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Myth Busting: Philippines Permanent Residency 13A Visa

The first thing I must make clear about Philippines permanent residency and the ’13A Visa’ is that I do not hold myself out as a legal expert. I have researched this issue with a legally trained eye but no longer practise law in any jurisdiction worldwide. Therefore, while the following is written in good faith, check it out for yourself! I also urge you to check out an excellent blog post on this subject and will post the link at the foot of this article.

I became prompted to write about the 13A Visa for a number of reasons. First off, it concerns me because the beautiful Zabrina and I plan to be married later this year. She is a Filipino and I am a British citizen. Marriage to her means I can then apply for permanent residency and obtain the non-quota 13A Visa.

Secondly, I read a recent article about this visa in an online Philippines retirement magazine that I used to write for. I know the author of the article and fear that he has given the wrong impression in a part of his musings. I’m sure it wasn’t deliberate because he is an honest, likable guy.

But, I have to add that up until a few months ago he hadn’t even heard of this visa until I told him the basics of how to apply. That magazine is ranked #1 on a Google search connected to retirement in the Philippines. The owner really ought to be more careful about the content.

There again, that same search reveals this blurb under its URL – “Thinking about retiring to the Philippines? U.S. expat with 28 years of experience writes about Philippines Retirement Visa, culture shock, relationships, expat …” Err, no! The expat in question no longer writes for that magazine and has not done so for the past year. Like me, he had a difference of opinion with the owner.

Thirdly, a recent subscriber to my email list wrote a one-liner to me to the effect – plenty about your book but not much about Bacolod.

True, the title of this blog is ‘Expat In Bacolod’ but the sub-title reads ‘Stephen Bentley – Writer.’ I am an expat now living in Bacolod. I write about Bacolod and the Philippines and I pointed out to the new subscriber that if he navigated down the sidebar to ‘Categories,’ then he would find ‘Bacolod Life’ and ‘Retiring to the Philippines.’ I believe he will find many posts there about Bacolod.

Besides that I have written a book about Bacolod and also have started to publish a series of articles called ‘Cane Points,’ written by a local man. There is also a YouTube channel with many videos of Bacolod and beyond.

Yes, there is plenty “about my book.” I neither make an apology for that nor think it necessary to do so. I am a self-published indie author with no back room team. publishing contract or publishing house publicity machine behind me. I promote my work wherever I can. Some people are actually interested in my work and the books that are a work in progress.

13A Visa and Philippines Permanent Residency

Phew! That needed saying. Now to the 13A visa:

The main issue I have with the article, besides the misleading  use of the word “explained” in the title,  in the “leading” retirement magazine is this statement detailing the requirements:

  • Proof of savings of a minimum $10,000 USD

That appears to be honored in the breach rather than the observance, thank goodness, a fact that that author does not seem aware of. Yet, in light of my research, I will return to that contentious issue in a moment.

The author uses a “cop out” device [in fact the entire article is an almost exact word for word duplicate of a similar post I found on the web] by inserting a link to the relevant Philippines law. That link only provides a list of enactments on the Bureau of Immigration (BI) website. A further link reveals the wording of the COMMONWEALTH ACT No. 613 ALSO KNOWN AS THE PHILIPPINE IMMIGRATION ACT OF 1940 .

None of that explains the ‘nitty gritty’ of the actual requirements and/or the process.

This is where a combination of my former forensic legal and detective skills come into play. I discovered the details after quite a bit of digging.

If you are reading this as an expat either wanting this information now or in the future, then please bookmark this page and share it far and wide. It is an authoritative statement as to the relevant Philippines law but bear in mind my caveat: I no longer hold myself out as a practising lawyer either in the UK or anywhere else in the world.

Proof of Savings Requirement is Crap!

This requirement that the aforementioned [note the legalese :)] article posits [another legalese word] as USD $10,000 is utter crap! It’s false and destroys the credibility of both the author and the “leading” Philippines retirement magazine as an authority.

There is no requirement as to proof of savings whatsoever! Here is the link to the official requirements on the BI website.

Below is a screenshot of that document:

Check List 13a

By clicking on the link above you can download your own copy. The same with the application form by clicking here.

Now, the thing is where do you see any requirement to show proof of savings? Nowhere! I have no idea where or how that crept into the misleading and factually incorrect article.


The BI page also has a useful ‘How to Apply’ section:

How to apply?

Secure the CGAF from either at the Public Information and Assistance Unit (PIAU) at BI G/F Main Office or from the official BI Website.

Submit the documents for pre-screening to the Central Receiving Unit (CRU) or to the frontline officer or staff of other Immigration Offices able to process this transaction.

Get the Order of Payment Slip (OPS).

Pay the required fees.

Submit copy of Official Receipt.

Attend hearing. Please refer to the Official Receipt for the schedule and venue of the hearing and Image and Fingerprint Capturing.

Proceed to Image and Fingerprint Capturing Counter of the Alien Registration Division (ARD) and submit requirements for ACR I-Card application

Check website if visa application is already approved.

If approved, submit passport for visa implementation.

If ACR I-Card is approved, claim ACR I-Card.

This is from the top of that page:


Who can apply?

A foreign national on the basis of his valid marriage to a Philippine citizen.

Where to apply?

BI Main Office

Other Immigration Offices (Click here to see the list of offices authorized to process this transaction)

What to bring?

1. Checklist with complete documentary requirements

2. Application Form

3.Additional Information on Applicant’s children (if needed)

The list of “Other Immigration Offices” authorized to process the 13A visa application is shown in this PDF. Unfortunately for me it does not include the BI at Bacolod so it seems that a trip to Cebu will be necessary.

A further useful guide to the 13A Visa process is to be found in this excellent blog, ‘The Writers In Tandem.’ I reproduce part of it below that deals with finances:

The interview was pretty informal, we just stood up behind a counter and the interviewer asked us just basic questions; when and where we met, our wedding date, simple stuff. The most important part is financial information, to prove that we can support each other. The interviewer asked if either or both of us were employed and how much we made, as well as if we receive financial support from anyone else. We’d actually brought a copy of David’s employment contract as proof of financial capacity and I offered to give it to him, but he said they didn’t need it, he just needed us to tell him verbally.

Then I found this in the Comments section and I suspect I know who was asking the question:

Hi Janessa! ? Are there no requirements for having a certain amount of money in a bank to show you are financially capable? i thought i read that somewhere?

This is the answer:

I had heard rumors about that too, but we were never asked to show anything ourselves. We brought a copy of my husband’s employment contract to show proof of income just in case, but we never handed it over. I don’t believe it should be an issue as it’s not listed in their requirements anyways. When we were being interviewed, they simply asked what our income was and took our word for how much we made?

I do hope you found this information helpful.

Moral of the story?

“A lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on.”
― Terry Pratchett, The Truth

Featured Image Courtesy of Daniel Greer


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