Getting my 13a Permanent Residency Visa!

After two years of being a tourist in the beautiful Philippine Islands(August 23rd, 2015 will be my 2 year anniversary), I finally started the process of applying for my permanent residency. I thought I’d share my experience here as it’s been hard for me to find information on the process myself, so maybe my experience can help someone else who is about to go through it in the future.

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As of today, I have just finished the first step of the visa application. I will be updating this post as I finish each step, detailing the process. I am applying for my 13a residency visa, which is a non-quota visa by marriage conversion. I.E., you have to be married to a Filipino citizen to avail of this, which, obviously, I am!

The first step you need to worry about is just gathering all the paper work. Everything that you need is listed here: http://www.immigration.gov.ph/index.php/visa-requirements/immigrant-visa/non-quota-visa/conversion-to-non-quota-immigrant-visa-by-marriage. The documents that you will have to order/process ahead of time are your marriage certificate, your spouse’s birth certificate, and your NBI clearance(NBI clearance only for those who have been staying in the Philippines for 6+ months already, anyone who has been in the Philippines for less time needs instead police clearance from their home country.)

The marriage certificate is probably the one you will have to wait the longest for. It can take anywhere from 2-8 months after your wedding day for the NSO authenticated copy to be available. We used NSO Helpline to order ours about 3 months after our wedding. Fortunately, ours was already available at that time. We were married at Quezon City Hall in Manila; my understanding is that if you were married in the province it will take longer before your NSO marriage certificate is available.

We also ordered David’s birth certificate from NSO Helpline at the same time we ordered our marriage certificate. I don’t remember exactly what the documents cost, I believe it was between 300-500php for each, so around 1k for both. It’s a lot cheaper(at least half, I think) if you just go to NSO and order them in person, but that requires a lot of time spent queuing and we figured a couple hundred pesos extra was worth the hassle-free ordering. We received the documents delivered to our door within a few days of placing the order and paying for them.

Now, most Filipinos are familiar already with the horror of acquiring one’s NBI clearance. After keeping my husband company while he applied for his before, I was REALLY not looking forward to going for mine. I was expecting to spend almost the entire day waiting in line, being herded like cattle. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Getting one’s NBI clearance is one of the rare circumstances in the Philippines where it is actually advantageous to be a foreigner, because us foreigners have a separate queue and don’t have to wait with the hundreds of locals applying for it for their job requirements and what not.

When I went for my NBI clearance, I had mixed answers about where to do it. I read from some sources that foreigners HAVE to apply at the main branch. Other sources said that wasn’t true. I decided to play it safe and we went ahead and applied at the main branch on United Nations Avenue in Manila. The drive there was longer than the process, we were only there for about 30 minutes. Just make sure to apply online via their website first, as online pre-registration is a requirement. You can also choose to pay ahead of time instead of paying there, which will save you some queuing time. Print your online registration and proof of payment to present at NBI. All you need to bring, additionally, is your passport and maybe an extra ID just to be safe. You’ll need photocopies of your passport’s bio page and all relevant visa stamps. They have a copier at NBI that you can avail of if you don’t do it ahead of time. The people at NBI were very friendly and helpful, so there’s no need to stress about getting it done. Just fill out the form they give you, walk back and forth to get fingerprints and etc. done, and you’ll be out in half an hour.  You will be told to come back after 3 business days to pick up your clearance, and that will really just be a walk in-walk out process.

Those are the hardest documents to acquire. Beyond that, you just need a joint letter from you and your spouse requesting the visa, and photocopies of your passport pages(if you’ve been extending your tourist visa already, you know the drill there).

The letter is simple. I’ll copy/paste the letter we used here; just replace our information with your own:

August 16th, 2015
The Honorable Commissioner Siegfred B. Mison
2nd Floor, Bureau of Immigration Bldg.
Magallanes Drive, Intramuros, Manila
Dear Commissioner:

May I respectfully request a non-quota immigrant visa under Section 13, paragraph A of the Philippine Immigration Act as amended, in favor of my foreign spouse, Janessa Abigail Martz, an American national. I am David Christopher Mesias Hizon, a Philippine citizen. We were married in Quezon City Hall on January 8th, 2015.
I am enclosing here copies of the following documents to prove my above-cited information:

1. My NSO-issued Birth Certificate
2. Our NSO-issued Marriage Contract
3. Photocopy of the pertinent pages of her passport
Sincerely,
_______________________                    ______________________
Petitioner/Filipino Spouse                     Applicant/American National

The last of the requirements is 2 copies of the CGAF, or application form. You *can* print it out and fill it out at home, which I did, but when we went to apply, they had an updated form and I had to re-fill it out there, so you might as well just do it there in the first place. You will also need 2 photos of yourself, one for each form, the same photo requirements that the Bureau of Immigration requires for tourist extensions; 2×2″ white background.

Okay, that’s all the paperwork! Make sure to also print out the checklist of requirements. You will need to purchase two legal-sized 8.5″ x 14″ folders to compile the paper work in. We got ours at National Bookstore for 5php each. The reason you need 2 of certain things is because you will be filing one application for the visa itself, and the other application will be for the ACR-I card.

