Immigration Questions

 Do I need a Visa to enter the Philippines?

If you are arriving from a country pre-approved for Visa Free Entry, you only need your passport and will enter into the Philippines under the status of a Tourist Visa, which is good for your first 30 days.  Click here to view a list of these Visa Free Entry countries.When you land in the Philippines you will be routed over to the customs and immigration section where you will have your passport stamped. If you are with your Filipina wife make sure you say you want a Balikbayan stamp.   It’s good for one year, see more on this below.

If you arrive in the Philippines with your Filipina wife

In this situation your wife is a citizen of the Philippines.  You are entitled to a one year Balikbayan Visa if you arrive with your Filipina Spouse. She has to arrive with you on the same flight you were on. just ask the immigration officer for a “Balikbayan Stamp” which is good for one year. When your year is up all you need to do is leave the Philippines (go to Hong Kong or some other country for a few days) then return and start another year. I recommend you pick an Asian country close by so you don’t have to fly a long Bureau-of-Immigrationdistance away from the Philippines. If you come in on a Balikbayan you may not need the usual return flight since you will be in the country for a year.  When you leave after your year is up make sure both of you go so you can get another balikbayan stamp when you return. You also need a exit permit (it is called an ECC, Exit Clearance Certificate) which you get from the Immigration office before you depart.. since you have been in the country for more than six consecutive months.

If you are coming in to the country by yourself

Whether you are married to a Filipina or not, if she is not with you when you go through customs after landing in the Philippines, you cannot receive a Balikbayan stamp. She cannot meet you at the airport and meet you before you have gone through customs as it is an isolated area and secure from anyone entering from the outside. Once you speak to an immigration agent, you will only receive a 30 day Tourist visa.  Before the 30th day you need to go to any  local immigration office to apply for a 2 month extension.  Or you can apply for an SRRV, based on your married status to a Filipina.  Click here for a List of Immigration Offices.  If you are a missionary and you have documentation that you are a licensed or ordained minister you can get a Missionary Visa which is for a longer period I believe 3 years.

Is there somewhere I can go to take care of my passport or US citizenship business?

The main place to go in Cebu City is the American Consular. They handle certain services while the American Embassy is located in Manila, for other services.  There you can perform nearly all your business associated to citizenship issues.  Some of the things you can do there are: If you have a child born in the Philippines to a US citizen, you can get the citizenship paperwork done there, submitted and returned with a certificate of US citizenship. You can also take care of getting a social security number.  You can have your passport updated if it is about to expire.  I recommend getting extra pages for stamps.

U.S. CONSULAR AGENCY CEBU
Business Office:   Click here for interactive Map/Directions
Waterfront Hotel, Ground Level, Lahug – Cebu City, Philippines

What if I am planning to arrive and stay Long-term in the Philippines?  Do I need an ‘Onward Flight?  What is that for?

The Bureau of Immigration Philippines requires that, upon entering the PH, you are able to show proof that you have an ‘Onward Flight‘ which leaves the PH within 30 days.  You don’t need the actual boarding pass, but you must be able to show a valid Flight Itinerary which is usually emailed to you when you order your ticket online.

The Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles wishes to inform the public of a directive from the Philippine Bureau of Immigration that pursuant to Section 29(a)(17) of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, as amended, foreign nationals arriving to the Philippines who are admissible under Section 9(a) (temporary visitor’s visa) or under Executive Order 408 with the exception of Balikbayans, but do not have valid return or onward tickets, shall be automatically excluded or will not be allowed entry into the country.

noonwardticketIf you do not have this Onward Ticket, you CAN be REFUSED entry into the Philippines!  Do not listen to expats who say they “slipped through” just because the immigration officer didn’t feel like verifying the ticket.  If you are asked and cannot show proof of a valid onward ticket, they can send you back out of the Philippines, even if that means you need to book a ticket then and there, which can be expensive.

For a more detailed explanation of the Onward Ticket (also called the “Throwaway Ticket”) and where you can get an inexpensive one to satisfy Immigration, here are two videos on the subject;

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