Any foreign national who wishes to enter the Philippines for employment, religious international trade, mass media, investment purposes, business, studies, permanent residency, etc. is required to apply for a visa from the Philippine Embassy or Consulate in their countries of current residence.
The Department of Labor and Employment is responsible for ensuring that all foreigners conducting business and other transactions in the country are staying within the provided time range. Almost all foreign nationals who intend to visit the Philippines for social purposes or leisure are not required a visa. Passports and other travel documents will be checked upon arrival. It is vital to follow the immigration laws governing foreign visits and permanent stays.
The Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 states that immigrants or “quota immigrants,” of any single nationality or not having a nationality, may be admitted into the Philippines for not more than fifty (50) days for any one year of the calendar. Foreigners or “non-quota immigrants” may be admitted without considering such numerical limitations.
As for immigrants, Sec. 9 states that the following are quota immigrants:
(A) The wife or the husband or the unmarried child under twenty-one years of age of a Philippine citizen;
(B) A child of alien parents born during the temporary visit abroad of the mother;
(C) A child born subsequent to the issuance of the immigration visa of the accompanying parent, the visa not having expired;
(D) A woman who lost her Philippine citizenship because of her marriage to an alien or by reason of the loss of Philippine citizenship by her husband;
(E) A person previously lawfully admitted into the Philippines for permanent residence, who is returning from a temporary visit abroad to an unrelinquished residence in the Philippines;
(F) The wife or the husband or the unmarried child under twenty-one years of age, of an alien lawfully admitted in the Philippines for permanent residence prior to the date on which this Act becomes effective and who is resident therein.
(G) A natural born citizen of the Philippines, who has been naturalized in foreign country. [As amended by Republic Act No. 4376]
A corresponding representative of the Philippine Consular outside the country will investigate and certify the eligibility of a quota immigrant before admission into the Philippines. Qualified and accepted foreign nationals staying temporarily in the country may be admitted within the quota under the provisions and rules of the Act.
As stated by section thirteen of the Act, the citizenship of an immigrant having an admission based on the indicated numerical boundaries will be that of the immigrant’s country of origin or citizenship. If the applicant has dual citizenship, the nationality will be that of the country to which the application was filed.
There are also laws and stipulations provided by the Bureau of Labor and Employment to protect all rights of foreign workers, as well as to ensure that they are staying within the limited range of time indicated in their temporary residency pass.
A Special Resident Visa can be issued under 5 laws, namely:
• Visa of Special Investors Resident under Executive Order 226, also known as the Omnibus Investment Code (1987);
• Visa of Special Investors Resident in Projects Related to Tourism and Tourism Establishments, under Executive Order 63;
• Visa of Special Investor Retirees, under Executive Order 1037 or the Philippine Retirement Authority;
• Visa of Subic Special Investors, under Republic Act 7227 or the Conversion of Bases and Development Act of 1992; and
• Subic Special Retiree’s Visa, under Republic Act 7227 or the Conversion of Bases and Development Act of 1992.
Visa Immigration Services
All foreign nationals can freely enter the Philippines with only a passport and other travel documents for business, leisure, and social visits. Their stay, however, should not exceed twenty-one (21) days, provided that the visitors possess valid tickets for their return trip to the port of origin or the next port of destination. Their passports should also be valid for at least six (6) months beyond the planned period of stay. Immigration officers at the ports of entry have the right to admit individuals with passports valid for a minimum of sixty (60) days beyond the planned period of stay. All tourists who wish to stay longer than twenty-one (21) days are required to secure a visa.
