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The paperwork involved in applying for the 13(a) visa here is not particularly onerous. There is, however, quite a lot of time involved and visits to various departments to get NBI clearance, Barangay Clearance and statement that you are really living as man and wife, Health clearance/X-ray, as well as various notarized affidavits regarding your financial capacity to support, etc. The various notaries camped outside the Bureau of Immigration will have all the required affidavits down pat, will type them up for you, and notarized them. The costs involved in notarizing are around P50 per sheet of paper, so a few hundred pesos will cover that lot.
After you submit all the paperwork, you have to wait for several weeks until you receive the call to attend an interview with your wife. She will be questioned mainly to determine whether she really wants you to be a resident. After that, there will be a further wait of several weeks until the visa is granted after your application is sighted and approved by the Board of Commissioners.
This first application process will grant you a probationary 13(a) visa for one year. You will then have to submit another, simplified, application in one year. The fees are not really excessive, but the process can be a little tiresome and you will need patience.
A Balikbayan visa is only given if you arrive here in the Philippines together with your Philippine spouse. You will have to ask for it so you should approach the immigration counter together. It will allow you to stay for one year without requiring extensions. After that period, you must leave the Philippines. You can return the same day and start the process again.
Note that there is no such thing as a yearly visa that you can apply for abroad, similar to Balikbayan. You can apply for a one year validity multiple entry tourist visa. This will enable you to come and go for one year without applying for further visas. You WILL need to extend your stay after 59 days on each visit however, same as for every tourist visa. The three months, or one year, refers to the validity of the visa not the length of stay you will be granted. There are other visas which are outside the scope of this thread and which entail large financial outlays.
In my case I was here on a tourist visa, and renewing every two months. The initial probationary 13(a) visa process took about 3 months and I applied for the permanent 13(a) visa about one month before the expiry of the probationary visa. The processing of the final visa was slightly quicker. There is no need to worry about extending visas once the Bureau of Immigration has your application in hand. Unless of course they reject it for some reason. I have not seen any posts on the various forums about their 13(a) application having been rejected.
Once you have all the paperwork together it is checked anyway before you can submit it and any shortcomings will be pointed out to you so that it is unlikely that you will submit an incomplete application.
Submitted Jan 25, 2006 by George
There are a number of visa options for retirees. One program that should be changed, in my opinion, is offered by the Philippine Retirement Authority. Very few foreigners choose Philippine Retirement use it because it requires an investment of $50,000 to $75,000 (U.S.) for a year. There are better ways to retire here without any investment, just small fees. Most retirees consider $50,000 too much to invest in a foreign country with an unstable economy. I would not do it on a bet. The program does have special benefits, but none you can't do without. This plan is under study because the idea of paying a country to spend your hard-earned retirement money in it is not drawing retirees like flies to honey. People don't want to deposit that much to Retire in the Philippines and it is not necessary.
Retirement Visa, Best in My Opinion
Some retire on a tourist visa. That sounds strange, but is easily done. It costs $20 per month to stay on a tourist visa. The other requirement is that you must leave the country for at least one day, once a year. Though you are officially a tourist, you retire in the Philippines.
Most who are doing this make an annual two-day trip to Hong Kong or Thailand and buy a bunch of cheap electronic goods. A package deal including hotel and transfers costs about $280.
That is probably the best way to retire here, at least at first. Visas to retire in the Philippines, however, if you are married to a Philippine citizen are not necessary. You can become a permanent resident, retired, and not have to check in at the immigration office every two months, but only once a year. You will not be required to pay $40 every two months. And you will not be required to leave the country once a year as on a tourist visa. You are treated as though you have a retirement visa.