When we came to the Philippines last year October 2008, I entered the Philippines getting a balikbayan status. My wife Flor is a born Filipina, and that’s the reason I have got this status. This means that I was allowed to stay in the country for 12 months.
People mistakenly refer to this as the ‘Balikbayan Visa’ but it is not a visa but a privilege under Republic Act #6768 called “The Balikbayan Law of 1989″.
Former Filipinos and their family are getting the Balikbayan status every entry in the Philippines, but only if they travel together or bring (a certified true copy of) the original marriage contract.
We came here on one-way tickets because we were planning to live here permanently and we didn’t need a ticket to go back to my country.
On several forums and web pages it is stated that the balikbayan status can be extended up until one year (every extension two months). This needs to be done at the Immigration office near by where you live in the Philippines. That is what we did before the balikbayan status was expired because we didn’t have plans to go somewhere yet. No problems so far. After doing the paperwork and paying the fees for it (about 4800 pesos) I got an extension for two months.
A few weeks ago my wife and I were planning to go to Kuala Lumpur for a few days. In going back we would get a new balikbayan status for one year. This what we were thinking because it is according the Philippine law mentioned above.
We went to a travel agency to book a flight and a hotel. We were almost done when the travel agent asked about my visa and return ticket to The Netherlands. When we told her that we didn’t have one she mentioned that we would get into problems in Kuala Lumpur in boarding the flight back to the Philippines. The Philippine Immigration at Manila wouldn’t make any problems. She knew from other people that they were asked for a return ticket to their original country. If they could not produce one or didn’t have a reservation in the computer systems, they were not allowed to board the plane and fly back to the Philippines. They had to buy a (expensive and non-refundable) ticket to Europe first. It is not the Philippine government who is implementing this but the immigration offices in several Asian countries.
We also know from a Dutch couple who went here in 2007 and before they go back to Holland, they made a short trip to Singapore. When they wanted to go back to the Philippines they were asked about tickets to go back to Holland. They had them but didn’t bring them so it was checked in the computer system and after that they were allowed to board the plane to the Philippines.
I do not have more stories or confirmations about this issue, but we didn’t like the idea and we didn’t proceed in buying tickets to go to Kuala Lumpur or other country.
According to the sales lady at the travel agency, immigration offices in all countries in Asia are acting the same so there was no reason for us to take the risk and travel outside the Philippines.
So we decided not to leave the Philippines and get a new extension first.
A few days ago we went to the Immigration office again (@ Intramuros, Manila) and I asked for a new extension for two month. Cost this time 2830 pesos. (It seems it gets cheaper the second time.) A little more than one hour later we were finished and a new stamp in my passport says that I am allowed to stay until February 5, 2010.
So to be able to leave the Philippines for a few days and go back to get a new balikbayan status, you need to have valid return ticket to your home country.
The problem is that airline companies do not issue tickets with a validity longer than 1 year (as far as I know).
For me, to avoid problems next time, it is needed to start the procedure to get a 13a visa. For that we already get a list of requirements:
- 1, Duly notarized letter of application by the Filipino spouse
- 2, General application form ( BI form # MCL-07-01), Form should be duly accomplished and notarized
- 3, A NSO authenticated copy of the birth certificate of the Filipino spouse
- 4, A NSO authenticated copy of the marriage contract of the alien and the Filipino spouse, or authenticated by the nearest Philippine Embassy or consulate, or in the place where the marriage was solemnized.
- 5, A Bureau of Immigration Clearance certificate
- 6, Plain photocopy of the passport of the alien spouse showing dates of arrival and authorized stay
We will start this procedure soon to have a free entry in the Philippines every time we like to travel abroad.
Documents executed outside of the Philippines must be authenticated by the Philippine embassy or consulate in the country of issuance and translated in English.
It is also possible to petition for a 13a visa in your home country before going to the Philippines. Ask your local Philippine Embassy about the requirements.
If someone who is reading this blog and has experiences about this subject, I am happy to know about, you may even send your stories through a private message HERE or just leave a comment on this page.