Expat In Bacolod

Stephen Bentley - Writer

Amendment of Temporary 13A Residency Visa to Permanent

This is as factual a post you will find anywhere on the internet¹ about ‘Amendment of Temporary 13A Residency Visa to Permanent,’ if you apply from within the Philippines.

Note: It is possible, and advisable, to apply from overseas using that country’s Philippines Embassy if you (applicant) and your spouse (petitioner) are residing overseas (and married in that foreign country), and wish to live in the Philippines on a permanent basis.  Also, in those circumstances, you will skip the ‘Probationary’ period and go straight to ‘Permanent Residency,’ as I understand it.

Once you have jumped through the hoops and the visa is approved you are good to stay indefinitely as a permanent resident of the Philippines.  The only thing that has to be renewed is your ACR I-Card (Alien Certificate of Registration) and that’s good for five years.

Reminder: the 13A visa only applies if the applicant (foreigner) is married to a Philippines citizen (the petitioner).

I previously posted about the process of converting a tourist visa for the Philippines into a 13 A Residency Visa (Probationary).  It was updated here.

This is what happened when the time came for me to apply to amend that visa into  permanent rather than temporary.  Please note what follows is based on my own experiences at the Iloilo Branch Office of The Bureau of Immigration.

I am no longer a lawyer and cannot advise in any particular individual circumstances. This post is not legal advice.

Step One

Download the relevant forms from the Bureau of Immigration website. The link to the application form is here. While you are there download the check list of documentary requirements here.

That’s what the form looks like at the top. It is a two-page form.

The checklist looks like this and make sure you have the correct checklist that includes the bit about the joint affidavit.

Please note these are only partial views of the correct documents but the links I provided above are correct to download the documents in full.

Step Two

Complete the form above in black ink using the boxes provided. Always use N/A if an answer warrants a ‘Not Applicable.’

Fill out both forms (two of the same form) in your own handwriting. Don’t forget to sign it and your spouse needs to sign too.

Photocopy the completed form. I suggest at least two. More is always better as you never know how many they require until the day you submit your documents (more on that later). This was the first of a number of things that were extraneous to the check list.  Read on to find out what the others were.

Use the checklist to start working through the rest of the requirements. There is no need to submit this checklist, keep it as a quick guide.

Step Three

Buy four legal size plain folders. Use one as your main folder to gather all requirements.

Step Four

1. Joint letter request to the Commissioner from  the applicant (foreigner) and the petitioning Filipino spouse. This is the perfectly acceptable form of letter I used:

To the Commissioner Bureau of Immigration, Republic of the Philippines

JOINT LETTER FROM THE FILIPINO SPOUSE PETITIONER AND THE APPLICANT RE AMENDMENT OF A NON-QUOTA IMMIGRANT VISA (13A) FROM TEMPORARY TO PERMANENT

Dear Commissioner

May I respectfully request the amendment of a current and valid temporary non-quota immigrant visa issued under Section 13, Paragraph A of the Philippine Immigration Act to permanent, in favor of my foreign spouse, [Name], the applicant and a British citizen.

I am [Name], born [Maiden Name if a Female], a Philippine citizen. We, the applicant and I,  were married in [Place], on [Date].

We have submitted all requirements and duly accomplished forms.

 

Sincerely,

_______________________                    ______________________

Petitioner/Filipino Spouse                               Applicant/[Nationality]

Sign above printed name

2. Joint affidavit of continuous cohabitation and it must be a sworn document so in the Philippines that means it must be notarized.

This is one I drafted and was accepted:

AFFIDAVIT

WE, [Petitioner Name], Filipino citizen, AND [Applicant Name], United Kingdom citizen [in my case], both of legal age, and married to each other, and residents of [Address], after having been duly sworn in accordance with law, hereby jointly depose and truly say:

  1. We have been in continuous cohabitation as man and wife since [Date].
  2. We were legally married in [Place] on [Date].
  3. We continue to live together in continuous cohabitation as man and wife.

Further Affiants sayeth none.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, WE have hereunto affixed our signatures this ……… day of ………………… , 20__ in ………………………………. Philippines.

………………………………………………………………

Name of Petitioner

………………………………………………………………

Name of Applicant

(Signatures of Affiants over Printed Names)

SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN before me this…….. day of ……………………… 20__, by [Name] AND [Name]

What did surprise me is there was no need to personally attend the law office to get this done. Prepare the affidavit and hand over the fee. It matters not who goes to the office.

I did two originals. I didn’t photocopy any but I need to hand over a copy on my next visit (more later).

Step Five

NBI Clearance Certificate. Obtain a current one and ensure the details are correct including your address and marital status. No copies of this required.

Tip: Do not use the online renewal service, In my case it didn’t work or rather, it did, but the certificate was delivered to my correct address but showed the wrong marital status and wrong address (my old one). Go figure!

That lead to a delay of some two weeks or so while I personally went to the Bacolod NBI office to explain. They fixed it but I had to pay again for the whole process to start over. I should have gone there in the first place!

Step Six

Drink several cold beers! Lol 🙂 Chill! This is the Philippines!

Photo Copies

Now copy:

  • your passport bio page
  • your visa stamp page showing your valid authorized stay – the date your Probationary 13 A Visa expires
  • the passport stamp showing date of first arrival in the Philippines (not mentioned on the documentary requirements check list)

I suggest making six copies of everything to ensure you have the whole shebang when you go to the BI office.

Step Seven

Two 2 cm by 2 cm mugshots on a dark background – I suggest studio photos are best and take more with you – just in case. Note there is no mention of photos on the documentary requirements check list.

