We shall discuss Philippine Visas and Immigration. It is human nature to desire all the best things life has to offer. People would do everything in their power just to achieve their goals and improve their standard of living which includes leaving their own country.
It is a sad reality that a lot of Filipinos seek to leave the Philippines for better opportunities. They feel like they cannot get the life they want for themselves and their family here in the Philippines because of the limited opportunities it can provide. We cannot however blame Filipinos for leaving their own country for wanting a better future.
People have a right to leave their own country. This right is embodied in our Constitution. Article III, Section 6 of the 1987 Constitution provides that the liberty of abode and of changing the same within the limits prescribed by law shall not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court.
Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law.1
Immigration is the process where a person leaves his own country to go to another country. The usual reasons for immigration are the desire for better living conditions and a response to difficult conditions. They see immigration as the easy way out to solve their problems.
Aside from a passport, people also need a visa especially when such country requires a visa before they can enter such country. A visa is distinct from a passport. It is an endorsement placed within a passport which grants the holder a permission to enter, leave or stay in a country for a specified period of time.
While many Filipinos desire to go out of, or immigrate to, another country to look for greener pasture, still, Philippines, as a country, needs to protect its sovereignty. It needs to set rules, guidelines, and policies for the ingress and egress of foreign national in the Philippines.
Consequently, we have our own immigration laws to regulate such entry and exit. In this regard, the Philippine government issues visas for this purpose, with concomitant preservation by providing penalties for violations thereof.
How can a foreigner immigrate to Philippines?
The Philippines has always been a favorite tourist spot of foreigners because of its breathtaking destinations. Foreigners who visit the Philippines tend to fall in love with the Philippines and eventually decide to settle here.
However, foreigners cannot simply stay here in the Philippines just because they want to. They have to abide with what our law on immigration provides.
Section 13 of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 provides an enumeration for those who are qualified to be immigrants. It states that:2
SEC. 13. Under the conditions set forth in this Act, there may be admitted into the Philippines immigrants, termed “quota immigrants” not in excess of five hundred of any one nationality or without nationality for any one calendar year, except that the following immigrants, termed “non quota immigrants,” may be admitted without regard to such numerical limitations:3
- An alien coming to prearranged employment, for whom the issuance of a visa has been authorized in accordance with section twenty of this Act, and his wife, and his unmarried children under twenty-one years of age, if accompanying him or if following to join him within a period of two years from the date of his admission into the Philippines as an immigrant under this paragraph;4
- The wife or the husband or the unmarried child under twenty-one years of age of a Philippine citizen, if accompanying or following to join such citizen;5
- A child of alien parents born during the temporary visit abroad of the mother, the mother having been previously lawfully admitted into the Philippines for permanent resident, if the child is accompanying or coming to join an parent and applies for admission within five years from the date of its birth;6
- A child born subsequent to the issuance of the immigration visa of the accompanying parent, the visa not having expired;7
- The wife or the husband or the unmarried child under twenty-one years of age, of an alien lawfully admitted into the Philippines for permanent residence prior to the date on which this Act becomes effective and who is resident therein, if such wife, husband, or child applies for admission within a period of two years following the date on which this Act becomes effective.9
If a person falls under any category provided by Section 13, then he is qualified to be an immigrant. However, it should be noted that it is not enough that a person falls under any of the categories provided by the law. He should also submit supporting documents in order to ascertain and establish his eligibility to be an immigrant.
Sections 15, 16, and 17 of the Philippine Immigration Act provides the documentation for immigrants. It states that:
SEC. 15. Immigrants must present for admission into the Philippines unexpired passports or official documents in the nature of passports issued by the governments of the countries to which they owe allegiance or other travel documents showing their origin and identity as prescribed by regulations, and valid immigration visas issued by consular officers, except that children born subsequent to the issuance of the immigration visa of an accompanying parent, the visa not having expired, shall not be subject these documentary requirements.10
SEC. 16. The form and manner of applying for an immigration visa and the form and validity of such immigration visa shall be established by regulations.11
SEC. 17. No immigration visa shall be issued to an immigrant if the consular officer knows from statements in the application therefor or from the papers submitted therewith or otherwise has reason to believe that the immigrant is inadmissible into the Philippines under the immigration laws.12
The Philippines has always been welcoming to immigrants especially to immigrants coming from countries who extends reciprocal rights with the Philippines.
