From AU to PH: The Reality of Getting CFO Sticker/Certificate Online and Onsite (if you have Partner Visa)

how to apply for CFO Certificate in the Philippines
If you have a valid Australian Partner Visa, and you don’t have this new CFO Sticker/Certificate yet, we recommend that you apply for your CFO Online Appointment before your departure from Australia to the Philippines, or days before your departure from the Philippines to Australia.

The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) conducts a mandatory Guidance and Counselling Program for departing Filippino spouses, fiancee/fiance, and other partners of foreign nationals. 

All Philippines nationals traveling to Australia should check with the CFO in order to comply with exit requirements.  This applies equally to whether you hold a temporary or permanent Australian visa.

Failure to comply with the CFO requirements may result in delays in departing the Philippines.

Note that getting your CFO Certificate is NOT 100% FREE


Here’s why:

This blog is about my personal experience when I tried to get my Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO) Sticker and Certificate to comply with the latest mandate of the Philippine government for all Immigrant visa holders, Filipino Fiance(e)/Spouse/Partner of Foreign National/Former Filipino Citizen/Dual Citizen with visa, are encouraged to register online via Overseas Filipinos – CFO Online Registration System or OF-CORS.

Through online registration, you do not need to go to any CFO office to avail of pre-departure services. You could just print their own OF-CORS Temporary Certificate, which will be presented to the Bureau of Immigration on the day of their departure from the Philippines.

I will also share with you why getting the CFO Sticker/Certificate is not 100% free, showing you some hidden, non-monetary costs. 








What is a CFO Sticker/Certificate?

According to CFO's website, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) – Guidance and Counseling Program (GCP) is a distinct program of the Philippine government which aims to protect the welfare of Filipino fiancĂ©(e)s and spouses of foreign nationals who plan to migrate overseas. It is a definite deterrent (or warning) to mail-order bride schemes and trafficking in the guise of marriage.

The CFO website states that there are options for online and onsite to attend the mandatory Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) Guidance and Counseling Program (GCP) in order to secure the Guidance and Counseling Certificate (GCC) and the CFO sticker.



Requirements for applying for CFO Sticker/Certificate:


1. Valid passport
2. Valid visa or visa grant notice 
3. Petitioner’s passport (meaning, your spouse’s passport)
4. Marriage Certificate or Report of Marriage (if available, but not required because Australia Law doesn’t require couples to be married)
5. Other additional documents may be required during the tele-counseling, you it is best you have them available with you;
    - Divorce Certificate/Annulment Paper (if your spouse/partner was previously married)
    - Proof of Residency/Alien Registration Card (of a foreign spouse)
    - Proof of relationship (such as emails, pictures, letters, joint bank account, etc.)
    - Travel Itinerary (only if the tele-counselor will ask)
    - Affidavit of invitation and support (only if the tele-counselor will ask)






How to get your CFO Certificate online (less hassle, but not really)

Here is the step-by-step guide on how to register online.

how to apply for CFO Certificate in the Philippines

Step 1 – Create your own account thru this link  - https://cfo.ph/Online_PDOS_Account_Creation/

Step 2 – Fill up the form. Attached a copy of your passport and visa. Then hit submit.

how to apply for CFO Certificate in the Philippines

Step 3 – Check your email for confirmation and wait for another email for your schedule of online tele-counseling.





What to do during the tele-counseling appointment

You will receive your schedule via email. Check your spam folder as well if you haven’t received it to your main inbox.

1. Tele-counselling is thru WhatsApp. If you haven’t downloaded this app, best to download it right away. WhatsApp has end-to-end encryption services and rests assured that your information and messages are all safe.

2. Your assigned counselor will send you something that you need to fill-up such as:

     -Your personal information (name, email, date of birth, your home addresses locally and abroad, your mobile number, contact details of your nearest local relatives, etc.)
     - Your civil status before the current relationship (either annulled, divorced, single, etc.)
     - How many children did you have in your past relationship (including their ages)?
     - Your highest educational attainment
     - Your occupation in the last 6 months
     - Your spouse’s personal information (name, email, date of birth, your home addresses locally and abroad, your mobile number, contact details of your nearest local relatives, etc.)
     - Your spouse’s civil status before the current relationship (either annulled, divorced, single, etc.)
     - How many children did your spouse have in his/her past relationship (including their ages)?

3. The assigned counselor will also ask you about your relationship information, such as:
     - How long is your relationship with your partner?
     - How, when, and where did you first meet?
     - Have you met your partner, personally?
     - Living status (living separately, or living together)
     - Plans for the future.

