This is as factual a post you will find anywhere on the internet¹ about ‘Amendment of Temporary 13A Residency Visa to Permanent,’ if you apply from within the Philippines.
Note: It is possible, and advisable, to apply from overseas using that country’s Philippines Embassy if you (applicant) and your spouse (petitioner) are residing overseas (and married in that foreign country), and wish to live in the Philippines on a permanent basis. Also, in those circumstances, you will skip the ‘Probationary’ period and go straight to ‘Permanent Residency,’ as I understand it.
Once you have jumped through the hoops and the visa is approved you are good to stay indefinitely as a permanent resident of the Philippines. The only thing that has to be renewed is your ACR I-Card (Alien Certificate of Registration) and that’s good for five years.
Reminder: the 13A visa only applies if the applicant (foreigner) is married to a Philippines citizen (the petitioner).
I previously posted about the process of converting a tourist visa for the Philippines into a 13 A Residency Visa (Probationary). It was updated here.
This is what happened when the time came for me to apply to amend that visa into permanent rather than temporary. Please note what follows is based on my own experiences at the Iloilo Branch Office of The Bureau of Immigration.
I am no longer a lawyer and cannot advise in any particular individual circumstances. This post is not legal advice.
Download the relevant forms from the Bureau of Immigration website. The link to the application form is here. While you are there download the check list of documentary requirements here.
That’s what the form looks like at the top. It is a two-page form.
The checklist looks like this and make sure you have the correct checklist that includes the bit about the joint affidavit.
Please note these are only partial views of the correct documents but the links I provided above are correct to download the documents in full.
Complete the form above in black ink using the boxes provided. Always use N/A if an answer warrants a ‘Not Applicable.’
Fill out both forms (two of the same form) in your own handwriting. Don’t forget to sign it and your spouse needs to sign too.
Photocopy the completed form. I suggest at least two. More is always better as you never know how many they require until the day you submit your documents (more on that later). This was the first of a number of things that were extraneous to the check list. Read on to find out what the others were.
Use the checklist to start working through the rest of the requirements. There is no need to submit this checklist, keep it as a quick guide.
Buy four legal size plain folders. Use one as your main folder to gather all requirements.
1. Joint letter request to the Commissioner from the applicant (foreigner) and the petitioning Filipino spouse. This is the perfectly acceptable form of letter I used:
To the Commissioner Bureau of Immigration, Republic of the Philippines
JOINT LETTER FROM THE FILIPINO SPOUSE PETITIONER AND THE APPLICANT RE AMENDMENT OF A NON-QUOTA IMMIGRANT VISA (13A) FROM TEMPORARY TO PERMANENT
May I respectfully request the amendment of a current and valid temporary non-quota immigrant visa issued under Section 13, Paragraph A of the Philippine Immigration Act to permanent, in favor of my foreign spouse, [Name], the applicant and a British citizen.
I am [Name], born [Maiden Name if a Female], a Philippine citizen. We, the applicant and I, were married in [Place], on [Date].
We have submitted all requirements and duly accomplished forms.
Petitioner/Filipino Spouse Applicant/[Nationality]
Sign above printed name
2. Joint affidavit of continuous cohabitation and it must be a sworn document so in the Philippines that means it must be notarized.
This is one I drafted and was accepted:
WE, [Petitioner Name], Filipino citizen, AND [Applicant Name], United Kingdom citizen [in my case], both of legal age, and married to each other, and residents of [Address], after having been duly sworn in accordance with law, hereby jointly depose and truly say:
- We have been in continuous cohabitation as man and wife since [Date].
- We were legally married in [Place] on [Date].
- We continue to live together in continuous cohabitation as man and wife.
Further Affiants sayeth none.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, WE have hereunto affixed our signatures this ……… day of ………………… , 20__ in ………………………………. Philippines.
Name of Petitioner
Name of Applicant
(Signatures of Affiants over Printed Names)
SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN before me this…….. day of ……………………… 20__, by [Name] AND [Name]
What did surprise me is there was no need to personally attend the law office to get this done. Prepare the affidavit and hand over the fee. It matters not who goes to the office.
I did two originals. I didn’t photocopy any but I need to hand over a copy on my next visit (more later).
NBI Clearance Certificate. Obtain a current one and ensure the details are correct including your address and marital status. No copies of this required.
Tip: Do not use the online renewal service, In my case it didn’t work or rather, it did, but the certificate was delivered to my correct address but showed the wrong marital status and wrong address (my old one). Go figure!
