Expat Visa Run
Living in The Philippines has one major pain in the butt for foreigners. Immigration is a pain but it is a pain every where in the world. Its not all bad, after all, I’m here. It is easy to enter the country if your from the US and many other countries too. For many, all we need is a valid passport with two blank pages and more than six months before it expires. Once here via passport only, which is referred to as a “Tourist Visa” you are required to get an extension within 21 days. This extension gives you 59 days total. You are not allowed to work and you cannot go to school. Some people try to run a business in the name of their significant other and often get away with it. However, if you some how get BI looking into your stay, they wont be fool by such.
The Hard Part For Expats Living in The Philippines
You have to get your stay extended every 59 days. To do this, you have to go to Bureau of Immigration (BI) within 30 days before your latest extension expires. I don’t find this unreasonable at all, I’m not complaining about the need for having to do this but it is still a pain. Its reasonable but a pain none-the-less.
I use a travel agent to handle my extensions. Its still a three hour trip to get to that travel agent! And that’s one-way. Most of the time my girlfriend makes the trip and I stay at home. I don’t like sending her alone but the trip often is hard on me, I guess because of my “fragile health.”
It cost on average, about $50 or P2000 a month. I have been putting back P1500 a month but I’m going to increase that as it sometimes cost more and that way I’ll have most of it built up. Your second extension will be more than $100.
On my last extension, I got a letter along with my passport stamped. I think that there was a new fee of P500 attached to that. I don’t know if this will be an every month fee or just this once. I’ve been paying P3000 or about $75 for most of my 59 day extensions.
While I’m on the subject, if your last day falls on a non-working holiday or weekend, you are expected to renew your extension the last working day before your extension expires. If you fail to do so, you’ll be required to pay fines and additional fees.
Within 16 months of your arrival you are required to leave the country. I’ve read on the BI site that it must be three days and I’ve asked a travel agent that confirms this. Many expats living in the Philippines however tell me its not required to stay out for three days.
I sent an e-mail to BI asking for help on that subject a couple of days ago. So far, no reply but its still early. I couldn’t find this requirement on the website the last time I looked. I had trouble finding it before though. I’ll stay out for three days just to be on the safe side.
The law states its 24 months but after 16 months it requires the approval of the director of the BI. It is very unlikely you’ll qualify for that.
I’m planning on going to Bangkok, Thailand and hotel rates are often available from $10 to $20 a night. That’s with cable TV and internet access. There is even a fridge in the room at the hotel I plan to stay at for $18.00 a night.
My flight is going to be under $220.00. So, I’m going to visit another country for under $300. The taxes and other hidden charges that I expect to encounter along the way will likely push it very close to $300. Maybe more depending on what I spend in Thailand.
A friend pointed out that I would need a Certification to Exit document too. I’ll get that on my next visit to my travel agent. There will likely be a fee for that too. I have to go before July 5th to be within my 16 months. So, I plan to make my trip to Bangkok around the middle of June. I can adjust that though.
Group Trip For Expats
I’d like to get a group together, even a group of two, that I could join for the trip. As it is right now, I’ll be going alone. I don’t plan on doing much more than taking some pictures and girl watching. With a group though I’d probably find more things to do. Hard to say, I can be a real homebody at times.
Not A Travel Professional
I’m not a travel professional. You shouldn’t take anything I say here as absolute fact. I may have left thigns out too. These are just my general experiences. I would be sure to use a travel agent that has experience with such matters, especially on your first entry into the country. I’ve been through the system and I can tell you what goes on with my experiences with the Philippine Bureau of Immigration.
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