For Filipinos Leaving the Country, especially those who are newly applied Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), it is crucial to know the step by step process for the approval of your travel requests.
Fortunately, the Government has established a department that deals with the issues of Filipinos overseas and with this guide, you will be able to learn all the essential guidelines that you need to know.
What is the Commission on Filipinos Overseas?
Also known as CFO, it is a government agency that deals with the preservation and connection of relations with the Filipino Communities outside the country. The Commission on Filipino Overseas is assigned to administer and enroll pre-departure orientation seminars to every Filipino emigrant.
If you’re a first-time OFW, then you probably might have a lot of questions or inquiries that need to be acknowledged. Would you like to know all the answers? If yes, continue reading for we have provided you a full-detailed guide down below!
What is CFO PDOS?
The Commission on Filipinos Overseas conducts country-specific PDOS to assist every Filipino emigrant before their scheduled leave. PDOS is a shorter term for “Pre-departure Registration And Orientation Seminars” which aims to address the OFWs’ adjustment matters regarding their destination countries.
It is one of the prominent benefits of CFO offered to all Filipinos whether it’s for OFWs on Saudi, USA, Canada, Europe or other Countries that Filipinos normally work for. Some of the topics that are typically addressed include travel ordinances, immigration methods, cultural distinctions, settlement matters, employment, including social safety concerns, and the rights and responsibilities of Filipino migrants.
Children of emigrants, especially for minors between 13-18, it is required that they attend a Peer Counseling Program to help them prepare themselves and assist them to attain their socio-psychological needs in regards to their settlement overseas. During sessions, they are free to express and address particular issues such as education, peer influence, bullying, prejudice, communication, and cultural restrictions.
Is PDOS required for Immigrants?
Filipino emigrants or those who have been granted an immigrant-class visa are all required to register with the Commission on Filipinos Overseas before you leave the country.
The Pre-departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) is a two-hour seminar on settlement issues and concerns such as finding employment, rights, and obligations of immigrants as well as policies and procedures on how to secure foreign citizenship.
Does the CFO certificate expire?
The CFO certificate does not expire, so don’t worry about having troubles with your certificate.
Who are exempted from PDOS?
The following emigrants are exempted from attending the PDOS, but should still register in person or by an authorized representative:
- Minors aged 12 and below;
- Senior citizens (60 years old and above);
- Those incapacitated due to permanent or long-term ailments; or
- Those with mental health issues or psychologically-challenged.
If registered by proxy, a representative is required to present the following documents in addition to the usual required documents:
- Medical certificate/report (except those 60 years old and above)
- Letter of authorization from the emigrant (if applicable to the case); and
- Original valid identification card with a photograph of the proxy.
- Proxies who are NOT the legal/natural/biological adoptive parent of children 12 years old and below must present the following documents:
One (1) original valid identification card with a photograph of the proxy, and
Duly notarized authorization letter executed by parent/s or guardian/s, issued in the Philippines or overseas.
How Can I Register Online for CFO Seminars?
The CFO Seminars now require participants to have an online appointment as their registration for the Seminar. You can access the registration form at https://cfo.gov.ph/rnr-pdos.html, and this site includes the full details of requirements and guidelines that you must comply with for you to finalize your schedule.
The requirements for Online Registration includes:
- An Original valid passport,
- Original Copy of a valid visa
- One (1) valid identification (ID) card with photograph (see list of valid IDs)
- Payment of ₱400.00 registration fee
- Attendance in the PDOS or Peer Counseling session
- Original of the following country-specific documents:
- US-bound immigrants (except for K visa holders): Immigrant Data Summary.
- Canada-bound emigrants: Confirmation of Permanent Residence
- Italy-bound emigrants: Nulla Osta
- Japan-bound emigrants: Certificate of Eligibility
- Australia-bound emigrants: Visa Grant Notification Letter
- New Zealand-bound emigrants: Letter of approval for Work to Residence visa
- After satisfactory compliance with the registration process and attendance to the PDOS, a CFO Emigrant registration sticker is affixed to your passport. This will be checked by the Bureau of Immigration on your day of departure.