That lead to a delay of some two weeks or so while I personally went to the Bacolod NBI office to explain. They fixed it but I had to pay again for the whole process to start over. I should have gone there in the first place!
Drink several cold beers! Lol 🙂 Chill! This is the Philippines!
- your passport bio page
- your visa stamp page showing your valid authorized stay – the date your Probationary 13 A Visa expires
- the passport stamp showing date of first arrival in the Philippines (not mentioned on the documentary requirements check list)
I suggest making six copies of everything to ensure you have the whole shebang when you go to the BI office.
Two 2 cm by 2 cm mugshots on a dark background – I suggest studio photos are best and take more with you – just in case. Note there is no mention of photos on the documentary requirements check list.
Drink more beer 🙂
- Place everything in the legal folder in the order on the check list.
- Put the extra folders at the back so the evaluating immigration officer can use them as he/she sees fit, and it will also get you brownie points 🙂
- Check and double-check you have everything before you set off.
- Take your passport with you. It will be returned on the day.
- Get there early. Dress code is supposed to apply but at Iloilo, I saw it broken by some foreigners. It’s supposed to be no shorts, no slippers, and no sleeveless shirts.
Attend the BI Field Office with your spouse and all your requirements. And take cash!
At present the total amount to pay is PHP 6,824 plus 2,500. The former includes all fees and your new ACR I-Card. The latter includes the Express Lane fees. That’s the equivalent of just over $178 at today’s exchange rate.
Thank goodness I don’t have to pay that any longer!
- Turn up – no appointment required
- Get your ticket stub from security
- Wait – in my case about four hours
- Go to Receiving when your number is called
- Hand over all requirements as above including your passport (will be returned on the day)
- Hand over returned documents to the Assessments counter – wait again
- When called back to window to collect documents, go to Cashier
- Pay fees
- Return to Receiving for an appointment for a return date for interview with you and your spouse
- Check BI website for your application to be listed as approved.
- Return to BI for visa implementation stamp in your passport and collect your new ACR I-Card.
That’s it! You are now a permanent resident of the Philippines as long as you don’t divorce or God forbid, your wife dies.
Remember you still have to make an annual report to a BI office in the first 60 day of each calendar year. That only costs PHP 310 🙂 Tip! Make sure before you make your first Annual Report(AR), you have registered online here.
Hope that helps and please don’t be like some foreigners who turn up at the immigration office with attitude.
¹ Some websites are better than others at explaining this process but even the better ones get it wrong. For example this is taken from one of those better sites on the topic of 13A visa: ” Duly notarized letter of application by the Filipino spouse.” No! It isn’t the joint application letter that needs to be notarized. It’s the affidavit of continuous cohabitation.
The same site adds: “Your spouse is actually requesting your admittance on your behalf.” That is right but it’s a JOINT letter from Filipino spouse petitioner and the foreigner applicant.
It also adds: “General Application Form duly accomplished and notarized. “Plain wrong!
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Thanks. A really useful post.
Just pleased to be of help. It can be difficult to find the correct information.
Hello Stephen. Thanks for the detalied and easy to follow instructions. I noted that you didn’t mention the BI certificate. Is that because it is not needed – though listed in the CDR……..just saw that and my probationary expire in 3 week of May. It take app 15-30 days to get a BI certificate….
Hi Mikael, do you mean NBI certificate? I’m not sure what you mean by BI certificate. You need to get a move on and prepare yourself for paying for extensions as your probationary expires in 3 weeks.
Just checked the checklist and it reminded me there is a box for BI clearance certificate. Ignore it. The BI sort that out.
Hi Steve, I enjoyed reading about your experiences getting your permanent resident permit in the Philippines. Some of the things you mentioned are similar to what Mexico requires when an ‘alien’ person applies for permanent residency. The word alien seems to be very popular in both Mexico and the U. S! I just finished the application process and am now a temporary legal resident in Mexico. My permit is good for a year and then I have to go through more hoops to receive permanent status. I had to do the first part in the United States before moving to Mexico. It was actually pretty simple for me. I’ve always had dual citizenship since my husband and I were married. Americans who marry Mexicans can go through a streamlined process when the couple retires. It’s usually the husband who was born in Mexico, came to the U. S. to live and work and then wants to return back home. My husband lived in the States forty years. The Immigration office in Mexico where we went in January was very relaxed. Apparently, I am the only American to apply at that office. We live in the central part of Mexico. There is a university and medical school so I did wait with some students from Japan. The office staff told me to go have my photos taken at Wal-Mart! That was the only bad experience. I look like I’m about 100 years old on my permit. Did you have to give up your British citizenship?
