Part 1 of my attempt at myth busting over the 13A Permanent Residency Visa can be found by clicking here.

This is by way of an update and in particular the process of obtaining your NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) clearance.  Please don’t forget you need to be in the Philippines for at least 6 months to go through the NBI process. If you have been here for less than that time you need to obtain police clearance from your home country.

Only yesterday I completed the process and gladly, I found it fairly straightforward with one exception. First, let me give you the link once more to the excellent article on obtaining a 13A visa by way of marriage to a citizen of the Philippines.

Link to the Writers in Tandem article

NBI Process and 13A Permanent Residency Visa

This is what they had to say about the NBI process:

Now, most Filipinos are familiar already with the horror of acquiring one’s NBI clearance. After keeping my husband company while he applied for his before, I was REALLY not looking forward to going for mine. I was expecting to spend almost the entire day waiting in line, being herded like cattle. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Getting one’s NBI clearance is one of the rare circumstances in the Philippines where it is actually advantageous to be a foreigner, because us foreigners have a separate queue and don’t have to wait with the hundreds of locals applying for it for their job requirements and what not.

When I went for my NBI clearance, I had mixed answers about where to do it. I read from some sources that foreigners HAVE to apply at the main branch. Other sources said that wasn’t true. I decided to play it safe and we went ahead and applied at the main branch on United Nations Avenue in Manila. The drive there was longer than the process, we were only there for about 30 minutes. Just make sure to apply online via their website first, as online pre-registration is a requirement. You can also choose to pay ahead of time instead of paying there, which will save you some queuing time. Print your online registration and proof of payment to present at NBI. All you need to bring, additionally, is your passport and maybe an extra ID just to be safe. You’ll need photocopies of your passport’s bio page and all relevant visa stamps. They have a copier at NBI that you can avail of if you don’t do it ahead of time. The people at NBI were very friendly and helpful, so there’s no need to stress about getting it done. Just fill out the form they give you, walk back and forth to get fingerprints and etc. done, and you’ll be out in half an hour. You will be told to come back after 3 business days to pick up your clearance, and that will really just be a walk in-walk out process.

Some of that was true in my experience here in Bacolod but there were differences and frustrations. I have highlighted parts of the original article in bold to make it easier to follow.

My Experience

I agree it was quick and I was also there for about 30 minutes. I don’t know if I got some kind of priority treatment because I am a foreigner but it felt like it.

My clearance was processed at the Bacolod branch of the NBI so there is no need to travel to Manila.

Next is where I met some frustrations with the whole process. The article above tells you to print out your online registration and proof of payment. It doesn’t tell you that on the NBI website! I took a screenshot along which helped but not entirely.

The NBI website also makes no mention of a 2 cms x 2 cms ID head and shoulders ID self portrait photo. Neither does it mention a photocopy of your photo page of your passport.

So although I was processed with a minimum of fuss, I was told to return with the 2 x 2 photo, a print out of my receipt for online payment with the reference number shown and the photocopy of my passport. That involved a further trip back to the NBI to deliver those items. Again, it didn’t take long when I returned.

One further difference at Bacolod, is that you don’t return within 3 business days to collect your clearance. It is mailed to you and I was told that takes some 2 weeks.  I was asked for 100 pesos “mailing fee” but no receipt was issued for that. I refrain from commenting further 🙂

The Real Frustration

It all went smoothly and to be frank that was a relief. But like so many other things in this country, it’s the lack of thoroughness and efficiency that irks.

None of the things I have just mentioned were stated on the NBI website. For the sake of a bit of time and thoroughness, the exact procedure should be spelled out so one knows what to take with you.

In fact, you can see from the image below that the NBI site makes it clear there is no need to print anything off.

The reference to “Paid” is to confirm I paid my 115 pesos online application fee.

It’s an unnecessary hassle and made worse in Bacolod by the horrendous traffic compounded by lack of parking. The traffic here is getting worse by the week!

A minor irritation was the electronic processing of your fingerprints and a photo (mugshot) taken at the same booth. The irritation is why does the NBI also take “wet ink” impressions of your fingerprints when it is electronically recorded just a few moments later. The same applies to the ID photo I was asked to supply. Why? They have just taken one!

The Consolation

Despite the frustrations, I love it here. Love the country and the friendly people. Roll on my permanent residency!

You may be thinking ‘when is he getting married.’ Watch this space 🙂

PS for an update on obtaining my NBI clearance form please click here