Here I will list Philippine FAQS (and answers) as they come in. I’ll attempt to put them in some sort of order, but issues and opportunities arrive in random bursts, so many of these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) will as well. Got a question you don’t see “Asked and Answered” here already? “Shoot it too me” here: Contact Philly.
US Social Security Related Questions:
Q: Can I move to the Philippines and still collect my Social Security disability payments?
A: Yes and No. There are two types of Social Security disability payments. SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income). SSDI is payable to US citizens in the Philippines. SSI is NOT. By law, SSI has to stop any time you are out of the USA for 30 days or more and can not be re-started until you have been back in the USA for 30 full days.
Q: When I die will my Filipina wife receive SS widows benefits?
A: Maybe. First of all, your legal wife does not receive any benefits based on your Social Security earnings until she reaches age 60. Secondly, if you wife is a Filipino citizen and has NOT resided at least 5 years in the USA (while married to you), when she reaches age 60 she wil be entitled to Widows benefits based on your SS earnings BUT she can not receive those benefits in the Philippines. More info here, be sure to read the pamphlet all the way through.
Immigration Related Questions:
Q: Is there a way to contact Philippine Immigration directly with a question I have?
A: Yes. Send them a sort, simple (one or two clear questions at a time) email to: email@example.com
Q: Is there a dress code in effect at Philippine Bureau of Immigration offices?
A: Yes. A quote from the BI’s web site: http://immigration.gov.ph/ All APPLICANTS are required to dress properly. Applicants wearing shorts, sandos, and slippers will not be allowed to ENTER the Immigration Office. Transactions are entertained during Mondays to Fridays, 7:00am to 5:30pm. (note to those not familiar with common Philippine terms “sandos” are sleeveless t-shirts, also called athletic T’s or in Australia’s disgusting slang, “wife beaters”. Your shirt doesn’t need a collar but it does need sleeves. “slippers” as referred to here are what most Americans call “flip flops”)
UPDATE: During the latter half of 2013, the BI made the dress code less restrictive. Shirts and conservative shorts and sandals or other open-toed shoes are now allowed when visiting regional offices. My advice still is wear a collared shirt, with sleeves (short sleeves are fine) and long trousers just in case. Not every remote office always “gets the word” from Manila and local office chiefs have been known to interpret instructions in their own way. I do not believe “slippers” (chinellas or “flip flops” are ever allowed, so dress conservatively to avoid a hassle
Q: Can I Extend My 30 Day Tourist Visa Stay Immediately Upon Arrival?
A: Perhaps. There is a BI Visa extension office adjacent to the Immigration booths you pass through at NAIA Terminal One. Will it be open upon your arrival? That depends. I don’t have specific hours of operation. If the office is operating when you arrive, you can extend the Visa Waiver stamp you receive upon arrival right then and there. How to be certain? ASK the Immigration officer who checks and stamps your passport.
Q: Can I obtain a Philippine Tourist Visa lasting for 6 months before I leave for the Philippines? I heard this can be done and the cost is $75.00 US – true?
A: No. The standard visitor’s visa is good for 59 days, and is then renewable foe 14 months, 2 months each renewal, but one entry to the Philippines only.
The 6 month visa I believe you heard about can be used for 6 months total to enter as many times as you wish, but only for 59 days each time. It is good for 6 months of multi-entries and exits. not not for a 6 month stay. The visa is valid for as many times as you wish to enter the Philippines, but only 59 days at a time.
There is also a one year multiple entry visa … Valid for a year … But 59 days at a time.
Unless you have travel to other countries followed by returning to the Philippines, there is absolutely no point in any visa except the basic 59 day stay, because you have to go to immigration (or pay for someone else to go to immigration for you) every two months, no matter which visa you have. A good place to read more is: http://philfaqs.com/get-there/visas/how-much-does-it-cost-for-visas-part-1-of-many/
UPDATE: Tourist visa extensions of up to six (6) months are now being processed at most offices.
Q: Are Citizens of my County considered a Restricted Nationals by the Philippines?
A: Here are the Countries NOT restricted and Restricted by the Philippines
Q: Do I have to show an onward travel ticket if I am coming to the Philippines?
A: Yes, by law you are supposed to be denied boarding by any airline on a trip to the Philippines unless you have ‘onward travel’ booked within the time of your authorized stay. This has been loosely enforced for many years, lately I note airlines are following the law strictly. You may have to come up with proof of onward travel when trying to board your airplane in the States, so better have it in advance or else your whole trip may be ruined before it gets started.
See more at Did I Say That?
Q: I am from Guatemala and a US resident and I want to visit the Philippines and see my girlfriend for less than 22 days, do I need a Philippine visa?
