Probably one of the most frequently asked questions around here. It can also be one of the most hotly debated. Here are some answers including what I consider to be the absolute best answer:
- 0.1 It Depends
- 0.2 First Of All: You Don’t Need a Permanent Visa to Move To The Philippines
- 0.3 But Dave, I Have To Have That Permanent Visa In Order To Make The Move.
- 1 But Isn’t It Always Cheaper To Get The Permanent Visa in the US?
- 2 But Isn’t Getting the Visa in Manila So Expensive?
- 3 There Is No Need To Pay For Outside Help
- 4 In Summary, Once Again, Apply the KISS Principle
- 5 Related Posts
- 6 Readers who viewed this page, also viewed:
- 7 Share this Article:
really and truly, folks, the amount of debate, research agony and soul-searching that goes into this question is probably one of the energy sources that could power the globe is only we could harness it. Everyone has their opinion, and everyone knows the FACTS .. and at the end of the day, not one of the people who knows so much about this subject really knows half as much as they think they do.
Many of you reading this already have a Philippine Permanent resident visa …most often a 13A… visa for a foreigner married to a Philippine citizen, or a 13G, visa for a foreigner and his/her spouse who is a former Philippine citizen.
And if you already have one of these, you know a lot. But, you only know what your experience was .. you don’t know much about those who went before you, and you are eminently unqualified to assure those following behind what their experience will be like.
Even if they apply for their visa exactly the same way you applied for yours, their experience can (and most likely will) differ .. often in major ways.
I certainly don’t have all the answers. But what I can do is offer you some food for thought as to the right way for you to proceed, as well as some words of encouragement and ideas to make the whole process simpler.
First Of All: You Don’t Need a Permanent Visa to Move To The Philippines
This is the first big mistake I see being made all the time. people stressing out, spending time and money (sometimes significant money) to struggle to get that elusive visa before they make the move. And so often the whole expense and struggle are just totally unnecessary. Unnecessary? Yup .. you can come to the Philippines visa-free and stay, as long as you like, without any permanent visa … and I heartfelt recommend this route. Why?
Well first of all, no matter how much you feel you want to live here, until you make the move and live here, you just never know. despite all your best efforts and your heartfelt desire to move here and live, you have to recognize a fact of life … it mat not work out for you.
I know of no place to get truly accurate statistics … no one really has any. But based on my own personal experience and the interaction with hundreds of “Philippine movers” I have had over the past 12 years or so, I feel that the success rate could be as low as 50%. Yes, 50 percent of those who move here wind up going back to the USA or whichever home country they came from in a year (or perhaps slightly more.)
The reasons are many and varied. I won’t go into them here .. that’s another whole article in itself, but regardless of whether or not you agree with my estimate, the fact remains that you may not stay here for one reason or another. Sobering? yep, it should be.
So the question that should be in your mind is, why are you so “hard over” and almost at your wits end at times to seek that permanent resident visa when, in fact, you may have nothing but an expensive souvenir page in your passport in a year or so?
But Dave, I Have To Have That Permanent Visa In Order To Make The Move.
The answer is definitely NO, you do not. You can do the entire move under the Balikbayan Privilege program, including shipping the exact same allowance of household,l goods as you can using the 13(a) or 13 g or SRRV visa programs … $7,000 USD worth of property. All the permanent visa programs and the Balik Bayan privilege program have exactly the same moving allowances and provisions.
Make the move, get your roots in the ground and see how you can make things work. If all is going well for you, and it ;looks like the move was the right thing to do, then work on your permanent visa after you are here. Plenty of time for that.
But Isn’t It Always Cheaper To Get The Permanent Visa in the US?
Not necessarily at all. Among other things that may make getting the visa in the USA before the move more expansive are:
Trips to the Philippine Embassy or Consulate for Personal Interviews.
Not easy to predict if this will happen or not. The “book’ says an interview is required for all applicants, but experience has been that some applicants are just interviewed over the phone.
Medical Exams and Reports.
Lately I find a lot of applicants have incurred much more expense in this area than they anticipated. It is unclear what tests are required and the interpretation changes from consulate to consulate. In addition, the Consulates impose a requirement that medical test results be notarized .. this is contrary to any commonly acceptable US medical practice and can be a huge time-sink. You can’t have a report from a doctor get signed by the doctor and then handed over to you to be notarized. Under US law, the doctor is going to have to sign it in the presence of a notary .. good luck with getting a doctor to comply with this intrusion into his/her busy schedule.. Several folks I know recently have incurred more than $900 USD in expanse just getting the documentation all in order … completely unnecessary if one applies here in the Philippines where a medical exam is not required.