Once you have everything compiled and signed, it’s time to proceed to the Bureau of Immigration(side point – no shorts or slippers allowed; it’s a government office so dress appropriately). As with the NBI clearance, we weren’t sure if it HAD to be done at the main branch or not, so we played it safe and did. The main branch is in Intramuros. We arrived, parked our motorcycle at the Starbucks across the street, and entered. You will have to leave one ID at the entrance. Once you enter, directly to the right will be a table where you will have your documents quickly checked over. This is where I was informed that the applications I had printed off of their website were outdated, and they gave me two new application forms to fill out. I filled them out, returned to the table, and after checking the documents over once again, they directed us to our next counter.

From here, it’s super straightforward. There’s a bit of running around between the ground floor and the 4th floor, but nothing to worry about; each time you finish with one person, you will be told where to go next. It’s just a bunch of officers signing off on your different documents and verifying the completeness and accuracy of everything.

Once everything has been verified, they will keep your application forms and direct you to payment. The fees add up to a total of 10,930php. It seems like a lot, but all the fees are included already, including your ACR-I card fees and the visa implementation fee. You will be given a receipt and on the receipt will be your interview time and date. You will have two options – for us, we could choose between Thursday, August 20th, 8am, or Tuesday, August 25th, 8am. You don’t have to commit to either right then and there; either date you choose is acceptable. So, if you miss the first date and time, you can still come back on the second date offered to you. Just be sure not to miss your appointment the second time, or you will have to start the process all over again and pay the fees again as well. It’s extremely important that you’re not late for the interview.

We will be going back for our interview on Thursday. From our understanding, it’s a really short and easy interview, it’s just basically to prove that your spouse exists. Rumor has it that it takes about 10 minutes. I’ll be updating this post afterwards to confirm and share my experience!

Update: The Interview

We just had our interview this morning! It seemed to go well, it was really simple and quick but I’ll detail it for those that are nervous, like I was.

We showed up at our designated time. There’s a sign up sheet outside the interview room; be sure to show up early so you can get done early as there will be several interviewees assigned to every time slot and it will be a first come, first served basis.

David and I showed up really early, our interview wasn’t until 8 but we were in Intramuros by 7, anticipating traffic that wasn’t there for once. It turned out that the BofI in Intramuros opens at 7am(every morning except Monday, when they open at 8:30am, we were told) so we went in and waited by the interview room. We were the first ones there, so we were the first ones interviewed as well.

Be sure to bring your Official Receipt and Passport, and the Filipino spouse needs to have an ID to prove his identity as well.

The interview was pretty informal, we just stood up behind a counter and the interviewer asked us just basic questions; when and where we met, our wedding date, simple stuff. The most important part is financial information, to prove that we can support each other. The interviewer asked if either or both of us were employed and how much we made, as well as if we receive financial support from anyone else. We’d actually brought a copy of David’s employment contract as proof of financial capacity and I offered to give it to him, but he said they didn’t need it, he just needed us to tell him verbally.

That’s all there was to it. The interviewer said everything sounded good, and that things looked good for us 🙂 He then directed us to the next window where I got my biometrics(fingerprints, signature, and photo) taken for my ACR I-card. We were done! The interview itself was only about 10 minutes, the biometrics took another 5 or 10, and we were out of there before 9am. Easy, fast, and painless!

Now, the hardest parts are all done, and they weren’t that hard at all! We were given an estimated date of implementation for my visa, about a month from now, and told to check the Bureau of Immigration website around that date to see the status of my visa application. Once it’s approved, we just have to go back once again for my passport to be stamped, and then another trip a week or two later to pick up my ACR I-card once it’s ready.

So, that’s it for now, I’ll update again in a month when I(hopefully!) go back to have my passport stamped!

 

Update: Process Complete!

Sorry for updating so late, but I’ve been a bit busy and have been lazy about getting back to this post. It’s been several months now since I had the visa implemented, but will try to remember as many details as I can.

The visa was approved slightly earlier than I expected, which was a nice surprise, although I wasn’t able to finalize it right away as hubby and I were on vacation in Cebu for his birthday. It was about a week after the approval was posted on the BI website before we were able to go in to finalize the visa and have my passport stamped, but fortunately, that wasn’t a problem. (Here’s the link where you can check your visa status, by the way: http://immigration.gov.ph/index.php/information/application-status/agenda-verification )

The last trip to Intramuros was super easy, just cost a bit of time. Just go to the counter that you’re directed to(first floor, I believe it was the first or second window, all the way on the left). Just hand over the official receipt from your first visit when you started the application, and you also need to bring the official receipt for your latest tourist visa extension.

I didn’t know that I needed the OR from my latest tourist visa extension and didn’t have it with me, unfortunately, so I had to go upstairs and ask them to print it on the 4th floor. Not a big deal, there was no hassle involved, just wasted about 30 minutes of our time waiting on that to be done.

After we had our OR printed, hubby and I went back down to the first counter again, gave them the ORs and my passport, and then it was just a waiting game. They’ll tell you to come back to the window in half an hour, then hand you your paperwork to take to the next window.

After the 30 minutes is up and you’ve gone to the second step, it’s just the same thing; give them the paperwork, wait, they’ll tell you to come back later. We were told it would be a two hour wait, so we went across the street and sat in Starbucks for a while. We came back about 20 minutes before I was supposed to, and they saw me sitting there and called me over early. They handed me my documents, my stamped passport, and my ACR I-Card as well, and that was it! I was out of there!

I was super pleased to note that I had been given my ACR card on this trip; I was under the impression that I would have to come back a fourth time in a couple of weeks just to pick that up, but was happily proven wrong. Maybe I just got lucky though, so don’t count on not having to come back one last time.

The trip was super easy, just a bit time consuming, but there was absolutely no hassle or trouble at all, and we were out of there just after 12nn. Now, I just have to return in July(two months before my probationary 13a expires) and petition for it to be made permanent. I haven’t managed to get any information from anyone who has done that part yet, but my understanding is that it will basically be the same process and same fees a second time, although one of the BI officers told me it would be faster. I guess we will see in July, I’ll post another update then!

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163 thoughts on “Getting my 13a Permanent Residency Visa!

  1. Hello. Came across your blog and saw your entry. I’m kinda familiar with the visa process and what your interviewer said was a little off. You need to have a valid tourist visa until the date of implementation (or date of the approval) of your 13a visa. So if your tourist visa is only until Sept. 21 and your 13a visa gets approved after the 21st, you still need to extend your tourist visa. You can call immigration to verify this info if you want.

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      1. Does this mean you have to stay the 30 days in Phil? What happens in case you have to back to work overseas? Is it possible to leave and come come back?

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      2. While I had no reason to leave myself, based on information from other 13a visa holders I believe that if you need to leave the Philippines while you’re in the middle of the 13a application process, you will need to file something with the BI and explain the necessity for you to leave. I’m unsure how that works, exactly, so you might want to contact the BI yourself to ask.

        You can always message this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/officialbureauofimmigration
        They are usually pretty timely about replying to questions, within the day, in my experience.

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      3. HI Janessa,

        Thanks for your reply, will contact BI on facebook and will let you know the outcome if you can leave Phil. during the application. By the way great blog, helped me and my wife a lot

        Liked by 1 person

      4. i ADMIRED u janessa some filipinos using thier american or western girlfriends ,wife to get to the west to have a beautiful life and GREENER pasteur despite the POVERTY here in philippines u still like the life here i salute u

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    1. Do you know if it’s possible that my visa will be approved before the estimated date? It just really sucks to have to go pay another 3k for an extra week, especially as we are going on vacation to Cebu that week and are trying to save every bit of money for our trip, 3k will be a big dent in our vacation savings -_-

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  2. Yes, it can still be approved earlier, that’s why it’s a tentative date. I believe they approve visas every once a week. Just check the immigration website from time to time, if the 21st is drawing near and your name is still isn’t there, prepare your 3k to extend your tourist.

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  3. Thank you for writing about this. Im a Filipina with a foreign spouse who is about to be interviewed also. I found your blog by accident. And I think I am liking it. 🙂 Anyways, sources said it is possible to get the visa approved earlier or a bit late but to be safe and ready, prepare to shell out for your extension.

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  4. Very useful and helpful article. I have some updates for you. I can confirm that for foreigners getting their NBI Clearance you MUST go to the main branch on United Nations Avenue in Manila. We tried at one of the satellite branches and were told they cannot do them. Plus, as you say, it is MUCH quicker – the queues in the satellite branches are long and slow. But the foreigner lane at UN Avenue was empty!

    We then tried to apply for the VISA at the Makati office. They said they can do it, but insisted that I needed the NBI AND local police clearance. I suggested it was one or the other, but they wouldn’t budge. Rather than debate it, I went to Intramuros and of course the NBI was sufficient. So, again your advice to go there directly is spot on. Traffic is awful though.

    How did you get on with the passport stamp / ACR card? Be useful to see how the story ends.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading and for sharing your experience as well! I’m all done with the process now, I’ll try to update this post when I have time but to make a long story short, the visa was approved slightly earlier than expected although I wasn’t able to finalize it right away. It was a week or two later when we went in to have my passport stamped and it was super easy. Just go to the counter that you’re directed to(first floor, I think it was the first or second window). Just hand over your official receipt, you should also bring the official receipt for your latest tourist visa extension. I didn’t know this and didn’t have it with me, so I had to go upstairs and ask them to print it on the 4th floor, which wasted about 30 minutes of our time. Went back down to the first counter again, gave them the ORs, and then it was just a waiting game. They’ll tell you to come back to the window in half an hour, then hand you your paperwork to take to the next window. Again, give them the paperwork, wait, they’ll tell you to come back later(it was 2 hours for us, I believe). We went across the street and sat in Starbucks for a while, came back right on time and they handed me my documents, stamped passport, and my ACR I-Card as well, which I’d thought I’d have to make a separate trip to pick up, so that was a pleasant surprise. Easy visit, just be prepared to wait around lots.

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      1. Hi, I thought you need to have 13(A) Visa Probationary for 1 year before you can apply for 13(A) Permanent VIsa which valid for 10 years. I see that you are applying for Permanent Resident 13A in that photo. So this newly approved visa is valid for a year or 10?

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      2. @Alvin, yes, the initial 13a application is valid for only 1 year, on probationary status. I was told to come back two months before it expires to petition them to make it permanent. I believe it will be the same process over again, but don’t know for sure.

        Once made permanent, the visa is actually valid forever, not just 10 years – thus the permanent status 🙂 the only catch is that you will have to go in to the Bureau of Immigration every 5 years to renew your ACR-I card, which costs about 2300php. The visa itself is infinite, though.

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      3. hi miss Janessa, my name is dina, i don’t have any idea how to process his 13a…we’re newly wed…thankful i read your blog and just help me a lot. honestly i got nervous with it.so much thankful to you cause you shared it. but i wanna ask a question to you about the NBI clearance so both of you got NBI for the requirements or just you only?

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  5. Hi! great post. i hope you can help me here. im just preparing everything now for my husband’s 13A application. would you know how many days it’ll take before the issuance of BI clearance certificate? can we apply it with the 13A on the same day? just wondering here. thank you very much.

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    1. Hi Bernadette! The BI clearance certificate will just be included with their side of the documentation during the visa process, it’s nothing that you’ll have to worry about 🙂 They make it confusing by including it in the list of requirements, but there’s nothing you have to do for it, it’s just part of their own paperwork.

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      1. A Big Thank You to you. ill remove that from my worries then. uhmm.. i dont even have to bother with the BICC application form? what about the ACR’s – Certified true copy issued by the Records Section of the Board of Commissioners (BOC)’s Order granting the visa
        (for internal verification purposes)?

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      2. Nope, there is no form for the BICC, it’s just included in the CGAF. I’m unsure what you’re asking about re the ACR… you are supposed to fill out 2 copies of the CGAF, one is for the visa application, the other is for your ACR application. Nothing else needed for the ACR that I can remember. Fingerprints etc. will all be done at the Bureau of Immigration during the application process 🙂

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    1. Don’t stress about it too much 🙂 The BI website can be daunting, but it’s actually a lot easier than you’d think. I was super nervous about it too, but it turned out to be a breeze. Just a lot of waiting and going back and forth to the office. On your first visit, right when you enter the building they will check your papers and tell you if you are missing anything. After that, all you have to worry about is following the instructions of the officers, paying the fees, keeping your receipt handy, and not missing your appointments.

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  6. Hi Janessa, Just wanna ask you this, once the result was already posted in the immigration website on the tentative date of implementation, does the applicant should go there immediately? Lets say for example, the tentative date of implementation is December 18, 2015 (Friday) and the result was already posted that day, does the applicant should go there that same day so the passport could be stamp? or the applicant can go there by December 21, 2015 (Monday) ?

    In your case, did you went there on the very same day of your date of implementation? Thank you and sorry for the disturbance that this may cause.

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    1. Hi Billy, you can go in late for the implementation 🙂 I was actually on vacation in Cebu when my visa was posted as approved, and I wasn’t able to go to Manila to have it implemented until about a week and a half later. So going in a couple of days later will be no big deal at all 🙂

      And no worries, no need to apologize, I made this post in hopes of helping the process be a little less confusing for other people than it was for me and I’m happy to answer questions if I can 🙂

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      1. Wow! Thanks for that good news and for your prompt reply. Your blog is wonderful! It can really help. I thank you a lot for this. 🙂 You posted from scratch ’til you finished everything and that probably make things easier for first timers (yah! like me) Thanks a lot! 🙂 and I hope you’ll enjoy your stay in the Philippines 🙂

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  7. Simple if you live in stinky, polluted beyond insanity, Manila.
    Complicated and very expensive if you live on Palawan like I do.
    Three trips to pick pocketers paradise Manila and you are 50k and more in the sewer.
    Is there any other place where I can go for the extension of my ACR13 card?

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    1. Hi Bob I also live in Palawan but lucky enough to also have house in Pasig. Sorry but think B I at Intramuros is where you have to go for all 13A dealings. Just waiting on my interview then wait weeks for implementation. Had a 13A yrs ago was all done in a week

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  8. Great blog, can you tell me where on the ph immigration website I can find whether my application has or has not been approved 🙂

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  9. Just a word of warning about the online results lists. It seems that not all names get posted online. I checked each week for about 6 weeks after the estimated date. Eventually I phoned BI Intramuros to find out that the VISA had been approved (just 8 days after their estimate) but had not appeared on one of their lists. She didn’t seem surprised, and simply confirmed that it was approved.

    So if there is no sign of your name online, then you could phone (or gamble and just go in). Be ready for a long phone call as it takes a long time to find the right department / person who can check for you.

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    1. I waited 3 months over the date for my temporary 13A and had to pay for 3 lots of tourist visas to keep my status up to date that was the Cebu office I’ve heard it runs smoother in Manila everything goes to Manila anyway. As for converting a Temporary 13A to a permanent residence visa you can submit the forms 90 days before your year is up. Bearing in mind delays we experienced go early and take the consolidated form showing you wish to convert from temporary to permanent. You have to write another letter for the commissioner and take your old NBI clearance you originally submitted should still be up to date and send in some bank statements. My passport has run out and I have a new one so they will get both copies. Take all of your papers with you when you go to the office it will save you another trip.
      Do follow the guidelines printed as the Immigration officers expect you to know everything and they have doubtful English skills and don’t understand you have had to travel a distance. Be tolerant as the system process is not smooth because to many individuals handle the paperwork and guess what will blame each other. It is not stress free.
      If you have difficulty like traveling before process dates documents are processed write a formal letter and go into the immigration office and ask for a cover letter and explain your case because if you send an email they will say it got lost, cover your back.
      As a man in the que said getting a result here is like winning the lottery.

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  10. Agh my one year 13a prob expires next month and I was not told to come two months early. I also have family emergency and will leave now to go back to USA. Hope if I file late or on expired 13a does not hurt me. What is needed to renew 13a ?

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    1. I’m not sure what the latest date is that you have to petition the status change, but I would not advise waiting until it expires. You should contact the Bureau as soon as possible to find out when the latest you can do it is. As for what you need, I *believe* you will need all of the same requirements that you needed the first time, including the same payment, although I’m not certain as no one has verified it for me. I plan to just bring all of the paperwork all over again just to be safe when I petition to make mine permanent.

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  11. Hello Janessa

    thanks for the complete info.

    one thing i want to ask, is about that NBI Clearance
    when i try to apply online

    it show this Purpose Detail *
    which one should i choose ?
    it has so many option there

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    1. I believe that when I applied, I just put “other requirement” and there was no issue 🙂 When you are at NBI, they’re going to make you confirm everything you put in the online application anyways, they retyped everything right in front of me which seemed to make the online application a bit redundant, but it is what it is.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hello

        what a supergirl fast reply 😀
        i already chose that “other requirement” and i will make a payment tomorrow morning

        anyway.. no more updates ? 😀

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  12. Good luck, hope everything goes smoothly for you!

    I made a brief update in the comments somewhere after I finished the process, but haven’t found the time to edit it into the post yet lol. I should really do that, just have been busy and lazy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Janessa,
    Read your blog and found it was a great help in preparing my 13a app. But i have a question about the quarantine requirements and the cost and time involved.
    Thanks

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      1. It all depends where you come from. If your country is a low risk of disease (UK, USA, Europe etc) then there is no additional requirement. There is a list of countries deemed high risk and I believe you need some kind of medical declaration. The list is posted at BI intramuros and I suspect is on their website as well. If your country isn’t on it, then you don’t have to do anything different.

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  14. Hi Janessa! 🙂 Are there no requirements for having a certain amount of money in a bank to show you are financially capable? i thought i read that somewhere?

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    1. I had heard rumors about that too, but we were never asked to show anything ourselves. We brought a copy of my husband’s employment contract to show proof of income just in case, but we never handed it over. I don’t believe it should be an issue as it’s not listed in their requirements anyways. When we were being interviewed, they simply asked what our income was and took our word for how much we made 🙂

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  15. So happy I found your blog. My spouse is a foreign natioanl and we will start processing his visa this month. He didn’t stayed for 6 consecutive months yet should we still need to get NBI clearance?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To my knowledge, and according to the requirements listed on the BI website, if he has been in the Philippines for less than 6 months when he applies, he does not need NBI clearance; it’s only needed for someone who has been here at lease 6 months. Additionally, there has been a recent update to the requirements listed and it seems police clearance is no longer needed for foreign nationals who have been in the Philippines for less than 6 months either.

      I messaged BI on Facebook to clarify about the police clearance as when I apply to make my visa permanent, I will have been in the Philippines for less than 6 months since I will be taking a trip in March. They confirmed that police clearance is no longer a requirement.

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      1. Hi Janessa:) Our 13A application went good so far. We didn’t had NBI when we went to file but they allow us to bring it for the interview. Now we are just hoping that visa will be implemented (approved crossed fingers) earlier than their given tentative date.

        Your blog was really a big help:)

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  16. Your blog is very helpful. We just finished filing for my 13a and we have to attend the court hearing on the 10th. Oh man I wish they wont ask us to pay another 3k for the extension. I am confuse about the implementation date they have listed on the receipt which is on march 16th and my tourist visa will expire on march 9th! I hope that won’t cause any problems.

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    1. I was in nearly the same situation as you. There were just a couple of days between the estimated date of implementation and my tourist visa expiring. I went ahead and extended my tourist visa for another month just to be safe as I was worried it would screw things up for me if I didn’t. As it turned out, my 13a got approved a few days before I went in to extend the TV, but it hadn’t been posted online yet. So, I needn’t have wasted the money. Oh well, always better safe than sorry. I’d rather waste an extra 2-3k re-extending my tourist visa unnecessarily than have to start the 13a process over and pay the 11k again.

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      1. Hi Janessa or anyone else that might be able to weigh in: You documented your experiences in great detail and should be of great help to those about to begin the journey toward their 13a. Mine (probationary) was approved in July 2016. Meanwhile my Filipina wife and I are planning to move to Bacolod City. I am unable to find info on whether or not the BI Field Office there will process conversions from the probationary to permanent residence. I would hate to have to wait a full year if I am forced to apply for the conversion only in Manila. Any info in this regard would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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  17. Good morning Janessa, I have just a couple of questions regarding 13A and I hope I’m not too late to ask before I go apply.
    Tomorrow we are going to Immigration in Cebu and I was wondering where you got your letter for sponsorship from you husband and the approximate cost of it??
    And secondly is there a dress code? i.e. shorts, sandles or are long pants and regular shirt required? We are going to immigration in the mall over there, we know the address of it and there has been so much misinformation put out but you seem to be right on target with what I understand the requirements to be.
    I hope I hear from you before we leave, if not wish us lunch. We are taking a ferry from Bohol in the early am.

    Thanks again.
    Ron

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  18. I just went to apply for my 13A probationary on the 10th of February in Cebu. Like you mentioned there is a period of waiting around, not too bad though. I had an agency prepare my letter of sponsorship for us, that was all I was short of having. After I paid my application fees I received a date for our interview which was 1 week later. I had been told that a person can get a change for that so we went back to the agency and they prepared a letter requesting reconsideration for updated interview. That cost 500 plus the fee for reconsideration of 1000. Submitted it and had our interview set for 3pm that afternoon. Considering it would require another trip from Bohol for the interview I thought it would be a good investment. The interview went quite well, I was asked a couple of questions then he talked to my wife in visayan, then we were finished, other than doing the process for the ACR card. We did that across the hall and then on our way home.
    Overall not as bad as I was fearing it to be. And at B of I in Cebu there is NO dress code!!
    It was about 14500 for fees, taxi, ferry back and forth lunch. I hope everyone has it as well as I did.

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      1. I am going to BI in Cebu on Tuesday morning to finish things up (pick up 13a). I am supposed to renew extension on tourist by May 10 so this should eliminate that.

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    1. ron
      I was in cebu for the 13a interview the same time you were. we are still waiting to hear about approval. was wondering if you heard anything yet?

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      1. I had my meeting and filed papers in January for conversion of probationary to permanent. Went today to check on it they told me just to keep checking the website. Nothing so far.

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      2. After making many phones calls, useless, I noticed an email address clipped to my paperwork and tried that. They asked for some id info to find out for me the status and next day emailed me and said it was approved at the Executive Directors office and that I should return to Cebu BI. If not implemented within 30 days of approval it will be cancelled and have to start over again including new fees. xinfo@immigration.gov.ph This was the email I got the best results from.

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      3. I went to Cebu yesterday and got my visa minus the ACR card. I was told it takes about a month to get it because they don’t do the card until it’s implemented. I got the phone number for their office to check in with them starting about the middle of May.

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      4. The website that helped me most finding out the status of my application is xinfo@immigration.gov.ph
        When I first contacted them 2 months after filing they asked for some basic info and the next day emailed that it had been approved by the Executive Director. I also was told to wait until posted on Agenda, we were going to Cebu anyway so I took my paperwork and Passport and inquired about it and it was in the office so I just had to wait a bit for it to implemented. I filed on Feb 10 and it was approved on April 8

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    2. Hi Ron, My family and I reside in Camiguin – your neighbor in the Bohol sea! I’ll be applying for the non-quota in Sept. and I have a question for you. Did you go through the whole visa process in Cebu or did you have to travel to Manila initially? Any information would be really helpful. It would sure be less of a pain if I didn’t have to make multiple trips to Manila! Thanks Ron. – Bill

      Like

  19. So your total costs were only around 11k?
    I was led to believe it was closer to 20k and also having just visited the bi in Makati was advised I would need Police Clearance as Ive been here less than 6 months right now
    Thanks

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    1. Go to nbi months in advance since it takes a while. When I applied for my resident visa to be changed from probationary to perm. I paid maybe 18. K pesos . The immigration office had their own lawyer there to write a letter on my behalf and the kick backs for rush and personalized help and service so I would not have to wait all day. I had to give my receipt for nbi to immigration and sign a paper saying that the results will follow. The worst part is how they finger print you at nbi and immigration . So messy! Smear ink over your finger tips them only one paper towel to clean it off. Pffs

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  20. Good article , I was enlightened by the information ! Does anyone know where my company could possibly grab a template a form example to type on ?

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  21. Hi Janessa, your article is so helpful. I got a question, you stayed in the Philippines while you have your probationary visa? And when you got the permanent residence, you can just go in and out of the Philippines anytime? Or should i ask what are the conditions while you are in probationary and when you got the permanent? Thank you

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  22. So if you are there 6 months you don’t need the police check from home? Also you said it takes awhile to get your marriage certificate. Can you get the balikbayan Privilege without the certificate?

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    1. Hi! Just did my husband’s 13A. No need for police check. Instead, get an nbi clearance. U wont avail the balikbayan privilege without ur wife nxt to u in d immigration.

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    1. I had the probationary for a year. Which was expiring so I applied January 20th for permanent. The immigration office tells you to check online for your status. They post batches couple times a month that you dig through to find your name. Well, March 29th they released a batch and found my name. For the date ot says permanent. I have to wait now for it to be sent back to the office. I did my papers out of iloilo since it’s less crowd and does it. I think it will be another week or 2 until I get my new acr card.

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      1. We went through the lists until we found our names, then in January I paid the fees at the window and was instructed to wait for a message from Cebu Immigration to our cell phone that will inform us of the arrival of the ACRI Permanent Resident Card to the Cebu office. It is now August and we’ve yet to receive the message. My wife has called and no one answers the phone and I sent many emails asking for a confirmation of the said card’s arrival receiving no response from Cebu I don’t want to make a trip to Cebu just to find that it still hasn’t arrived after eight months. In light of efforts I am making to adopt my wife’s daughter, It’s important that I have this card in my possession by the imminent court date. Rendell Carter..

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      2. I waited months for mine to be sent to iloilo. But I got tired so i went to manila abs picked it up. Luckily immigration from iloilo would answer the phone. They called manila and asked them to just hold it. You can call manila and ask if it’s still there. It was really quick, just walk in and signed for it. No line unlike all the other transactions . I don’t have the number but i am sure it’s online. They also have a Facebook page to answer your questions so try calling and sending them a message. Manila immigration that is. Also, the day you go in. Give them a heads up call so they will have it pulled.

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      1. Hi freto. Can you please tell me what are the requirements for permanent visa? Are they same like for probationary 13a visa?
        Thank you very much

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      2. When i applied for permanent I believe I needed pictures, new updated nbi, passport with all my stamps, marriage certificate, spouse, money, acr card, they had a lawyer sign a letter on my behalf that was their own lawyer. Umm pretty much same thing every time. Do not forget you have to do annual report January every year even with probation residence or they will fine you and give you crap. I was not told and got 6 months of late fees even though I was there in January I didn’t request since I didn’t know and Noone informed me.

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  23. Looks like you got your 13A visa in July 2015. Did you also have to do an Annual Report in Jan / Feb this year? I just found out about it, and am not sure if I should have done that also. My VISA was approved in November 2015, but I picked it up in early January. Nobody mentioned the AR, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything!

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  24. Hi, thanks a lot for taking the time to write about this. I just have a question regarding which documents need to be notarized (photocopy of passport, etc) and which documents need to be original (marriage cert, etc). I want to be thorough so I don’t have to keep going back. Thank you.

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    1. Bring 7 current photo of face shot. Straight like for passport. I think 1×1. Make 3 copies of everything and bring the original. Keep it all straight. Passport front page with your info. Passport stamps into the philippines, marriage contract, nbi clearance or receipt that one is being done. Birth certificate. Acr card. It’s best to be fully loaded. When they want to they can make it hard on you. Make sure that you dress professional too.

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  25. Hello, what a great blog.
    I have been thru this process and would to add some helpful (hopefully) comments. Originally like most I started with tourist visa extensions and then applied for my probationary 13a and paid an agency. Big mistake – don’t do it, they saved me some time in respect of I didn’t have to sit around for hours at Intramurous, but despite what an agency tells you, they can not speed up the process. Indeed you actually lose control, so my advice is save your money.
    Immigration told me last year to apply to convert the 13a prob to perm 1 month before the 13a prob expires, this is not enough time. I applied 3rd Feb, paid extra to have the hearing the next day, was given a tentative date of 17th march (this is 5 days after my 13a prob expires). After waiting 10 weeks my name finally appeared on the website. What’s frustrating is that when they release the list of approved visa’s it takes around 10 days before they put it on their website. So apply for this conversion early.
    I’m now in the situation where I have been here almost 6 weeks with an expired prob 13a and expired ACR card, next week I will go to Manila to get my passport stamped with my 13a perm,if this will cause me a problem or not we’ll see. I think the biggest lesson I have learnt is – never underestimate how long these things can take.

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    1. My probationary expires on April 8 2017 and Cebu BI told me to reapply to make it permenant in December 2016. It took from February 10 2016 until April 19 2016 to actually get my hands on my approved 13a.

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      1. I think all 13A applications are processed in Manila, maybe that is why you need to allow for extra time Cebu need to send all of the paperwork to Intramuros.

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  26. What are the requirements for converting the probationary to the permanent after one year? Both my friend and I are in the process of getting the first probationary visa. What will they check after one year? Do they look at passport records to see how much time was spend in and out of the Philippines? Is there a minimum? What if I travel for work or my wife does and we are not together all the time? Is that considered? Is there an actual interview for the permanent or is it just paperwork? Thanks!!