A: No, your US Green Card doesn’t change your nationality, but Guatemala is one of the 150 countries who get an automatic
21 30 day Tourist Visa waiver upon arrival. When you return to the US, you can re-enter on your US Green card, foreign travel of less than 6 months is normally no problem for a US Green Card holder.
Q: How do I count the
21 30 days for a Philippine visit without a visa?
A: You’ll see several different methods being circulated about how to count the
21 30 days, but they all come up with the same answer. The day you arrive is a day of visit, the day you depart is not a day of visit in the Philippines. So count from the say you arrive to the day before you depart, or count from the day afteryou arrive and include the day you depart, whichever way makes more sense to you. Much more on the ‘how do I count days in the Philippines’ here.
Update: If you are working under the “new rules” of 30 days initial stay, the procedure is the same. Start counting the day AFTER your day of arrival and leave on the 30th day vice the 21st)
Q: What if my flight arrives close to midnight and I don’t get my passport stamped until it’s actually the next calendar day?
A: Well, I can’t find an official Bureau of Immigration “reading” on this, but in my personal experience (I arrived one night at 2345 (11:45 pm) and got my passport stamped about 0015 (12:15 am) the next day … the Immigration Officer was still using the date stamp for the previous day). Update; On 5 October 2012 my plane landed at Clark at 2325 and we did not clear Immigration until about 0105 the morning of the 6th. My passport was still stamped as arriving on the 5th. After all my plane DID arrive on the 5th. I can’t guarantee what experience you will have if you arrive in a similar situation … write and let us know if your checking in works out differently.
Q: My Philippine friend wants to visit me in the USA. As an American citizen, can I sponsor her for a visitor’s visa?
A: Short answer, no. A foreigner applying for a visitor’s visa basically has to stand on his or her two feet. Single women, particularly if the US Embassy knows them to have “eligible” male friends in the US are going to have a very difficult time getting a visa. Not impossible, but close to it. The Embassy wants to see evidence the visitor will return to the Philippines .. money in the bank property, a substantial job, etc. You can read more at What Everybody Ought to Know About Citizenship and Visas — Philippine Citizenship See also: Can A Cow Jump Over The Moon?
Q: How can I become a Philippine resident?
A: Two most common routes are: if married to a Philippines citizen (or former Philippines citizen), s/he can sponsor you for a 13-series Permanent Residency visa.
Start Here: Immigrant Visa by Marriage
If not connected by marriage, a foreigner can apply for an SRRV (Special Resident Retirement Visa) (age limitations must be met and an investment, or an investment coupled with a monthly pension is required) See to Is the Philippines really a potential Retirement Destination? learn more about the SRRV.
Q: How do I claim Philippine citizenship as an adult?
A: Start here with the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, via your closest Philippine Embassy or Consulate if you are outside the Philippines.
Children’s Citizenship Questions
Q: One (or both) of My Philippine-born Childs’ Parents is a US Citizen. Is My Child Then a US Citizen?
A: Yes. But The Child’s Birth Must Be Registered With The US Embassy, Manila.
See the official instructions and requirements here:
Or in Filipino, here:
Q: One (or both) of My Foreign-born Childs’ Parents is a Philippine Citizen. Is My Child Then a Philippine Citizen?
A: Yes. But The Child’s Birth Must Be Registered With The Philippine BI and DOFA.
Start Here: Recognition as Filipino Citizen
Passport Related Questions:
Q: How Do I Renew My US Passport While In The Philippines?
A: Just Follow These Instructions:
Job Related Questions:
Q: Do I need a Work Visa to get a job in the Philippines?
A: Yes, but … There are certain types of visas that allow you to work in the Philippines, aside from the dedicated work visa. Certain categories of the SRRV (Special Residence Retirement Visa) … but not the categories that require showing pension income … the 13(a) and 13(g) Permanent resident spousal visas, and several different investor visas. But do remember one thing … in addition to a visa, you need an AEP (Alien Employment Permit) from the DOLE (Department Of Labor and Employment).
Q: Since there are a lot of Call Centers in the Philippines who need English-speaking people, couldn’t I get a job at one of them … easily?
A: Could you get a Call Center job? Absolutely. However the “easy’ part is not always included. Don’t forget that these companies were established to employ Filipinos. In order to get any job in the Philippines, you and the prospective employer have to be able to show that the job opening can not readily be filled by a Filipino. In most cases this just isn’t so. Much better to focus on specific skills you may have other than “speaking English”, because millions and millions of Filipinos speak English.
Marriage Related Questions:
Q: Do I have to register my US divorce with the Philippine government if I want to marry again in the Philippines?