The Philippines accepts immigrants with open arms and sees to it that they can enjoy their stay here in the Philippines and ensures that they are treated as if they’re natural born citizens of the Philippines.
Immigration definitely paves the way for diversity and multiculturalism. It removes barriers and make the world smaller. We can learn about a particular culture of a certain place without having to leave the Philippines. Immigration removes the boundaries set by a certain country and immerses people to understand each other.
How can a foreigner stay in the Philippines permanently?
A foreigner can stay in the Philippines permanently if he will be eligible to be issued with a permanent residency in the Philippines, provided that the country of origin of the alien seeking permanent residency has an immigration reciprocity with the Philippines.
Sec. 13 (b) of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 provides that non-quota immigrants may be admitted to the Philippines if he is accompanying or to join his spouse or child who is a Philippine Citizen.13
In other words, a foreigner may be admitted and granted a permanent residency if he or she has a valid marriage with a Philippine Citizen.
A foreigner may be qualified to the grant of this visa if he proves that he contracted a valid marriage with a Philippine Citizen.
Under the Family Code of the Philippines, a marriage is valid as long as the essential and formal requisites of marriage is present. What are these essential and formal requisites of a marriage?
Article 2 of the Family Code provides that the essential requisites of marriage are legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a female; and consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer.14
Article 3 of the same code provides, on the other hand, the formal requisites of marriage, viz:15
- authority of the solemnizing officer;16
- valid marriage license; and17
- a marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the contracting parties before the solemnizing officer and their personal declaration that they take each other as husband and wife in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age.18
The other qualifications for permanent residency visa are as follows:
- The marriage of the foreigner and the Philippine Citizen must be valid and recognized under Philippine laws.
- The foreigner must have no derogatory information against him in any local or foreign law enforcement agency.
- The foreigner is not afflicted with any contagious, dangerous or despicable disease.
- The foreigner must have a financial capacity sufficient enough to support a family and he will not be a burden to the public.
- The foreigner was allowed to enter and authorized to stay at the Philippines by the Bureau of Immigration
As mentioned before, the country of origin of the foreigner must have an existing reciprocity immigration agreement to the Philippines, that is, those countries apply the same immigration privileges and grants permanent residence to Filipinos.
How long foreigner can stay in Philippines?
Foreigners who visit the Philippines usually want to stay longer because they feel like their stay is so short, and that they have yet to visit more beautiful places in the Philippines, collect more memories, and experience many more things which can only be felt in the Philippines.
Foreign nationals who are admitted with an initial stay of thirty (30) days may apply for a visa waiver first, granting an additional stay of twenty nine (29) (days) in the Philippines. Thereafter, they may apply for one (1) month, two (2) months or six (6) months extensions at least one week prior to the expiration of their valid stay.19
A Temporary Visitor’s Visa is a non-immigrant visa issued to foreign nationals who come to the Philippines for a limited period of time be it for tourism, business-related activities or medical/ health purposes. Restricted foreign nationals are mandated to secure an entry visa before they can enter the Philippines.
However, unrestricted foreign nationals can travel to the Philippines without an entry visa. Most foreign nationals are given a 30-day period to stay in the country upon arrival, but that initial stay can be as few as 7 days and as many as 59 days, depending on the visitor’s country of origin. This initial stay can be extended to a maximum stay of 16 months.
More often than not, foreigners enjoy their stay in the Philippines so much that’s why they keep on coming back here. However, since they are not nationals of the Philippines they cannot stay here as long as they want.
They have to comply with the requirements provided by the law otherwise they might be held liable for staying longer than what is provided by the law.
The bottom line is, despite the fact that foreigners love the Philippines so much even to the point that they want to spend the rest of their lives here, they cannot do that in their own will. They have to undergo the legal processes required to consider their stay here in the Philippines valid and legal.
What is an immigrant visa in the Philippines?
Under the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, there are two main types of visa should foreign nationals wish to visit the Philippines either for temporary stays or for permanent residency.
