Living in Cebu - Immigration Guides
When you arrive in the Philippines you will be given the standard 21 day tourist stamp in your passport. If you are here for a two or three week holiday this will be fine, however should you want to stay longer, you will need to extend your visa.
This can be done by visiting the local immigration office with all the relevant paperwork's, filling out various forms and then waiting your turn to have you application attended to. The process is not really to painful but you can opt to use the services of a visa agency, this will obviously add a little to the standard extension fee. We recomend Le Soliel Travel & Tours Inc. Click Here for contact details.
If you are married to a Filipino and you enter the country together your passports should be stamped Balikbayan and this will entitle you to a one year stay. It is common for foreigners to use this privilege and leave the country once a year for just a few days. On their return they will get Balikbayan again. Remember you will only get the Balikbayan stamp if you are traveling with your wife.
Whether you have Balikbayan privilege or extend your visa every two months, you will be required to leave the country at the end of the one year period albeit for just a day. (I believe one can stay here now for up to 18months on a tourist visa)
Please Note! if you are staying in the Philippines on a tourist visa, you will need to be in possesion of an outbound ticket if you exit and return to the Philippines. For example, you fly to Hong Kong for a couple of days to meet the immigration requirements of leaving the Phils after your one years stay. When you fly back to the Phils you must have in your possesion an outbound ticket to anywhere, else immigration can deny you re-entry.
Being married to a Filipino will give you the right to apply for a non quota immigrant visa. This allows you to stay indefinitely. Once again it is not a straight forward process and whilst it can be sorted out on your own the help of an agency is strongly advised. Note I said agency, you will probably be advised by some locals to use a fixer, this will normally result in much higher fees and no guarantee that your application will be processed let alone approved. Stay away from people who claim to know somebody in the immigration department I assure you it means trouble.
You also have the option of applying for a retirement Visa (SRRV). This will once again involve a lot of paperwork and the depositing of cash (approx 1.8M Php) in a Philippine bank account. The cash remains yours but in my opinion your money could be put to much better use and given the current economic / political climate I would not want my money tied up in the Philippines.
The options detailed above are just two examples of ways you can obtain the right to stay here in the Philippines. Whatever option you choose with the exception of Balikbayan you will be required to get and ACR (Alien Certificate of Residence).
In the past this has been a paper/card type document and easily processed in the immigration office for a few hundred pesos. Things are currently undergoing a change and the old paper ACR is being replaced by a new Smart Card version. Unfortunately this is at a cost to you and I. The new system will cost each person approx $50 USD and is renewable yearly.
The new system is meant to speed things up when you come and go at the airport but I think this will have to be proven in actual usage. The introduction of the new style ACR card has been put back numerous times and the deadline for applying is now the end of April 2006. Note! if you have either version of the ACR you will need to secure a visa to exit the Philippines, this costs around 4000PHP.
Le Soliel Travel & Tours Inc. offer a complete Visa Extension Service, please look at our Visa Assistance page for more information.
The Philippine Bureau of Immigration web site gives all the relevant immigration information and current rates for more information.
January 13, 2010 18:44