Dating and Marrying a Filipina: The Five Greatest Challenges

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I am extremely happy with the life that my Filipina wife and I have together.  I can’t imagine being with anyone else or being married to someone of my own race/culture.  Our love is a beautiful thing that has enhanced my life in ways I could never fully describe.

But I never want to present being married to a Pinay as some kind of panacea or fairy tale.  All marriages require work, and mine is no exception.  Marrying a woman from the Philippines, in fact, will come with some unique challenges that you wouldn’t face if you just dated someone from your own country.  Here are a few that come to mind:

Challenge #1: Choosing with Limited Information

This isn’t always a big factor for those of us who have spent time in the Philippines and dated while living/visiting there.  But most Filipino-American couples first meet online.  Usually this means the man joined a dating website (like Christian Filipina–the one I recommend), met a pretty Filipina, and started communicating via email and chat.  This works out well for most of the couples that I’ve met, but it is arguably more risky than being able to meet/date in more traditional or conventional ways.  In other words, the men usually have to make a decision based on very limited face-to-face time with their girlfriends.

Challenge #2: The Visa Process

Let’s say you do find a great woman (as so many do) and are 100% sure you want to marry her.  The next challenge is enduring the process of getting her spousal/fiancee visa so she can move to your country and (eventually) become a citizen there.  The process is doable but it does require a lot of patience on your part.  The government agencies involved get your tax dollars regardless of their inefficiencies and can be frustrating to deal with.  I have recommended a service to help you do things correctly, but it takes a few months even under the best circumstances.

Challenge #3: The Distance

The most difficult thing about being married to a Filipina is you are always going to be far away from either her family or yours.  This usually means being far from hers because of the better opportunities available in America (or other Western countries).  There are exceptions–guys who decide to live as expats in the Philippines.  Either way you’re going to live halfway across the world from someone’s family.  Family ties are extremely important in the Filipino culture, so you can imagine how difficult this can be.  Being able to chat via Skype does help, but the dilemma is still there regardless.

Challenge #4: Money Issues

Money issues are probably the biggest cause of divorce worldwide. This issue can be especially challenging if you’re married to a Filipina because sharing resources with family members is deeply ingrained in Filipino culture.  This is a potential source of conflict if the husband and wife don’t have good communication with each other or healthy boundaries with family members back in the Philippines.  The couple has to find a balance of sharing with family while making sure they are not putting themselves in a bad financial situation.

Challenge #5 Cultural Differences

A Filipina and a Westerner have grown up in two completely different cultural contexts.  Their respective worldviews have been shaped by factors that go back centuries.  This can also be a source of conflict if one of them is xenophobic or can’t learn how to be open to another point of view.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the most significant challenges that come to mind when I think of my own marriage and the other couples that my wife and I have met.  Here’s the good news: I can honestly say it has been 100% worth it for me.  I think there’s a good chance you’ll feel the same way, but be sure you are going into any relationship with eyes wide open.

The I-751: Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence

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The first (and maybe most difficult) step to living happily ever after in the USA is getting the initial 2-year green card for your wife (I’ve shared some things about that process in previous posts).

There’s one more hurdle awaiting you on your way to her becoming a US citizen: the ten-year green card (or ten-year visa).  You will eventually have to complete an I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence in order for her to continue living in the United States legally once her 2-year green card expires. (and eventually apply for citizenship).

It’s more paperwork and red tape, but it isn’t all bad news.

I-751 Application

*This step is not nearly as complicated as the initial spousal/fiancee visa process.  There’s no harm in getting some professional help for it, but you may find that it is unnecessary.  The form is fairly simple and straightforward.  You can look for some sample forms online that have been filled out (with fictitious names, of course–just to give you an idea of how it should look).

*Unlike the previous step, you are presumably waiting out this one together.  She should already be with you at this point and maybe you’ve even started your family (having children).

*Technically the burden of proof would be on the government to deport her–a judge would have to get involved.

*Most filers don’t have to go in for an interview if their paperwork is in order.

The only bad news (other than the cost) is that it may take 8-9 months.  The government is backlogged (at the time of this post) and most offices are running behind.  Good thing you are waiting this out together, right?

Here are some tips for the I-751 application:

*You are eligible to apply once you are within 90 days of the expiration of her 2-year green card.  Go ahead and send it once you reach this time frame, but don’t send it any earlier than that–otherwise your application will be rejected.

*Documentation: The most important thing you can do to avoid delays is have complete documentation (evidence of relationship) in your initial application.  They may ask for additional information if they aren’t satisfied with what you sent.  The instruction form spells out the kind of documentation they are looking for, but here are a few additional ideas that will help:

  • Probably the most important thing you can do is provide copies of a Power of Attorney (POA), Living Will, and Last Will and Testament with you and your spouse listed as each other’s beneficiary or POA. Birth certificates of children would also be very strong evidence if you have already started your family.  If you don’t have any of these forms you can buy them at a place like US Legal Forms (the “Dave Ramsey special” is a good deal), fill them out, and get them signed/notarized.  You can go to an attorney if your will is more complex.  Legally binding documents like this are strong evidence that your lives are intertwined.
  • Provide evidence that joint bank accounts or credit card accounts are still active.  Just showing them a copy of a check or bank card with both of your names on it isn’t quite enough.  Print out a few months’ worth of transactions and include that with your application.
  • Include proof that joint insurance policies are paid for.  You can ask your insurance company to email a letter to you or (easier still) print out a transcript of your payment history.
  • You can order IRS transcripts online a few weeks before you put your information together.  These are considered authoritative in terms of evidence that you filed jointly (and paid your taxes).  Ordering them online also saves you the hassle of having to make copies yourself.
  • Make a cover letter with a list of all the evidence you are including with your application.