Hi Kay! It seems a very similar process in the two countries. I did the same as you. I applied for and was granted a one-year temporary, or probationary as it’s called here, residency visa by virtue of my marriage to a Filipina.
I wrote this post after applying to amend that visa to a permanent residency visa. The process I describe is for those who were married here in the Philippines. It’s a slightly different and somewhat easier process if the couple were married outside of the Philippines but they wish to live here permanently. In that case they make the application overseas and do all the documentary requirements through the Philippines Embassy.
No, I did not have to give up my British citizenship.
Your site shows greater detail and truth about 13A visas than most. Having gone through 13A temp. visa I went to Manila,had chat with BI officer (how did you meet, old job etc. – 10 mins) did NBI check, paid fees got 1 year ACR-1 card was given interview appt. with an attorney. It actually took us 3 months to see visa (temp) on Philippine Immigration web site, very long list up to 120 pages x 20 names per page. Went back to BI and got passport stamped and label affixed to passport. We will re-start 13A visa (temporary to permanent) 3 months before expiry date. I read, once you have your prmanent 13A visa it is valid permanently, not 10 years. You also get an ACR-1 card valid to last 5 years, then re-newed every 5 years. The interview after 1 year is to show in some way that it was not a marriage of convenience. You have to pay a head tax of 310 php during Jan-Feb each year. The bogus $10,000 in your (their) bank is for a visa for retirees, I think, you may need medical insurance too.
Thanks, George. Naturally, I believe you are right, By nature, I try my utmost to get things right. The permanent 13 a Visa is valid for life as long as you remain married or your spouse doesn’t pre-decease you. You are right in saying the ACR I-Card is valid for 5 years before renewal.
You are also right about the “head tax.” That’s payable every year at your Annual Report. The SSRV scheme is for retirees and you do have to keep a minimum deposit in your bank.
You are also correct about the BI website in that you need to check the approved list by scanning down the PDF on the BI website as it’s not searchable by name or any other criteria.
One tip: for your first Annual Report, register on the BI website before you go to the BI office to report. You only need to do that for the initial AR.
Hi, Well written post, How long did you have to wait to see your name on the BI website when you did your amendment?
I think it was 6 -8 weeks but that took Easter (Holy Week) into account.
Okay thanks, at the 8 week count now but still waiting patiently
You’re welcome. If you were processed at Iloilo, I am told they have moved office again, this time to MegaWorld. That may account for any delays.
Great post Stephen. I was just searching for a letter of cohabitation sample and ran across your page. I am already on Probationary but no new ACR-I card because about the time is was to arrive in Iloilo everything in Manila shut down and BI there in Iloilo has not received any updated ACR-I cards since March. So I assume mine in in Manila somewhere. I went thru the same thing with renewing my US Passport which hung in Limo for 3+ months but I finally got it. So now we are faced with the upcoming request to Amend our probationary to make it permanent. When we applied (prior to COVID) for my probationary the Director of BI in Iloilo said to start getting everything together on October or November but since then he has said we can begin NOW. The officers in Iloilo are GREAT. So we are gathering things now and are excited to get over to Iloilo as soon as we get our folders all completed. Hoping by sometime in August we can get a ferry there and back and an appointment at BI there in Iloilo. Thanks for the letter sample on the cohabitation. I know they want 8 copies all notarized. I will just be glad when everything is submitted. Maybe I will get my Permanent ACR-I card first instead of the Probationary. lol. Take care there where you are and God bless.
Hi Glenn, glad to be of help. It sounds like you have everything covered, and I agree – the staff at BI Iloilo are great. You take care too!
Hello. I noticed on the checklist it states the a “BI Clearance Certificate” is required. I can’t seem to see anything on any websites about converting to a permanent 13A visa that mentions the “BI Clearance Certificate” and how to obtain one. Can you provide any insight on this?
Hi Galen, good question! Sorry, but I don’t recall what that was about. I suggest you call your local BI for the answer.
You don’t need to do anything. BI will handle this as they did in the Probationary application
Thanks, Glenn. I did think that was the case but couldn’t remember. Thank you for helping out. Cheers!
How long before the probationary expires will I be able to start the conversion process?
Sorry, I can’t recall as it’s been some time since I went through the process. I suggest you call your local BI office.
