Is The Philippines Just Too Easy?
I’ve been living here in the Philippines for nearly 11 years now. I’d be less than truthful if I didn’t confess there were times I wondered why the Philippines just lets virtually anyone who shows up at the airport to enter, and often to stay for years.
For Me The “Easy” Ways to Stay Here Have Been Great.
- 0.1 For Me The “Easy” Ways to Stay Here Have Been Great.
- 0.2 How Much Easier Can It Be?
- 0.3 A Typical Bitch Session — What’s This Guy’s Real Complaint?
- 0.4 The Story That Grabbed Me.
- 0.5 So The “Visa Run” Went Fine
- 0.6 Until He Got Back To Manila
- 0.7 So What Did This Interview Consist Of?
- 0.8 But Our Friend Was PISSED
- 0.9 How Much Easier Can The Philippines Be?
- 1 Related Posts
- 2 Share this Article:
For most of the years I have stayed here, I have lived a year at a time on the Balkikbayan Privilege Stamp (sometimes called a BB visa), which anyone who is a former Filipino or married to a Filipino or former Filipino gets in their passport for free, just by asking at the airport.
One whole year stay, for free, processing time averages 2 or 3 minutes. The only thing the Philippine Immigration officers have ever checked for is that my wife and I were together (a requirement) and that she and I were married (to each other, LoL).
How Much Easier Can It Be?
Well if you aren’t married, or traveling with your wife coming here to the Philippines and staying for up to 3 years is just about as easy.
When you get to the airport, you get 30 days of free stay stamped in your passport. Want to stay longer?
Just visit one of the dozens of Immigration Offices all over the Philippines, or pay a licensed travel agent about a $10 service fee, and get your visa waiver stamp upgraded to 60 more days of stay.
Let’s see now, extending the tourist visa waiver stamp costs P1930 for 60 days. That’s about $0.63 cents US a day at today’s rate. Maybe some people feel the Philippines should pay us to stay here as tourists?
A Typical Bitch Session — What’s This Guy’s Real Complaint?
I was prompted to write this article by a message chain on another popular blog about living in the Philippines. I was going to reference the conversation directly, link to this guy’s messages etc., but then I decided, “Screw that, he knows who he is”, and besides, this isn’t a vendetta against one individual, it’s kind of a blanket “thought piece” to test foreigner thoughts and reaction overall.
The Story That Grabbed Me.
My fellow expat, (I’ll call him George), came to live in the Philippines several years ago. A couple months back I read some messages from him indicating he had been renewing and living upon his tourist visa waiver privilege for nearly 3 years now and he was deciding what he should do when his 36 months of “stay” ran out.
Eventually he decided to do the recommended, path of least resistance, and to make a “visa run” outside the Philippines to “reset” his time in the Philippines “clock”. Tis is easily done (just don’t forget you need an ECC (Emigration Clearance Certificate) from the Bureau of Immigration before you go to the airport if you have been 6 months or more in the Philippines.
So The “Visa Run” Went Fine
Our hero went to Hong Kong, stayed overnight, and came back on a flight the next morning.
(by the way there’s an easy way to do this via Macau (next door to Hong Kong, less than a two-hour flight)
Until He Got Back To Manila
When our guy got back to the Philippines, the first Immigration Officer he came to selected him for an interview and directed him to a private room with several Immigration Officers present. This our friend considers strange and extraordinary treatment … totally doesn’t understand why he was “singled out”.
Well I have news for him (and you). This is not unheard of, although in my years of experience it is rare here in the Philippines.
Even US citizens returning to the USA can be selected for an interview. A friend was “singled out” a year or so back. Why? Ask the officer involved. It is their right and duty, US or Filipino. You can be questioned upon entry to any country in the world.
So What Did This Interview Consist Of?
Well all know is our hero’s own brief description. He said that the interviewing officers asked him why he was coming back to the Philippines (answer should be for pleasure, that’s a bona fide reason for stay).
And then the officers spent a few minutes explaining to our friend that he was spending quite a bit of money on renewing his tourist visa every two months, and that an SRRV or other long-term visa would likely save him money.
Then the officers stamped his passport and sent him on his way for his next three years in the Philippines.
From what I have read this whole procedure did not take longer than 5 or ten minutes, and of course cost absolutely nothing in monetary terms.
But Our Friend Was PISSED
He left a blog comment complaining about how unjust and intrusive this whole procedure was, and in general making a lot of uncomplimentary remarks about the Philippines and the country handles tourists.
I’m not going to comment any further on the facts of this case, but I am going to point out that there are approximately 200 sovereign countries in the world, and the 20 or so of that 200 which I know the regulations on tourist visa type stays, do not come anywhere near as liberal as the Philippines.
Panama is a good example … it’s a very popular country for retirees and very liberal in their vistor programs. They have one of the longest “tourist visa stay” periods I know of:
The tourist visa you get when you come into Panama gives you 180 days in the country. This visa is for Americans, Canadians and citizens of the European Community and some other counties. After 180 days, you must leave Panama and return to your own country for a period of not more than 30 days.
So you get 6 months in country and then have to leave the country for at least 30 days? And in the Philippines you get 3 years and only have to leave for one day?
How Much Easier Can The Philippines Be?
So what do you think? Is The Philippines Just Too Easy?