• Love as language of migration

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    Since 1995 when the Internet became the cupid of choice for millions of persons trapped in a relationship vacuum, the anxiety of whether you will click with Mr. or Ms. Right emerged as the new version of a rat race with millions of mice (with or without electronic tail) scurrying down the info-labyrinth of expectations.

    Migrating as a spouse or fiancé of a foreign national – especially in the five countries with permanent migration programs (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK and the USA) is one of the most traveled route to permanent residency.

    According to a July 29, 2014 report on the Telegraph, “one in five relationships in the UK starts online, and almost half of all British singles have searched for love on the Internet. Just today, nine million Britons will log on looking for love.”

    Quite a handful of relatio- nships start with social media. Before they come face to face, they meet on Facebook.

    Statista, a statistics portal, says that “of the first quarter 2014, Facebook had 1.28 billion monthly active users (MAUs, those who have logged in to Facebook during the last 30 days). As of fourth quarter of 2013, the social network had 945 million mobile MAU.

    SocialBakers, another analytics company, reports that as of Feb. 2011, there were 22,515,820 Filipinos on Facebook, with 1.7 million Filipinos signing up on Facebook every month.

    It would not be a stretch of imagination to assume that marriages of Filipinos to foreigners have risen in numbers as well.

    In 1989, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) reported 7,819 Filipinos migrating as the spouse or fiancé of a foreigner: 3,314 to Americans and 2,149 to Japanese. Only 4 married South Koreans.  That was before Samsung captured Philippine Delilahs.

    Last year, 455,458 Filipinos migrated as spouses, partners or fiancees of foreign nationals.  Americans still lead with 193,661, Japanese remained second with 117,362: Koreans listed 14,669 love or life mates of Filipinos.

    If you are a Pinoy or Pinay checking out potential spouses or partners on the web, here are some tips on how the email that started it all can end up with printed wedding invitations. After that recurring emotional rush from each email opened and the exchange of online correspondence progress to intimacy, it is time for a reality check.

    The presumption here is that you intend to pursue a genuine relationship and a commitment to be together as spouses or partners for life.  Okay, maybe for the longest time.  And here is where evidence is needed.

    If your online Romeo or Juliet is in America, be aware that only a US citizen can sponsor a fiancé (e) or spouse.  Green card holders (known officially as lawful permanent residents) may sponsor you but you have to wait for about 2 to 3 years before you can get that US immigrant visa.

    For your online lover from the Commonwealth nations, citizenship status in Australia, Canada, New Zealand or UK is not a requirement to sponsor a spouse or partner of the opposite sex – or even the same sex. Even just a permanent resident could sponsor a life or love mate, opposite or same sex. The US was a late bloomer in allowing same-sex spouses to bring their partners to America.  On June 26, 2014, the United States Supreme Court struck down the 1996 law blocking federal recognition of gay marriage, and it allowed gay marriage to resume in California by declining to decide a separate case. The court invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to gay couples who are legally married in their states, including Social Security survivor benefits, immigration rights and family leave.

    In all cases, your future spouse or partner (citizen or resident) must provide evidence that he or she can support you.  In the US, if you are being sponsored by a fiancé, he must submit documents establishing financial ability to support the sponsored immigrant. He or she cannot ask somebody to be a co-sponsor. Not unless he is sponsoring you as a spouse. That means he has to come to the Philippines to get married. You may apply for a visa to meet him or her, but it is better that your Romeo or Juliet show good faith by meeting your family instead.

    The Philippine government requires foreign Romeos and Juliets to swear under oath (in their respective Embassies or immigration agencies) that they are eligible to marry.  Hence, final judgment of divorce, annulment or death certificate of any previous spouse is required.

    The US also requires that you disclose whether you met through an international marriage broker. Plus the sponsoring spouse or fiancé must not have a record of domestic abuse, violence or any criminal record.

    Beware if your online lover insists that you get a tourist visa first and that he will be the one to get your papers processed once you are in the US, or Australia, Canada, NZ, UK or anywhere in Europe. Same goes true with Asian Romeo counterparts such as from Korea, Taiwan or mainland China.

    Ask for a copy of his or her current valid passport. The passport establishes one’s nationality and identity. Also ask for Social Security number or national identity papers and say that this would be needed when filing a sponsorship or petition.

    This will prove that he or she is genuine.  If he or she balks or gives you reasons why a passport or proof of identity, nationality or civil status cannot be provided, log out of the relationship. He or she might be an actual rat.

    You may email comments, resumes for free assessment of visa and migration options to options@visacenter.org

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