I’ve been in Germany since December 2016 and thought I’d share specific milestones in my marriage visa application process.
This type of visa application is wrought with several trips to different offices both in the Philippines and in Germany. With so much paperwork attached to the application, it is predictably a long and tedious process that requires as much legwork as the waiting and patience necessary.
After combing the web for explainers and visa requirements, I came up with my own checklist to keep me on track. It contains all the important links and information to keep me focused on the items to be ticked off.
I’m not the most patient person, but give me a checklist and I will work my way towards crossing out all the requirements. Knowing that, I made my own (almost therapeutic) list and got to work.
Below is the document that served as my lifeline throughout the journey. This reference of requirements for a Filipino citizen marrying a German citizen in Germany can be downloaded here.
This period was dedicated towards completing the documents needed for the marriage application to the Standesamt and the background check. Since I was going to visit him on April 2016, it made sense to collect the documents prior to the trip. The collected documents were to be handed over to the Standesamt where we personally appeared to register our marriage.
For the marriage registration (Form 11/121), both parties are preferably present for it. In cases where one of the couple could not appear before the authority, a different step is involved (see here).
Note that depending on the city where your future spouse is, there could be a different set of requirements too. Since the Aachen Standesamt required checking of documents before we can proceed with the marriage registration, we could not move forward unless the checking has been completed.
Regardless, I made sure to have the documents ready so that Greg can easily submit them along with his papers after the checking of my documents. Here are the documents that the Standesamt in Aachen requested:
- Birth certificate in NSO security paper and with red ribbon from DFA
- Community Tax Certificate (CEDULA) – as proof of address
- CENOMAR in NSO security paper and with red ribbon from DFA – as proof of present civil status
- Joint affidavit of single status. If parents are deceased, then two affidavits from immediate relatives. This should be notarized and with red ribbon from DFA – as additional proof of present civil status
I simply followed the list of requirements needed for examination of documents published by the Germany Embassy. I did not have to go to DFA to request that they affix the red ribbon on them as well nor have them translated as this was not required for this purpose.
At the time of application, the fee was around Php 11,000.00. But this has since changed due to changes in exchange rate. Based on the document, a processing time of 4 months is to be expected. Greg received confirmation from the Standesamt around the middle of September 2016 essentially saying that the documents I have submitted have passed the examination.
Here are the documents I prepared in exact order:
- Birth certificate
- CENOMAR (Certificate of No Marriage = Certificate of Singleness) issued by PSA
- Two (2) passport-sized pictures and one (1) whole body picture (13x18cm)
- Consent to the checking of the documents by the document holder (available as a pdf-file on the website of the Embassy)
- Passport copy (data page)
- List of complete addresses from age 15 (declaration of addresses)
- Baptismal Certificate
- Elementary School records (Elementary School Form 137)
- Marriage certificate of the parents
- Two (2) passport-size pictures of the parents
- Birth Certificate(s) of sibling(s) the local civil registry office or the PSA are sufficient.
I also started looking for a language school around this period and settled with Goethe Institute in Makati since it is a few meters away from my office. I started the A1 course on February and finished around end of March. This gave me about a week to review and prepare for the A1 certification exam held on April that is also required in applying for the marriage visa.
Around this time too, Greg and I started booking an appointment for the Marriage Visa. It took us about a month of trying until we got an appointment for end of May.
This is the period where I spent a few weeks in Germany on a tourist visa so I get to be with Greg on his birthday and submit the documents required by the Standesamt.
Personal appearance at the Standesamt
On Greg’s part, he first had to secure an appointment at the Standesamt to coincide with my visit. Although we could not register our marriage yet at this point, it was a good way to touch base with the officer in charge of our papers and get a feel of how the process works. This step made the marriage deal more real to me since I was also able to see for myself what goes on the receiving end of my documents.
A flight back to the Philippines and many liters of tears later, came my much-awaited appointment at the German Embassy. It was the end of May 2016 when I went to the embassy for the first of the three trips I made there.
