Sunday, March 21, 2010

The 13 A Visa Experience

Our interview at the Bureau of Immigration Makati was at 9:30 A.M.. We arrived at the exact time, but had to wait until 10:30 A.M. before our time came for the interview. There were others that came ahead of us, so I didn't think much of being entertained an hour after our call time.

The lawyer who interviewed us began with the statement... (directing it to my husband) "So you have both your wife and counsel with you." With a twinkle in his eye he asked my husband whether that is an advantage. He said, yes, it has been an advantage. Then he began to ask about how we met. That kind of got my husband started about the long story of how we met, and how we have known each other for eight years now and have been married for three years, but that it is only now that we have lived together as husband and wife. When asked about how he found the Philippines so far, he said he loves it, and has felt at home. The interviewer also asked my husband whether he knows what my mother's first name is, and he said "Fe". It was a good thing the interviewer didn't ask about my father's first name because I don't think he would have remembered. :p My father had died quite awhile ago and I didn't talk much about him because he didn't live with us (my mom and I).

The interview ended pleasantly, and the interviewer said to expect my husband's probationary visa in one to two months, and that they would be texting me for the implementation so that my husband's passport can be stamped. I also asked whether there would be any problem if we decided to travel outside the country before the approval of his probationary 13 A visa, he said it won't be unless the approval came at exactly the time we were out of the country. He said something about the process but which didn't stick in my mind since we didn't really have any travel plans outside the country in two months. He also said that after the year I can apply my husband for a permanent resident visa.

The interview ended pleasantly enough with the interviewer calling me "Panera" (from one lawyer to another), and we said our goodbyes.

At any rate here is the timeline so far:

February 12, 2010 - arrival in Manila
February 24, 2010 - application for 13 A visa
March 2, 2010 - filing of extension of tourist visa
March 5, 2010 - expiry of the 21 day no-visa requirement upon arrival
March 16, 2010 - receipt of notice of interview
March 24, 2010 - interview date
May 7, 2010 - filing of second extension
May 12, 2010 - expiry of the first extension
May 20, 2010 - visa approval for probationary 13 (a) visa
May 28, 2010 - receipt of notice of 13 (a) visa approval.
June 12, 2010 - expiry of second extension

Also, there are some important things you need to do when filing which is not indicated in any brochure or material given to you but which is apparently necessary before they accept your application.

1. Put all the necessary documents in a folder with the name of the applicant (the foreign spouse) clearly indicated in the flap of the folder.
2. Fasten all the necessary documents on the top portion of the folder. Documents such as NSO issued certificates or other official documents should be pasted/stapled in a separate sheet which will be the one fastened onto the folder. So as to avoid having to borrow a puncher from the grumpy people there (like I did), bring your own puncher.
3. If you can, photocopy the receipt before you fasten it onto the folder. They will require you to fasten it on top of all your documents after you have paid the required fees.
4. Make sure that your filipino spouse signs as petitioner in the bottom portion of the form and that her CTC (cedula) No./passport number and its details are also indicated in the notarial portion at the bottom.

God Bless to all other applicants.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Contending with Bureau of Immigration Sooner than Expected

Interview on the 13 A is set this Friday... let us hope all works out well. :)

All I got was a text telling me the interview is set on Friday. No written order sent by mail yet.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Makati... A Lifestyle

I have lived in three places in Metro Manila in all my 35++ years. I lived alternately between Sta. Cruz, Manila {near Chinatown and the Tondo area) and Novaliches, Quezon City during my childhood and teenage years. I lived in Pasay City as a grown up. However, I worked in Makati City for 8 years, before I began working in the Quezon City area.

Makati City is still the business hub of the country I think. Although I wonder if Ortigas is fast overtaking it. Makati is as cosmpolitan as it can get if you are living in the Philippines. I could never dress down when I worked there. I wore heels and formal business attire. Believe it or not, I dressed more formally when I worked in Makati as a computer instructor, much more than now when I am already a lawyer. When I became a lawyer I only dressed formally when I went to court and when I used to work as Chief of the Legal Department of another government office. Now I just go to work in casual formal.