One is the non-immigrant visa for foreign nationals who want to stay or visit the country for temporary visits such as those for tourism, business, transit, study or employment.
The second type is the immigrant visa, applicable for foreign nationals who are considering moving to the Philippines and wish to become permanent residents in the Philippines.
These types of visa are granted to non-citizens whose country grants permanent residence and immigration privileges to Filipinos.
Section 18 and 19 of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 provides a more in-depth explanation oh what and how immigrant visas are given, to wit:
SEC. 18. An immigration visa shall not be issued by a consular officer to an immigrant whose admission into the Philippines is subject to the numerical limitations imposed by section thirteen of this Act until the consular officer shall have received from the Commissioner of Immigration the allotment of a quota number to be placed upon the visa for the immigrant.20
SEC. 19. In allotting quota numbers, the Commissioner of Immigration shall accord preference to immigrants who are the fathers and mothers of Philippine citizens who are twenty-one years of age or over, and the wives, husbands, and unmarried children under of twenty-one years of age, of aliens lawfully admitted into the Philippines for permanent residence and residing therein. Such preference shall be accorded only upon petition made therefor under regulations prescribed by the Commissioner.21
What are the types of immigrants?
Immigrants are categorized to two (2) major categories: the quota immigrants and non- quota immigrants. The Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 discusses the types of immigrants, which includes quota immigrants and non-quota immigrants, specifically under Section 13, to wit:
SEC. 13. Under the conditions set forth in this Act, there may be admitted into the Philippines immigrants, termed “quota immigrants” not in excess of five hundred of any one nationality or without nationality for any one calendar year, except that the following immigrants, termed “non quota immigrants,” may be admitted without regard to such numerical limitations.22
(a) An alien coming to prearranged employment, for whom the issuance of a visa has been authorized in accordance with section twenty of this Act, and his wife, and his unmarried children under twenty-one years of age, if accompanying him or if following to join him within a period of two years from the date of his admission into the Philippines as an immigrant under this paragraph;23
(b) The wife or the husband or the unmarried child under twenty-one years of age of a Philippine citizen, if accompanying or following to join such citizen;24
(c) A child of alien parents born during the temporary visit abroad of the mother, the mother having been previously lawfully admitted into the Philippines for permanent resident, if the child is accompanying or coming to join an parent and applies for admission within five years from the date of its birth;25
(d) A child born subsequent to the issuance of the immigration visa of the accompanying parent, the visa not having expired;26
(e) A woman who was a citizen of the Philippines and who lost her citizenship because of her marriage to an alien or by reason of the loss of Philippine citizenship by her husband, and her unmarried child under twenty-one years of age, if accompanying or following to join her;27
(f) The wife or the husband or the unmarried child under twenty-one years of age, of an alien lawfully admitted into the Philippines for permanent residence prior to the date on which this Act becomes effective and who is resident therein, if such wife, husband, or child applies for admission within a period of two years following the date on which this Act becomes effective.28
In other words, below are the types of immigrants as contemplated under Section 13 of Commonwealth Act No. 613:
- Children who were born during a temporary visit abroad to mothers granted permanent residence in the Philippines;
- Children born after the issuance of the visa of the accompanying parents;
- Women who lost Filipino citizenship by virtue of marriage to a foreign spouse, and her unmarried children;
- Permanent residents returning to the Philippines from a temporary visit abroad to resume permanent residence;
- The spouse or unmarried children of a foreigner admitted to the country for permanent residence prior to the approval of the Philippine Immigration Act;
- Natural-born Filipinos and their dependents who have been naturalized in a foreign country and wish to permanently reside in the Philippines.
How long will an immigrant visa be valid?
Immigrant visas issued by the Bureau of Immigration pursuant to Commonwealth Act No. 613 or the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 are considered valid permanently. However, pursuant to the Alien Registration Act of 1950,29 holders of immigrant visas are required to secure an ACR I-Card.
An ACR I-Card is a microchip based, credit card-sized, identification card issued to all registered aliens whose stay in the Philippines has exceeded fifty-nine (59) days. It also has an embedded computer chip with biometric security features capable of data management and can be updated electronically. An ACR card is valid for one (1) years, subject to renewal.30
What is non-immigrant visa in the Philippines?
