Citizenship and Visas
Originally published back in 2007. Updated and corrected August, 2015.
There is a lot of misinformation and half-baked information circulating about this subject in most of the on line Philippines resources I visit, so I decided to do my bit to try to clarify a few things.
First, an important DISCLAIMER: I am not an attorney, I don’t even play one on TV. If you need legal advice … and on citizenship issues you often do … then seek advice from a competent attorney. These issues are not the place to be trying to save money. I have been actively participating in the Philippines visiting, courtship, marriage and immigration process (both to the US and to the Philippines) for about
eight ten years now. I have seen hundreds of folks get into various legal problems during this time and almost all of them could have been avoided or ameliorated by a simple consult with a lawyer before “throwing the switch”. A word to the wise should be sufficient.
With that off my chest, let’s begin at a logical beginning …
Visiting the Philippines:
The republic of the Philippines is a relatively easy to visit and laid-back country compared to many. Citizens of many nations may visit the Philippines”at will”, no advance visa needed. Some nationalities do need to secure a visa in advance and you can find those countries listed here: (look for Restricted Nationals) (you might want to bookmark this website as we’ll refer to it often)
The Philippine law states that visitors expecting to stay more than
21 30 days are required to obtain a visa in advance. I always advise following the law. Also, your airline may give you a problem with booking travel for longer than 21 30 days without a visa. But it is legal to stay longer than 21 30 days without getting a visa first, so we’ll explore both methods.
Let’s for the moment stick with the “visa-less” entry, good for a period of
21 30 days. What, exactly is a 21 30 day stay? Ah, a very good question. A lot of folks get themselves wrapped around the axle on this issue because of two “facts of life”. The international dateline and discount non-refundable, non-changeable airline tickets. Remember that you will lose a day traveling west across the International date Line, so the day you arrive in the Philippines will be the day after you leave the US. Thus, if you left on the 1st of a month, for example, you would arrive on the 3rd … the 2nd would effectively “disappear”. The day you return you will arrive at your home airport the same day you leave the Philippines, although it may well be a very long day.
In general the rule is the day you arrive is a day “in the Philippines” and the day you depart is a day of travel … but this is not written in any source I can find, so you may be worried about an over-eager immigration official at the departure airport deciding you have stayed 31 days instead of 30. I would plan my stay for a day or two less, myself, to avoid any hassle. But if you decide while in the Philippines to stay longer you can easily and legally extend your
21 30 day “Visa Waiver” stamp at any BI (Bureau of Immigration) office for a fee of about 2020 pesos. A licensed travel agent in the Philippines can perform this service for you, as well, for a modest fee, if you don’t chose to travel to the office yourself.
OK, enough for part one, next time we’ll talk about “real visas” and about other options for staying longer. email me at davestarr (at) gmail (dot) com if you have questions or comments I haven’t addressed about Citizenship and Visas.