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Living and working in the Philippines
 

NOTE: The following is provided for informational purposes only. The US Embassy does not guarantee the accuracy of the information. American citizens are strongly advised to contact the appropriate Philippine government authorities or nearest Philippine embassy/consulate for all current informaiton and requirements.

Introduction

U.S. Citizens planning to enter and visit the Philippines for 30 days or less do not need a visa prior to travel to the Philippines, provided their passport is valid for at least 6 months and they have a valid return ticket. However, in excess of 30 days, U.S. citizens must either apply for a visa at the nearest Philippine Consular Establishments in the US prior to travel or upon arrival in the Philippines at the Bureau of Immigration(BI), Magallanes Drive, Port Area, Intramuros, Manila, (63-2) 465-2400. Limited services are also available from numerous BI sub-ports in these cities throughout the Philippines.

                         . 59 days - 6 months Tourist
                         . 6 months - 1 year Tourist
                         . Permanent Residents

 

Non-immigrants

Non-immigrants are temporary visitors in the Philippines, such as tourists, transients, seamen, diplomats/foreign government officials, treaty traders/investors, students, and pre-arranged employees. For general information on tourist/immigration matters check the BI Info Center.

  • Tourist Visa. If you intend to stay in the Philippines longer than thirty (30) days, a visa must be secured. A fifty-nine(59) day visa can be obtained at the Philippine Consular Office which has jurisdiction over your area before traveling to the Philippines. If you are already in the Philippines, you may file for a 29-day visa waiver (entry 30 days + 29 day waiver = 59 days). Visa waivers are issued at the Bureau of Immigration, in Intramuros, Manila before the expiration date of your authorized stay or with one of their sub-ports in these cities throughout the Philippines. Tourist visas are issued under three main classifications:
  • Pleasure. For tourists and other visitors to the Philippines. It cannot be used to engage in gainful employment or for business, or to take up educational courses in any learning institution in the Philippines. more 
  • Business. The purpose of the temporary stay is to search for areas of investment. It does not allow you to engage in any activity which may be considered a form of gainful employment. more 
  • Health This is granted to those whose intention is to convalesce from a serious injury or illness. The illness, however, should not be contagious or dangerous.             
  • Treaty Traders/Investors Visa. For foreigners entering the Philippines solely to carry on trade or commerce between the Philippines and the United States of America pursuant to an existing treaty of commerce and navigation. Specific requirements for Special Investor visas. BI info
  • Pre-arranged Employment Visa. This working visa is for those who are coming to the Philippines to engage in any lawful occupation, whether for wages or salary or for other forms of compensation where a legitimate employer-employee relationship exists more

  • Student Visa. For students over fifteen (15) having means sufficient for his/her education and support in the Philippines and intends solely to take 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. more 
  • Seaman Visa. This visa is available to a seaman serving in a vessel arriving at a port of the Philippines and seeking to enter temporarily and solely in pursuit of his calling as a seaman.

Extension of Non-Immigrant Visas

Applications for extension of a visa, a visa waiver, or a change of status while in the Philippines must be filed through the BI. Forms may be turned into the main office in Manila or one of the numerous sub-ports throughout the Philippines. The applicants presence is not always required when filing for extension. Check with BI or the sub-port for clarification. These forms may be downloaded below, or from the BI form page. 

1. Use BI form RBR 98-02 (legal-size paper only) for:

  • Temporary visitors who entered without a visa and who wish to extend their initial twenty-one day pass through a visa waiver
  • Temporary visitors who entered with a fifty-nine day visa who wish to extend their stay
  • Former Philippine citizens who entered on a one year Balikbayan status and who wish to extend their stay
  • Extensions are granted on an ad hoc basis and the final decision for approval and length of extension are granted at the discretion of the BI official.