The other category of visa issued in the Philippines is a non-immigrant visa. If you are a foreign national who want to stay or visit the country for temporary visits such as those for tourism, business, transit, study or employment, then a non-immigrant visa is the one you need to apply for.
Non-immigrants are aliens who are departing from any place outside the Philippines, who are otherwise admissible and who qualify within one of the categories provided under Section 9 of The Philippine Immigration Act of 1940. Hence;
SEC. 9. Aliens departing from any place outside the Philippines, who are otherwise admissible and who qualify within one of the following categories, may be admitted as nonimmigrants:31
(a) A temporary visitor coming for business or for pleasure or for reasons of health;32
(b) A person in transit to a destination outside the Philippines;33
(c) A seaman serving as such on a vessel arriving at a port of the Philippines and seeking to enter temporarily and solely in the pursuit of his calling as a seaman;34
(d) A person seeking to enter the Philippines solely to carry on trade between the Philippines and the foreign state of which he is a national, his wife, and his unmarried children under twenty-one years of age, if accompanying or following to join him, subject to the condition that citizen of the Philippines under similar conditions are accorded like privileges in the foreign state of which such person is a national;35
(e) A person previously lawfully admitted into the Philippines for permanent residence, who is returning from a temporary visit abroad to an unrelinquished residence in the Philippines; and36
(f) A student, having means sufficient for his education and support in the Philippines, who is at least fifteen years of age and who seeks to enter the Philippines temporarily and solely for the purpose of study at a school or other institutions of learning approved for such alien students by the Commissioner of Immigration.37
In order for the foreign national to be granted a non-immigrant visa, he or she must present for admission into the Philippines the following:
- unexpired passports, or
- official documents in the nature of passports issued by the governments of the countries to which they owe allegiance, or
- other travel documents showing their origin and identity as prescribed by regulations, and
- valid passport visas granted by diplomatic or consular officers.
Likewise, non-immigrant visas are also issued by the consular officers to other immigrants claiming non quota status upon the receipt of satisfactory proof that they are entitled to such status.
What are the common types of non-immigrant visas in the Philippines?
Commonwealth Act No. 613 or the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 provides seven (7) types of non-immigrant visa, under Section 9 of the said law, to wit:
Section 9 (a) type of visa is given to a temporary visitor coming for business. The same is issued as well for foreign tourists who visit the Philippines for pleasure or vacation, and lastly, this type of visa is issued as well for foreigners who visit the Philippines for reasons of health.
Section 9 (b) type of visa is given to those foreigners who will be temporarily passing through the Philippines, or simply those foreigners who are in transit to a destination outside of the Philippines who lay over in our territory.
Section 9 (c) type of visa is given to seafarers who are serving to a vessel which arrived at any Philippine Ports. This is given in pursuit of their calling as seamen or seafarers who are seeking to enter temporarily in our territory.
Section 9 (d) type of visa is given to those alien businessmen who are entitled to enter our territory, given that his country of origin is a signatory with the Philippines for a Treaty of Commerce and Navigation.
In this particular provision, the alien business man is granted an entry to the Philippines solely to carry on substantial trade principally between the Philippines and his country of origin; or solely to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which he had invested or in process of investing a substantial amount of capital in accordance with the Constitution and other pertinent laws.
Included in this privilege are his wife and unmarried children under 21 years of age, provided that the Filipino citizens are accorded the same privilege in the alien’s country of origin.
Section 9 (e) type of visa is given to an accredited official of a foreign government. This provision requires that the country of origin of the foreign official is a government recognized by the Philippine Government. This visa is extended to his family, attendants, employees and servants.
Section 9 (f) type of visa is given to students of higher education. Meaning, the alien seeking to enter the Philippines must have the purpose intended solely to take up a course of study in a tertiary institution which must be approved by the Commissioner of Immigration.
Lastly, Section 9 (g) type visa is given to an alien who is coming to the Philippines to a prearranged employment. Under this provision, an alien who is admitted as a nonimmigrant cannot remain in our territory permanently.
