Hello, my name is Bill Barlow and I wanted to take this time to try to explain the reasons why I believe that taking a guided tour to the Philippines is better than the pen pal approach. I’ve tried both and I’d like to tell you, in my own words, why a tour is 100 times better than just writing to girls you’ve never met.

My own personal experience may help illustrate this point. I was divorced in 1988 and spent a considerable amount of time grieving and way too much time away from the dating scene. Finally, I decided to try to find another special someone, and for reasons most of you that are reading this will understand, I decided to look at the advertisements of young women from the orient that were arriving in my mail box regularly. To make a long, frustrating story short, I must have written three or four hundred letters to young women over a four year period, establishing mail relationships with several dozen.

The problems were numerous, from misunderstandings due to language and customs, to actual fraudulent activity. I even had one young lady ask me to send three hundred dollars to help with postage. THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR POSTAGE??!!!

Then there are the experiences you hear from others who have tried to do this on their own in the Philippines. The girls who are writing dozens of guys at a time trying to get money from them. (I wonder if any of my pen pals were doing that?). I’ve even heard of cases of Philippine MEN who are writing to American men, pretending to be a young lady. There is a cottage industry in the Philippines, getting money out of the so called “wealthy Americans”.

Then you show up in the Philippines to meet your pen pal. After she has hit you up for money for processing her visa, maybe several thousand for wedding preparations and travel fare for her and all her relatives to come and meet you when you arrive at the airport, you find out that she is nothing like you imagined from the pictures and letters you exchanged or even worse, she doesn’t even show up. Basically you’ve wasted a trip, half way around the world.

After hearing these kinds of stories, I decided to take a tour to the Philippines, to see a pen pal I had been writing to for many months. When I arrived in the Philippines, I met one of her friends before I met her, and her friend asked me if I was so & so from the US. I wasn’t, of course, but apparently my pen pal was waiting for one of her other American pen pals to visit from the US. To top that off, she had been very friendly and outgoing in her letters, but when I met her in person, she was extremely shy, would not talk, and showed little interest in me.

After that bad experience on the first part of my tour, the rest was MAGIC, and I’ll tell you why. I became a tourist, albeit a tourist with an eye on the young ladies. I was assigned a Philippine driver and tour guide who knew all the right places to go and things to see. He would introduce me to anyone I wanted to meet, and he was very good at this, observing the proper etiquette and keeping me away from the bad people. When I’d walk into a department store, a dozen heads would turn. Sales clerks are at every counter over there and they are hired because they are young and attractive. And believe me, they didn’t look at me because I’m good looking! Your average attractive American girl wouldn’t give me a second look.

I ended up dating four young ladies that were very high on my personal 1-10 scale. In fact I couldn’t believe that they would go out with me or show interest in me. But the important thing was, they weren’t out to hook up with an American, (or to take advantage of one ), because I hadn’t found them in a pen pal magazine. I met them in person, and with the help of my driver, established that they were nice girls from good families and backgrounds.

And then I met my wife, the love of my life. She was working at the front desk of the hotel I stayed in. She never had any desire to date a foreigner before, had never been outside of the Philippines and informed me on our first date, when I asked her if she would like to travel to other countries, that she would never leave the Philippines.

We dated a few more times before the tour ended. I went back to the United States and wrote to her for several months. Now this was productive correspondence, this was accomplishing something. I was writing to someone I had met, and seen and talked to, and I knew what she was really like and that she was the right girl for me. I proposed to her on Valentines Day, 1994, and returned for our wedding that May. We’re still very happily married and I feel like I’m still on our honeymoon.

After all that time and money I wasted on bad pen pal experiences, taking that tour was the best choice I ever made. I found exactly the woman I was looking for.

Bill Barlow

More requirements for Foreigners to marry Filipinas, Coming Soon!

Male foreigners who have the intention to marry Filipinas will now have to comply with additional requirements after the House of Representatives approved on final reading House Bill 2387, which aims to protect Filipino women against exploitation.

The bill, which was proposed by former Cebu governor and current third district Representative Gwendolyn Garcia, amends the purpose of Article 21 of Executive Order No. 209, or the Family Code of the Philippines.

Garcia is optimistic that the objective of the bill, which was strongly endorsed by Representative Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, chairperson of the sponsor – House Committee on Revision of Laws, would also earn the support of the Upper House.

“The main objective of HB 2387 is to protect Filipino women against exploitation by foreigners who marry them without evident means to support a family”, Garcia explained.

