The Philippines

Finding a Visa

The most vital part of going to another country whether as a tourist, a worker, a short time contract employee or as a permanent resident is to find an appropriate visa. The major immigrant-welcoming countries specify just what kind of migrant that they encourage or permit and upon what terms. There is no secret about this and the information is freely available from government web sites. It may take some ferreting out. Official web sites are not always couched in simple, easily understood English and they try to cover all legal possibilities so far as interpretation is concerned.

The most important thing in seeking permission to go to another country on whatever basis is to apply in good time. To complete procedures, particularly, for the acquisition of permanent resident status, can take many months and sometimes years. Even after the desired status is achieved by the applicant or is awarded by a government it can still take many more years for a visa to become available. As an example of this is the fact that a brother or sister sponsored by a sibling who is a legal resident or citizen of the U.S.A. may have to wait, at present, for up to eight years for a visa to become available. Only a fixed number of such visas is granted each year and the current backlog of approved applicants causes this waiting period. This is not the case in all countries. Even in the U.S.A. not all visas are issued on the basis of an annual quota. Visas for parents sponsored by a child who is an American legal resident or citizen are unlimited in number. As soon as the sponsorship petition is granted a visa will be issued. Further issues can then arise because the time to take up the visa may be too short to finalize affairs in the current country of residence. America is a case in point in these circumstances also. Very little time is granted to the approved immigrant to conclude affairs and get to the United States of America.

The Philippine Retirement Authority provides a path to permanent residency which is both clear and certain. The Authority’s site is less than perfect but it is perfectly possible to make the initial application on line. The Philippines maintains many embassies and consulates abroad and most deal with visa and document authentication matters. Working with the Philippine Retirement Authority is much easier than conducting business through embassy, consulate or government department web sites or with these places directly or in person. The Authority is a government owned and controlled corporation and is attached to the Department of Tourism. There is a once only application fee of $US1400 for membership of the P.R.A. and the initial cost of the residence identity card and its annual renewal is $US360. There are four available SRRVs(Special Resident Retiree’s Visa) for appropriately qualified retirees. None of the visas lead to citizenship but they do permit permanent residency and multiple re-entry rights.

The links at the "Resources" tab on this site and the book "How to Retire in the Philippines" by Les Johns will add detail to the above summary of the visa opportunities. The book can be purchased directly from this site.

Getting Help

The Philippine Retirement Authority is its own built-in help system. English is one of the national languages of the country. Others whose first language is not English or who are not fluent in this language will need to obtain the services of a translator or a lawyer. It is not necessary to use such services to understand the rules and regulations because of their complexity. These details are simply put in easily understood terms. There is no typical “government jargon” or convoluted terminology.

There are no specific concessions for retirees in the Philippines although there is assistance with the importation of personal and household effects. The P.R.A. Is able to offer advice and assistance with the obtaining of driving license, merchant discounts, banking and many other services that a retiree may need to access or, at least, know about. There is also a “meet and assist” service on arrival at Manila Airport.

The P.R.A. Will give expatriate members advice on health matters and will provide a list of hospitals and doctors. As usual the Authority will take no responsibility for the quality of services obtained from the places and practitioners on the list provided although the U.S. Embassy recommends the list. It should also be remembered that many of those providing services in the health field have a history of working with U.S. civilian and services personnel when the major U.S. Bases were operating here predominantly in Subic Bay and at the Clark Air Base near Angeles City.

The links at the "Resources" tab on this site and the book "How to Retire in the Philippines" by Les Johns will add to these comments. The book can be obtained from this site.