In order to obtain permanent admission, the alien must voluntarily depart from to some foreign country and procure from a Philippine Consul thereat the proper visa and must be examined by the Officers of Immigration during his entry to determine his admissibility in accordance with the prescribed requirements.
What is a special non-immigrant visa in the Philippines?
Under Section 47 (a) (2) of Commonwealth Act No. 613 or the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, it has authorized the President to admit as non-immigrants, foreign nationals who are coming for a temporary period only, under conditions as he may prescribe.
This particular provision gave birth to the creation of other special visas for investors and employees of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority or PEZA and other companies registered with the Bureau of Immigration.
Under this provision, the visa holder must have a sponsorship from his employer and the said visa is valid only during the tenure of their contract or term of office or for one (1) year, which ever is shorter.
On the other hand, a special nonimmigrant visa may be given, under Executive Order No. 226, as amended by Republic Act No. 8756, which is a multiple entry visa to any foreign personnel, including his spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age.
The said foreign personnel must be employed in a regional operating headquarters of a multinational company based in our territory. This visa has a validity period of three (3) years in our territory.
In order for a foreigner to qualify under this visa, he must be an executive of the company and will work exclusively therein as evidenced by a duly authenticated certificate issued by the applicant multinational company which is duly licensed to operate in the Philippines.
He shall be remunerated annually to at least USD 12,000.00 or some other equivalent currencies of the country of origin, as the case may be.
Can a foreigner work in the Philippines by virtue of a Tourist Visa?
A foreigner, who is admitted as nonimmigrant in the territory, who is a holder of a 9(a) visa and seeks for an employment in the Philippines, may apply for a Special Work Permit or SWP duly issued by the Bureau of Immigration. The SWP is only issued to 9(a) visa holders, who are intending to engage in a short-term employment in our country.
In order that the foreigner who is a 9(a) visa holder be granted and issued an SWP, the company petitioning him must be registered in the Philippines. Once issued, the SWP is only valid for 3 months and extendible to another 3 months within the same year the SWP was given.
On the other hand, a foreigner who holds a 9(a) visa may apply for a Provisional Work Permit or PWP duly issued by the Bureau of Immigration if he intends to be engaged in a long-term employment in the country pending the approval of his application for a 9(g) or Work visa.
Once granted, a PWP is valid only for 3 months and extendible once the 9g visa is granted. PWP may also be used by a foreigner who applies for an Alien Employment Permit duly issued by the Department of Labor and Employment or DOLE.
How does an immigration process work in the Philippines?
The Bureau of Immigration is the primary government agency tasked to regulate the arrival, sojourn, and departure of every foreign national in the country.
As such, and considering that there are several classes of foreigners entering the territory, the author deemed it to discuss the process of those possessing immigrant visas.
For a non-quota immigrant visa to be issued to children, the latter must be born outside of the Philippines during the temporary visit of the foreign mother.
The applicant must secure and submit documents with the Bureau of Immigration, pay the required fees, attend hearings, and proceed to image and fingerprint capturing counter of the Alien Registration Division of the Bureau of Immigration.
This process usually costs Php 7,870.00. This process is applicable as well to a child who was born after the issuance of an immigrant visa of the accompanying parent under Section 13 (c).
A foreign national may also be granted an immigrant visa by virtue of marriage, provided that he or she is validly married to a Philippine Citizen. Same procedure goes with the aforementioned type of immigrant visa.
The foreign national may also apply for a permanent non-quota immigrant visa by marriage, provided that he has an existing probationary non-quota immigrant visa status valid for 1 year.
Filipino Veterans of World War II, including their spouses and legitimate or illegitimate children who are unmarried, who acquired American Citizenship and wishes to be granted a permanent resident status in the Philippines may apply for Permanent Resident Visas and this is free of service cost.
The 9g Visa | How is it issued?
The 9g visa is the most common type of visa which is being utilized by the foreigners who are working here in the Philippines. Such visa grants aliens to have this type of visa to permit them work or gain employment in the Philippines.
The application of this visa must be made to the Bureau of Immigration not more than fifteen days after the Alien Employment Permit was issued. The process will involve the taking of fingerprints and a biometric photograph and the company representative shall join the applicant in attending the interview.
