Now that the dust has settled after closing the sale of the home and getting everything packed and shipped, it’s time to get the ‘paperworks’ in order to apply for my permanent resident visa. Many expats may initially choose to go live in the Philippines under a Section 9 series visa (non-immigrant visas) which is really designed for temporary visits such as those for tourism, business, transit, study or employment. You can literally live there under this type of visa but it comes with comes with some inconveniences and encumbrances – one which requires a number of extensions (visits to BOI and $$), up to a stay of 1 year, then depart the country and return and start the process all over again (more BOI visits and more $$). For those that move there without a Filipina wife or who have any degree of uncertainty about their future in the Philippines, it is the best (cheapest) option. To me, it’s too much of an inconvenience knowing I am going to retire and live there permanently, so I am applying for a Non-Quota immigrant visa (series 13a) in advance of my arrival. Two reasons: It is supposed to be easier to get done abroad verses in the Philippines, and secondly (supposedly) having the resident visa prior to arriving provides us some advantage towards the exemption of the requirement to pay duty and import taxes on the importation of household goods. Because it has been difficult to get answers or validify the correctness of the information I have found online that pertains to duty-free and tax exemptions under Section 105(h) of the Tariff and Customs Code, we will take our chances and will find out once we are there (that’s scary!). Another more expensive option to immigrating is in obtaining a Special series visa like the SIRV, SVEG, or SRRV which are described more here.
The Section 13a visa (immigrant visa) is for foreign nationals who wish to become permanent residents in the Philippines. They must be the spouse or unmarried child (below 21) of a Filipino citizen and requires a spousal sponsorship process by the Filipino citizen. It can be accomplished either in the Philippines or abroad at a Philippine consulate in the in the country of origin. I have always understood that the sponsoring Filipino citizen had to be present for this process, but the consulate official in Chicago that we have been in contact with has told us we can accomplish everything by mail. So that will save us a trip to the Windy City.
So, that is what I am in the process of doing. Here is the list of requirements to immigrate from the U.S. that are required for a NON-QUOTA visa for the wife or husband of a Filipino citizen:
1. Valid U.S. Passport
2. Four (4) passport photographs
3. F.A. Form No. 3 to be accomplished in duplicate
4. F.A. Form No. 11 (Medical form) to be accomplished in duplicate
5. Original marriage certificate and two (2) photocopies thereof
6. Philippine passport or birth certificate of spouse indicating Philippine citizenship and two
(2) photocopies thereof
7. Police Clearance Certificate from place of residence of applicant (original and one
photocopy)/ or discharge papers if recently separated from the U.S. Armed Forces and
two (2) photocopies thereof
8. Evidence of financial support, such as bank statement, affidavit of support executed by
relatives, or statement of monthly pension. If recently discharged from the U.S. Armed
Forces, a statement of the amount of retirement pay each month should be submitted
and two (2) photocopies thereof
9. Notarized Letter of Petition signed by Filipino Spouse
I would guess the scope of the requirements would be the same for those coming from other countries, and I would suggest contacting the Philippine consulate in the country of your citizenship or origin.
Of course there are many different scenarios as everybody’s situation or needs are not the same. I encourage anyone looking for the information that meets their individual needs to visit the Philippine consulate website that has responsibility for your area of residency or you can visit the official Bureau of Immigration site for more complete information.
Today, I pick up the results of my Doctors physical exam and X-ray films, make copies of everything and send it off to Chicago. I did get a local (city) police record check completed but when I contacted the embassy yesterday, the lady I spoke with seemed confused about the differences between “County” and “City” police agencies. She kept saying “County” while re-iterating that I needed it from “the city” where I live. So, to avoid any confusion, I will go spend the $2 for a county sheriff records check. It’s always better to be on the ‘safer’ side when working with Filipino officials and documentation. A good rule of thumb is to always provide more documents than what they ask for…whenever possible.
Tonight, we will sit back,relax, have some palutan and BBQ while enjoying a few beers. My destiny now rests with a nation of Filipinos. Maybe I’ll drink an extra one or two to be sure! 😉