Step Eight

Drink more beer 🙂

  • Place everything in the legal folder in the order on the check list.
  • Put the extra folders at the back so the evaluating immigration officer can use them as he/she sees fit, and it will also get you brownie points 🙂
  • Check and double-check you have everything before you set off.
  • Take your passport with you. It will be returned on the day.
  • Get there early.  Dress code is supposed to apply but at Iloilo, I saw it broken by some foreigners. It’s supposed to be no shorts, no slippers, and no sleeveless shirts.

Step Nine

Attend the BI Field Office with your spouse and all your requirements. And take cash!

Fees

At present the total amount to pay is PHP 6,824 plus 2,500. The former includes all fees and your new ACR I-Card. The latter includes the Express Lane fees. That’s the equivalent of just over $178 at today’s exchange rate.

Thank goodness I don’t have to pay that any longer!

Procedure

  • Turn up – no appointment required
  • Get your ticket stub from security
  • Wait – in my case about four hours
  • Go to Receiving when your number is called
  • Hand over all requirements as above including your passport (will be returned on the day)
  • Hand over returned documents to the Assessments counter – wait again
  • When called back to window to collect documents, go to Cashier
  • Pay fees
  • Return to Receiving for an appointment for a return date for interview with you and your spouse

After Interview

  • Check BI website for your application to be listed as approved.
  • Return to BI for visa implementation stamp in your passport and collect your new ACR I-Card.

That’s it! You are now a permanent resident of the Philippines as long as you don’t divorce or God forbid, your wife dies.

Annual Report

Remember you still have to make an annual report to a BI office in the first 90 day of each calendar year. That only costs PHP 310 🙂

Hope that helps and please don’t be like some foreigners who turn up at the immigration office with attitude.


¹ Some websites are better than others at explaining this process but even the better ones get it wrong. For example this is taken from one of those better sites on the topic of 13A visa: ” Duly notarized letter of application by the Filipino spouse.” No! It isn’t the joint application letter that needs to be notarized. It’s the affidavit of continuous cohabitation. 

The same site adds: “Your spouse is actually requesting your admittance on your behalf.” That is right but it’s a JOINT letter from Filipino spouse petitioner and the foreigner applicant. 

It also adds: “General Application Form duly accomplished and notarized. “Plain wrong!

 

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10 Comments

  1. Thanks. A really useful post.

  2. Hi Steve, I enjoyed reading about your experiences getting your permanent resident permit in the Philippines. Some of the things you mentioned are similar to what Mexico requires when an ‘alien’ person applies for permanent residency. The word alien seems to be very popular in both Mexico and the U. S! I just finished the application process and am now a temporary legal resident in Mexico. My permit is good for a year and then I have to go through more hoops to receive permanent status. I had to do the first part in the United States before moving to Mexico. It was actually pretty simple for me. I’ve always had dual citizenship since my husband and I were married. Americans who marry Mexicans can go through a streamlined process when the couple retires. It’s usually the husband who was born in Mexico, came to the U. S. to live and work and then wants to return back home. My husband lived in the States forty years. The Immigration office in Mexico where we went in January was very relaxed. Apparently, I am the only American to apply at that office. We live in the central part of Mexico. There is a university and medical school so I did wait with some students from Japan. The office staff told me to go have my photos taken at Wal-Mart! That was the only bad experience. I look like I’m about 100 years old on my permit. Did you have to give up your British citizenship?

    • Hi Kay! It seems a very similar process in the two countries. I did the same as you. I applied for and was granted a one-year temporary, or probationary as it’s called here, residency visa by virtue of my marriage to a Filipina.
      I wrote this post after applying to amend that visa to a permanent residency visa. The process I describe is for those who were married here in the Philippines. It’s a slightly different and somewhat easier process if the couple were married outside of the Philippines but they wish to live here permanently. In that case they make the application overseas and do all the documentary requirements through the Philippines Embassy.
      No, I did not have to give up my British citizenship.

  3. George Plaxton

    June 8, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    Your site shows greater detail and truth about 13A visas than most. Having gone through 13A temp. visa I went to Manila,had chat with BI officer (how did you meet, old job etc. – 10 mins) did NBI check, paid fees got 1 year ACR-1 card was given interview appt. with an attorney. It actually took us 3 months to see visa (temp) on Philippine Immigration web site, very long list up to 120 pages x 20 names per page. Went back to BI and got passport stamped and label affixed to passport. We will re-start 13A visa (temporary to permanent) 3 months before expiry date. I read, once you have your prmanent 13A visa it is valid permanently, not 10 years. You also get an ACR-1 card valid to last 5 years, then re-newed every 5 years. The interview after 1 year is to show in some way that it was not a marriage of convenience. You have to pay a head tax of 310 php during Jan-Feb each year. The bogus $10,000 in your (their) bank is for a visa for retirees, I think, you may need medical insurance too.

    • Thanks, George. Naturally, I believe you are right, By nature, I try my utmost to get things right. The permanent 13 a Visa is valid for life as long as you remain married or your spouse doesn’t pre-decease you. You are right in saying the ACR I-Card is valid for 5 years before renewal.
      You are also right about the “head tax.” That’s payable every year at your Annual Report. The SSRV scheme is for retirees and you do have to keep a minimum deposit in your bank.
      You are also correct about the BI website in that you need to check the approved list by scanning down the PDF on the BI website as it’s not searchable by name or any other criteria.
      One tip: for your first Annual Report, register on the BI website before you go to the BI office to report. You only need to do that for the initial AR.

  4. Hi, Well written post, How long did you have to wait to see your name on the BI website when you did your amendment?

I would love to hear from you

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