Garcia pointed out the “public knowledge that some of the foreigners coming to the Philippines in order to marry Filipino women are vagabonds or social and moral derelicts in their own country and whose real motive for marriage is only to take advantage and exploit our women by making them work and worse, by sending them to prostitution and other degrading and dehumanizing occupations.”

“The exploitations of our women, thru the so-called mail-order or pen-pal, Facebook, website and other internet-arranged marriages, have caused not only untold miseries and sufferings for the victims but also brought dishonor and disgrace to Filipino womanhood”, Garcia emphasized.

According to HB 2387, foreign male citizens who intend to marry a Filipina are obliged to provide certificates stating his good moral character and that he has a gainful trade, business, employment or other lawful source of income.

In line with this, the measure seeks to amend the current Section 21 of the Family Code of the Philippines by adding the following: “…when the male contracting party is a foreigner, in addition to the certificate of legal capacity, a certificate of good moral character and a certificate of gainful trade, business employment or other lawful source of income issued by his diplomatic or consular official, must be submitted before a marriage license can be obtained.”

At present, Sec. 21 only provides that: “When either or both of the contracting parties are citizens of a foreign country, it shall be necessary for them before a marriage license can be obtained, to submit a certificate of  legal capacity contract marriage, issued by their respective diplomatic or consular officials.”

Likewise, “stateless persons or refugees from other countries shall, in lieu of the certificate herein required, submit an affidavit stating the circumstances showing such capacity to contract marriage.”

The Department of Justice, in coordination with the Department of foreign Affairs, department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippines Commission of
Women, Commission of Filipinos Overseas and Philippine Statistics Authority, shall promulgate the rules and regulations necessary for the implementation of the proposed Act within 90 days from enactment.

Grounds for annulment in the Philippines

What are the grounds for annulment?

1. Lack of parental consent in certain cases. If a party is 18 years or over, but below 21, and the marriage was solemnized without the consent of the parents/guardian. However, the marriage is validated if, upon reaching 21, the spouses freely cohabited with the other and both lived together as husband and wife.

2. Insanity. A marriage may be annulled if, at the time of marriage, either party was of unsound mind, unless such party after coming to reason, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife.

3. Fraud. The consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless such party afterwards, with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife. Fraud includes: (i) non-disclosure of a previous conviction by final judgment of the other party of a crime involving moral turpitude; (ii) concealment by the wife of the fact that at the time of the marriage, she was pregnant by a man other than her husband; (iii) concealment of sexually transmissible disease or STD, regardless of its nature, existing at the time of the marriage; or (iv) concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism or homosexuality or lesbianism existing at the time of the marriage. However, no other misrepresentation or deceit as to character, health, rank, fortune or chastity shall constitute such fraud as will give grounds for action for the annulment of marriage.

4. Force, intimidation or undue influence. If the consent of either party was obtained by any of these means, except in cases wherein the force, intimidation or undue influence has disappeared or ceased, the complaining party thereafter freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife.

5. Impotence. At the time of marriage, either party was physically incapable of consummating the marriage with the other, and such incapacity continues and appears to be incurable. Impotence is different from being infertile.

6. STD. If, at the time of marriage, either party was afflicted with a sexually-transmissible disease found to be serious and appears to be incurable. If the STD is not serious or is curable, it may still constitute fraud (see No. 3 above).

What annulment does?

According to a Philippine Legal Forum, annulment declares a valid marriage void. This is different from a “declaration of nullity” that says a marriage is void to begin with.

Also, unlike a declaration of nullity, a person must file for an annulment within the period of time mandated by the Family Code of the Philippines. For example, a person must file for an annulment on the basis of fraud “within five years after the discovery of the fraud.”

After a couple annuls their marriage, they both have the option to remarry.  

A person may also file for legal separation, but this maintains his or her marriage to the other party; thus, this person cannot remarry. The grounds for legal separation, which include physical violence, are also different from those of annulment.

Grounds for annulment

Based on Article 45 of the Family Code, there are six grounds for annulment:

  • Lack of parental consent. The person who wants an annulment was over 18 but under 21 and married without parental consent—and that person did not choose to stay with his or her partner after turning 21.
  • Insanity. Someone from the couple “was of unsound mind” and did not choose to stay with his or her partner after regaining sanity.
  • Fraud (unless the person chooses to stay after finding out about the fraud). The grounds for fraud are in Article 46 of the Family Code and include a woman not telling her husband at the time of their marriage that she was pregnant by another man, and a person concealing his or her drug addiction or alcoholism.
  • Force (unless the person chooses to stay after these forceful actions have stopped). The person was frightened in a way that would force him or her to agree to marriage.
  • Impotence. Someone was “physically incapable of consummating the marriage” and may never be able to do so.
  • Sexually-transmitted disease (STD). “Either party was afflicted with a sexually-transmissible disease found to be serious and appears to be incurable.”