The government can still ask for additional information (or even for an interview), but following these steps will probably minimize the chances of that happening.

After you apply your spouse will be required to go to a local office for biometrics (finger printing, etc.).  This happens pretty quickly (within a few weeks after your application).  You’ll also receive an official government letter stating that your spouse’s green card has been extended for one year.  Hang on to this letter because it’s the only legal proof you have of her legal immigration status while you wait for application to process.  She would have to carry this letter with her if for some reason she needed to leave the country and get back in.

You probably won’t hear anything from the government for a while after the letter and biometrics appointment.  You just wait for their decision.

Once the petition is granted your spouse will have almost all the rights of a US citizen (she can’t vote, but almost everything else would be the same).  You’re set for the next ten years and you can apply for her US citizenship once she’s eligible.

Filipino Women: Should You Date/Marry a Filipina?

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You may be thinking about meeting, dating, or marrying a woman from the Philippines. Romantic relationships are serious business in my opinion and I’m not going to try to convince to you pursue a relationship with someone halfway across the globe.   I’m just writing this to give you my perspective as someone who is happily married to a Filipina.

Filipino women (more appropriately called Filipinas) have a lot to offer if you are seriously considering a long-term relationship that would lead to marriage. I’m going to repeat some things that I’ve previously shared on this blog or the sake of an easier read (some of my posts from previous years were bit short or choppy). Anyway, here are a few reasons you may want to consider marrying someone from the Philippines:

Filipinas are Beautiful

The Philippines is home to some of the most breathtaking natural beauty known to man: beaches, waterfalls, and all kinds of natural wonders can be found there. But there’s something besides the natural landscape that’s attractive to the eyes: I’m talking about feminine beauty.   Men from the West are often struck by the physical attractiveness of the women there. They tend to have slim, petite figures. Most of them have naturally tan skin along with dark hair and eyes (the typical Filipina is often said to have “exotic beauty”).

Beauty is, as they say, only skin deep. Good thing that there’s a lot more to be said about women from the Philippines.

Filipinas are Good in English

People in the Philippines start studying English in grade school and are used to watching movies (and TV shows) from the West. Their proficiency in English varies according to education and other factors, but you should be able to find a woman who can communicate with you (and her ability to do so will only get better as she practices her English). Here’s another thing to consider: the Filipino accent is very pleasing to the ear when compared to other parts of Asia.

Filipinas are God Fearing

The Philippines is a predominantly Roman Catholic country and religion is deeply ingrained in their culture. You may not find a woman with this outlook on life in other parts of the world. Women from Russia or China may be coming from an atheistic background. People from other parts of Asia may follow Buddhism.

Men seeking women from Asia are usually looking for marriage based on traditional Judeo-Christian values, and similar religious beliefs is one reason they look to the Philippines. Women from the Philippines generally have a sense of devotion to God and the church.

This is not to say that Filipinas are fanatical about the Catholic Church.   They are open other expressions of Christianity (Protestant, etc.) and will usually join your church once they move to the States. It is not uncommon, in fact, to meet Filipinos who are already members of non-Catholic groups (Protestant missionaries have been in the country for decades).

Filipinas are Marriage and Family Oriented

Family is extremely important in the Filipino culture. People from the Philippines believe in putting family members ahead of themselves and doing everything in their power to help their loved ones. You’ll find that Filipinas are incredibly selfless and generous when it comes to their families.

Filipino culture also puts an extremely high priority on marriage and children. Most Filipinas dream of settling down with a good man so they can start a family. They take romantic relationships very seriously because they see it as preparation for marriage. Once married they usually become faithful, loving wives and dedicated mothers.

Filipinas are Open to Marrying Older Men

Another advantage of dating women from the Philippines is you can find younger women who are interested in you. This is especially nice if you are middle-aged but are still interested in having children. Women who date older men are often labeled as “gold diggers,” but this is unfair and judgmental. The truth is that Filipinas tend to look for the characteristics that an older partner can offer: maturity, stability, etc. This outlook goes back to some of the issues I’ve already mentioned: they are searching for life partners, not just boyfriends or flings.

These are just a few reasons that you may want to consider Filipino women (Filipinas) in your quest for a life-long, loving relationship. Living with someone from a different country and culture can be challenging, but may Western men (yours truly included) can attest that it is worth it.

If you are interested in meeting a woman from the Philippines you could always start by joining a website. I’d recommend Christian Filipina because I believe this website does the best job of screening their members and making sure they are sincere. You can just meet them through social media, but your chances of success will be improved by joining a site specifically designed for facilitating dating and marriage.