Visa Processing

If you are interested in more detailed information, you can go to either the Philippine Immigration on-line link that I will post below, or to the Philippine Retirement Authority link that I will also post below. If you need even more concise information for a specific visa, I suggest that you then consult with a Philippine immigration attorney in your area who can probably be recommended to you by your nearest Philippine Consular Office.

The web sites, as promised:

Philippine Bureau of Immigration: http://www.immigration.gov.ph/

Philippine Retirement Authority: http://www.pra.gov.ph/

As a foreigner, you can now stay in the Philippines for up to two years on a tourist visa. You do this by renewing your visa at Immigration several times a year. The Bureau of Immigration main office is in Manila, but there are also provincial satellite offices of the Bureau of Immigration all over the country. For the purpose of convenience, renewing your visa just couldn’t be easier. If you really don’t want to go personally to renew your visa, a good travel agent can handle this chore for you for a reasonable fee.

After two years of consecutively renewing your visa inside the country, the government requires that you leave the Philippines for any period of time, even for just one day. Many people go on a short holiday to Hong Kong or some other country nearby. When you return to the Philippines, after your holiday, you can begin the whole process again.

One item of note: If you are planning on driving yourself in this country (not advisable for the first six months because traffic can get a little bit unruly), you may not legally obtain a Philippine Driver’s License from LTO (Land Transportation Office) unless you are a resident.

The government makes it easy for foreigners to renew their visas like this because it is able to generate revenue with the visa fees charged to foreigners.

Before arriving in the Philippines, it might be worth your while to go to a Philippine Consular Office, be it an embassy or a consulate, whatever is nearest you, and apply for a free fifty-nine day visa to the country (this visa will be granted for citizens of most countries; there are very few exceptions). You can save a few bucks and maybe some hassle by doing this.

Irregardless, if you enter the Philippines without this visa, you will automatically be granted a free twenty-one day visa PROVIDED YOU ARE HOLDING AN OUTWARD BOUND AIR TICKET. If you are not holding an outward bound ticket, you will be required to purchase one at the airport, or you will not be allowed to enter the country.

That issue notwithstanding, if you renew the twenty-one day visa here in the country, you will be given a visa for an additional thirty-eight days, but you will have to pay for it. If you want to save a few bucks, as I said, it is better to get the free fifty-nine day visa from the Consular Office rather than have to pay for renewing your twenty-one day visa (for an additional thirty- eight days, total number of days is fifty-nine) when you are in the Philippines.

Bureau of Immigration Launches New Long-Stay Visa for Potential Retirees

http://immigration.gov.ph/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2007&Itemid=78

“Foreigners intending to stay longer in the country may now avail of a six-month, long-stay tourist visa…” that was launched in mid-June 2013, “by the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

BI Commissioner Ricardo David said, “the Long Stay Visitor Visa Extension (LSVVE) project was launched to spur tourist arrivals in the country by giving foreigners the privilege to prolong their stay here without the need to frequent the BI office. Presently, the BI grants foreign tourists a maximum stay of two months each time they apply for visa extensions.

According to Mr. David, the LSVVE project was implemented based on information gathered after meetings between the BI, the Department of Tourism, and the Department of Foreign Affairs were held on what policy reforms could be initiated to further attract more foreign visitors to the country.

The text of the official document follows:

MEMORANDUM ORDER No. RADJR-2013-007
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE LONG-STAY VISITOR VISA EXTENSION (LSVVE)

Pursuant to Memorandum Circular No. RADJR-2013-002, the following guidelines are hereby issued in connection with the implementation of the LSVVE:

1. Applicability – The LSVVE shall apply to all nationals.
2. Extension of Tourist Visa – Subsequent LSVVEs may be applied for during the last thirty (30) days of the previously issued LSVVE, or upon the expiry of a regular visa extention.
3. Restriction on Extensions – The approval of the Commissioner shall be required for visa extensions when the number of months applied for would exceed the 16-month limit.

Foreign nationals with an accumulated total stay near the 16-month cap from the date of their latest arrival should be informed of the preceding restriction should they apply for additional visa extensions.

No LSVVE shall be issued to visa-required nationals whose stay exceeds twenty-four (24) months and thirty-six (36) months for non visa-required nationals.
4. Payment and Fees – An additional One Hundred Pesos (Php 100.00) as cost of the sticker visa shall accrue for the account of the Bureau of Treasury.

Applicable visa extension fees shall still be collected based on the schedule of fees for the entire six (6) month period.
5. Implementation – The initial implementation on the LSVVE shall be limited to the BI Main Office in Intramuros, Manila until further notice.