Hiring the wrong people to process your K1, Fiancée or Spousal visa!

Hiring the wrong people to process your Visa!

Wherever there is a need, expert consultants will appear to help with that need and immigration is no different. There is an amazingly diverse group of people who will claim to be able to help you with your Fiancée or Spouse’s visa and many of them will be experts in just a part of the process.

But getting only part of the process right will still result in a Visa denied. You must get everything right to obtain a visa for your Fiancée or Spouse!

People claiming to have expertise in immigration include:

  • Lawyers in the sponsor’s country of origin – They will certainly be able to help the sponsor with the necessary paperwork on his side, but usually have very little knowledge of the Philippines and will be of no help at all to the Filipina Fiancée or Spouse!
  • Lawyers in the Philippines – These people will usually be able to get the Philippine requirements right, but usually offer very little support for the Fiancée or Spouse and she will probably face the interview unprepared.  They also have limited or no knowledge of the sponsor’s side of the process and will give very little support to them. They are also often very difficult to deal with when you are in another country!
  • Travel agents and other people in the Philippines who have limited experience working with Visa processing. This industry has sprung up quite recently and these people will offer a very low cost, low quality service. Their lack of experience will begin to show as you go part way through the process. Important things will be overlooked and there will be little preparation for either party.

Unfortunately, you get what you pay for with immigration services too. Somebody who is cheap is cheap for a reason, they are usually just starting out, or they are desperate for clients because they are not getting referrals from anybody.

Their communication is notoriously bad. When you call their line, you will usually get somebody who barely speaks English, who will simply tell you the person you are looking for is “Not around”.

The low cost operators live for the “Deposit”. They are continually chasing the next deposit, leaving the hard work to later and you waiting endlessly to have your Fiancée or Spouse’s visa processed!

If you truly love your Fiancée or Spouse, why put her fate and yours in the hands of the lowest bidder?

Saving money on your immigration specialist is false economics in the extreme! The money you save will quickly be eaten up by additional airfares, accommodation and loss of income when your Visa is denied and you have to go through the whole process again. Not to mention the frustration and stress suffered by both you and your Fiancée or Spouse… It is just not worth it!


Marriage Plans??

Going to the Philippines to get married? Olvis Travel can take care of all wedding preparations. We can handle Church reservations, wedding dresses and Formal Barongs, receptions, honeymoon accommodations, Paperwork such as the “legal capacity to marry” form and the marriage license for both you and your fiancée.

We can assist you with getting the Legal Capacity to marry document from the US Consulate or Embassy, the marriage license, help arrange you’re wedding and wedding reception, purchase wedding attire and rings, and book a romantic, tropical honeymoon destination for you at the very lowest prices. We can then do the complete immigration paperwork for you and your fiancée or spouse, quickly, accurately, and at a fraction of the cost of a US immigration attorney.

We’ll guide you and your fiancée or spouse through every step of the process until the day she gets on the phone. Passports, police clearance, the works! No problem is too complex for Olvis Travel and Immigration! We are your one stop service agency in the Philippines.

We also do hotel reservations, car rentals, guide services, cell phone rentals, and are the most experienced specialists in the preparation of fiancée and spousal visas.

You are always welcome to drop by our office at the Ayala Mall, in Cebu City, Philippines at any time, or call us at (032) 268-8279. Or (032) 231-7625 In the United States you can contact us at 702-655-4578

Social Security Card Basics

Did you know that anyone in the United States can obtain a Social Security card? There are three types of social security cards, and each has a distinct function. Today we will discuss each one so you can see how they relate to immigration and resident status.

1. Unrestricted Social Security Card: These cards are for anyone authorized to live permanently or indefinitely in America (citizen or permanent resident status). This is the most desirable card as it provides the easiest access to jobs and social services.

2. Restricted Social Security Card: These are issued to a person that is authorized to work in America for a limited period of time.

3. Non-working Social Security Card: These cannot be used to apply for work but can be used to open accounts at financial institutions and for tax identification purposes.

If applying for a restricted social security card, know that you must prove (via the appropriate documentation) that you are authorized to work in the US, unless your employer has already been approved for I-129 petition documentation on your behalf. Do not expect to be approved for a restricted social security card and obtain work if you are a visitor to America, or have non-immigrant (foreign national) status.