I am retired, just got a 13(a) from San Francisco, waiting for my covid-19 vaccine, and to pay taxes, then I will move to our new house near CDO. Got the 13(a) on Dec 18, so when it is time to get Permanent Status this year, Can I do that in CDO or do I have to g t Manila? Does my wife have to be present with me when I apply to be Permanent , because she still works in the states, and visits CDO a few times a year. It would have to be during one of those visits that she comes with me to an interview at Immigration.
Probationary 13(a), I believe is good for 1 year.
Hi Walter, Read the second para – the one in italics. This post is about obtaining and converting the 13A if you live here. As I say in that second para, my understanding is if you get the 13A in the States, then you skip converting from temporary to permanent. But like all this advice, I am not a a lawyer anymore so seek expert guidance from the Philippines Embassy or contact the BI here. I would appreciate it if you were to reply once you have the definitive answer as that will help others in your situation.
Currently on my probationary 13a and I will find the letters useful when the time comes to amend to permanent.
But regarding step nine, I thought this could only be done at the main office and not the field offices.
Hi Eddie, thanks for your comments but I stand by Step 9. Certain field offices can and do process this visa. For example, in my case, Bacolod doesn’t but Iloilo does. So my comments are in the context of my experiences at the BI Field Office at Iloilo City. You will need to check the BI website to see which field office closest to you can process this type of visa. I hope that’s helpful.
Thanks for the reply Stephen, just checked and Angeles seems to be the one for me next time.
Perfect! Cheers, mate!
My 13A is already approved.what is the next steps?
You don’t say if that’s Probationary 13 A or converted to Permanent. In either case, you should make contact with the BI field office where you applied to find out when your ACR card will arrive from Manila. Then you need to collect it. I also suggest you ask the BI office what you should do about Annual Reporting for 2021. I hope that helps.
Hello. I don’t understand if the probationary period (one year) for 13a is a mandatory step or you can get directly a permanent.
And also after the approval of the application, you can go directly to BI for implementation, and what they do exactly at the window? Do they check the documents again? Do you need to go one more time for stamp? One officer told me once you go for implementation they will check the docs again and then you have to go other day with passport. It sound weird. Maybe he doesn’t know the procedure or has language barrier in explaining (and understanding).
The 13 A process is for foreigners who are married to a Filipino citizen and the procedures I describe apply if you apply from within the Philippines. Different procedures apply if you make the application from outside the Philippines.
So with that in mind, you cannot get a 13A permanent residency visa until you have the 12-month Probationary.
Once approved on the main BI website, you attend the BI where you made the application for implementation and have the visa entered into your passport. You will also collect the new ACR card.
I hope that helps.
Is it the same process in the 1st one to apply for 5 years? How much that it cost?
Once the 13A Permanent Residency Visa is approved and converted from probationary to full after one year, it is valid for life as long as the marriage still exists. In other words, it becomes invalid if the foreigner’s Filipino spouse is deceased or in the unlikely event of a divorce. The 5 years only applies to the foreigner’s ACR-I Card. That is good for 5 years but then has to be renewed but on the basis of the original 13A Visa. I have no idea how much that renewal costs, sorry.
hi i already done applying for that them call me to get my card on december 2020 but because of covid cant go back to philippines can i know what need to do about that is it need to apply again for new cuz maybe its already expired cuz now is 2021
Sadly for you, it sounds as if you will need to start all over afresh once you return to the Philippines. But please remember I am not a lawyer or a professional advisor. I don’t even know what nationality you are and your current country of residence never mind your marital status. It may be the case you can apply through an overseas Philippines embassy or consulate but without knowing all your details, I simply don’t know. If I were you, I’d make an inquiry at the Philippines embassy.
thanks for your reply i’m turkish married to a filipino
In that case, I suggest you make the application through the Philippines Embassy in Turkey. The guidance I provide is aimed at applications from within the Philippines for foreigners married to a Filipino citizen. It’s a different process if you are a foreigner living overseas.
Hello Stephen, thank you very much for your clear guide.
Dear, I am applying for PERMANENT 13A VISA after 1 year. Last year becouse of COVID-19 they did NOT ask to INTERVIEW MY WIFE.
DO YOU THINK THEY NEED TO INTERVIEW HER FOR PERMANENT this year.
Your guess is as good as mine, sorry. The only people who can answer that, are those at the BI office where you intend to process your application. I do know they seem to be applying some commonsense and becoming more flexible because a friend of mine has been told by Iloilo he can process his application at the Bacolod Field Office. That office doesn’t normally process 13A visas.