Chest X-rays are another stumbling block. If you get an x-ray in the USA (and pay extra to get your own copy) it will typically be delivered on CD-ROM or even a USB memory stick. When the Philippine Quarantine folks demand to see a report from you, they frequently balk at mot receiving actual film x-ray negatives. In addition, when you get the visa in the USA the whole Quarantine process means extra trips, extra waiting times, extra forms to fill up and yet again. more waiting time and more “gate keepers” who have to be satisfied before you can move on the the next step.
In my view the whole process of carrying around sealed envelopes from one government agency to another, (as if you were a messenger boy for the Philippine government (un paid at that), getting medical tests which are not required, getting US notarizations and such is simply nonsense. Expensive and demeaning. No way would I bother with that crap myself.
But Isn’t Getting the Visa in Manila So Expensive?
Frankly, I don’t think so. A trip to Manila from anywhere in the Philippines costs on the order of perhaps P1500 for air fare and P1500 to p3000 a night for a decent hotel. A few hundred more in taxi fares, and also you have the opportunity to visit big city stores and other attractions. Compared with the “goat rope” you know you are in for if you apply back there in the USA, I see little detriment to getting the visa here in the Philippines, should you be close to the end of your 100% free balik Bayan privilege stamp and you are sure you really want to get the permanent visa.
I’ve been here for 6 plus years now on Balik Bayan status and frankly I have yet to see a need for a permanent visa, anyway. promptly I’ll never get one unless the laws change. My wife and I thoroughly enjoy a brief
trip to other places in Asia once a year … it’s a welcome diversion and break from day to day life.
But if you do decide, after you experience life here for a year that the permanent residency visa is still for you, the cost , including=g a trip or two to Manila is very reasonable compared to what costs you might incur back there in the USA.
There Is No Need To Pay For Outside Help
One reason I see a lot of visa holders advising people that the process is cheaper in the USA is that those folks “overspent” like crazy on getting their visa in the Philippines. I have been offered ‘deals” by attorneys here in the Philippines where I would pay them P30,000 and up (often way up) to handle the process for me.
Nothing wrong with that,(and nothing wrong with the attorneys asking for fees for their services that I know of) if you want to pay huge fees for services you can do for yourself, but frankly it sounds like a huge waste to me.
Most applicants should have no need to hire a lawyer to handle this process. You submit a letter and form requesting the visa along with some other documentation, pay a fee, wait to be called for an interview and then when granted the visa, return to Immigration to have the visa entered into your passport. It’s not like going to have an operation or petitioning the Supreme Court. Paying $500 or $1000 USD (or more) for a simple, non-judicial procedure like this is ludicrous in my view.
I’ve advised before (and still do, strongly) that hiring someone to do simple things for you in the Philippines is often counter-productive to learning what you came here, at least in part to do …experience life in another country and culture. Worse yet, in my opinion is the process of asking “help’ from a relative who likely knows way less than you do about the process and outcome you desire. You will learn best from your own mistakes 9if there be any) and you will learn more and gain a lot of satisfaction for yourself in getting things done for yourself whenever possible.
Here’s a report on what my one of my blogging colleagues (who happens to be a practicing Philippine attorney … she knows her stuff) and her American husband did to get him his permanent resident visa. Hardly looks like $1000 USD worth of legal expertise and service to me …
To guide you on the applicable fees (in case you will do all the filing yourself):
13(A) VISA FEES
Fee for section 13(a) initial one year probationary period:
Application fee P1,010.00
*Express lane fee P 500.00
ACR and form fee P1,050.00
Change of status fee P 600.00
Passport visa fee P 200.00
CRTV and form fee P1,450.00
Implementation fee P1,000.00
Legal research fee P10.00 / item
Head tax P 250.00
Fees for amendment of 13(a) visa from probationary to permanent resident:
Application fee P1,010.00
*Express lane fee P 500.00
2.Upon approval / implementation
Passport visa fee P 200.00
Amendment fee P 500.00
Immigration Certificate of Registration(ICR) and form
Implementation fee P 500.00
Legal research fee P 40.00
Express lane fee P 500.00
(ed note, about $260 USD total at today’s rates)
In Summary, Once Again, Apply the KISS Principle
Don’t try to make coming to and living in the Philippines so complicated. It just isn’t rocket science, folks. You know several fellows I know have written whole books on this process … one that I know of is up to something on the order of 350 pages, IIRC. great for him, and great for you if you want to read all that much … but frankly, even though I am frequently overly verbose with my writing, I would have the devil’s own time writing 350 pages about my move to the Philippines. It just isn’t that hard, trust me on that.
Do you know what you have in common with the eagle I illustrated this article with? You don’t need anyone’s permission to do what you truly wish to do. Most of my fellow Americans seem unable to recognize their own freedoms they were born with … soar above the crowd.