Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Permanent Residency in the Philippines

Many foreigners with extended stays in the Philippines, or living/retiring there, simply keep extending their 'Tourist' Visa.

Many foreigners can avail of a 21 day 'Visa waiver'.

Visa Extension - submit application for initial extension of 38 days, followed by up to 5 repeated applications of 59 days stay. One must leave the Philippines before 12 months from date of arrival. The process can be repeated on next arrival to the Philippines.

There is now something called the ACR I-Card (Alien Certificate Registration - electronic card).


All registered aliens, including their dependents, who have been duly issued paper-based ACRs are required to replace their ACRs with the hi-tech microchip-based ACR I-Card.

All aliens who have been duly issued immigrant or non-immigrant visa and all other aliens who are required to register under the Alien Registration Act are required to register and apply for the ACR I-Card. They are the following:
  1. Native-Born
  2. Permanent residents under:
    a. Section 13 and its sub-sections
    b. Republic Act Nos. 7919 and 8274 (Alien Social Integration Act of 1995)
    c. Executive Order No. 324 (series of 1988)
    d. Note Verbale No. 903730 dated Sept. 17, 1990 between Philippines and India
  3. Temporary residents under:
    a. BI Law Instruction No. 33 (Series of 1988)
    b. BI Law Instruction No.13 (Series of 1988)
    c. BI Law Instruction No. 48 (Series of 1988)
    d. BI Memo Order No. ADD-01-038 (series of 2001)
    e. BI Memo Order No. ADD-02-015 (series of 2002)
  4. Temporary visitor under Section 9(a), PIA –one who is coming for business or pleasure or for reasons of health if his stay exceeds six (6) months
  5. Treaty trader under Section 9(d), PIA
  6. Temporary student under Section 9(f), PIA
  7. Pre-arranged employee under Section 9(g), PIA
  8. Such other aliens as may be required by law to register
  9. For those who are required to register but exempted from immigration fees, they may opt to avail of the ACR I-Card subject to payment of the card fee.

For those not married to a Philipino spouse, there are just 2 alternatives to extending a Tourist Visa, better suited to Permanent Residence in the Philippines.

  1. Special Resident Retirement Visa (SRRV)
    Non-Immigrant Multiple-entry Visa and permanent Residency

  2. IMMIGRANT VISA - Quota Visa
    Only 50 applicants are approved annually for other categories of aliens whose countries accept Filipinos as immigrants on a reciprocal basis. The Philippine Consulate General receives the completed immigrant visa application with enclosures indicated below and, in turn, is forwarded through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for appropriate action by the concerned agencies in the Philippines. When authority from the DFA for the issuance of the visa allotting quota number is received, a personal interview with a consular officer will follow prior to the actual issuance of the immigrant visa.


For those single foreigner guys out there, getting married to a Filipina is not such a bad thing?

Apart from discovering that Filipina's have a charm, and shyness about them, they are sexy, brown, warm loving creatures. Once married, there are a couple more options open to a long term stay in the Philippines.

  • Balikbayan Visa
    A Balikbayan is defined as:-
    ● Former Filipino citizens holding foreign passports, including spouses and children traveling with them;
    ● Filipinos who have been continuously out of the Philippines for at least one (1) year; and
    ● Filipino overseas contract workers
    On return to the Philippines, Balikbayan privilege can be requested of the Immigration Officer.

    Valid for 12 Months period.
    There is no cost involved for a Balikbayan Visa (No ACR I-Card either?).

    NB: It is a privilege, not a right!

  1. IMMIGRANT VISA - Non Quota Visa (13A)
    You can apply for a 13A Visa in whatever country you happen to be living in with your Filipina spouce.
    There are some advantages to this, over obtaining one after living in the Philippines.
    ● Permanent Residence Visa immediately (no need to go through 12 Months 'Probationary')
    ● Exemption from customs duties on importation of personal effects worth $7,000
    You have to take some simple Medical Tests and Police background clearance and send it in to a Philippine Consulate or Philippine Embassy within your country of Residence. Depending on country this can take 2-4 weeks for approval. Once approved, you will have 6 months to enter the Philippines......and live in the Philippines hassle-free for good.

There is absolutely no need to leave the country on visa runs, no need to visit the Immigration office every 2 months, but once a year you are required to check-in at Immigration for Annual Insection costing Php330.

As mentioned, obtaining a 13A Visa in the Philippines, requires a 12 Month 'Probationary' Permanent Residence Visa first. There is then a 'Conversion' Ammendment from Probationary to Permanent Resident.

This is the route I took to getting a 13A, since we were married in the Philippines, after settling here from Hong Kong.

The Cost 13A - 12 Months Probationary at that time for me - Total Application/Cert. fees just Php6,436+ Php1500 Express Lane fee (optional).

Cost - Probationary to Permanent Resident = Php3,700 + Php500 Express Lane fee (optional)

You also need (like any foreigner staying beyond 6 months) the
ACR I-Card which cost US$50.

It has just been announced that those Permanent Residents, holders of ICR (Immigration Certificate Residence), only have to renew their ACR I-Card, every 5 years.

The ACR I-Card removes the need to apply for Exit Clearance, and Re-entry Permit, 2 weeks before leaving the Philippines for overseas visit and return with same Permanent Residence status.

This used to be the costs involved (but may have changed with the introduction of the ACR I-Card?):-

- 1st Departure cost = Php2,430 + optional Php500 Express Lane fee
- 2nd Departure cost = Php1,900 + optional Php500 Express Lane fee

I heard it may be possible to pay these Fees in advance, at the Bureau of Immigration and load your ACR I-Card, with the payment, before ones departure date. Doing so will avoid any long waiting lines at the ‘cashier’s booth’ at the Airport, and hopefully payment of the 'Express Lane' Fee? Not sure if BOI, Mandaue have the capability to 'load' ones ACR I-Card yet?

Anyway this is how I got to be 'Permanent Resident' in the Philippines.

NEXT: Early Retirement in the Philippines - How to Afford it?


Anonymous said...

We arrived Philippines Sept 07 on Balikbayan visa. No ACR I card was required for a stay of more than 6 months. I believe the info "for all people who enter the Philippines and stay over 6 months REGARDLESS of the type of visa they have need ACR I", is not correct

Anonymous said...

Is it true that holders of the Probationary ACR card are not allowed to work in the Philippines? And once the probationary ACR card is made Permanent, those holders are allowed to work?

Can someone post a link here to a Philippines govt web page that discusses this issue?

Anonymous said...

The links shown on this page do not go through, they maybe too old and outdated.

Anonymous said...


Ha, ha. Obviously never read the Ph laws.

There is no such thing as a Balikbayan Visa in this country.

Good website mate