In general, the following are the criteria for visa grantees to the Philippines:
(a) A temporary visitor coming for business or for pleasure or for reasons of health;
(b) A person in transit to a destination outside the Philippines;
(c) A seaman serving as such on a vessel arriving at a port of the Philippines;
(d) An alien entitled to enter the Philippines under and in pursuant of the provisions of a treaty of commerce and navigation (1) solely to carry on substantial trade principally between the Philippines and the foreign state of which he is a national or (2) solely to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which, in accordance with the Constitution and the laws of the Philippines, he has invested or of an enterprise in which he is actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital; and his wife, and his unmarried children under twenty-one years of age, if accompanying or following to join him, subject to the condition that citizens of the Philippines are accorded like privileges in the foreign state of which such alien is a national; [As amended by Republic Act No. 5171]
(e) An accredited official of a foreign government recognized by the Government of the Philippines, his family, attendants, servants, and employees;
(f) A student, having means sufficient for his education and support in the Philippines, who is at least fifteen years of age and who seeks to enter the Philippines temporarily and solely for the purpose of taking up a course of study higher than high school at a university, seminary, academy, college or school approved for such alien students by the Commissioner of Immigration; and
(g) An alien coming to pre-arranged employment, for who the issuance of a visa has been authorized in accordance with section twenty of this Act, and his wife and his unmarried children under twenty-one years of age, if accompanying him or if following to join him within a period of six months from the date of his admission into the Philippines as a non-immigrant under this paragraph.
An alien who is admitted as a non-immigrant cannot remain in the Philippines permanently. To obtain permanent admission, a non-immigrant alien must depart voluntarily to a foreign country and procure from the appropriate Philippine consul the proper visa and thereafter undergo examination by the officers of the Bureau of Immigration at a Philippine port of entry for determination of his admissibility in accordance with the requirements of this Act.
A number of foreign nationals are not allowed to enter the country without a visa and stay for more than fifty-nine (59) days. Included are:
• holders of Brazil passports; and
• holders of Israel passports.
Some individuals are also not allowed to enter the Philippines without a visa and stay for more than seven (7) days. Included are:
• holders of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) passports;
• holders of Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) passports;
• holders of British National Overseas (BNO) passports; and
• holders of Portuguese Passports issued in Macao.
Types of Visas
Temporary Visitor’s Visa [9(a) Visa]
This is provided to foreign nationals who wish to enter the Philippines for business, medical appointments, or pleasure.
An expat shared in Rest of the World Expat Forum last August 7, 2009:
Iwould not recommend getting a special tourist visa since you have to invest money in thePhilippinesgovt for no value. You can extend a visa for up to 18 months. Can't think of another country so generous; but inconvenient if you are a long way from civilisation. If you are looking for love, upon marriage you can stay in thePhilippineswithout paying periodic visa extension fee.
Transient’s Visa [9(b) Visa]
This is provided to individuals in transit and are entering the Philippines to move on to a next destination outside the country.
Seaman’s Visa [9(c) Visa]
This is for seamen serving on a vessel and arriving at a port in the Philippines. Reasons for arrival include temporary stay for leisure or in lieu of the job description.
Treaty Trader or Investor Visa [9(d) Visa]
This is for aliens entitled to enter the Philippines under and in pursuit of the provisions of a treaty of navigation or commerce such as:
- To solely carry on substantial trade, principally between the foreign state of which the alien is a national and the Philippines
- To solely direct and develop the operations of an enterprise. The alien, in accordance to the Constitution and the laws of the Philippines, should have invested or is in the process of investing a considerable amount of capital into the enterprise. The alien’s spouse and unmarried children below 21 years old accompanying or following to join are subject to the condition that citizens of the Philippines are also provided similar privileges in the foreign state where the alien is a national.
Diplomatic Visa [9(e) Visa]
This is issued to an accredited official from a foreign government recognized by the Philippine government, the official’s family, attendants, employees, and servants.
Student Visa [9(f) Visa]
This is issued to students who have sufficient funds and means to study and support themselves in the Philippines. Applicants should be at least fifteen (15) years old seeking to enter the country temporarily and only for the purpose of being educated or taking up a study course higher than high school at a university, academy, college, seminary, or school approved for such foreign students by the Commissioner of Immigration.
Pre-arranged Employment Visa
This is issued to aliens coming for pre-planned employment. The visa issuance should also be authorized in accordance to the Immigration Act. The same applies for the alien’s spouse and unmarried children below 21 years of age if accompanying or joining within a period of six (6) months since the date of admission into the country as non-immigrants.