Once you have all of the needed requirements, you can now proceed to the appointment process. To make an online appointment, you must Go to:
for attendance to PDOS in CFO MANILA
for attendance to PDOS in CFO CEBU
for attendance to PDOS in CFO CLARK
for attendance to PDOS in CFO DAVAO
and click the “I already have my immigrant visa…” button if you have already secured your immigrant visa.
For the second step, you must answer all the given preliminary questions to check if you are required to attend the PDOS or not. You will also be asked to provide your email address and click “Submit” afterward.
Check your mail inbox and look for the confirmation message. If the confirmation is not seen on your inbox, you can also check your spam folder. Click on the “Confirm Email“ button and provide the necessary information as specified in the PERSONAL INFORMATION page.
After filling out the form, you will receive and advise on whether you have to attend PDOS or exempted. If you are advised to attend, you will be led to the SET YOUR SCHEDULE page. You can click the provided calendar and select your preferred date and time to attend the PDOS/PEER session. Note that there are only limited sessions per day so be sure with your chosen schedule.
If you are exempted, skip the previous steps and immediately proceed to these next procedures: Click the “Proceed to registration” button as a completion of the online registration form. After that, you must upload a clear copy of your most recent photo and supply the correct information in all the fields required. Once done, you can download and print the barcoded confirmation form.
You have to bring this document together with all the other requirements to CFO on the date of your appointment. You can simply show a soft copy of the document, there is no need to print it. It is also recommended to arrive at CFO at least 2 hours before your scheduled PDOS/PEER session for the verification process.
What is CFO Seminar in Philippines
Any Filipino that is going abroad as a fiance, spouse, family members, or other partners of foreign nationals is required to attend the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) guidance and counseling session. This is a must in order to obtain the CFO Certificate/Guidance and Counseling Certificate (GCC) and the CFO sticker.
Keep in mind that you will not be permitted to leave the airport if you don’t have both the sticker and certificate. You are required to bring this certificate together with your visa and CFO sticker in NAIA departure area; this particular condition is in accordance with the Philippine Government and not of other nations.
For your CFO seminar experience, you can go to either Manila of Cebu offices and attend the Guidance and Counseling Program as a pair. The session usually lasts for a minimum of four hours to guarantee that you will be provided with all the necessary information about inter-marriages and migration. CFO seminars that are conducted in Manila do not allow walk-ins so make sure that you have a CFO appointment online.
Once you have completed all the requirements and conclude the session, you will be given a Guidance and Counseling Certificate as proof of your attendance. You will also have to bring this certificate along with other pertinent documents, to the CFO, for registration.
How to get your passport stamped with a CFO sticker
CFO (Commission on Filipino Overseas) certificate is one of the main requirements for a passport application and renewal for those who are a spouse to foreign nationals that wants to use their partner’s name/surname. For you to get a CFO certificate, you must visit the CFO office and attend the Guidance and Counselling Session.
In order for you to be accommodated, you must prepare the following documents as your requirements:
What are the requirements needed to secure your passport with CFO sticker?
This may appear a little confusing at the CFO website where there are two (2) set of requirements that you need to comply. And I’ll try not to confuse you with the requirements and processes here. But yes, here are the requirements for CFO registration.
- Guidance and Counseling Program Certificate for which the following are the requirements to acquire this certificate:a. Two (2) valid identification cards (IDs) with photograph
b. Duly completed Guidance and Counseling Form
c. If married, original and photocopy of marriage contract on security paper from the Philippine Statistics Authority, or Local Civil Registry Offices; or original and photocopy of marriage contract duly authenticated by the Philippine Embassy/ Consulate (if married abroad)
d. Other documents as may be required by the counselors
e. Payment of ₱400.00 counseling fee.
- Original and photocopy of Passport.
- Original and photocopy of visa.
- Original and photocopy of Immigrant Data Summary for US-bound emigrants (except for K visa holders).
- Original CFO Guidance and Counseling certificate.
- Duly completed emigrant registration form
- Payment of the authorized registration fee.
Once you have all the pertinent requirements ready, below are the following procedures that you would need to undergo.
- Complete your Online Pre-registration here.
