Recently I had an email from a reader who has been in contact for some time now, with questions about his pending move to the Philippines.
This fellow and I had discussed visas and other ways he had been considering in planning his move, and he had narrowed things down to a couple very specific points.
Great. And I was happy to be able to help in providing some specific answers.
Problem was, though, he had read so much, ponder so much, compared so many things that he had gotten completely off track. “lost the Bubble” as Navy folk might say.
Don’t lose yourself in the details regarding Philippine visas (and other legal ways to stay in the Philippines). Here’s my simple steps … questions to ask yourself .. that will cut this problem down to size.
One: Why do you want any visa?
Well, that’s easy, you say, because I want to be able to stay in the Philippines as long as I want to.
Dave says, yes, that’s true and a decent enough reason, but if you haven’t lived here, full-time, then how do you even know you want to stay here, say, for a year or more? I get lots of readers with very detailed questions who are making all sorts of decisions in their life … burning bridges, even … and they have never lived here in the Philippines full-time.
Note. Staying in a hotel in Manila or spending a two week honeymoon style visit to Boracay is NOT living in the Philippines. It’s vacationing in the Philippines. And I highly recommend vacationing in the Philippines, but it is not living here .. especially it is not retiring here in the Philippines.
So my easy to swallow, straight from the shoulder advice is, don’t waste time and money on long-term visa issues. Come here and live at least a year and THEN make a decision for yourself.
Two: Are you married to a Filipino/former Filipino Citizen:
This is the single most important question to consider … and one a surprising number of folks seem to accidentally skip over.
The 13-series permanent Residency visas are for those married to Philippine citizens. Don’t waste time thinking about these visas if you are not married to a Filipino.
And, men, although I shouldn’t have to say this, think with your proper (the upper, rationally thinking one), don’t even think about getting married to get a visa.
The marriage laws, the property laws, the divorce (or lack of same), etc. might easily make such an “easy” solution the most expensive, heartbreaking decision you could make.
If you really want to marry her, great, do so and live happily ever after, but if you are even casually considering the fact that marriage will give you a long-term visa, you are weighing the wrong factors.
Three: There is no need to decide before you move to the Philippines:
People go to great lengths calculating the difference in cost between, say, getting their 13(a) visa in the US or coming here in a free, no-hassle balikbayan Privilege stamp and spending a tear with their “feet on the ground” learning if they really want to live here. This is especially important for retirees in the Philippines.
A year may be all you can stand. The issues with prescription drugs, no Medicare, little or no TRICARE support and so on may cause you to decide you are better off retired back in the USA.
Apply the KISS principle:
If this happens to you, what use was all the planning time, the arranging of trips to the Philippine Embassy/Consulate, etc., etc. to “save money”. All you have is a now useless souvenir stamp in your passport. Apply the KISS principle.
For you single guys who are planning to stay single .. what use would making the investment in an SRRV, all the extra paperwork coordinating from outside the Philippines and the attendant waste of time and frustration levels be if you decide that living in the Philippine sis not for you?
Just get on a plane, get a free Tourist Visa Waiver stamp in your passport, renew it every two months and take your time actually learning to live here, rather than chasing paperwork and permissions to “allow” you to live here before you even have lived here.
Married or single, you don’t NEED any permissions in advance. Just apply the KISS principle and enjoy life more … or so Dave opines.