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An American With Permanent Residency in the Philippines

RT Cunningham | October 7, 2020 (UTC) | Retirement

permanent residencyI’m an American with a permanent residency in the Philippines. While it’s not officially called a permanent resident visa, I have the 13(a) non-quota immigrant visa. If my wife wasn’t a dual citizen when I applied in 2006, I would have had to apply for a different one. Fortunately, she was a dual citizen.

I also have an ACR-I card (Alien Certificate of Registration Identity Card). I had to renew it after the first year and every five years since then. The next renewal is in 2022. While the visa itself never expires, the card does. I also have to pay for an annual report between January 1 and March 1 every year.

Getting Your Own Permanent Resident Visa

You can start the process of getting a permanent resident visa in your own country if there’s a Philippine Consulate there (there are eight in the United States, including two of its territories). You can also start the process while in the Philippines with only your passport.

There are requirements you can’t avoid. You must be married to a Filipino. You must have a source of income that doesn’t rely on the local economy. A foreigner has the last precedence for employment in the Philippines, below the uneducated. If you’re aiming for retirement in the Philippines, you obviously don’t need a job. The page I linked to above and here will give you the complete list of requirements.

Permanent Residency Fees

The fees I list could change at any moment, without the websites for them being updated as necessary.

I looked at all my receipts. In 2017, I paid more than $50 USD because one of my annual reports was missing from the Bureau of Immigration (BOI) database. The options I had at the time were to drive from Manila to Olongapo, find the receipt for the missing report and return to the BOI before getting my new ACR-I card, or to pay a fine. I opted to pay the fine, which was 1010 pesos (about $20 USD).

I paid the ECC at the Manila airport in 2018, en route to the United States. Based on what I’ve read, I should have been able to get it in other places. I’ll have to ask when I decide to travel from the Clark airport, or the Subic airport should it ever open. All 13(a) visa holders have to pay the fee unless they never intend to return to the Philippines (it happens).

Regardless of what any of the immigration or consulate pages say, I suggest you always be prepared to pay double for everything. The websites are almost always outdated.

The ACR-I Card

I don’t know why it’s such a pain to renew the ACR-I card. Before I renewed mine in 2017, I was told they could do it in Olongapo. When I checked, I found they couldn’t. After I returned home, I was told I could have gone to Angeles instead of Manila. Perhaps I’ll do that in 2022.

My current United States passport, which I renewed at the United States Embassy in metro Manila in 2012, doesn’t have any visa stamps. It only has stamps for departures and arrivals. On the front of my ACR-I card, it says “PERMANENT RESIDENT”. On the back, for Visa Type, it says “SEC 13A”. For Visa Valid Until, it says “PERMANENT”. Apparently, this is the only thing I need.

One of the immigration laws says I’m supposed to always have my passport ready for presentation. I keep it, along with my banking savings passbook, in a small messenger bag. The messenger bag stays with me any time I travel, even in downtown Olongapo.

Photo Attribution: cytis from Pixabay

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