4. When you were asked about your relationship information, feel free to tell your love story. Sharing your travels and plans together is also good. You have to let your counselor know that your relationship is genuine, and it is not made for convenience.

5. Your tele-counselor might ask you for additional documents, which you can send thru WhatsApp.

6. After your tele-counselor was satisfied with your interview, wait for another email confirmation where you will know the details on how to pay for your CFO Sticker/Certificate.

email confirmation after tele-counseling
email confirmation after tele-counseling





How to pay for CFO Sticker/Certificate

Getting CFO Sticker/Certificate Online and Onsite

Payments are possible via several BAYAD Centers, Visa/Mastercard, Paymaya/Maya, or thru GCASH. 
CFO Sticker/Certificate costs Php30.00 plus convenience fees. Upon payment, screenshot the proof of payment and send it to your assigned tele-counselor. By then, you will receive an email with a temporary digital copy of your CFO certificate.

Getting CFO Sticker/Certificate Online and Onsite

This is my CFO Certificate (temporary) that I received from the CFO Office after the payment of my CFO Sticker and Certificate for pick-up. The certificate was signed by the assigned counselor. You can show your digital/pdf copy of your CFO Certificate to the Immigration Officer during your departure from the Philippines to abroad. 






Expectation versus Reality

Getting CFO Sticker/Certificate Online and Onsite

For the sake of this blog, I decided to pick up the actual CFO Sticker/Certificate at their main office in Manila. 

My experience was very stressful and very opposite to what I expected during and after the tele-counseling.

My schedule of the pick-up was 2:00PM 5th of January 2023 at their main office in Manila. I thought, everything will be fine and just a usual pick-up of documents. But I was wrong.

I was given the same forms that I previously filled up online, and told me that it was necessary. I’m glad that I brought all the documents I submitted online, including my passport and my husband’s passport. I waited for hours before they called my name, and I undergo another counseling interview, because the staff said, ‘it is necessary’.

Getting CFO Sticker/Certificate Online and Onsite

Overall, it was a redundant process. I spend and waited for 3 hours, from 2:00PM to 4:00PM before they released the actual CFO Certificate and Sticker.

Getting CFO Sticker/Certificate Online and Onsite

Getting CFO Sticker/Certificate Online and Onsite

For the sake of principle, I endure many inconveniences just to get the actual CFO Sticker/Certificate that I could present to the Immigration Office upon departure. This is for me to avoid chances to meet a Filipino ‘Karen’ the immigration which will cause delays and stress during my flight.






Additional tips when visiting CFO Office in Manila

Getting CFO Sticker/Certificate Online and Onsite

1. There is NO parking area in CFO Office in Manila, and it will be a great hassle for you if you tried to do it in person. Arrive early at your scheduled time.

2. Bring all the documents you have in case they will ask for them. You’ve got to be prepared.

3. Bring snacks and water with you. There is no nearest shop to buy snacks, and they don’t provide refreshments. Do not go when your stomach is empty.

4. Bring a book or play games with your phone while waiting. Trust me, you will NEED IT.

5. Wearing a face mask is now optional, however, have it handy in case they will require you to wear a face mask. 

6. Bring your vaccination certificate.

7. Bring a lot of patience. Be prepared for a local ‘Karen’.


Getting CFO Sticker/Certificate Online and Onsite

CFO – Commission on Filipino Overseas
Address: Citigold Center, 1345 Quirino Ave, Paco, Manila, 1007 Metro Manila, Philippines
Website: https://cfo.gov.ph/






Have you applied for your CFO Sticker/Certificate? How are your experiences?



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7 comments :

  1. This is very informative. I’m sure a lot of Filipinos planning to migrate to AU will benefit from your blog post. They may have been having a difficult time transitioning from the old school or ‘nakasanayan na’ process to an online (at least for the first part of the whole process) process that is why they still asked you to fill out the same forms.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Though most PH government agencies are transitioning, let's not disregard that they make the process redundant and still very slow. In this generation, we have no time to waste.

      Delete
  2. ang helpful! etong mga ganitong blog entry talaga ang dapat dumami kasi madaming natutulungan!

    ReplyDelete
  3. OMG, welcome back to the Philippines where all process, including the unnecessary ones, take very looooooong! May online kunwari, pero may in person pa rin fill out of the same dang forms pa rin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Their slow process only attracts many issues. Nkaka-stress talaga at hindi ko masisi karamihan sa mga OFW kung lagi sila mag-vent.

      Delete
  4. This CFO Counselling was often talked about by Filipino spouses of Koreans when I was still living in Korea. That time, they had to attend the counselling in person. I was not sure though if they can apply online first. At least, that's less travel back and forth.

    ReplyDelete

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