Mr. Bently, thank you for this post. It is very informative and helpful. My wife and I will be traveling from Mindinao to Cebu next week to file our petition. You mentioned a return date for interview. How long was that after you filed? I have a 9 hour ferry ride to Cebu from where I live.
Thanks for your kind words. Every field office has different schedules and time scales so either wait until you file or call them before your visit. Also, since the pandemic routines have changed at some field offices so it’s only by speaking with them, you will get to know the answer. Just one further thought – if you live in Mindinao, why travel to Cebu as there is a field office in Davao. Good luck with the process.
Davao would be a long treacherous drive. I did however, drive 12 hours to the immigration office in Cagayan De Oro despite the warnings I received from Filipinos and foreigners not to go there and attempted to file my first petition for the section 13a probationary visa. Long story short, it was a wasted trip, a waste of time money and effort. I was pressed for time so I wound up paying for a service in Manila to file for me which was expensive but worked out well considering time constraints. This time I will go to Cebu, unlike Cagayan De Oro, Cebu immigration office is a lot more accommodating to foreigners and Filipinos seeking immigration services.
Okay, that all makes sense. As I said before, good luck with the process.
Hello Mr. Bentley, I have been married to my Filipina for 46 years, living in Philippines since August 2012. I have a 13-A Visa, issued in San Francisco, California. My question is this: Where does BI state that your 13-A Visa is invalid after the death of your Filipina Spouse? How can I remain in the Philippines until I pass and buried next to my spouse? Permanent Resident for me is now a confusing term.
First of all, congratulations on 46 years of marriage. A 13 A visa is issued to foreigners based on their marriage to a Filipino citizen. Once that marriage no longer exists for whatever reason, the reason behind the visa is no longer valid. That is what I was told at the BI in Iloilo and I must say I can see the sense behind it. In the sad event of your spouse’s death, you are best asking your local BI about your status. I’m sure there is an answer but I’m not qualified to give that answer you are looking for.
My advice is and always has been based on my own experiences. I have always made that clear and nor do I hold myself out as an expert or a lawyer.
Hi Stephen, I’m in the process of applying for my permanent visa. But my NBI has got our Cavite address. If I was to take our rental contract for proof of my residence, would that help me out or do I need to apply for another NBI? Thank you
Hi Iain, good question, and sorry, I don’t know the answer, but I know who will – your local NBI office. I suggest you ask them. Good luck, mate!
Thanks mate, what I have bean reading has helped me a lot. Cheers. Oh by the way those beers you where chatting about do BI give them to you? lol cheers mate
I wish! I am pleased these posts are helpful. Take care, mate!
G’day mate, Stephen would there be a issue we me using your letters you used to obtain your permanent visa? The last inquiry I made to you in regards of the address on my nbi . I understand you just hand write your address on your NBI certificate. Thanks.
You are welcome to use my letters as a template. Just type in your details not mine 🙂 I did my NBI appointment online. I don’t think it’s permitted to write or add anything to a government document including an NBI certificate.
Good morning Stephen, sorry to be a pain mate but when I make my appointment to I book for 13a meeting or a ACI-1 card issuance? Thanks mate.
!3 A visa. The ACR card follows automatically from your 13 A approval.
If I may, I am going through this process now, and they processed my new ACR card when I went in to process my 13a temporary to permanent, however, they are backed up in Manile because of the administration change, things still not settled there, so far there is a 3 month back log.
Hi Walter, my temporary expires mid April lucky I booked in for November 25th. Thanks for the heads up. Gives me about 5 months. Thanks.
Hi again Stephen, I was looking at requirements. Do I need a BI clearance certificate? Thanks mate.
Yes. You need an NBI clearance certificate not a BI clearance certificate. They do the latter as part of the 13 A application process. So, nothing to worry yourself there.
Hi Stephan Iain again I’m going to bi on Friday to hand in paperwork for my permanent visa. I rang them fees. There saying 15-20k peso. I said mate have you got the exact price. He said you have to speak to a estimator? But estimator isn’t taking calls or messages. Got me buggered. Thank you enjoy your day
Yes. mate, like most other things, they will not tell you about the exact fees over the phone. You have to bear in mind they work to a strict regime of rules and regs. They will do nothing about anything falling outside of their remit. My advice is to take plenty of cash mostly in 1000 denominations but also in 500, 100, 50 and 20s.