When I promised last time I would talk about the ways to actually get your possessions and your family here to the Philippines I later realized I have jumped the gun a little. The methods that are open to you and the actual rules on bringing things vary quite a bit depending upon your legal immigration status before you actually commence the move … so we had better devote a little space to a who, what, why discussion … because over the past 8 years I’ve found this to be one of the most misunderstood areas of all.
I hate being put into a category or stereotyped, but there is no other way to get the information people need to know organized and out into a form people can make heads or tails of. So, let’s perform a little triage here, and cut the problem down to size:
First of all, are you a Filipino or former Filipino ? (by former Filipino I am referring to a natural-born Filipino who gave up their Filipino citizenship in order to accept citizenship in another country). be careful you don’t answer that question too fast, because even if you were born outside the Philippines and have never claimed Filipino citizenship you mat still be a Filipino if either or both of your parents were Filipino citizens. If the answer is yes, or if you can make it yes by legal means (reclaiming or re-acquiring your Filipino citizen rights, then you have no "mother may I" problems … you can either enter the Philippines on a Philippine passport or avail of a 13(g) series Philippine Permanent Resident visa which will allow you to live in the Philippines as long as you care to, and to move certain possessions to the Philippines without customs duties and other hassles.
I’ll address this category of folks in detail in a future post in this series. (a ;ink will go here)
Are you married to a Filipino/former Filipino? If so, then your rights and privileges are essentially the same as a Filipino citizen, so far as the move is concerned … so you can expect to find your answers in the next installment as well. Of course, this is assuming you spouse wishes to sponsor you. That’s not as facetious of a statement as it might first seem, because I’ve known of guys who were married but separated or at odds with their spouses and tried to use the spouse as their ‘ticket’ into the Philippines anyway. I also know of some terrific foul-ups these guys got into, so if you and your spouse are not ‘together’ and together on your Philippine plans, you might want to reconsider and take a route to Philippine residence that does not depend on a spouse. You might want to take a look at becoming legally free to marry also, but that’s a horse of a different color … for another time.
Ok, if you’re still with me here it means you are either single or married to some one and neither has Filipino citizen rights. Is there still a way for you to move to the Philippines, including some possessions and live there? yes, there are several routes open to you.
First you can avail of several international investor visa plans. These are not of interest to many folk and I won’t cover them here, but keep the fact in mind. If you were planning to start a business, for example, then you would need to dig out the facts because the programs have some good benefits, especially if you want to locate in certain economic zones which the Philippine government is promoting. If there’s interest in more info on this aspect, let me know, I’ll write more.
Second, you can take the route many foreigners do and just come here and live here for years on a simple tourist visa. (technically, a tourist visa waiver). This costs money, but it’s relatively small amounts, spread over time. It requires visa renewals every 2 months. It requires you to leave the country at least once a year. But it’s relatively simple and, very appealing to some folks, requires very little pre-planning. You just ‘show up’, visit (or have your agent visit) the most convenient Bureau of Immigration office every time your expiration of stay comes up, and make a trip home, or a shopping trip to Hong Kong, or a casino trip to Macao every 12 months and you are a happy camper. You do not get any sort of household goods shipping privilege with this method, but you can ship essentially any amount of small items in advance via the Balikbayan box method. There is, however, one better method that I’m going to point out in closing ..
The method I would recommend any single person or non-Filipino couple should look very closely at is the Special Resident Retiree Visa (SRRV). A lot, and I do mean a lot, has changed with this program recently. In researching the latest changes I find I really need to write a separate post on this aspect also, because there is just too much to squeeze in here.
In summary, the SRRV allows you to make a deposit of cash (in interest-bearing bank accounts), or some other investments, including condos or homes on leased property, and in return you get a lifetime visa and a number of special privileges. For years the cash requirements seemed rather steep and the program languished, but it’s very much alive and well today and much more attractive. Do not let the word "Retiree" in the name throw you off … the program is available to anyone 35 or over and one of the benefits is permission to work for \salary or run your own business … so it’s a possibility for others than the old pensioner set, like me
OK, time to get busy and work on the next installment … today is one of the sister’s birthdays so I think I’ll be celebrating a little more than writing, but I’ll get to the end, promise.
by the way, don’t forget your in-country, earn a living textbook: