My ACR Card Renewal in the Philippines

I’ve had my 13a Permanent Visa for almost five years. While the visa itself is permanent, it was time for my ACR card renewal in the Philippines. With a 13a Immigrant Visa your Alien Certificate Registration, or I-Card, is good for five years. My current card expires at the end of May.

I was advised by an employee at our local Bureau of Immigration, BI, Office to file my paperwork for renewal in March.  My asawa and I visited the office a couple of weeks ago and I was informed that the BI Form “APPLICATION FOR RENEWAL OF ALIEN CERTIFICATE OF REGISTRATION IDENTITY CARD (ACR I-CARD)”, which I downloaded directly from the Philippine Bureau of Immigration website , was not valid.

I was given another form to fill out which looked identical to the one I had already filled out from the BI website. But I had enough common sense not to protest and began filling out the form while I waited for someone to take the required supporting documents I needed for my ACR renewal. The BI Form checklist stated that I would need the following:

1. An accomplished BI FORM 2014 (the document I had previously downloaded and filled out)

2. Original ACR I-Card (to be surrendered)

3. Photocopy of passport bio-page, visa implementation page and latest admission with valid authorized stay.

I had all my copies in order but when I was called into see the Immigration Officer that handled ACR cards I was informed that I would also need a Photocopy of the Board of Commissioners (BOC)’s Order of Approval. I had missed that.

The BOC Order of Approval is a document given when a person is approved for their 13a Visa. I had my original order at home but had failed to bring it, not realizing that it was a document I needed. I was also told that I would need a photocopies of my wife’s birth certificate (your spouse is the one that sponsors you for a 13a Permanent Visa), and our marriage contract.

The additional above items were not listed on the BI’s website but since I had to return with a copy of my BOC approval and had original NSO, National Statistic Office, documents of the birth certificate and marriage contract, it was not going to be a problem.  Your local BI office can request whatever additional documents they deem necessary.

My asawa and I made the trip back into Iloilo recently and dropped into the Immigration Office around 9:30 am, two hours after it’s opening. We had another business to attend to first. There were perhaps six or seven people already waiting but the security guards posted outside escorted my spouse and I to seats inside the office which had air con.

I passed part of the time speaking with an American who was from Seattle. A young man, married to a Filipina, who spent part of his time in the Philippines and the rest of his time in the States. A very smart part-time expat who was able through his business dealings to live in the Philippines decades before he hit his senior years. I commended him on his achievement. He evidently had a plan and knew what he was doing.

After about an hour I was able to speak again with the BI official who had originally reviewed my documents. All my paperwork was now in order. After paying the cashier a fee of 2,322.o0 pesos, about 50 bucks, along with an express fee of 500 pesos (don’t argue, just pay it), we returned my receipt back to the gentlemen who was processing my ACR card renewal.

I was informed by the official to check back in about two months. Copies of my renewal application were made for me, and 90 minutes after entering the Immigration Office, we were on our way to do our grocery shopping at SM City

An altogether painless process which only took 90 minutes out of my day. A small price to pay for living in the Philippines, my friends.

6 comments

  1. Hi Dave, done mine in February when my 5 year old card expired had to go to Manila oh no , I hate that place thousands of people but did it all same day express fee yeah just pay it picked new card after 10 days don’t have to go back for another 5 years just pay my renewal in taytay rizal which is easier for me 10 minutes in and out, yeah it’s pretty cheap to live here, always wonder why some expats don’t register with immigration they’ll pay big time if they are caught or want to leave the
    Country, Derek in pasig.

    1. Derek, I, too, absolutely hate having to go to Manila BI. I’m happy that our local office in Iloilo can handle my ACR card renewal now. Ten days for your card is pretty quick.

      Well, Derek, I, too, wonder why some people don’t register with Immigration, either. They risk getting kicked out of the country or even being imprisoned, though the stories I’ve read usually just have the offender pay a fine. It’s not that difficult to comply with the immigration laws here and if you can’t afford the reasonable fees, you probably shouldn’t be moving here in the first place.

  2. Dave…I finally found out (after asking many people and getting many blank looks) what the express “lane” fee is for. By charging everyone the express free, the use those funds (supposedly)to pay the employees overtime so the entire place does not shut down for “noon break”. Why the don’t just roll it into the overall price? Ya got me.

    I am now going through the conversion of my 1 year 13a to a 5 year. Like you fill out all the forms, take them in, and voila, not the right form. No sweat, the wife and I just use the trip to BOI as a day trip and have a meal somewhere.

    What got me this time, was after all the paper work was turned it I was told “Sir, look at the web page, when your card is ready your name will appear”. Sure enough 45 days later there is was. Made the check to BOI and were told to fill out another form and come back in three days. Seems that everytime they change commissioners, which means new supervisors at every level they need to change something to place their stamp on the process. 🙂

    1. Scott H, first of all, kudos for getting your 13a in the first place. I know of expats that have been here for years, all of them married to Filipinas, who still haven’t gotten their 13a. Sure, you can go out of the country every year and “avail” of the Balikbayan privilege, but why bother if you can get the 13a and be done with it?

      Thanks for explaining the purpose of the express lane fee, Scott. I’ve often wondered about about it but never have pursued the issue. Thanks for doing the homework on that one for me (and our other readers.)

      I have to wonder why BI even bothers to put the forms on their website if the local offices don’t accept them? Seems to me that the purpose of making the forms available is to expedite one’s experience when they go to Immigration? But what do I know? I’m just a crusty old expat.

      Former Commissioner Mison was on the job a remarkable 4 1/2 years. President B.S. Aquino replaced Mison after being implicated in multiple escapes of a South Korean fugitive last year.

  3. Thanks for the heads up Dave we are going to Iloilo BI to amend Pat’s prob 13A to permanent although birth certificate and marriage contract is not being asked I’m still bringing it with us as not to repeat your experienced. Pat sent you an email a couple of weeks ago hope you got it.
    Cheers
    Gezel

    1. You’re welcome, Gezel. Better to be prepared when going to BI, good idea to bring the birth certificate and marriage contract along.

      Nope, sorry, did not get any emails from Pat. I’ll send an email to the email listed on this comment. Take care.

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