(Sgd.) RICARDO A. DAVID, JR.
Commissioner
Here are approximate visa fees, charged in the Philippines, for a tourist visa:

(Exchange rate used for this edition is US$1.00:PHP43.00, but best to look up the current exchange rate when computing these fees)

1. Visa Waiver for 38 days, after initial stay of 21 days without visa, i.e. the “Visa Waver”:

Visa Waiver PHP 500.00
Application Fee PHP1000.00
Certification Fee PHP 500.00
Legal Research Fee PHP 30.00
Express Lane Fee PHP1000.00
TOTAL: PHP3030.00

2. Visa Extension after 59 days, good for two months:

Visa Extension PHP1000.00
Application Fee PHP 600.00
Alien Certificate of Registration PHP1000.00
Head Tax PHP 250.00
Certification Fee PHP 500.00
Immigration Clearance Certificate PHP 700.00
Legal Research Fee PHP 50.00
Express Lane Fee PHP1500.00
TOTAL: PHP4800.00
(Add iCard) US$ 50.00
(Express Fee iCard) PHP 500.00

3. Visa Extension (good for two months) going from four to six month stay, fees PER MONTH:

One Month Two Months
Every Month of Visa Extension PHP 500.00 PHP1000.00
Application Fee PHP 300.00 PHP 600.00
Certification Fee PHP 500.00 PHP1000.00
Legal Research Fee PHP 30.00 PHP 60.00
Express Lane Fee PHP1000.00 PHP2000.00
TOTAL: PHP2330.00 PHP4660.00

4. Visa Extension after six month stay (charged starting seventh month after arrival):

Visa Extension (every month of extension) PHP 500.00
Application Fee PHP 300.00
Certificate of Residence Temporary Visitor (CRTV) PHP1400.00
Certification Fee PHP 500.00
Legal Research Fee PHP 40.00
Express Lane Fee PHP1000.00
TOTAL: PHP3740.00

If you arrived before November 2 of the preceeding year, when you go to get your seven-month onward renewal of your visa, you must also file an Annual Report. This will cost you PHP300.00 plus the Legal Research Fee of PHP10.00 for each Immigration fee.

Now that you can stay for two consecutive years, expect the same fees as above on your second year.

A WORD TO THE WISE: Under no circumstances should you “overstay” the allowable time on your visa!! At least one week, or better yet, two weeks, before your visa expires, RENEW IT. You can seriously wind up in Immigration jail and be deported if you break the law by staying longer than the time allowed on your visa. It is such a no-brainer to renew your visa, that this circumstance can be avoided completely if you just follow the letter of the law!

If you are not satisfied with staying in the country on a tourist visa, or if you need a visa that is specific to your purpose in staying in the Philippines (for example, if you are here as a missionary), then there are several different kinds of special visas granted by the government. These would include student visas, missionary visas, and special employment visas. There is also such a thing as a “quota” and “non-quota” visa which might merit some research. A “quota” visa is a visa granted on a reciprocal basis to the citizen of a country that grants the same amount of visas to Filipino citizens residing in their country.

If what you are looking to obtain is one of these special visas, then it would be best to consult the Bureau of Immigration website to see what types of visas are available, or else consult a Philippine immigration lawyer, either here or abroad, for more detailed information. There can be a considerable amount of red tape when it comes to obtaining these special visas, so if that is what you want or need, then be prepared to be patient, because it often takes a long time for that sort of visa to be granted. If you can afford it, your best hope for success in obtaining a special visa would be to hire an attorney or a reputable travel agent to help you. Sometimes it is best to enter the country on a tourist visa, and keep renewing it, while your special visa is being processed.

Another type of visa that is available is a “balikbayan” visa. “Balikbayan” visas are issued to Filipinos who are now citizens of another country and who no longer hold a Filipino passport; or to the spouse and legal children of a Filipino citizen who is married to a foreigner. So in layman’s terms, if you, the foreigner, are legally married to a Filipino, Immigration will grant you a one- year visa free of charge when you enter the country. You must be with your Filipino spouse at the airport in order to get this visa, and you must be in possession of an outward bound airline ticket. If you have your “balikbayan” visa stamped in your passport, you can stay in the country without renewing your visa–so for free– for one year. After that year, you can then pay the immigration fees, as outlined earlier, to renew your visa for up to two more years without having to leave the country. Theoretically, you could stay in the country for three consecutive years without having to leave the Philippines to renew your visa.

If what you really want is a permanent resident visa, the best way to obtain that is by marriage to a Filipino citizen–marriage practically guarantees that you will obtain this visa! You will still have to undertake the process of obtaining the correct paperwork, which, again, you should hire a lawyer or a reputable travel agent to handle for you. If you don’t want to get married but still want a permanent resident (13-E) visa, the best way to handle this is through a lawyer.

