Can I Stay in the Philippines if I Marry a Filipina?
Yes you most certainly can.
There's obviously a bit of paperwork to do first however the process is straightforward.
You need to first apply for a Residence Visa for Spouse of a Filipino Citizen. This is called a 13A Non-Quota Immigrant Visa and should be done after marrying your pinay girlfriend.
You need to be a national in one of the following list of countries to be eligible:
Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Botswana, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt (visa applicant must be a male and married to a female Philippine citizen), El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Fiji, France, Gabon, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hongkong SAR, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea South, Latvia, Lesotho, Libya (visa applicant must be a male and married to a female Philippine citizen), Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau SAR, Malaysia, Malta (provided that the marriage took place before 24 April 2001 or the couple has been married for at least 5 years), Marshall Islands, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Montenegro, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Northern Mariana Island, Norway, Oman (visa applicant must be a male and married to a female Philippine citizen), Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia (visa applicant must be a male and married to a female Philippine citizen), Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uruguay, USA, Venezuela.
From the Embassy of the Phillipines official website, here are the requirements you need to follow:
- Personal appearance of the applicant
- Two (2) copies of the Accomplished visa application form
- Applicant’s passport with at least six months of validity beyond the date of departure from the Philippines (Beginning 01 October 2016, the Philippine Embassy in Singapore will accept only electronic passports and machine readable passports for visa applications. Non-machine readable passports (hand-scripted passports) will not be accepted for visa applications. Beginning 01 January 2017, Philippine immigration authorities will not allow entry into Philippine airports and seaports of foreign nationals holding non-machine readable passports.)
- Two (2) photocopies of passport information page of the applicant
- Two (2) photocopies of passport information page of the applicant’s Filipino spouse
- Original and photocopy of applicant’s birth certificate
- Original and photocopy of applicant’s Filipino spouse’s NSO- or PSA-issued birth certificate (non-NSO or non-PSA birth certificates — such as the original Municipal Form No. 102, hospital-issued birth certificate or municipality-issued birth certificate — will not be accepted).
- Original and photocopy of marriage certificate
- If the applicant and Filipino spouse were married in the Philippines, the Philippine marriage certificate must have been authenticated by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs
- If the applicant and Filipino spouse were married in Singapore, the marriage must have been registered with the Philippine Embassy in Singapore
- If the applicant and Filipino spouse were married in another country, the marriage must have been registered with the Philippine Embassy or Philippine Consulate-General in the country where the marriage took place
- If the Filipino spouse was in a previous marriage before marriage to the applicant, the proof of marriage annulment must be presented
- Recent photograph, size 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm, colored and taken against a white background
- Photocopy of Singapore-issued IC (Permanent Resident IC, PE Pass, E Pass, S Pass, Work Permit, Student Pass, Dependant’s Pass)
- Certificate of Clearance (COC) issued by the Singapore Police Force (Application for the COC are made through the SPF e-services website at www.police.gov.sg/e-services under CERTIFICATE OF CLEARANCE. Before submitting the COC to the Embassy, the COC must be legalized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tanglin, Consular Service Counter, 1 Sherwood Road, Singapore 248163).
- Evidence of sufficient financial capacity to live in the Philippines, such as, but not limited to, bank statement of accounts, CPF contributions, property deeds, certificates of stocks.
- Interview by the visa officer
After the completion of the above requirements, the applicant will be advised to present the following:
- Medical examination to be undertaken by a physician in Singapore. The examining physician must accomplish the medical form issued by the Philippine Embassy, together with a soft copy of the x-ray result in a compact disc.
Points To Note for a 13A Non-Quota Immigrant Visa
Marriage Outside the Philippines
Gaining easy resident status such as detailed in the above process is if you marry your filipina girl inside the Philippines.
If you marry her outside, you first need to enter the Philippines and obtain a 12 month 'Balikbayan Visa'.
Only with this 12 month period can you then apply for the 13A Visa - also known as Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR).
Avoid Marriage Fixers
There's many scams running in the Philippines.
A popular one are people and businesses who will 'fix' the Visa for you. Unless you're using a well-known lawyer in the country who specializes in facilitating 13A Visas, avoid these other offers.
You should seek someone who is Bureau of Immigration certified. There are fees, of course. Just get a quote upfront so you know what you're up for.
This is an easy way to run foul of the law and can get you in all sorts of problems including being rejected and, possibly, deported.
Avoid Working without the Correct Visa
This applies to any country.
Working without residency or a work permit is the quick way to deportation.
It's also the first step in seeing a Filipino Prison up-front and personal.
Do it legal. Do it by the book and you won't have problems.
If you're looking to get a 13A Visa so you can stay and own property, think again.
Remember, the 13A does not make you a filipino citizen. You can be put on a title deed but you can not own land by yourself. You won't be able to assert your property rights.
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Additional Fee for ACR I-Card approx USD$50 for 1 year.
How Long is the 13A Visa Good For
The 1st issue of the visa should be considered a probationary period of 1 year.
After this, you need to change the status to permanent. This allows you to stay in the Philippines for as long as you like.
You'll need to renew your ACR every 5 years.
And report to your local Bureau of Immigration once every year.
Advantages of a 13A Visa
- It is much easier to obtain loans with a 13A. It allows to show your income, even in your wife's name
- The same applies for insurances
- You can exit and enter the Philippines without problems
- Even though you need to renew your ACR card every 5 years, the visa is classed as permanent after the initial 1 year probationary period.
- No need for those dreaded 'visa runs' since you're no longer a tourist
Disadvantages of a 13A Visa
- Your wife can have your 13A Visa cancelled.
- This is probably the major concern for most expats.
- She has significant influence over you now.
- Should she so desire, a pissed off wife can have your 13A Visa cancelled and you deported.
- While it's not a common occurrence, men should always have a backup plan if this eventuates.
- Anything to do with Immigration Offices takes time and a degree of patience.
- It can be more troublesome if you live far from an immigration office. These are located in Cebu, Manila, and Davao.
- You need to pay an exit travel tax every time you leave the Philippines, plus the terminal fee that everyone pays.
- On your permanent ACR, the exit clearance and the reentry permits are part and parcel of the I-card.
- If you're a frequent traveller, these costs might be an addition burden you'd like to avoid.
Any Alternatives to a 13A Visa?
There isn't many, to be honest.
You can certainly do regular 'visa runs'. They're a minor pain but many expats continue to do them. Plus visa runs give you a nice excuse to travel with your filipina girl and get some fresh air.
One popular alternative is the Special Resident Retirees Visa (SRRV).
The SRRV is particularly suited to military veterans, if you are over 50 years of age or if you have $50,000 to deposit in a Philippines bank account, sort of as a security.
Last updated: December 08, 2020
Hi, my name is Martin. I have many friends in and traveled throughout the Asia/Pacific regions for the past 17 years. I am passionate in helping others with my insight and past adventures.
I hope you enjoy the stories I write and take a little something away from them. I've contributed to over 160 posts on travel, dating, marriage and relationships.