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Immigrating to the Philippines during COVID-19

Are you considering immigrating to the Philippines during COVID-19? Because of the current coronavirus pandemic, only foreigners with long-term visas are currently able to enter the Philippines. Therefore, why even consider immigrating to the Philippines during COVID-19? Certainly, this current crisis won’t last forever. Consequently, now would be a good time to plan for when the doors to “paradise” are open again.

Immigrating to the Philippines during COVID-19

First of all, why immigrate to the Philippines? For example, one of the longest and strictest lockdowns in the world is still in effect here. Moreover, many hospitals in Metro Manila are already reaching their capacity to treat coronavirus patients.

In addition, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año wants to lock up quarantine violators for 30 days and slap them with a 5,000 peso fine, 100 US dollars. That’s the punishment Año is proposing for those scofflaws caught without masks or violating social distancing rules in public.

“Shoot them dead!”

However, that’s not as harsh as what President Duterte told troops to do when faced with quarantine violators. “Shoot them dead!” ordered the President.

“I will not hesitate. My orders are to the police and military the barangay, that if there is trouble or the situation arises that people fight and your lives are on the line, shoot them dead. Do you understand? Dead. Instead of causing trouble, I’ll send you to the grave,” is Duterte’s statement translated in a report from Rapper.com.

That seemed somewhat harsh to me.

Further Lockdowns to Continue

Certainly, there are many things to consider if you’re planning immigrating to the Philippines during COVID-19. The above-mentioned penalties of lockdown rule-breakers, for example.

Furthermore, the promise of a safe vaccine for the coronavirus might be coming at the end of 2020 or early next year. It just depends on what news stories you believe. Frankly, there is absolutely no way to know for sure when a safe COVID cure might come out.

Rest assured, as a Third World country, the Philippines will be on the bottom of the pecking order for any vaccines. Some news reports indicate that certain regions of the Philippines, such as the Metro Manila area, will be in lockdown status at least until the end of 2020. Therefore, if you are thinking of immigrating to the Philippines during COVID-19, again, consider this time as a good opportunity to plan your move.

My best-selling guide for moving to the Philippines, “The Philippines Expat Advisor,” can help you get to the Philippines faster, easier, and cheaper. This pandemic isn’t going to last forever. Consequently, now is the time to do your due diligence and research.

Hence, here’s a look at one of the most popular visas available to foreigners in the Philippines:

Immigrant Visa by Marriage (13a)

If you are a foreigner whose country has an immigration reciprocity agreement with the Philippines, and married to a Filipino you are qualified to apply for a permanent resident visa.

To qualify for this visa, the applicant must prove that:

  1. He contracted a valid marriage with a Philippine citizen.
  2. The marriage is recognized as valid under existing Philippine laws.
  3. There is no record of any derogatory information against him in any local or foreign law enforcement agency.
  4. Foreigner is not afflicted with any dangerous, contagious, or loathsome disease.
  5. He has sufficient financial capacity to support a family and will not become a public burden.
  6. He was allowed entry into the Philippines and was authorized by Immigration authorities to stay.

Furthermore, it took my wife (who sponsored me for my own Permanent Visa 13a) and me four trips to the Main BI Office in Intramuros to obtain my visa. It took three weeks.

Fortunately, we were able to stay at my sister-in-law’s home in Manila during that time. We didn’t have to pay for a hotel. In addition, we didn’t have to make multiple trips back to our home in Guimaras. At the time, our local Immigration Office in Iloilo was not processing the 13 (a.) They are now able to process this visa once new visas are available again.

I would much rather have in my possession the 13(a) Permanent Visa. It personally makes life easier for my wife and me since we don’t have to travel out of the country once a year. That would be the case if you only used the Balikbayan Privilege.

The advantages of the 13(a) Permanent Visa are numerous.

You don’t have to have your visa renewed every couple of months.

You only need to register at your local Immigration Office at the beginning of the year to file your Annual Report as a Foreigner that costs 310 pesos, about six US Dollars.

Moreover, if you have a Permanent Visa, you never have to leave the Philippines. In addition, your ACR card only has to be renewed every five years instead of every year, as is the case with a Tourist Visa.

Please note that your original application for your 13(a) is only temporary and valid for only one year. After that, you have to return to Immigration and go through the process of having your visa made permanent. Here’s how to obtain your own 13(a) Visa per instructions from the Bureau of Immigration.

Philippine Bureau of Immigration


Who can apply?

A foreign national on the basis of his valid marriage to a Philippine citizen

Where to apply?

BI Main Office or other Immigration Offices located throughout the Philippines. Check the Philippine Bureau of Immigration website for the locations.

What to bring? Checklist with complete documentary requirements.   

How to Apply

1. Secure the CGAF, CONSOLIDATED GENERAL APPLICATION FORM, from either the Public Information or Assistance Unit (PIAU) at BI G/F Main Office or from the official BI Website.

2. Submit the documents for pre-screening to the Central Receiving Unit (CRU) or to the frontline officer or staff of other Immigration Offices able to process this transaction.

3. Get the Order of Payment Slip (OPS.)

4. Pay the required fees.

5. Submit copy of Official Receipt.

6. Attend hearing. Please refer to the Official Receipt for the schedule and venue of the hearing and Image and Fingerprint Capturing.

7. Proceed to Image and Fingerprint Capturing Counter of the Alien Registration Division (ARD) and submit requirements for ACR I-Card application.

8. Check website if visa application is already approved

9. If approved, submit passport for visa implementation.

10. If ACR I-Card is approved, claim ACR I-Card.

(Source:Immigration website)

Immigrating to the Philippines during COVID-19

Of course, as mentioned earlier in this post, no new visa applications are currently being processed. However, to belabor a point, now is the time to prepare.

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