So, let’s say that now you have been in the Philippines for about two years, and you have made the decision: you like the place and you want to stay. If you are over thirty-five years old, there is another option to marriage to a Filipino citizen, and that option is to obtain a RETIREMENT VISA. You can find out all about it by going on-line to the Philippine Retirement Authority at www.pra.gov.ph. and click on the section marked “SRRV Products”.

Their main office is located in Makati at the Citibank Tower, 29th Floor on 8741 Paseo de Roxas St. Phone number is (632) 848-1412 and fax line is (632) 848-7106.

I’ll go ahead and outline the general requirements of the retirement visa here:

If you are 35 years or older, you qualify for a retirement visa.

In a nutshell, there are four types of retirement visas: SRRV Classic; SRRV Smile; SRRV Courtesy; and finally, SRRV Human Touch. All of these are special non-immigrant visas which entitle the foreign national to reside in the Philippines indefinitely with multiple entry and exit privileges. Holders of these visas are entitled to an exemption from Customs duties and taxes for the importation of personal effects UP TO US$7,000.00.

They are entitled to an exemption from the travel tax if their stay in the Philippines is not longer than one year from the last date of entry. They are exempt from having to secure and pay for the Bureau of Immigration exit clearances and re-entry permits when exiting/ entering the country, as well as the Bureau of Immigration i-Card/ Annual Registration requirement. They are also exempt from having to secure a Special Study Permit or Student’s Visa for their minor children.

All of the visas require that a security deposit to be made into the account of the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) at PRA-designated banks. Sometimes the security deposit can be converted into an investment in the Philippines, such as the purchase of a condominium or on the long-term lease of a house and lot.

Sometimes the security deposit is not convertible into an investment; it depends on the conditions of the visa. If the deposit is to be converted into an investment in real estate, that real estate must be “ready for occupancy”.

In addition, the amount of the security deposit can be significantly lowered if there is an official pension involved…

SRRV Classic Visa:

For persons 35 to 49 years old, the security deposit required is US$50,000.00.

For persons 50 years and older, WITHOUT a pension, the security deposit is US$20,000.00.

For persons 50 years and older WITH a pension (verifiable proof of the pension is required), the security deposit is US$10,000.00.

There is an additional visa requirement of US$15,000.00 for dependents in excess of two (i.e., if you are 50 years or older; and the visa is for yourself and your two dependents; and you have a verifiable pension; then the deposit is US$10,000.00. If you have three or more dependents, then you will need to deposit an additional US$15,000.00 per dependent in excess of two.)

If you have a verifiable pension, you have show proof to the Philippine government that it is at least US$800.00 for a single applicant, and at least US$1000.00 for married couples.

The security deposit may be converted into an investment, but the total amount of the investment must be at least US$50,000.00 for the security deposit to be converted.

There is a one-time application fee (application forms can be downloaded from the website) of US$1,400.00 for the principal, and US$300.00 for each dependent.

There is a fee, payable upon enrollment and then yearly thereafter, of US$360.00 paid to the PRA for the principal and two dependents (they assume spouse and one child), and US$100.00 for each dependent over the two allowable.

Documentary requirements obtained abroad must be in English, and must be authenticated by the Philippine Embassy or Consulate in your country of origin. They include: a filled-out application form; an original passport and valid entry visa to the Philippines; a medical examination clearance; a police clearance and a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance from the Philippines; twelve recent 2×2 photos; proof of relationship to dependents who will fall under your visa; verifiable pension documents.

SRRV Smile Visa:

For persons 35 years old and above, the security deposit required is US$20,000.00.

For each dependent over two persons, there is an additional security deposit required of US$15,000.00 per dependent.

The security deposit MAY NOT be converted into an investment and remains locked into the bank account. It is intended for end- term needs and obligations of retiree.

Security deposit may be withdrawn upon cancellation of the visa.

There is a one-time application fee (application forms can be downloaded from the website) of US$1,400.00 for the principal, and US$300.00 for each dependent.

There is a fee, payable upon enrollment and then yearly thereafter, of US$360.00 paid to the PRA for the principal and two dependents (they assume spouse and one child), and US$100.00 for each dependent over the two allowable.

Documentary requirements obtained abroad must be in English, and must be authenticated by the Philippine Embassy or Consulate in your country of origin. They include: a filled-out application form; an original passport and valid entry visa to the Philippines; a medical examination clearance; a police clearance and a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance from the Philippines; twelve recent 2×2 photos; proof of relationship to dependents who will fall under your visa.