During the interview, I can only remember being asked basic information about our relationship: how it started and when the proposal was. Other than that, I was only told of the standard waiting time and was given a piece of paper of the documents that I still need to submit as soon as they are available.
For the first visit, here are the documents that I submitted:
- 2 copies of filled in application form
- 3 current passport pictures (format here)
- Valid passport – considered valid if has more than 6 months until renewal
- Birth certificate
- Visa fee – 60 euros
- Filled in Declaration form
- Copy of federal identity card (front- and back page) or passport and registration card of the fiance in Germany and where applicable copy of the valid residence permit in Germany (no need for authentication)
- Proof of basic knowledge of German language (A1 certificate received from Goethe after I have taken and passed the exam)
- 2 Xerox copies of all original documents (passport: only the data page)
This was probably the longest three months for me. It wasn’t until the middle of September when Greg received an email from the Standesamt, the go signal that we can proceed with the marriage registration and the formal obligation. Other than this, I made sure to attend the compulsory Guidance & Counseling Seminar by the Commission on Filipino Overseas.
I booked for seminar appointment via their online appointment system and got an appointment for the following month. This would be the first of the two trips I had to make for them. At this stage, since I have just submitted my visa application and do not have visa yet, I cannot get the CFO stamp that is attached to the passport after completing the seminar.
There were about twenty of us in the seminar where we were briefed about life outside the Philippines and the numbers to dial in case of emergency. We were also interviewed briefly about our relationship with our partners.
Here are the documents I brought with me to the CFO appointment:
- Original and photocopy of two (2) valid identification cards with photograph
- Duly completed guidance and counseling form (I got the form at the office and filled it in there)
- Other documents as may be required by the counselors
Since this was quite vague to me, I brought the below just to be sure:
- my birth certificate
- Greg’s birth certificate
- Copy of Greg’s federal identity card
- Payment of Php 400.00 counseling and registration fee
The last three months were focused on (finally!) obtaining Form 11/121, health insurance that covers at least 90 days of stay upon arrival (we chose Hansemerkur Reiseversicherung for this), and the formal obligation.
What is a Formal Obligation (Verpflichtungserklärung)?
From my end, I only had to send a scanned copy of my passport’s data page for Greg to get the Formal Obligation. From his end, he submitted a copy of his identity card, salary statement for the last three months, and his Mietvertrag (rental contract).
Essentially, the formal obligation (Verpflichtungserklärung) declares that the host/sponsor will be responsible for the cost of the invitee’s stay. It also affirms that the host has the financial ability to cover the maintenance and accommodation of the invitee.
That means that the Alien Office (Ausländerbehorde) will check that the host is earning enough and that his/her living situation can accommodate the invitee.
As soon as I received the copies that Greg sent by mail, I submitted the last crucial documents to the embassy.
It was around the middle of November when I finally got the visa. Not a month later, I flew to Germany with Greg after a hazy week of despedidas.
- Have multiple physical and soft copies of the documents you have collected for the marriage visa and organize them for quick access. Store them in the cloud and have them in printed form and organized in folders.
- You can order BC online to save you the queuing time. (Go to E-Census)
- While waiting for the visa, spend time with family and friends because you will sorely miss them when you move away.
- Get your school credentials and employment letters in order. You don’t know when you will need them for future employment purposes or for application to graduate studies. Best that you also have these on hand before you leave.
- Learn about Germany and its language. Learning German is not a piece of cake. Getting uprooted and starting over in a foreign country with language, norms, and culture just as foreign is challenging. That said, consider the waiting period an opportunity to get yourself ready for the move.
The entire application including the document preparation and acquiring the A1 certificate took about a year. Looking back, although it was an excruciating wait, it gave me the chance to enjoy the company of my family and friends, travel on the side while building my freelance practice.
Disclaimer: Please note that this account is based on my experience at the time of application (2016). There may be changes to the application process and requirements since I applied.
I hope that this gives anyone on a similar boat an idea on what to expect. Let me know if you have questions and I’ll answer it as best as I can. 🙂 All the best to you and your journey!