2. Use BI form RBR 98-01 (front and back, legal-size paper only) for:

  • Recognition as a Filipino Citizen
  • Amendment from Probationary to Permanent Resident
  • Change of Status (a) by marriage, (b) to temporary resident, (c) to treaty trader or investor, (d) to pre-arranged employee visa, or (e) to special non-immigrant visa
  • Extension of (a) treaty trader or investor, (b) pre-arranged investor, or (c) temporary resident visa
  • Cancellation of Alien Registry

3. Extensions for students under Section 9(f): Page 1 2

4. Use this BI form (legal-size paper only) for:

  • Re-entry permit
  • Special Return Certificate (SRC)
  • Certificate of Exemption
  • Exit Clearance Certificate

 

More on Pleasure/Tourist or Business Visas

Requirements:

  1. Passport with a minimum validity of six (6) months beyond applicant's stay in the Philippines;
  2. Completed application form; 
  3. One (1) passport-size photo signed at the back by the applicant. If the applicant is a minor (still unable to sign) the photograph must be signed at the back by either parent after first printing the minor's name; 
  4. Photocopy of applicant's plane ticket or confirmed itinerary; and 
  5. Visa Application Fee 
  6. Additional requirement for business visa: Company letter of sponsorship 

Please note that the Philippine Consular Officer may require (1) the personal appearance of an applicant for interview and (2) the submission of additional supporting documents, as he/she may deem fit under the circumstances. 

Minors (below 15 years old) travelling to the Philippines unaccompanied by a parent or not joining a parent in the Philippines may have to acquire a waiver of exclusion from BI.

Pre-arranged Employment

Pre-arranged employment visas under Section 9 (g) of the Immigration Act are issued to foreigners proceeding to the Philippines to engage in any lawful occupation, whether for wages or salary or for other form of compensation where legitimate employer-employee relations exist. They may be professors and teachers for educational institutions, doctors and nurses for hospitals, scientists, professionals and other workers for banking, commercial, industrial, agricultural and other business enterprises. Special information pertaining to 9(g) visas for missionaries is available from BI here.

A pre-arranged employment visa is issued only upon receipt, by the Consular Office having jurisdiction over applicant's place of residence, of authority to issue such a visa from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila. This authority is secured on petition, under oath, filed by the prospective employer in Manila with the Department of Labor and Employment for the contracting of services of the American employee. When DOLE's requirements are met, it endorses the matter to the Philippine Bureau of Immigration for the entry into the Philippines of the American employee. If meritorious, the Commissioner of the Immigration transmits his approval to the DFA. The DFA then authorizes the appropriate consular officer to issue the visa. 

The applicant must appear personally at the Consular Section of the Philippine Embassy or Consulate (list of consulates) concerned and submit the following: 

Passport valid for at least six (6) months; 

  1. Two completed application forms; 
  2. Four (4) identical pictures (passport size) of the applicant signed on the front bottom of each; 
  3. Medical and physical examination report by an authorized physician. It must also include the chest x-ray film, laboratory reports and a certificate that the applicant is free from AIDS. The medical examination report is acceptable only if submitted to the quarantine officer at the port of entry in the Philippines, together with the visa application, within six (6) months from the date the examination is conducted; 
  4. Police Clearance, issued by the police authorities of the place where the applicant resides. (Police Certificate based on fingerprint check); and 
  5. Visa Application Fee 

If the spouse is accompanying or joining the principal in the Philippines within six (6) months from the date of the principal's admission, the spouse must submit their marriage certificate. 

Unmarried children under twenty-one (21) years of age accompanying or joining their parent in the Philippines within six (6) months from the date of the parent's admission, must submit their birth certificates showing the names of their parents. 

 

Student Visa

The Consular Section of the Philippine Embassy or the Consulate General may issue a student visa pursuant to Section 9(f) of the Philippine Immigration law upon receipt of authority from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Manila. This authority is granted after completion of a process that starts with an application for admission with the school of choice. If the student's application is accepted by the school, it refers the application to the Department of Education(DepEd) for approval. If meritorious, the Secretary of DepEd approves the admission of a foreign studen and endorses its approval to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Based on the endorsement of DepEd, the DFA authorizes the Philippine Embassy or Consulate nearest the applicant's place of residence and having jurisdiction over the place. The Commission on Higher Education provides a helpful FAQ sheet