As for this visa, an expat shared in Introductions Expat Forum last November 26, 2008:
One of the major things you must consider is whether you can get a visa that will allow you to work. In most countries this is difficult because employers must demonstrate to the government that there are no citizens available for the job. With a worldwide recession, that is going to be harder and harder to prove.
That is one reason so many people who want the experience of living abroad teach English or French or whatever their native language is. Most countries don't have a ready supply of native speakers, so it's easier to get visas. In most countries, if you visit in order to search for a job and do find one, you will be required to the leave the country to get the visa. Some places will require you to return to your home country.
As far as getting a job that pays well, that can be even more difficult, since wages in many countries are far below what westerners expect.
Special Non-Immigrant Visa
This type of visa is issued under Section 47 (a) (2) of the Philippine Immigration Act, allowing the President, when warranted by public interest, to issue such visa considering prescribed conditions. The President, via the appropriate government agencies, can exercise the authority to allow entry of foreign nationals in areas like:
• oil-drilling companies;
• board of Investment Registered Enterprises; and
• Philippine Economic Zone Authority Registered Enterprises.
Multiple Entry Special Visa
Foreign personnel of banking units offshore under Presidential Decree 1034, Section 7 can be issued this type of visa, considering that the foreign banks are duly licensed by the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines). The respective spouses of the personnel and minor dependents below twenty-one (21) years old will also be issued visas. These are valid for one (1) year and can be extended, based on legal and meritorious grounds.
Foreign personnel of regional or area headquarters of multinational companies, under Executive Order 226, Book III, Article 59, including their respective spouses and unmarried children below twenty-one (21) years old, if accompanying or joining after admission into the Philippines as non-immigrants, will be given multiple entry special visas. Validity lasts for one (1) year unless extended by the Commissioner of Immigration on legal and meritorious grounds.
Holders of this visa type are exempt from immigration fees and registration apart from securing all clearances with only the exception of a tax clearance from any form of government agency before final departure.
Types of Permits
Certificate of Residence (Immigrants)
This is required from immigrants who:
• have lawful and permanent residence, or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the Philippines;
• are admitted as a non-quota or quota immigrant under the Philippine Immigrant Act; and
• are admitted under a different category of immigration with status changed to a quota or non-quota immigrant under the Philippine Immigrant Act.
Certificate of Residence (Non-immigrants)
This is issued to non-immigrants who:
• have a Certificate of Residence of Pre-arranged Employee;
• have a Certificate of Residence of Temporary Visitor;
• have a Certificate of Residence of Treaty Trader; and
• have a Certificate of Temporary Residence of Student.
Emigration Clearance Certificate
This is issued to aliens temporarily or permanently living in the Philippines, going on temporary trips abroad, or planning to return to the country.
Special Return Certificate
This is issued to alien non-immigrants who are admitted temporary residence into the country and are about to depart temporarily. The holder can return to the Philippines with the same admission status at the time of departure. Validity initially lasts for six (6) months and can be extended up to one (1) year. Entry may be single or multiple as stated accordingly.
Alien Employment Permit
This is required from foreign nationals in the Philippines for employment purposes. The permit is obtained from the Department of Labor and Employment. Executives of offshore banking units and regional headquarters as well as holders of Treaty Trader Visas are exempt from getting the permit.
There is a current program to update these permits with The ACR I-Card . The ACR I-Card is a microchip-based credit card-sized identification card issued to registered alien replacing the paper-based ACR. It has an embedded computer chip with biometric security features capable of data management and can be updated electronically.
Other non-immigrant permits include:
- Special Work Permit covered by Law Instruction 2
- Subic Special Working Visa, under Republic Act 7227 or the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992;
- temporary Work Permit, under Republic Act 7227 or the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992.
- Executive Order No. 758 which prescribes guidelines for the issuance of a special visa to non-immigrants for employment generation.