special power of attorney to get the visa processing. The rest of the requirements of the kid can be found in the website, Family Reunion Visa requirements.

Q: We've heard a lot about marrying in Denmark and that the processing is easy. How true is that?
A: Yes, getting married there is relatively easy. From what I've heard, the German does not need his legal capacity to contract marriage to get married there. That is one reason why it is easy. If you have your Philippines documents with you during your tourist visa (birth certificate, CENOMAR, annullment certificate, in case married before, passport with visa), you can get married within a week! The problem lies AFTER the marriage. I have heard of some states and cities wherein the Pinay does not need to go back to the Philippines, then they are one lucky couple! But most states or cities require the Filipina to leave the country and apply for family reunion visa, which brings it all back to the difficult part: the report of marriage takes months before it gets available in NSO in the Philippines! And the need to have the A1 language certificate! So the waiting time you wanted to avoid is again there to stress you out. One acquaintance who got married in Hongkong told me that after their marriage, they brought the apostille immediately to the Philippines Embassy to process the report of marriage. She immediately got a copy of report of marriage and she applied for the family reunion visa with this report of marriage. Now, for the Philippines Embassy in Oslo, the embassy that is responsible for marriages in Denmark, I am not sure of their procedure. A friend recently got married there, but up to this time, they never received any copy of report of marriage. My friend brought the original copy of the signed apostille and applied for family reunion visa using this signed apostille and yes, she was entertained in the Embassy! As for CEMAR (certificate of marriage) from NSO, they did accept the CENOMAR since they are aware it takes months before the marriage would be registered in the Philippines. Before you get into this process, research first. Read more, and ask the Ausländersamt on what to do before and after marriage. Do not get into this process without complete information. The Ausländersamt is and will be our best friend government agency until we decide to get a German citizenship (which in my case, I will not!).

Q: I heard that before a migrant leaves the country, one must have this CFO sticker. What is that?
A: It is a new procedure. Some says it treats the migrants as milking cow. It is an agency that conducts pre-departure seminar. What is discussed in the seminar are basic things: what are the important documents you must have at hand once you step in the airport (things that one must know by heart, such as passport with visa, and copy of your invitation letter or work contract, simply all the documents you sent during the visa application), what are the things you are allowed to have on your baggage and on your hand carry luggages (which one can also read on the airline websites) and how much are the travel tax and the terminal fee. After these things are discussed, you are divided into groups, the US-bound groups, the Europe-bound groups and so on. In these groups, cultural differences are discussed and for fiance or spouses of foreign nationals, they show slide shows of some not-so-good-experiences of some Filipinos in the foreign land. It is sort of like unconsciously asking the group, "are you sure about this? Do you really know your spouse already?" Afterwards, they would ask you to sign a form, in this form, the contact details of your fiance or spouse must be filled in and the contact details of your family in the Philippines. If you already have your visa, you may get your sticker at the same day you attended the seminar, if not, you will be asked to keep the yellow certificate (this, by the way, is also needed for you to apply for change of surname on your passport if you are married to foreign nationals and would wanted to use his surname) and present this again to them once you got your visa. It all takes only one whole day to attend the seminar and get the sticker. Why are we milking cows? Because it is not for free, and you must pay for everything, the seminar, the booklet, the sticker and for what in return? For information that one can get online. But then, maybe because not everyone is patient enough to research online, hence, they need some guide. Mind you, if your passport does not have this sticker, you would NOT be allowed to leave the country, regardless if you have your flight itinerary and visa!  Stricter than the visa, right? For more information, visit: http://cfo.gov.ph. By the way, if your case is similar to my friend, who only got a signed apostille from Denmark and no report of marriage or anything, they do accept the apostille, just make sure you already have your visa once you get there. It would be processed like with normal immigrants, and not like with people with family reunion visa.

Q: I wanted to work in Germany, what is the best way to get there?
A: I have been receiving tons of this question after the agreement between Germany and Philippines on getting nurses and caregivers. If you are a licensed nurse, I suggest that you go to the POEA website (or personally at POEA office) to get more information on how to get here as a guest worker. Please take note, only POEA works on this and there are NO agencies, so beware of that. There may be agencies working with POEA about this agreement, but that is more on giving trainings and language courses for successful applicants, and it has nothing to do with the employer nor security of getting here fast. I would like to take this chance too to warn you of illegal recruiters and leaving you as illegal migrants here. Life as illegal migrants here in Germany is not an experience you would wanted to have (or maybe anywhere in the world). Isn't it nice to live in a country without fear of getting caught? So please, contact only POEA for details. If you are graduate of other courses, I am afraid I do not know any other way, unless of course, applying online on these company websites. Some websites I use to find jobs here are: http://www.jobscout24.de, and http://www.monster.de. If you get lucky to find an employer who's willing to make an interview through Skype or something, then, congratulations! You may apply for work visa once you get a legitimate contract with your new employer.

I guess I got to post most of the questions already. Will get back once I get new questions and gathered new information for all of you. (One reason why my husband told me that I can actually start my own office here as a consultant, I just need to take a certain exam to be a social worker, maybe I would think about that.)


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