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    1. I just my 13A prob. and I am working overseas, this is not a problem at all, just make an affidavit that you need to leave the country or urgent matters. Please note that every time you leave the country you have to pay tax at airport, first time PHP2800,- , and every following time a bit less.

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  27. The requirements are very similar to convert Probationary to Permanent to what they are to obtain the initial 13A, but be careful the requirements seem to change, sometimes overnight and their website is never up to date. I left PH for a trip to Europe during my Probationary period and it was no problem. Yes there is an interview to convert but it is a simple one, for me (and your wife has to be with you) it was less than 10 minutes. I am not sure if there is a minimum time you need to be in the PH during this period, I don’t think there is, maybe someone else can confirm the answer to this.

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  28. I forgot to mention, while I was writing that post I got ticked off when I noticed that they charged the $US50 I-Card fee a second time – you see, I already applied for and received the I-Card. So if you’re applying for a 13A and you already have an I-Card, watch out, maybe there is some way to avoid paying that fee again! I don’t know, maybe if you show the staff your I-Card you can get out of paying that fee twice.

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    1. Are you talking about your I-card for probationary 13a vs permanent ? The probationary I-card is only valid for 1 year and the permanent I-card is completely different and is valid for 5 years.

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  29. If “this type of visa” means 13a then I seem to remember reading somewhere the equivalent of 10,000 USA $, however I’m not sure about this, but you will be asked how you will support yourself (and wife) in the interview, I was asked this but I wasn’t required to provide any bank statements or figures…. but they might ask, I took documents of my income and banks statements just in case..

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  30. Hi Janessa,

    Just want to clarify if I will have to pay and receive a new ACR-I card when I apply for Permanent Residence ? I just received one 4 months ago in February when I did my extension. Please advise, thank you

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  31. Hi! Have you done the amendment to permanent yet? I am about to start the process with the NBI, but I am not sure how to get/write the affidavit of continuous cohabitation. The common one on the internet appears to be for common-law spouses. Very helpful blog!

    Like

    1. Hi, Did you ever find out how to write the affidavit? i’m currently stuck on that subject online as im only finding the same as you,

      Thanks!

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  32. I am looking forward to your update Janessa. I got married last year in October. She is still there while i came back to the States. We have both decided to stay there in the Philippines which I have no problems about cause I loved it there.

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  33. Hi I was in interview for some weeks ago and the interviewer told me that i do not need to extend my tourist visa as the application for my 13A Marriage visa is superseeding the tourist visa, is there any knowing if this correct??

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  34. Simple quick question if I may, does my wife have to be with me for the process ( interview ) as she lives in Iloilo and I am currently here in Manila, and does she need to write a letter on my behalf, requesting the 13a visa?.

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    1. Yes, the interview they will ask both her and you questions. Also, I think she has to sign papers since she is the petitioner. You will get more help with her there too. I am always pushed aside and ignored at immigration but my wife talks to the officers and they are always more helpful and insightful with her.Why don’t you go to iloilo office and do it? It’s a lot easier and less people. I did all my transactions through iloilo but I go to manila to pick up my card since they only mail them out in batches and the waiting time is months.

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    2. Yes, your sponsor, your wife, needs to be with you during the interview. Also, she needs to have signed the letter as the petitioner and you sign it as the applicant. The letter is usually from your spouse as she is petitioning for your to be a resident.

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  35. Wow this post is so helpful 🙂 and I want to know the estimated amount of money I should have and my partner in order to be called financially capable? Because my partner is planning to get this visa.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes please, I would love to hear some advice on this also. I have read on one blog a very vague comment about maintaining a bank balance of no less that 100,000 pesos for the entire Probation period. Can anyone confirm this? Salamat. (oh and totes agree this is a great post thank you so much for all your effort).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They didn’t ask us for any bank statements or anything. We brought David’s employment contract/pay stubs in case they asked as proof of income, but they didn’t want/need them – and we certainly didn’t have a bank balance anywhere near that high. As always, every case isn’t the same, we all know how things go with the Philippine government – but in my case, the immigration officer just asked about jobs, how much we made, if we received financial support from family members, and took everything at our word.

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  36. Hi janessa, how long did you wait to get your visa approved?

    I just applied 13A for my husband few days ago and today is our scheduled interview.. Im afraid to spend another money to extend his Tourist Visa as this expires on sept 24 while the implementation date is on Oct 18.. That’s more than 30 days from the application date.

    Btw, thanks for your blog.. It helped me alot from docs to application..

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  37. Hi! Thanks for the very helpful blog and comments! I have few questions though after reading all the comments:

    (1) Is it true that police clearance from home country is not required anymore?
    (2) My french national husband has been in and out of the Philippines since Dec 2015 but never overstayed, meaning he stays in the country less than 30 days. Is he required to present an NBI Clearance?
    (3) Once the application has been submitted, is he allowed to go out of the country for the next 30 days? We intend to submit application on Dec 22, leave Dec 23 to spend holidays in France, and be back on first week of January next year.

    Thank you!

    Like

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