- Schedule your Guidance and Counseling Program CFO seminar online through GCP Online Appointment System. Complete the necessary information. Prepare also a soft-copy of your 2×2 or 1×1 photo since you are sending this appointment electronically.
- You will received an e-mail from the GCP Online Appointment System. Read the instructions carefully.
The 6 Most Important CFO Tips You Need to Know
The very first thing you should do is to set an online appointment. Once you have confirmed your appointment schedule, collect all the basic requirements you will need. Don’t forget to print your online appointment form or save a soft copy on your device, and take it with you on the day of your appointment. You can prepare ahead of your counseling session by reviewing the answers to questions like these:
- How did you meet your partner/spouse?
- What is your partner/spouse’s occupation?
- How long have you known each other?
- Have you met your partner in person? (this question is apparently for unmarried Filipinos who have been interacting with their foreigner boyfriend/girlfriend solely online)
- Have you visited/lived with your partner/spouse abroad?
- What are your long-term plans, particularly regarding living arrangements, work, family, etc?
Who Needs to Obtain an CFO Sticker and Attend the Seminar?
All Filipino partners and spouses of foreign nationals, regardless of their sexual orientation, are required to attend the CFO Guidance and Counseling seminar. This requisite has been followed for already 30 years.
Under the GCP rules, foreign nationals can also pertain to those Filipinos who have already acquired citizenship in another country through naturalization and those Filipinos who have applied for dual citizenship. Even if you’re a Filipino who has no plans to emigrate is advised to get this certificate, especially if he/she plans to use the last name of his/her spouses or if he/she is planning to travel abroad with his/her Foreign National spouse.
There are also some instances that a Filipino who’s traveling with a foreigner partner or common-law spouse will be required to present a CFO certificate. The Commission on Filipino Overseas highly suggests spouses on attending the GCP so that they will be able to avoid possible delays or inconvenience at the port of exit.
On the other hand, if a Filipino ever decides to migrate to another country as a fiancé/fiancée, spouse or through a cohabitation visa, that Filipino will have to obtain a CFO sticker in order to be registered officially an as an immigrant.
What Should I do if I lost my CFO Certificate?
If you ever lose your CFO Certificate, you must follow these steps:
- File an Affidavit of Loss.
- 😉 Original copy of ₱800.00 fee for CFO renewal.
Things You Should Know about Pre-departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS)
It all started in the early 80s. By virtue of POEA MC No. 3, Series of 1983, the Philippine government made PDOS or the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar mandatory for all Filipinos working overseas. Up to this day, PDOS is a required one-day only seminar for all first-time Filipino workers of all skills leaving the country for overseas work.
The purpose of Pre-departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) is to:
- Provide OFWs with means and information to help cope with their new working environment, which is crucial during the first six months from deployment.
- Addresses the basic needs and concerns for all OFWs, including adjustment difficulties.
- Inform OFWs on who to call and what to do in case something happened abroad.
PDOS is country-specific and at times, skills-specific to ensure that you will be prepared by the time you were deployed. At present, PDOS is conducted by OWWA.
What are the modules involved in Pre-departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS)?
- Working Overseas – This tackles the cultural insights, Code of Discipline for OFWs, and religious policies of specific countries among others.
- Employment Contract – It will discuss your rights and responsibilities as OFW, which must be embodied in your employment contract, as well as what to do in case of breach or violation of the terms in the contract.
- Government Programs and Services – This includes both in-country and overseas services of the government, specifically the OWWA.
- Important Reminders – This includes tips on financial planning, health tips, and tips when traveling.
What about PDOS for Seafarers?
The Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar for Seafarers is, although mandatory, a bit different compared to other skilled workers. Modules include:
- Government Programs and Services – Specifically OWWA services and other government agencies involved in migration.
- Standard Employment Contract – This will outline your rights and responsibilities as an OFW-seafarer as well as what to do in case of violation.
- Financial Management – This will discuss financial planning and the importance of savings and investment.
- Personal Health and Safety for Seafarers
- Coping with Work and Living Conditions – This will tackle working hours and how to work in a multi-cultural environment
Travel Guide Do’s and Don’ts
What if you are rendering household work services? Instead of PDOS, Household Service Workers (HSWs) have their own version of PDOS called Comprehensive Pre-Departure Education Programs or CPDEP.
