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The Philippine Bureau of Immigration, BI, released a notice on August 08, 2020, that foreign spouses of Filipinos need the appropriate visa to enter the Philippines. However, this does not apply to foreigners who already hold valid 13(a) permanent and temporary resident visas. Such visas are acquired by marriage to a Filipino under Section 13(a) of the Philippine Immigration Act. They can enter the country anytime. That’s according to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente.

He explained that said aliens don’t need to apply for new entry visas. Since they are immigrants and holders of long-term visas, they already fall in the categories of aliens allowed to enter the country since 01 August 2020.

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Foreign Spouses of Filipinos Need Visas to Enter Philippines

“…Foreigners, including spouses of Philippine citizens, allowed to enter country must have the proper visas prior their arrival in the country,” Morente said in a statement. He was referring to Resolution 60, which is the latest update from the Covid-19 Task Force.

Morente explained that the same requirement applies to children of Philippine citizens and children with special needs, regardless of age. Moreover, it also applies to foreign parents of Filipino and children with special needs regardless of age.

Prior to the issuance of said Task Force resolution, non-visa required foreign nationals married to Filipinos could enter the country. They merely had to present proof of their marriage, such as a valid marriage certificate or other proof of their matrimonial relationship.

Balikbayan Privilege Suspended?

In effect, they would be availing of the Balikbayan Privilege that allows a foreigner married to a Filipino to stay in the Philippines for up to a year.

“But that is no longer the case with the issuance of this latest IATF-EID [Task Force] resolution. Foreign spouses of Filipinos must now secure entry visas from our Consulates abroad before traveling to the Philippines. Otherwise, they will be denied entry by our immigration officers and sent back to their ports of origin,” Morente warned.

Previously, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) issued a Foreign Service Circular 36- 2020, last 03 August 2020, exempting the said foreigners from the suspension of visa issuance by Philippine Consulates abroad.

However, now the visa requirement applies only to foreign spouses, dependents, and parents of Filipinos who do not have existing visas.

BI Port Operations Acting Chief Grifton Medina also reminded foreign spouses of Filipinos that they must always bring with them their authenticated marriage certificates and other supporting documents when traveling to the Philippines. They must present them when asked to do so by immigration officers.

“There have been many instances already wherein foreign passengers claiming to be spouses of Filipinos were turned back by our officers at the airport due to their failure to show proof of marriage,” he added.

Hence, in short, if you have a valid Permanent or Temporary Resident Visa, you shouldn’t have a problem returning to the Philippines. However, if you’re a foreigner and have a Filipino spouse, you need to pay a visit to your local Philippine Consulate Office prior to returning to the Philippines. It appears that you cannot just show up in the Philippines with your marriage certificate and “avail” of the Balikbayan Privilege.

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