I don’t want to spend too many days on this sort of “Is the BB better than the 13(a) visa questions”, mainly because anyone who makes a blanket statement that one is better than the other one is not really playing with a full deck. Each of us can only report on what worked better for us .. the next guy in the queue might have a completely different experience.
In fact anything involving the Bureau of Immigration is going to work this way. We are now in the period of time where 13(a) permanent visa holders must make their annual trip to a BI office for their yearly registration.
I’ve already read detailed accounts of more than 10 fellows from my Retired Military group and guess what? Virtually all 10 of tem has had completely different experiences … ranging from “no trouble at all, in and out in 17 minutes” to “hours spent and still didn’t get the renewal done, I have to come back again”.
It just seems that it is never the same from year to year and person to person.
But yesterday a reader submitted some more questions on the BB Stamp vs. the Permanent Visa and they are much more thought out than the usual “just tell me which is better” ones, so I thought I’d add just one more log to the fire for those who still have questions.
My comments to the reader are in quoted, highlighted blue italic:
Very well thought out questions. I must say I am forever amazed by the level of thought so many people put into their questions. I’m much more of a “play it as it lies" sort of guy, mostly because whatever the Philippines government says today is so often different next month or next year. But you certainly are correct in thinking about some of these issues.
Thank you for such an awesome thorough reply, I like the ease/no brainer aspect of the BB visa, I really appreciate knowing the options. I read somewhere that the 13(a) process is easier if done here in the states before making the big move so that also led me down that path. I am a ‘plan ahead’ kind of guy and just figured that path made most sense. Now I am reconsidering.
The 13(a) is easier to get in the USA _IF_ you are in a place where it is easy to comply with the medical requirements … especially the business where the forms from the doctor have to be notarized … doctors in the USA are not normally set up to handle this.
And, of course, if the required travel to your servicing Philippine consulate or Embassy is convenient for you.
You can easily run up several thousand dollars in charges on all this … or it can be done very cheaply .. as with all things visa-wise, YMMV.
The one thing I can’t find an answer to regarding the 13(a); once approved/stamped, is there a travel window where you must arrive no later than a specific date, must you be in country by a specific date or you lose it. I have completed all of the medical tests, just need to get the police clearance and submit everything. My chest x-ray was 4 months ago and I will be arriving in 8 months, if the x-ray must be 6 months old upon arrival then that option is toast for me and I will live with the BB Visa.
Again, this is a valid consideration but I have received conflicting reports on the time limitations. The majority of timeliness issues I have heard about seem to be 6 months maximum. Again, YMMV.
The opposite route, to enter one time on the BB privilege and then seek the 13(a) from the main BI office has worked well for many. There is no medical clearance required if you do it here, but of course you have o visit Manila and spend at least a day or two and then you must return after a year to change your 13(a) from a provisional to a permanent one. Travel to Manila is a pain to many people, but then again costs to travel to manila from some other location in the Philippines is a heck of a lot cheaper than travel to a consulate in the USA. Maybe.
To say one way is definitively "better" is kind of an "iffy" statement. Either may is "better" for one person and "not better" for another person. You pays your money and you takes your choice as the old carnival barker used to say.
The more I know, the more questions I have. For instance, what if my wife should die while we are there, would I no longer be able to live in the Philippines with my Dual Citizen kids?
Wow, that’s one I never really considered. I have my whole life planned around my wife outliving me, but of course that is only a "numbers game" … statistics and mortality tables and such. Death can take anyone at any time.
I would probably no longer be able to apply for a 13(a).
That part is for sure. No one can apply for a 13(a) without a Filipino spouse partner. If you already _had_ a 13(a) and your wife passed, in practicality you would be able to stay as long as you wanted to .. but obviously if you were living from from to year on the BB privilege as I do, you would not be able to get another one year BB stamp without a spouse.
I have no desire to raise them or grow old in the US. I am not burning bridges in the US but my heart is in the Philippines for the long term.
I understand these questions are most likely unanswerable except by impossible to reach official authorities. But I figured I would throw them out there to see if they went splat or bounced back.
Thanks again for being a deep well and wonderful source of information.
Thanks for your kind words. You are totally welcome to any value you might have received from reading any of my ramblings. Best of luck and Godspeed with your move.