How Can I Live in the Philippines Legally? All Philippines Visa Types Listed with Description and Explanation
Many people I know, including myself, come to the Philippine Islands on a vacation, a temporary escape from our lives in our home country…and we love it so much that we want to stay for a while, for a few months, a few years, or even permanently. If you find yourself in this way of thought, or if you have met a girl here that you want to be with, you will be starting to ask yourself questions about what needs to be done in order to stay legally, the key word being legally, in the Philippines for a long time.
Since I have been through this already, gathered the information on types of visas, rules, duration, and costs, I will share this information with you now to save you some trouble.
There are two basic categories of visas, Immigrant Visas and Non-Immigrant Visas.
Immigrant Visas are visas that allow a foreigner to stay in the Philippines as a resident. Non-Immigrant Visas are temporary visas that expire.
If you have come to the Philippines for the first time, most likely you just brought your passport and got a 21-day stamp from Immigration at the airport. Or possibly, you prepared a little bit beforehand, and got a 59-day visa at the Philippines Consulate in your home country before you left to come here. Either way, these are both considered Tourist Visas and are under the Non-Immigrant Visa category.
If you want to stay for up to 16 months on a Non-Immigrant Tourist Visa, that is possible, and many people do that by going to the Bureau of Immigration Office every 2 months and getting a Visa extension. See my article,”Tourist Visa Extensions in the Philippines, Duration and Cost“. After 16 months, you must leave the Philippines. However you can come right back and start the whole Tourist Visa Extension process all over again for another 16 months if you wish. But this is not the most cost effective way to stay in the Philippines, and can get pretty expensive. However, if you are not married to a Filipina or Filipino, this is the most common way that foreigners stay in the Philippines for a long time.
For foreigners not married to a Filipina or Filipino, there are a couple of other (still expensive) options for staying long-term or permanently in the Philippines. There is something called a Special Retiree’s Resident Visa, or SRRV for short. This Visa allows you to become a permanent resident of the Philippines without having to get married to a Filipina or Filipino. This would appeal to most people who want to stay single and free, and to other foreigners who are already married to someone in their home country. The major setback of the Special Retiree’s Resident Visa, or SRRV, is the financial requirements. I have taken the below qualifications for the SRRV off the BI website:
- With Pension – 50 years old and above – the required time deposit is US$10,000.00 plus a monthly pension of US$800.00 for a single applicant and US$1,000 for couple.
- Without Pension
1 – 35 to 49 years old – US$50,000.00 time deposit
2 – 50 years old and above – US$20,000.00 time deposit
Other options for a person not married to a Filipina or Filipino, would be a Working Visa, Student Visa, or the new Special Visa for Employment Generation, or SVEG. All three of these types of visas are Non-Immigrant and temporary, however, they can be attained for longer periods of time and renewed without having to ever leave the country, and unlike the Tourist Visa, there aren’t any fees, or any need to get a visa extension every two months.Working Visas and Student Visas are self-explanatory. For a Working Visa, Sec. 9G, for pre-arranged employment, most of the time, the company that hired you will get, and pay for the Working Visa (if you have a special skill that they need). But if it’s up to you to get the Working Visa, you will need a notarized promise of employment, an Alien Employment Permit (or AEP), your employment contract, a few other tax-related paperworks, about P20,000, and a lot of patience. Keep in mind, if you quit or get fired, not only does your job end, but your Working Visa becomes void, and you will have to pay about P8,000 to get it converted to a Tourist Visa.For a Student Visa, Sec, 9F, you need and official Notice of Acceptance (NOA) from a University or College, have multiple medical examinations, FBI clearance, some other notarized documents, about P10,000 to P15,000, and again, plenty of patience. Of course, if you fail or drop out of school, your Student Visa becomes void and you will have to pay about P8,000 to get it converted to a Tourist Visa.
These are the different types of Philippines visas you can get if you wish to visit the Philippines for short-term, or long-term, or move here permanently.