Is the Series 13 Permanent Visa Better Than The Balik Bayan Privilege Stamp?
- 0.1 Is the Series 13 Permanent Visa Better Than The Balik Bayan Privilege Stamp?
- 0.2 The Conversation Last Year
- 0.3 A Red Shirt or Blue Pants?
- 0.4 You Only Have to Leave – Not Go Back to the USA
- 0.5 Problems?
- 0.6 In 8 Years I Have NEVER Been Asked To Show an ACR-I Card
- 0.7 But Things May Change
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Wow how is that for a loaded question and conversation (or fire) starter. But it is always an ongoing question and worthy of interest, especially since all the 13(a) and 13(g) visa holders are now going through their mandatory annual reporting process and, as it did last year, this has turned into a real goat rope for some long-term visa holders.
The Conversation Last Year
I’m going to hijack a conversation I had a while back on my friend Randy C’s site with a fellow named Michael. You should certainly read Randy’s excellent original article and all the comments. You could learn a lot
Basically, Michael asked this question:
Michael, I have been here in the Philippines for 8 years and 3 months. I have always been on the BB Privilege program except for some months spent on the tourist visa (converted my BB to a Tourist visa at the end of the one year period because it wasn’t convenient to travel at that time).
In other words you never HAVE to leave at a given time, there is always a legal way to stay longer.
A Red Shirt or Blue Pants?
But questions like “which is better” are a bit difficult, because you are trying to compare two very different things.
It’s like asking which is better, a red shirt or a blue pair of pants. They are both clothing but they are not equal too each other.
A 13(a) allows you to come and go on your own, without your spouse (and you will pay for this privilege … ECC’s and TIEZA Tax, etc. but you do have the option).
The BB privilege stamp allows you to leave on your own (with no ECC and no tax) but absolutely requires you to enter only in the company of your Philippine citizen (or dual citizen) (or former Filipino) spouse.
Two completely different “animals” in other words.
With the 13(a) you never have to leave, with the BB you have to leave every year.
You Only Have to Leave – Not Go Back to the USA
But you certainly don’t have to back to the US … my wife and I like going to Macau (very close and very cheap airfare).
Also, for those who want to make their visa renewal trips really cheap, it’s very easy to book a flight into Hong Kong or Macau or even Guam on one day and return on the “other half” of the round trip (which will land on a different day in the Philippines) and thus make the whole trip never leaving the airport at the distant end. You can probably do this via Singapore and a few other destinations as well, although I am not familiar with the flight schedules. Google will be your friend here.
Again, two completely different sets of rules so the question as to “which is better” really depends on which one “fits” your intended use.
And what “fits” for you may well be different from year to year.
So far as problems, I have had absolutely zero problems.
My wife and I left the Philippines last in September 2014 on the 14th and came back on the 16th … no forms to fill up, no fees to pay, just a minute or so at the airport immigration booth and presto, I’m good for another year.
Any foreigner who wants an ACR-I card can get one at any BI office for $50 USD, but BB Privilege holders are NOT required to have one.
In 8 Years I Have NEVER Been Asked To Show an ACR-I Card
Except that is at the local BI office when I was living on the Tourist Visa Waiver Stamp and renewing every 2 months. In other words the agency which issues the ACR-I card and makes money off them is the only official agency in the Philippines who has ever asked for it. Interesting, eh?
And remember, as a BB Privilege Stamp holder I never have to visit any BI offices.
I also never fill up even a single form. There are complete run-downs on all the forms and fees for getting a 13(a) visa all over the internet, and frankly they mostly give me a headache.
Fill up this form, pay this fee, get this form notarized and ion and on. I didn’t move to the Philippines to fill-up forms. Sorry, yes I am old, retired and crotchety.
To all those lists and totals of fees and waiting around BI offices I say, BS to all that. For the BB Stamp I need my current US passport, period.
I don’t see a problem.
But Things May Change
This all may change as the BI has just announced an extensive new registration program which changes all sorts of rules.
You can not bank on things not changing.
You have to be flexible to live here. My current plan is to go back to the USA in September 2015 for my son’s wedding, and when I return, I plan to get a shiny new (fee) BB Stamp to carry me through into September 2016.
Just remember that all immigration rules are “Consistently Inconsistent.” … and smiling a lot helps …