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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Philippine Bureau of Immigration

I have been living in Davao for a little over a year now and every 2 months had to go renew my visa. It is not too bad since they have speeded up the processing, and I have become friendly with some of the employees there. The things I do not like is the cost keeps changing and then once you reach 6 months there is some other extra fee. Recently they increased the “mandatory” “Express Lane Fee” to 1000 Php

In November I finally got all my paperwork to file for my 13A Residence Visa. You can get a 13A Residence visa only if you’re married to a Filipina.

This was made easier a few months back by dropping all the forms, police reports and other info needed from America. Now it just a few items and they are all from your wife. The only thing from you is the endless photocopies of your passport and of course the filing fee.

In the past I have heard it taking 6 months to a year from filing, interview and then processing from Manila.

This is for one year, and then you file again with all the same forms, photos, photocopies to get your permanent 13A residency.

I filed in the middle of November and the December 18 I was notified to come in, get my passport stamped, pay more fees and I will have my residency. Elena and I went in the morning of Monday December 22.

Unfortunately for me a lot of people were there filing and/or getting their residence and it was the day of their office Christmas Party. Also the director, who takes care of Davao and General Santos offices, was not going to be back from GenSan until later to sign my passport. Melody suggested while I was there, why not file for my I-card. That was 3 forms, lots of 2x2 and 1x1 photos, loads of photocopies more fees and then wait to get photographed and fingerprinted there. Well, not one to put things off, Elena and I went to the mall, ordered my photos, filled out the forms, got the copies and then back to BI.

I am used to the hurry up and wait, but watching all the others ahead of me being called up and me still waiting did get me tired. When I finally got to the clerk to process me, he said, “Oh, you need a copy of something” I looked at him and mentioned I have been in and out of there since 9am and could he just use their office copier so I did not have to walk down the street to get it. He smiled and said no problem.

At one point, I was outside having a cigarette and joking about how long I was there and one of the supervisors invited me to stay for their party. That was nice, but once I was done, I just wanted to go home and relax.

Now for what I call my “Bad Luck” Here there are constant fees and it gets tiring. Well, I filed in November for my 13A Residence and paid my fees. Then on December 1st I needed to renew my Tourist Visa extension which is for 2 months. Then my residence was approved, so I had to pay again. Now I have Residency, between January 1st and February 28th I have to pay my yearly residency fee. And of course sometime soon, as I was told, my I-Card (like an American Green Card) will arrive and I will have another fee.

Well as a lot of us say, “Welcome to the Philippines.” At least I will now have my legal residency and will not have to go back every 2 months. Also it is not so easy to be deported by a whim or complaint and also I can legally work here.

8 comments:

praetorian1962 said...

Hi Bruce,
You wouldn't have happened to have kept a running total for all the visa fee's? I know they vary from time to time but it would give some estimate of what to expect.
Oh my asawa lives in Kidapawan.
Thanks
Jim

Bruce said...

Jim,
The fees as follows:
Fee for section 13(a) initial one year probationary period:
1.Upon filing

Application fee P1,010.00
Express lane fee P 500.00

2.Upon implementation

ACR and form fee P1,050.00
Change of status fee P 600.00
Passport visa fee P 200.00
CRTV and form fee
P1,450.00
Implementation fee P1,000.00
Legal research fee P 10.00 / item
Head tax P 250.00
Then for I-Card application
P 2,400.00
and Express lane P 500.00
I will let you know once you get card

You can find all fees at
http://immigration.gov.ph//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=118&Itemid=43

Kidapawan is remote and small. I have heard not many foreigners there.

rick bowden said...

Hey Bruce

I am the same stage for my 13A, its good fun yes?

By the way i may be wrong but i don't think the 13A gives you working status, worth checking but i don't think so

Bruce said...

Rick,
Thanks and good luck with your 13a application. I have mine and waiting for my I-Card.

About working, I looked, searched and got confused with the information I found at th DOLE site so I emailed them. Will let you know what I find out.

James said...

Too many paper works and money matters dealing with agencies back there is everybody's problem; Filipinos and Foreigners alike. I think being vocal with the services these offices provide to customers such as the foreigners will in time make them better agency.

Good luck with your visa, Bruce.

Bruce said...

James,
I do not think complaining as a foreigner would do anything but give more anger against foreigners.
The problem I see is the country is used to doing everything on paper and making many copies. Then charging fees for everything, applications and then receiving. With the internet and scanners more can be done through secure connections to Manila with a database to look up and keep track.
One good thing for the Philippines is most forms are in PDF format and avaliable online.
I have a friend working with DTI to get business applications in PDF form format where applicants can file them out and submit online. Then the info goes into a database.

James said...

Hi Bruce,
I got your the point. I didn't realize that. :D Few years back, in the SSS office, I used to see a suggestion box next to the info desk. I don't know if in BI they have one. That is where I think our honest and polite comments can reach them. on the other hand, it's understood it is costly nowadays leaving offices like this but to monetize everything from bond papers to copiers. Also, in any government agencies, arriving early for a transaction avoids the bottlenecks during the midday onward.

Bruce said...

James,
I do get to BI early, and recently things move faster than the past. I think it was the holiday season, day of their party and only one more day until they closed for the holiday season. I do not fault them, it is not the people as much as the system.