This was established in 2007 and the purpose is not just to uphold and protect every HSW’s welfare but also to prepare them to stressful work conditions and environment while living in a foreign household.
Modules for CPDEP includes:
- Stress Management Seminar – This increases awareness among HSWs on causes of stress and its effects, mentally and emotionally prepare HSWs when facing challenges while working abroad, and the importance of having coping strategies and help in building new coping mechanisms.
- Language and Culture Training – This will cover language courses for Arabic, Cantonese, Hebrew, Italian, and Mandarin.
Modules covered in the regular PDOS
Is it for free? The answer is yes, although you are still required to pay $25 OWWA membership fee.
Make sure you call OWWA hotline at (02) 891-7601 to ask for a schedule of country-specific PDOS. This is also on a first come, first serve basis, so make sure you ask for a schedule that is appropriate to your country destination.
At the end of the seminar, you will be given a Certificate of Completion, which you must also present at the airport upon departure.
More than the PDOS, it is imperative that you keep yourself informed about the country you’re going to. Make sure to read our OFW Guide to give you an idea on the living and working conditions in your country destination.
21 Most Asked Questions About CFO Guidance and Counseling Program?
Question 1: Who is required to attend the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) – Guidance and Counseling Program (GCP)?
Answer: The following are the Filipino migrants who are required to attend the CFO-GCP:
Fiancé/e/ spouse/ partner of Foreign national;
Fiancé/e/spouse/ partner of former Filipino citizen;
Fiancé/e / spouse/partners of Filipino with dual citizenship
Question 2: Who are a Filipino citizen and a Filipino with dual citizenship?
Answer: A former Filipino citizen is a Filipino who acquired foreign citizenship by naturalization process and did not re-acquire his Philippine citizenship. Filipino with dual citizenship, on the other hand, is a Filipino who became a naturalized citizen of other country and re-acquires his/her Filipino citizenship through Philippine Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003(RA 9225). Basically, s/he is a holder of two valid passports: a foreign passport and Philippine passport.
Question 3: Where can I attend the guidance and counseling session?
Answer: You can attend guidance and the counseling session either at our CFO main office in Manila or at our CFO extension office at Cebu City.
Question 4: How can I attend the CFO Guidance and Counseling Program?
Answer: Those who would like to take the Guidance and Counseling Program to CFO Manila office, must set an appointment online Only clients who have confirmed slots/ appointment will be accommodated to the country/ region specific session. You can start by following this link: http://www.gcp-appointment.cfo.gov.ph/. CFO Cebu extension office, on the other hand, still implements the GCP on a first come; first, serve basis.
Question 5: When can I attend the guidance counseling session?
Answer: You could attend the guidance and counseling program base on any of the following cases/situations:
- Before lodgment of visa application;
- Before the required medical examination;
- Before the visa interview;
- Before the release of the visa or while waiting for the visa;
- After lodgment of visa application;
- After the medical examination required by the Embassy;
- After receiving the visa (spouse, fiancé/e or partner visa);
- The requirement for passport application; and
- If you successfully reserved an appointment for yourself for the appropriate counseling session.
You can start making a reservation online by opening this site: http://gcp-appointment.cfo.gov.ph/
Question 6: What are the requirements needed to attend in the guidance counseling session?
Answer: There are two (2) sets of requirements. For a non-visa holder counselee and for an immigrant/ spouse/ fiancé(e)/ partner visa-holder counselee, follow this link for the requirements
Question 7: Can I receive the CFO guidance counseling certificate right after attending the guidance counseling session?
Answer: Provided the counselees have complied with the documentary requirements, satisfactorily underwent the counselor’s one-on-one evaluation among others, most counselees receive their counseling certificates right after the two stages of the counseling sessions.
However, others might be required by her/his counselor to come in a set follow up session.
Question 8: If I had already attended the counseling and received my counseling certificate, does it mean I am already registered at CFO?
Answer: No. Guidance and Counseling Certificate (GCC) is not proof that you already registered at CFO. It is only a proof of your satisfactory compliance to the GCP which is one of the requirements for registration for marriage migrant.