That being said, there are two instances when non-immigrants can legally work in the U.S.: the sponsor company has received special permission to employ the employee for a specific job and has proved that the worker and the job fall under specialized requirements; or, there are extenuating circumstances such as a post-secondary student residing in America completing practical training to support their career.

When immigrating, visiting for an extended period of time, or sponsoring an immigrant, you must know the restrictions on the various types of social security cards available. Visit www.ssa.gov and www.ssa.gov/people/immigrants to learn more.

The Memorandum on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens

During the spring, the Trump administration issued the Memorandum on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens, which served to update the regulations for compliance with the law. The memorandum also helps to make sure that those ineligible for immigration status do not receive federal benefits.

This is very important news for anyone planning to sponsor an immigrant. Your affidavit of support means that you are, in effect, “co-signing” for that person. Your signature makes you responsible for the immigrant financially – should they require assistance after arriving in America, it is you that will have to provide the funds or reimburse the government for providing assistance to the person you sponsored.

While the memorandum is new, the ideology behind it is not. In force since 1977, section 213A of the Immigration and Nationality Act states that sponsors are responsible for the cost of any means-tested benefits (such as food stamps and health care) that the immigrant procures.

Although this law was very rarely enforced in the past, the Trump administration has made it clear that they now intend to enforce this rule. If sponsoring an immigrant, be very sure that they – or you – have the financial means to ensure they do not wind up relying on government benefits. Failure to observe this will cost you.

Embassy Closing in Manila

USCIS Field office closing (Not the Embassy)

On July 5th, 2019, USCIS will permanently close its field office in Manila, Philippines, as part of the Trump Administration’s efforts to improve legal immigration processing. After this date, there will be no USCIS field office located in the Philippines.

Over the years we at Olvis have had many expats that came to the Philippines and got married and after several years decided that they wanted to take their wife and return to the United States, because they were resident in the Philippines they could do what is called a Direct Consular Filing. This allowed the US citizen to go to the US Embassy in Manila and file directly. This process was much faster and the visa was usually done in less than 60 days. With the closing of the field office this process is no longer available and all spouse petitions need to be filed in the United States

The office began redirecting Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, to the USCIS Lockbox on May 14, 2019. For U.S. citizens residing in the Philippines there is no more direct consular filing (DCF) you will now need to submit the I-130 petition for Alien Relative or Spouse by mail with the USCIS facility in Chicago.

USCIS has posted a listing of where each application should be sent to after the office closes. Please click this link for a more complete understanding as to what petitions are affected. Field office

It is important to understand that the USCIS field office is not the same as the U.S. Embassy. The US Embassy in Manila is still open for business, and processing visa interviews. The closing of the USCIS does not affect the processing of Fiancée and Alien relative petitions that have been filed in the United States.

Adjust Status after marriage K-1 Fiancée visa

Adjust Status after marriage K-1 Fiancée visa

Now when you enter the United States on a K-1 Fiancée Visa you must marry within 90 days. The important thing to keep in mind is you can file for adjustment of status any time after the wedding. However USCIS likes to have you file promptly after the wedding. Keep in mind you cannot work or travel outside the US until you receive your green card or advance parole travel document and your employment authorization document. We’ve seen a lot of cases where someone comes to the United States on a fiancée visa, got married but did not file for adjustment of status and then they had to go back home for a family emergency, or went to Mexico for a honeymoon only to find out that they couldn’t get back into the country. If this happens you will have to file a spousal visa and start the immigration process all over again. Just remember you don’t have to file for adjustment of status as soon as you get married but it is the best thing to do. We recommended that you file for adjustment of status as soon as possible after the wedding when we do this we also file for an employment authorization at the same time so you can travel and work.

Keep in mind that if you leave the USA for any reason without having your status adjusted that you will not be able to return to the US unless you have applied for the adjustment of status and have applied for and received an advance parole document.

Tax-Return Transcripts from the Internal Revenue Service or IRS are better than tax returns

Tax transcripts from the IRS showing income are far better than tax returns to show proof of income.

IRS tax transcript are better proof of income because by just providing your tax return does not actually prove that you’ve filed with the IRS or that you paid any taxes. Anyone can fill out a Federal Tax Return in just a few minutes and sign it and make copies. IRS transcripts are from the IRS, Internal Revenue Service, and they show documented income that’s been filed with the IRS.

If you provide your tax returns instead of transcripts, you’ll also have to provide your W2s, or 1099s with the transcripts you will not need to provide them.

Tax transcripts are free, and you can order them online through the IRS website. It usually takes about 15 days to obtain your transcripts. When you order the transcripts it is best if you order for the last 3 years as you will need that information later in the Immigration process.