Also working in Makati was a lifestyle. Lunches or dinners meant meals in expensive restaurants or daily eating out. While in laid-back Quezon City, lunches are delivered by in-house concessionaires, and can cost as little as P35 a viand, in Makati City you cannot have lunch for less than P100. Also if you had mid-afternoon snacks, the nearby coffee houses or even donut shops can set you back by another P100.

Also back then, being in my 20s meant my friends frequently invited me for night outs. The extra dinner night out can set you back by as low as P500 per meal (for one person). On top of that are night outs like bowling games, mini-golf, and even bar hopping which can really put a dent on your budget.

But certainly those times were fun times for me. I juggled law school and work. I had this really funny experience where we went to a disco (that was what it was called at the time) and we stayed there until 2 in the morning, and the next day I had a class in law school for Succession. I didn't sleep at all! When I got home around 3 or 4 in the morning, I studied until 6 in the morning and went to school at 7 a.m. (it was a weekend class). You can believe I was a little dazed and my head was up there in the clouds while I recited on wills and successions. LOL! :p But hey I survived both law school and the wild life of my 20s.

One thing about Makati too is the HORRIBLE traffic! I lived in nearby Pasay City, and on a non-traffic weekend, I can be in Makati in 15 minutes. I recall on a work day, the traffic would be so bad just in Ayala that it would take me an hour to get to work from Pasay City. Compare that to my travel time between Pasay City to Quezon City, and I can tell you it is almost the same time. And if you ever decide to go to Glorietta or Greenbelt from Makati Avenue or Paseo de Roxas for lunch, the traffic traversing Makati could be so bad you can spend the entire lunch hour just going to and from Glorietta.

Also, a word of caution for anyone picking up or dropping off anyone along Ayala - there are set drop-off and pick-up points in Ayala. The drop-off and pick-up point is not the same. One point is the drop-off point and another the pick-up point. If you tried dropping off someone in a pick up point you can be fined by the traffic marshals. Another point to consider is that it is difficult to find parking in Makati, it can be very expensive just to pay for parking on a daily basis.

While I enjoyed working in Makati... the lifestyle was something I do not care to have too long. Although I have lived in Manila all my life, I still prefer the simple life over the high life. I did love the competitive and professional spirit in Makati, but I did not care much for that kind of constant "high" living.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Shall Contend with BOI Another Day

After filing our 13-A at the BOI, and realizing it would take longer than I expected. I began to think of what I considered should have been an obvious question earlier on -- so what happens to the temporary tourist visa that is valid only for 21 days. The obvious answer was that it needed an extension. Just to be certain about it, and so that we wouldn't have to pay extra more than we already had, I decided to take the easy route --- call Atty. so-and-so, a Law school classmate to inquire on the procedure. Yes, it turns out we needed to extend.

Since I didn't want the hassle anymore, and I know an officemate owns a travel agency that does extension, I asked him to do the visa extension for us. I figured, heck the extra service fee he would charge would just be less than my daily wage -- why should I bother the cost of food for lunch and extra fare (and hassle) to file it myself. So I took the lazy route this time and asked them to file it for me.. for the minimal cost of P1,500 service fee.

However, the extra filing fee did put a damper on my budget.. but what the heck. The cost of fees are broken down as follows:

ACR Fee (Adult) 1000
Head Tax 250
Legal Research 70
Visa Waiver Appl Fee 1000
Visa Waiver 500
MNTH Exten Appl Fee 300
MNTH Extn Fee 500
ECC Fee 700
Certificate Fee 500


Express Lane Fee 1000
Exp Lane Fee (Cert) 500

A grand total of P6320, on top of the P7120 already paid for the 13 A. Another two months before I have to contend again with the BOI.

Asawa is valid for stay until May 15, 2010, unless the 13 A is sooner approved (which I doubt). Or another P6320 for another extension.

Thanks to my officemate who incidentally is not only a lawyer himself, but part owner of a travel agency in Bulacan. If anyone ever needs help in this department and you live near him his company is JetsGo Travel Services.