The Student-applicant is then required to appear personally at the Consulate and submit the following: 

  1. A valid passport
  2. Two completed application forms;
  3. Four (4) identical passport-size pictures of applicant;
  4. Medical and physical examination report by an authorized physician. It must also include the chest x-ray film, laboratory reports and a certificate that the applicant is free from AIDS. The medical examination report is acceptable only if submitted to the quarantine officer at the port of entry in the Philippines, together with the visa application, within six (6) months from the date the examination is conducted;
  5. Police Clearance, issued by the police authorities of the place where the applicant resides. (Police Certificate based on fingerprint check); and
  6. Visa Application Fee

Student visas are secured from the Philippine Embassy/Consulate in their country of origin or residence, irrespective of where they are at the time of approval of their application or where they initiated their application. 

Submission of application for student visa for the 1st semester of each school year starts from January to March and 2nd semester from June to August. 
Processing of student visa applications takes approximately two (2) months from the date of receipt. 

Upon arrival in the Philippines, the American student must secure his Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) and Certificate of Residence for Temporary Students (CRTS) at the Bureau of Immigration, Intramuros, Manila. 

The American student is advised to secure a Study Permit before enrolling from the Commission of Higher Education

  Immigrants

Immigrants are foreign nationals who opt to stay in the country permanently without renouncing their citizenship. In the Philippines, a foreigner may acquire immigrant status if his country reciprocally allows Filipinos to become immigrants in that country. For more information, check the BI Info Center for general information, or look here for instructions on specific types of immigrant visas. BI provides a complete list of immigrant visa fees.

  •  Quota Immigrant Visa - see BI instructions for more info. For Americans who seek entry to the Philippines for permanent residence, but who do not qualify under any of the categories of for non-quota immigration, the Philippines admits as immigrants a quota of fifty (50) for any one calendar year.  

    Non-Quota Immigrant Visa - see BI instructions for more info. 
  • Marriage . For the foreign spouse or the unmarried child under 21 years of age of a Philippine citizen, if accompanying or following to join such citizen.
  • Returning Resident . For a foreigner who previously was lawfully admitted to the Philippines for permanent residence and who is returning from a temporary visit abroad to an unrelinquished residence in the Philippines.  
  • Returning former Philippine Citizen. For a natural born citizen of the Philippines, who has been naturalized in the US and is returning to the Philippines for permanent residence, including his spouse and minor unmarried children.
  • Balikbayan Status. For former Philippine citizens who are visiting the Philippines (balikbayans). This entry is valid for one year; after one year, the balikbayan has to pay monthly extension fees on top of fees for Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR), Head Tax, Certificate of Temporary Residence Visa (CTRV.) Extensions are granted on an ad hoc basis and the final decision for approval and length of extension are granted at the discretion of the BI official. Use BI form RBR 98-02 for extensions.
Special Retiree's Resident Visa
Under this program, an American, 35 years and above, may apply for a Special Retiree Resident Visa. Applicants must open a US dollar time deposit for a term of six (6) months in the amount of $75,000.00 (for 35 to 49 years old) and $50,000.00 (for 50 years old and above). more

 Special Investors Resident Visa

This is available to Americans who are at least 21 years old who would invest in some viable economic activities and tourist-related projects and establishments.

Alien Certificate Registration

Americans who plan to stay in the Philippines for 30 days or more are required to register with the Philippine Bureau of Immigration and be fingerprinted. The registration of foreign nationals is compulsory and failure to register could result in a fine. The Bureau of Immigration also requires children of Americans who are born in the Philippines to be registered. 

         The following is the ACR application procedure: 

  1. File an application form in your place of residence, either with the Immigration District Office or the main office of the Bureau of Immigration in Manila
  2. Submit the E-series ACR form in triplicate; and
  3. Provide 3 2" x 2" pictures.
     

Exit Clearances

If you meet the following classifications below, you will need to follow the instructions and apply for the proper exit clearance at one of the five BI regional offices. Sub-ports cannot process exit clearance permits. All fees and conditions are subject to change. Normal processing time of 4-5 business days (expedite option available in most cases for +Php500).