SRRV Human Touch Visa:

For persons 35 years old and above, who have a pre-existing medical condition (not contagious), and who are in need of medical care and services, the security deposit required is US$10,000.00.

The applicant must also have a verifiable pension, remitted to the Philippines, of at least US$1,500.00 per month.

The security deposit MAY NOT be converted into an investment and remains locked into the bank account. It is intended for end- term needs and obligations of retiree.

Security deposit may be withdrawn upon cancellation of the visa.

There is a one-time application fee (application forms can be downloaded from the website) of US$1,400.00 for the principal, and US$300.00 for each dependent.

There is a fee, payable upon enrollment and then yearly thereafter, of US$360.00 paid to the PRA for the principal and one dependent only.

Documentary requirements obtained abroad must be in English, and must be authenticated by the Philippine Embassy or Consulate in your country of origin. They include: a filled-out application form; an original passport and valid entry visa to the Philippines; a medical examination clearance; a police clearance and a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance from the Philippines; twelve recent 2×2 photos; proof of relationship to dependent who will fall under your visa; verifiable pension documents.

SRRV Courtesy Visa:

For persons who were formerly Filipino citizens and who are 35 years old and above;

For Ambassadors and retired diplomats 50 years old and above who served in the Philippines, the security deposit required is US$1,500.00.

For each dependent over two persons, there is an additional security deposit required of US$15,000.00 per dependent EXCEPT for former Filipinos.

The security deposit may be converted into investments as per stipulated.

There is a one-time application fee (application forms can be downloaded from the website) of US$1,400.00 for the principal, and US$300.00 for each dependent.

There is an annual PRA fee of US$10.00.

Documentary requirements obtained abroad must be in English, and must be authenticated by the Philippine Embassy or Consulate in your country of origin. They include: a filled-out application form; an original passport and valid entry visa to the Philippines; a medical examination clearance; a police clearance and a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance from the Philippines; twelve recent 2×2 photos; proof of relationship to dependent who will fall under your visa.

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS FROM:

http://myphilippinelife.com/philippines-retirement-visa-srrv/

SPECIAL RESIDENT RETIREE VISA (SRRV). This is a good option if you are not married to a Philippine citizen, have a pension of more than $800 per month and have $10,000 to leave invested in a Philippine bank. It’s sort of the Cadillac (BMW?) of Philippine visas. You’ll never have to set foot in a Bureau of Immigration office. You’ll apply and get your visa at the relatively plush PRA offices in the Citibank Tower in Makati. SRRV holders are exempt from ACR, I-card, exit clearance and re-entry permit requirements. You get a special photo ID card and a pretty PRA visa with tropical island motif is inserted into your passport. As of 2009, the PRA had 21,000 foreign retirees from 17 countries.”

The process of procuring your retirement visa, should you attempt to do it on your own, could be lengthy and arduous. We recommend that you consider hiring the services of a good lawyer, well versed in Philippine Immigration Law, whether you are processing the visa from abroad or from within the Philippines.

If you already have a reliable lawyer who could recommend a good immigration attorney, then terrific. If not, then you can consult the ELRAP website which can provide a list of reliable attorneys, recommended by ELRAP members, based on their experience working with them. You can interview the lawyers to see if you would like to work with one of them to obtain your visa. There will be an additional fee, obviously, charged to you by your attorney for his/her services. A good immigration attorney should be able to procure the visa within a month at most, two weeks at least. Upon hiring your attorney, please be aware that you should not pay more than 50% of the fee requested as a down payment. It would be wise to get and keep written quotations and receipts for everything involved in the process. The balance of payment for the visa should only be made upon receipt of complete documentation for the visa, and upon seeing the visa stamped into your passport.

Something to be prepared for: Experience has taught many an expat that the funds from the bond that have been posted with the PRA for the retirement visa can take a long time, typically 9-12 months, to be returned should an expat choose to close the visa, or should the expat(s) covered under the retirement visa pass away. Aside from the fact that the wheels of government work slowly (as they do everywhere), it takes time—and a process—to establish that the expat has no outstanding debts within the country and that the funds can be returned to him/her/the heirs. If there is outstanding debt, the funds from the bond are used to settle those debts and the balance can then be returned.

“ More and more folks are retiring at an earlier age, while they are still healthy enough to enjoy their lives. The problem is, in the First World, even a couple in their late fifties that have a $500,000 investment portfolio, which includes their home equity and other investments, won’t have enough retirement income to take advantage of their hard-won freedom. ”

The FREEDOM HANDBOOK
By Bruce Silverman
http://funphilippinesretirement.com
“ELRAP is a friendly website! On our pages please--no vulgarity, and no politics or religion discussed!”