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.


  1. Good Evening. Thank you for a very informative post.

    Is there any significant difference between a 13(a) and a 13(g) visa? Myself and my wife are going to start this process within the next few weeks here in the NYC Philippine Consulate.

    Thank you for your efforts vis a vis this blog


  2. Hi Joseph!

    I can't claim to know the difference as accurately than if you ask at the Philippine Consulate. One significant difference I know is that if the visa is applied for here, the foreign spouse gets a one year probationary period first after which the filipino spouse has to file another application after the one year period.

    I will try to look it up for you. :)

  3. Oh Gosh, forget about it. We will know soon enough when as we will be going to the Consulate within the next two to three weeks.

    I am curious as to whether the media in the Philippines devotes much attention to the controversy between the US and China regarding the valuation of their respective currencies.It would seem to me that it is almost inevitable that the Chinese currency will revalue and this will in turn impact all Asian currencies.

    This issue is an important one for many people.


  4. Yes, I have read it on the newspaper lately. And on a personal note, since my husband has been here for nearly 2 months, the dollar has devalued against the peso from P45.8 in February to P44.8 to date.

  5. I am pretty sure the answer to Joseph's 13 series visa question is this:

    13(a) is for the permanent residency of the foreigner spouse (and minor children) of a Filipino national.

    13(g) is for a former Filipino who wants to live in the Philippines and does not chose to reacquire his/her citizenship. It covers the foreigner spouse and minor children also.

    A little 'gotcha' that a few foreigners have run into .. former Filipino and foreigner husband move to the Philippines and avail of the 13(g) visa.

    Then the former Filipino thinks things through and realizes s/he can reacquire Philippine citizenship and thus restore his/her complete property rights, voting privilege, etc. ... and s/he will no longer require a visa.

    The spouse and children's 13(g) visa privileges now cease to exist ... and the couple must then go back through the same process in order to avail of a 13(a) visa to allow the spouse (and/or children) to legally live here.

    Simple rule for a complex question .. if one spouse if going to reacquire Philippine citizenship it will normally pay to do that first and then get the 13(a) visa just the one time.

  6. Thanks Dave that was certainly a more complete answer. I thought before that the 13 (g) was already for one who had already reacquired Philippine citizenship under the Dual Citizenship Act and 13 (a) was for one who is already a Philippine citizen and just getting a permanent residency visa for her/his spouse/children.

  7. Hi Just a quick question mam,Is it true that they (with due Respect){BID]try and milk you for extra money by delaying the process of your TRV they(some people who have applied for 5 yrs TRV few syrians,Egyptian,Korean)say it may take 3-6 months,so you have to pay extra money for the tourist visa extensions,and after 6 months of extensions they charge you extra for the Special Return Certificate (SRC) and Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC), Certificate of Exemption (CE) before departure; for every month,in short I have heard a lot of people facing issues like delays from their end[BID](Im from the restricted categorgy) ,plus you have to pay all the 5 yrs TRV fees at one go ,which comes to PHP1,00,000 plus 6+ months torist Visa extensions,as Restricted category can only have extensions for 1 month at a time,and after 6 months there are adtional charges works out around another PHP40,000,plus ACR I card,notarisation of documents,LRF etc etc charges count another PHP40,000,as ACR certificates have to be re issued again every 59 days,and count easily another PHP15,0000 for the appication fees for the TRV,so the Total easily jumps to a very high stagerring PHP2,00,000 so my question is why i havent heard a single Person from the Restricted category telling me so far that their TRV was done on time as all or nearly 90% said it took more than 6 months for the entire thing during this time you have to keep renewing your tourist visa every MONTH,and all this Headache for getting a TRV which is only valid for 5 yrs after 5 yrs another round of the same story ,
    my questions are ,so if you are going to be a father and you happen to be the one from the RESTRICTED CATEGORY forget KIDS EXPENSES keep paying for yourself,

  8. Can some of you explain to me is this Fair,
    1)Can Restricted category Nationals avail for the Balikabayan Visa or again this privelege of Balikabayan Visa is only reserved for Non Restricted category nationals?
    2)Can Restricted Category Nationals avail for the SRRV facility? or again its only reserved for Non Restricted category nationals?
    3)Why the BID takes 6+ months at the Minimum to process the documents and issue a TRV(one common answer i have heard from 2 chinese,1 syrian,2 egyptian,2 koreans ,2 Indian, 1 Irani that they got from BID- "DUE TO HEAVY INFLOW OF APPLICATION IT TAKES TIME" Oh really,People are lining up for Philippines as THE destination to live ,NO,they are going there because their spouses(wives) are wanting to Live in the PHILS,and they want the kids to grow in PHILS,as its easier for mothers to take care of their kids as ofcourse they have family there who can take care of them during the time of their pregnancy etc after pregnancy),So what big deal if their husbands are from RESTRICTED CATEGORY,
    I wish if some one can explain HOW IS "BHUTAN","BURKINA FASO", "CAMBODIA""ETHIOPIA""NIGER"- included NON RESTRICTED Category,
    better than "CHINA","INDIA","KOREA" can some one explain how do they categorise this,are we human beings or are they segregating Humans as VEGETABLES in a super market Picking the Good one and bad one,Who is Being RACIST HERE

    besides the 3 countries in Restricted Category Namely CHINA,INDIA,and KOREA are already Giants In their own ECONONIC terms

  9. I know some of the smart people will quickly Point out oh You know what ,PO, its because we dont have diplomatic TIES with these countries, I dont think so,thats the true reason The true Reason may be something Totaly different

    My whole point is where or How LOGICAL it makes to Ask a spouse from a restricted Category to tell him ,"You know what,You Have to keep paying for the TOURIST VISA EXTENSIONS we will do that till 6 months Or may be More as we may wish even though your doucments are complete ,we will do that and say sorry PO during this time YOU CANNOT WORK here EVEN THOUGH YOU GET JOB OFFERS TILL YOUR TRV IS IMPLEMENTED YOU HAVE TO SIT IDLE and keep paying us the money for everything ,the reason i mentioned some of them may need to work to support some expenses for their wives whilst the TRV is in proces,some of their wives may be pregnant so they Might wanna work during that time for their own Kids,

    and why charge extra NON Restricted category pays only for 2 months extension
    but Restricted Category have to pay the same for 1 month only

    why they want 5 YR TRV Money all together,
    what if the wife(GOD FOR-BID) dies what will the HUSBAND(RESTRICTED)do leave his KID BEHIND in Phils or take him away midway to his country ,what about the Time lost for him he invested the money he invested in bringing hs kid up

    why again they want 5 yrs TRV money TOGETHER

    well some of you might not have faced the situations i hav heard from people,
    A syrian Guy who fell in love with a filipina married her in Syria ,and when she was pregnant he moved along with her,and he thought its ok its a smooth thing for him right,well NO ,PO,
    we will not allow you to GET A JOB here while your TRV is in process, YOU have to remain present During the TRV application we may call you anytime for the interview,if you miss it too bad start all over again, so you cant go out as well Just sit here and dont work just pay for extensions and other beautiful charges,in between we expect you to keep the cash flow coming in

    no matter who takes care of your wife if she is pregnant or not

    My only question is why cant there be uniformity in the rules,some might say the diplomatic JAZZ, we have reciprocatory agreement etc ,well crap right you are making life difficult for your own cuntrymen right by torturing them with this mental Trauma

  10. this syrian guy was younger to his wife by 10 yrs,so again raise a question,
    point is thats none of their business why there is a differnce of 10 yrs between the husband and wife,when you have very good example of ,well should say names buta Famous CELEBRITY with same last name as Aquino and a Famous Basket ball player, If they dont have problem why you are getting bothere Its their Love why you have to point your Microscope on that ,as long as they are trying to be and remain together and are legal also starting a family ,and the Husband is clean why create a problem which doesnt exist

    just some of the points i wanted to share,
    after hearing these horror tails I doubt if they really care about their own people

    this comment wasnt posted to hurt anyones sentiments but to ring a bell on the ones sitting uo on the chair of authority ,stop treating human beings as sheets of papers and have emotion and heart that life is more important han these burecratic dimplomacy

    salamat po

  11. Wow! I will attempt to answer some of your questions although I think some of your questions may have been rhetorical already. Although I sympathize with your plight.

    My husband has had so much problems just getting me to the U.S., and like you there had been some regulations of U.S. Immigration that may have worked to my disadvantage. Although I think overall the problem was also exacerbated by my husband's difficulty in getting the paperwork together on time, and right now it is more a factor of OUR (my husband and I's ) failure to make a categorical decision on whether we want to leave or not. But honestly, what can we all do. The right of a country to accept "visitors" into their country is their right. The inherent right of any state to protect its territory and its inherent right to extend hospitality to those who may choose to stay in its territory. Its a reality we cannot question. I too can grovel about U.S. policies on immigration, but the truth of the matter is that that is all we can do. The most that we can hope to do is find the best choice for us to take to make the path of "being together" with our loved-ones less difficult. I mean if my husband and I wanted to be in the U.S. badly enough we could pay a lawyer to work on our immigration papers, but the truth of the matter is that I am not even sure I want to go there. But really, an educated approach to immigration laws, rules and regulations is almost indispensable.

  12. Can you get a balikbayan visa?

    A balikbayan visa is extended to the following:

    1. Former Philippine citizens (including Filipinos who have become naturalized U.S. citizens, and citizens of the Bahamas, Bermuda and other countries within the jurisdiction of the Embassy of Washington, D.C.); Also eligible are Filipino citizens living overseas. A typical situation is that the Filipino visitor to the Philippines is not yet a foreign citizen, but he or she has an immigration card from a foreign nation [such as a "green card" in the USA].

    2. Foreign spouses and minor foreign unmarried children of Filipinos and former Filipino citizens.

    Does your wife qualify as a balikbayan? If she does, I can't see why you cannot get a balikbayan visa?

    For example, my husband do not qualify as one for the simple reason that I am not a balikbayan and my only citizenship is Philippine citizenship.

    Also, the balikbayan free visa privilege is extended to former Philippine citizens, the foreign spouse and the foreign minor unmarried children of Philippine citizens, provided that:

    1. they are nationals of Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Oman, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Tuvalu, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, or Vietnam; and
    2. they are traveling together to the Philippines with the balikbayan spouse.

    If 1) your spouse is a balikbayan and 2) you are a national of any of the above countries, then you do qualify for a balikbayan visa. If not, tough luck.

  13. Do you qualify for a Special Retiree's Resident Visa?

    If you are any of the following, you can:

    A retiree who applies for a Special Resident Retiree Visa (SRRV) has the option to enroll to the program based from his retirement status.

    Retirement Option and their Required Time Deposit

    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
    35 to 49 years old - US$50,000.00 time deposit
    50 years old and above - US$20,000.00 time deposit

    Former Filipino Citizens (at least 35 years old, regardless of the number of dependents - US$1,500.00)

    Ambassadors of Foreign Countries who served and retired in the Philippines, current and former staff members of international organizations including ADB (at least 50 years old) - US$1,500.00

    A resident retiree can bring with him, without additional deposit, his spouse and child who is unmarried and below 21 years old or if the spouse is not joining, two(2) children (provided they are unmarried and under 21 years of age.)
    Additional children with the same qualifications may also be allowed to join the principal retiree provided there is an additional deposit of US$15,000.00 per child. The said time deposit however, is subject the same and conditions with that of the principal deposit. This does not apply to former Filipino Citizens.

  14. The 13a visa is a great way to go! We applied at the Chicago office, and they processed our application in only 2 days. Since we applied in the US, there is no probationary period, and we didn't have any interview. I would definitely recommend it to any other foreigners.