The company who shall employ the foreigner in the Philippines must submit the necessary requirements for the application of the 9g visa of such foreigner to the Philippine Bureau of Immigration.
After the evaluation and assessment of the submitted documents, applications may be granted or denied and such resolution are communicated by the Bureau of Immigration to the Department of Foreign Affairs (Manila).
It is also important to take note that the requirement to get the 9g visa is the Alien Employment Permit which is issued by the Department of Labor and Employment.
After the 9g visa was approved in favor of the alien, the latter is now authorized to stay in the Philippines and get employed within the duration as provided by the Bureau of Immigration.
If a foreigner desires to engaged in business here in the Philippines, what kind of Visa should he secure?
If a foreigner desires to engage business here in the Philippines, the type of Visa he must secure is the Special Investor Resident Visa (SIRV).
It authorizes the holder to stay and reside here in the Philippines for an undetermined period of time as long as his investment remains to subsist.
Any foreigner, except restricted nationals as provided under the Foreign Services Code, may apply for this visa so long as he meets the following requisites:38
- That he has not been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude;39
- That he is not afflicted with any loathsome, dangerous or contagious disease;40
- That he has not been institutionalized for mental disorder or disability;41
- That he is willing and able to invest the amount of at least US$75,000.00 in the Philippines; and42
- He is holder of a tourist visa with at least one (1) month.43
The other visa that one may availed of by a foreigner who wishes to engage business here in the Philippines is the Special Visa for Employment Generation.
It is a special visa issued to a qualified foreigner who shall employ and maintain at least ten (10) Filipino citizen in a legitimate and feasible industry, trade or enterprise.
Qualified aliens who are permitted to possess the SVEG shall be deemed special non-immigrants with multiply entry privileges and conditional extension of stay, without the necessity of previous departure from the Philippines.
What kind of Philippine Visa should a foreign student, desiring to study here in the Philippines, obtain?
The type of visa that a foreign student must obtain in order to study here in the Philippines is the Student Visa. It is necessary when a foreigner who is eighteen (18) years old and above, aims to take up an educational program higher than high school in the Philippines.
Moreover, the applicant must have sufficient means to support his education in the Philippines and he must provide enough evidence to support such requirement.
Not all schools in the Philippines may accept foreign students but there are selected schools which are accredited by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) who may accept and enroll foreign students. After such enrollment, the foreign student may apply for a Student Visa to continue studying in the Philippines.
When a foreign national, on the other hand is below eighteen (18) years old and is taking non-degree programs in the Philippines, a Special Study Permit (SSP) shall be issued but it shall be noted that it is not a visa but a permit. This permit is issued under the Temporary Visitor’s Visa of a foreigner.
Foreigners visiting the Philippines for any reason, whether as a retiree, tourists, employees or investors setting up a business, are required to obtain a visa to be permitted to stay, study, or engage business here in the Philippines.
For the record, there are three (3) categories of visas available allowing foreign nationals to stay in the Philippines whether as a non-immigrant, immigrant or special holder.
Thirteen (13) Quota immigrants, of which no more than fifty (50) of any one nationality or without nationality may be admitted within one calendar year.
Immigrants/foreigners who are provided with Section 13 visas belonging to one of the seven (7) listed sub-categories under CA 613 are deemed non-quota immigrants, and may be admitted despite the quota as provided by the Bureau of Immigration.
It is also worthy to note that a foreign national must strictly obtain a visa because, for instance, a person with a tourist visa who are caught staying in the Philippines beyond the period allowed or even working which is prohibited for tourist visa holders may face deportation, fines and might be listed on the Philippines immigration blacklist.
- Article III, Section 6 of the 1987 Constitution
- Section 13, Commonwealth Act No. 613, otherwise known as the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940
- Section 15, Ibid.
- Section 16, Ibid.
- Section 17, Ibid.
- Section 13(b), Ibid.
- Article 2, Family Code
- Article 3, Family Code
- Extension of Stay
- Section 18, Ibid.
- Section 19, Ibid.
- Section 13, Ibid.
- Republic Act No. 562
- Renewal of ACR-I Card
- Section 9, Commonwealth Act No. 613
- Section 74, Executive Order No. 226
- Special Investors Resident Visa Program