  1. Tourist: 59 days - 6 months
    Tourists staying more than 59 days but less than 6 months must pay an exit clearance fee. If your date of departure is certain, this can be paid through one of the five BI regional offices; otherwise, the exit fee can be paid at the airport upon your departure.
  2. Tourist 6 months+
    Tourists staying more than 6 months must obtain an Emigration Clearance Certificate(ECC) from BI. You must submit the proper form along with 3 passport-sized photographs and the visa fees.
  3. Permanent Resident
    Permanent residents temporarily leaving the country must apply for a re-entry permit with BI. Applicant must submit 3 passport-sized photographs, proof of residency status, and the visa fees.

Bureau of Immigration Regional Offices

MANILA

BI Main Office. Magallanes Drive, Intramuros, Manila. Tel (011-63-2)527-5657.

BI PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority) Office. Ground floor, Almeda Building, Roxas Boulevard & San Luis Street, Pasay City. Tel (011-63-2)897-6682.

BI BOI (Board of Investments) Office. Ground floor. Industry & Investments Building, 385 Sen. Gil J. Puyat Ave., Makati. Tel (011-63-2)897-6682.

CEBU

BI Regional Office. P Burgos Street, Tribunal, Mandaue City, Cebue. Tel (011-63-32)345-6442/6443/6444.

DAVAO

BI Regional Office - Davao. BI Building, JP Laurel Ave., Bajada, Davao City, Tel (011-63-82)300-7258.

Working in the Philippines

Non-Resident Aliens Who Intend to Work in the Philippines 

All foreign nationals seeking admission to the Philippines for the purpose of employment, all non-resident foreign nationals already working in the Philippines, and all non-resident foreign nationals admitted to the Philippines on on-working visas, who wish to work in the Philippines, regardless of the source of compensation and duration of employment are required by the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to secure an Alien Employment Permit (AEP). 

Where to Apply

Foreign nationals can apply for an AEP at the nearest Philippine Embassy or Consulate. Local employers who wish to hire the services of a foreigner can apply on behalf of the foreign national at the nearest Regional Office of the DOLE. Foreign nationals who are already in the Philippines should apply through their prospective employers with the nearest Regional Office of the DOLE. A DOLE AEP frequently-asked-question sheet is available here.

Validity of AEP

The period of validity of an AEP will depend on the nature of the position occupied by the foreign national, whether elective, technical, advisory or supervisory. 

Exemptions

All members of the diplomatic services, foreign government officials accredited with the Philippine government, missionaries engaged in missionary work only, members of international organizations such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and specialized agencies of the United Nations are exempted from securing an AEP. 

NOTE: In support of the UN Spouse Employment Policy, the Philippine government has also exempted the spouses of members of international organizations from securing an AEP. Spouses however, are required to file an application for a Certificate of Exemption from the DOLE's Bureau of Local Employment (BLE). Missionaries or religious workers who intend to engage in gainful employment are not exempted from securing an AEP. 

Penalties

Aliens who are found working without an employment permit as required by law, are penalized with a fine ranging from one thousand pesos (P1,000.00) to ten thousand pesos (P10,000), or imprisonment ranging from three months to three years, or both. In addition to such penalties, any alien found guilty shall be summarily deported upon completion of service of sentence. 

Resident Aliens and Immigrants Who Intend to Work in the Philippines 

Resident Alien - refers to any foreign national who is allowed by law to reside indefinitely in the Philippines 

All foreign nationals admitted to the Philippines as immigrants, who wish to seek employment, and all resident aliens already working in the Philippines, irrespective of the source of compensation and nature and duration of employment are required to secure an Alien Employment Registration Certificate (AERC) from the DOLE's Regional Office. 

Where to apply

The resident alien or the employer shall apply at the nearest Regional Office of the DOLE where the employer-establishment is located. Requirements for application of an AERC can be found at the Bureau of Local Employment website: www.ble.dole.gov.ph

Validity of AERC 

An AERC issued shall be valid only for the position and employer which it was issued, unless otherwise cancelled or revoked for cause.