A: No, I don’t think so. When a foreigner wants to marry in the Philippines, the Philippine Government accepts an “Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage.” Americans may execute this affidavit at the American Embassy in Manila or the U.S. Consular Agency in Cebu. As long as you can execute this affidavit truthfully, I know of no other requirements from the Philippine government. You of course must carry with you proof of your divorce … from what I understand the Embassy official may or may not ask for it, but you will surely have a need for it sooner or later in your new marriage … and since this is nearly impossible to obtain remotely … you better make sure you have a copy of your “Final Decree” or “Final Order” whatever your state calls the document that actually proves you are divorced with you when you come to the Philippines. Safeguard it, there’s no way of knowing when it will be needed. See also: Getting Married in the Philippines.
Q: My GF Can’t Come to the US and We Can’t Get a Marriage License in the Philippines?
A: One possible option for you is marriage in Hong Kong. Filipinos can travel there and they do allow foreigner-foreigner marriages. See here to start: Marriage Registration (Hong Kong)
Medical Care Related Questions:
Q: Am I covered by U.S. Medicare when in the Philippines?
A: Short-term (as in a vacation) yes, long-term (as in living there), no. US Medicare does not pay for medical care outside the US except for certain limited medical emergency type treatment necessary while traveling. See http://www.medicare.gov/Publications/Pubs/pdf/10050.pdf for more, official information.
Q: Is TRICARE available in the Philippines?
A: Yes. For US Active Duty personnel and for US Military Retirees. For active duty personnel, follow the guidance from your unit representative. For Retirees, you must change your plan to TRICARE Standard only, or if over 65, TRICARE For Life (TFL). More official TRICARE info here.
Q: There is a US Veteran’s Administration hospital in the Philippines, correct?
A: No, that is not correct. There is no US Veteran’s Administration hospital in the Philippines. There is a US Veteran’s Affairs Clinic in Manila. They provide out patient service to certain US vets with service connected disabilities, only. See their website for more information and be sure to check with them directly for your particular situation.
Many Americans are confused by the fact that there is a large hospital in Manila (Quezon City) known as Veterans Hospital. This is a Philippine government facility maintained for Filipino veterans. It is not part of the US Veteran’s Administration.
Q: Is commercial health care insurance available for foreigners in the Philippines?
A: Yes, but. It is not going to be exactly what you are used to in the US. In many cases pre-existing conditions and other “escape clauses” in favor of the insurance carrier will make things difficult. On the other side of the coin, if you buy plans with coverage in the Philippines only, the insurance can be very cheap. See more at Live in the Philippines and Keep Your US health Insurance | PhilFAQS
Philippine Retirement Related Questions:
Q: Can American Citizens retire in the Philippines?
A: Yes, absolutely. I’m an American citizens and there are thousands more of us here in the Philippines … single, married to Filipino or married to other foreigners. There’s a way for almost anyone to retire here in the Philippines.
Q: Are foreigners living in the Philippines qualified for a Philippine Senior Citizens Discount card?
A: Sorry, no. Under the latest rules for the Philippine Senior Citizen Discount program, foreigners are specifically forbidden to possess a government senior citizen card or to avail of the Senior Citizen Discount program. In fact, they are not only prohibited from doings so, trying to get an unauthorized discount can be a criminal act leading directly to jail time and subsequent deportation. See Where’s My Senior Discount, Dammit? for more information. Additional caution. Filipino citizens who seniors but who are not also Philippine Residents (such as those just in the Philippines for a visit) are also not allowed to avail of the Senior Citizen Discount program. Everyone likes a discount, but failure to follow Philippine law can make a “discount” actually extremely expensive in the long run.
Tax Related Questions:
Q: I’m planning a move to the Philippines. My retirement income will come from pension plans in the U.S. I understand that we still will have to pay U.S. Federal Income taxes. However, if there is no “domicile” state that can collect taxes. So doesn’t that amount to a tax break?
A: Yes, for many US expats in the Philippines, there is no need to pay U.S. State Income tax. There are 9 U.S. states with no State Income tax at all: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. The states of New Hampshire and Tennessee tax their residents only on income earned through interest and dividends. Some states, like Colorado, exempt certain pensions and annuities from state income tax, so even if you still file state tax there. you may owe nothing. It’s not that hard to change your legal tax“domicile” before you move and thus eliminate state income tax liabilities. (of course like all tax matters, this is my personal opinion and not a substitute for competent financial advice). See more on my “take” on income taxes here.
Q: Can a child carry his or her Father’s name even if the dad is not married to the Mom?
A: Yes. See the rules on registering a birth in the Father’s name.
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