If you are intending to attend the Guidance and Counseling Program of CFO you may click this link (http://gcp-appointment.cfo.gov.ph/) to get an online appointment.
Question 9: How can I register with the CFO as a spouse, fiancé/e or partner of foreign national or former Filipino?
Answer: If you are issued an immigrant visa/ spouse or fiancé(e) or partner visa and is intending to migrate to your fiancé(e)/spouse/partner’s home country/country of citizenship, you can register with the Commission (CFO) prior to your departure.
Please follow this link for the requirements and procedure:
Question 10: My spouse is a foreigner and we’ve been married for several years. Am I still required to attend the Guidance and Counseling Program (GCP) of the CFO?
Answer: Yes, all fiancé (e) s/spouses/partners of foreign nationals or former Filipinos applying for passports and are traveling overseas must attend the Guidance and Counseling Program regardless of how long they’ve been married. Please visit the CFO for more information on your situation or call telephone numbers:
552-4769 or 552-4744
Question 11: My spouse is a Filipino and was born in the Philippines. He has been naturalized and now holds foreign citizenship. Do I attend the PDOS or the Guidance and Counseling Program?
Answer: Since your husband now holds foreign citizenship, you are required to attend the Guidance and Counseling Program of the CFO.
Question 12: I have already attended the Guidance and Counseling Program and was given a certificate. Do I need to attend the seminar again if I need to renew to my passport?
Answer: Your CFO Guidance and Counseling Certificate is a lifetime copy or has no validity date. You will only be required to attend another GCP session if you have changed your petitioner or sponsor meaning -spouse/ fiancé(e)/ partner.
Question 13: I need to renew my passport and my spouse is a foreigner. I am not going to migrate or live permanently abroad. Do I still need to attend the Guidance and Counseling Program?
Answer: For fiancé/ (e)s/spouses/partners of foreign nationals or former Filipinos, the guidance and counseling certificate is a requirement for passport renewal and is usually presented at the port of exit. You are required to attend the Guidance and Counseling Program.
Question 14: I already have a guidance and counseling certificate and hold a temporary/ visitor visa. Do I still need to register at the CFO and be issued a sticker?
Answer: No. If you are fiancé (e)/ spouse/partner of a foreign national or a former Filipino and you hold a visitor/ tourist visa, you only need a guidance and counseling certificate from our office. Kindly present the CFO Guidance and Counseling Certificate (GCC) to the port of exit and show them your temporary/ visit visa and other requirements asked by your host country.
Question 15: What is the legal basis of CFO?
Answer: Batas Pambansa 79 which created CFO defined Filipinos overseas as those who are permanent residents abroad, or immigrants in the countries where they live or are spouses/partners/fiancé(e)s foreign nationals or former Filipinos residing abroad. It also includes Filipino emigrants who are citizens or awaiting naturalization in foreign countries, and their descendants.
For the past 3 decades, the CFO has implemented the Guidance and Counseling Program (GCP) for a fiancé (e) s, spouses, and other partners of foreign nationals or former Filipino citizens. The Republic Act 10364 or the (“An Act Expanding the Anti-Trafficking in Person Act of 2012”) requires the conduct of mandatory counseling services for Filipinos in intermarriages.
The GCP is also a requirement under the implementing rules and regulations of the Republic Act 8239 or the Philippine Passport Act for Filipino fiancé/ (e) s, partners, and spouses of foreign nationals or former Filipino citizens who are applying for a passport for the first time or adopting the surname of the foreign spouse.
Question 16: Will I be required to present the Guidance and Counseling Certificate (GCC) at the port of exit or airport?
Answer: Section 16 of the Republic Act 10364 (“An Act Expanding the Anti-Trafficking in Person Act of 2012”) states that: “Bureau of Immigration (BI) – shall strictly administer and enforce immigration and alien administration laws. It shall adopt measures for the apprehension of suspected traffickers both at the place of arrival and departure and shall ensure compliance by the Filipino fiancé (e) s, spouses and other partners of foreign nationals with the guidance and counseling requirement as provided for in this Act.”
