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How to Apply for and Renew Your Visa in the Philippines

Fun welcome | © Official Gazette
Fun welcome | © Official Gazette
The Philippines is the world’s second largest archipelago, with diverse natural attractions, a young and competitive workforce, and bilingual population located right in the heart of Asia.
Fun welcome © Official Gazette

If you, too, have decided to visit the Philippines for business or vacation, here’s how to apply for and renew the right Philippine visa for you.

Who needs a visa?

A Philippine visa may or may not be required depending on your country of origin. Non-visa nationals can enter the country through a visa waiver, stay in the country up to 30 days, and apply for an extension thereafter.

On the other hand, visa-required nationals need to apply for an entry visa to do the same. Some can apply at any Philippine Embassy or Consulate abroad, while others can only apply in their country of origin or legal residence.

What are the different types of Philippine visas?

There are three main types of visas in the Philippines: tourist visa, work visa, and immigrant visa.

Point of Entry © Bureau of Immigration

1. A Tourist Visa (9A) allows a foreign tourist to stay in the country beyond 30 days. This is valid for 59 days and can be renewed for up to three years (for non-visa nationals) and two years (for visa-required nationals) through a series of renewals.

2. A work visa is any of the following non-immigrant visas granted to visiting workers in the country.

Pre-Arranged Employment Visa (9G) applies to foreigners hired to do legal work in the country, whether for wage or other forms of compensation.

Special Work Permit allows nationals to engage in short-term or contractual jobs in the country.

Special Non-Immigrant Visa (47A2) is issued yearly to 50 foreign nationals that come to the Philippines as employees of companies registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority and Bureau of Investment and Authority of the Freeport of Bataan; professionals and students under sponsorship from accredited organizations; volunteers registered with the Philippines National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency; applicants approved by the President and dependents of the mentioned visiting workers.

3. Immigrant visas are for nationals that want to stay in the country permanently without renouncing their citizenship. This applies to foreigners whose country has a reciprocal agreement permitting Filipinos to become immigrants.

Quota Immigrant Visas are granted to diplomats, highly skilled individuals and nationals with significant investments in the country.

Non-quota immigrant visas (13A) apply to foreign spouses of Philippine citizens and their children under 21 years of age, returning residents and former Philippine citizens and those under Balikbayan status.

Special resident retiree visa. This entitles retirees, both foreigners and overseas Filipino workers, multiple-entry privileges and to stay in the country permanently/indefinitely for enrolling in the Philippine Retirement Authority program through a time deposit.

Permanent resident visa. For those legally married to a Philippines citizen and have met the criteria.

What are the basic requirements?

The minimum requirements for a temporary tourist visa application, which must be done in person, are as follows:

  • passport
  • duly accomplished visa application forms
  • 2 pieces passport photos
  • proof of a bona fide status as a tourist or businessman
  • confirmed tickets for return or onward journey to the next port of destination
  • and payment of visa fees

Are there other requirements?

Waiver of Exclusion Ground

Children under 15 years old who are travelling to the Philippines unaccompanied by or without their parent(s) need to submit this at the port of entry together with these requirements.

Special Study Permit

A special study permit allows foreign students to take up short-term non-degree courses in the country. Present these requirements to the Bureau of Immigration’s Student Desk.

Foreign nationals traveling on private yachts or sailboats also need to submit these visa requirements and register with nearest Coast Guard Station and submit the vessel to Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Inspections upon entry. Likewise, foreign newsmen, journalists and cinema/television groups have to submit these additional requirements and report to the IPC for accreditation upon arrival in the Philippines.

Visa extension: How do we go about this?

A holder of a temporary tourist visa can apply for an extension at the Bureau of Immigration at least several days before the visa expires.

Bring the original passport and duly accomplished application form (TVS-CGAF-VE-2016).

A Special Power of Attorney is needed for applications done by agents or representatives. Additional information on the applicant’s children may be required.

The extension fee varies between non-visa and visa-required nationals, for first-time renewal and succeeding ones, and for minors and adults. Take note of additional fees, such as for ACR I-Card (Alien Certificate of Registration I-Card), ECC (Emigration Clearance Certificate) and an application fee, among others.

Don't wear any of these when going to the BI office. © Bureau of Immigration

For a first-time renewal, the total fee for non-visa holders is P11,500, and it’s P13,900 for visa-required. After the first renewal, apply at these intervals: one or two and six months. Wear pants, sleeved shirts and shoes when going to the BI office.

What is visa re-stamping?

Visa re-stamping ensues when the passport of a foreigner staying or living in the country for a long time expires. Hence, the transfer of a visa from an old to a new passport becomes necessary.

The procedure varies depending on visa type and can be produced sometime in 10 days or weeks. It is only done at the BI head office in Intramuros, Manila. The form to bring is RA 7919 and will cost between P1,010 to P1,510.

For SRRV re-stamping, contact the Philippine Retirees Authority through their client relations number. Leave them your phone number and your SRRV number, so they can reach you within the day.

Do you need to get an ACR-I Card?

Color assignment © Bureau of Immigration

ACR-I Card Alien Certificate of Registration I-Card is a mandatory requirement for aliens staying in the country for more than 59 days. Thus, 9A visa holders need this for their visa extension. This card allows these privileges: open a bank account, register a car or a motorbike or get a driver license without being a permanent resident. Note that only some BI offices process this application.

What is a Balikbayan Stamp?

A Balikbayan Stamp is good for a one-year stay and can be extended to at least once for another six months for free. Foreign nationals married to a Filipino/Filipina citizen can ask for this stamp at the airport, provided their wife/husband is with them and they can present a marriage certificate.

Emigration Clearance Certificate

ECC Advisory © Bureau of Immigration

This is also called exit clearance certificate since foreigners have to present this before leaving the country. This applies for stays beyond six months. SRRV card holders are exempt from this.