The CFO Guidance and Counseling Certificate which is issued to the counselee after compliance to the program is presented to the Bureau of Immigration as indicated in the existing Guidelines on Departure Formalities for International- Bound Passengers. (http://www.immigration.gov.ph/)
Question 17: How long will the GCP seminar/ session be?
Answer: The CFO counseling session takes a minimum of four (4) hours. It aims to provide you with adequate information regarding intermarriage and migration, the cultural and social realities abroad as well as available support networks for migrants in distress, among others.
In addition, we would like to stress that the CFO counseling program for a fiancé(e)/ spouses/ partner of foreign nationals is based on the country of citizenship of the foreign national or former Filipino sponsor/petitioner. It can only accommodate 15 participants per session. We designed this small group’s session of four (4) hours to allow the participants greater interaction and more freedom to ask questions. The counselor or facilitator summarizes and synthesizes the participants’ interaction and sharing.
The final session is geared towards individual counseling where the counselor spends more time with counselee depending on the latter’s situation and may encourage submission of relevant documents (such as divorce papers, court decisions, annulment paper, certificate of no marriage, family registration, additional valid IDs, etc.) to address issues that surfaced during the counseling.
This follow-up or one on one session could last for over an hour. In some cases, the counselee and the counselor would agree to set another individual counseling appointment.
Question 18: CFO is it a scam or promotes marriage fraud?
Answer: In the counseling process done by CFO, it was gathered that while many Filipino face the normal adjustments as a foreign fiancé (e) s/spouses/ partners in their host countries, some became victims of abuses, exploitation and domestic violence, sexual exploitation or being sold for prostitution or forced labor.
Many counselees have reported numerous violations of the essential requisites of marriage evident in their respective marriage certificates. They claimed that the individuals who convicted them to marry the foreign nationals and facilitated the processing of their marriage documents may have access in the Local Civil Registrar.
The CFO regularly works with the local enforcement agencies to track down and penalize unscrupulous agent/ individual or group that take advantage of marriage migrants and promotes human trafficking in the guise of intermarriage.
Several case operations with Presidential Anti-Organized Crime (PAOC), Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and other members of the Interagency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) were implemented against the marriage brokers and bureau through the information gathered from the Guidance and Counseling Program of the CFO.
Question 19: How many marriage migrants are registered with CFO?
Answer: For the last ten (10) years (2003-2012), the number of Filipino female fiancé(e)s/spouses/ partners outnumbered their male counterparts by a ratio of approximately 12:1; or for every 100 spouses and partners registered in CFO, 91 are female and only 9 of them are male. Out of 206, 728 marriage migrant registrants over a ten year period, only 8% or 17, 513 were male while 92% or 189,215 were female. For the last 10 years, the United States consistently emerged as the top destination of spouses and partners accounting to 45%, followed by Japan (22%) and Australia (7%).
Between 2003-2012, the highest number of registered marriage migrants was in 2006 with 24, 904 or 12% of the total number of permanent migrants registered with the CFO; next was in 2007 with 23,927 also 12%, then 2012 with 21,409 or 10%. A 6% increase from 2011 to 2012 was recorded.
Question 20: What are the qualifications of the counselors?
Answer: The CFO which has been existing for more than three (3) decades has handled cases of overseas Filipinos in distress of varying circumstances: those who need to be repatriated; trafficking survivors needing legal assistance; marriage-related abuses of spouses of foreign nationals; victims of mail-order bride schemes, etc. the CFO’s Migrant Integration and Education Division (MIED), has invested for the longest time in maintaining professionals that will help counselees with marital issues, trafficking survivors and other overseas Filipinos in distress.
These experts have been chosen on a multi-disciplinary basis, given the multi-dimensional and multi-faceted nature of the cases. (For your information, to date, the CFO has required the services counseling psychologists, registered guidance counselors, and paralegal officers to handle the Guidance and Counseling Program.
Question 21: Where does CFO get its funds?
Answer: All national agencies, including the CFO, are directed to remit all cash inflows to the National Government’s Treasury which generally aids in the national government expenditures. CFO’s budget is determined by the General Appropriations Act that requires annual deliberations of the House of Representative and the Senate, only after enactment of the bill will then the fiscal year for the national government agencies, including the CFO starts.