How to Obtain Permanent Residence in the Philippines

How to Obtain Permanent Residence in the Philippines

When you review the list of the most popular destinations for relocation, the Philippines is unlikely to appear at the top. However, it is relatively straightforward to enter the country and even easier to stay for an extended period. Although obtaining a residence permit, let alone permanent residency, can be costly, the Philippines offers numerous other legal avenues for residency. Here is a fundamental overview of what you should know.

Residing in the Philippines on a Tourist Visa

The Philippines stands out for its hospitality. On one hand, the number of people who can obtain permanent residence is limited. On the other hand, anyone can live in the country for years, and even decades, without resident status, but entirely on legal grounds.

The Philippines has reciprocity agreements on immigration with 82 countries. Citizens of these countries not only can enter without a visa but also enjoy certain privileges when applying for a residence permit. Foreigners requiring a special entry permit must apply for it at the Philippine diplomatic mission in their home country. In most cases, whether entering with or without a visa, foreigners are allowed to stay on the islands for 30 days.

To extend your stay, visit any Bureau of Immigration office and apply for a visa-free residence permit for an additional 29 days. Subsequently, you can return to the Bureau of Immigration to request extensions for one, two, or six months.

In total, you can stay in the Philippines this way for either 36 months (for citizens of visa-free countries) or 24 months (for everyone else). After reaching the maximum allowed period, you can leave the country, return, and repeat the specified procedures again. There are no restrictions on the number of such extensions, making it officially possible to live in the country for as long as you like.

Even though such a residence is legal, it does not grant you resident status or provide the right to study and work. For those seeking an official residence permit, there are numerous immigrant and non-immigrant visas with varying privileges for the holder.

Photo: JC Gellidon (Unsplash)

How to Get PR in the Philippines

Immigrant visas are not exactly equivalent to a permanent residence permit but rather serve as a form of indefinite residence permit issued to specific categories of applicants. In the Philippines, there are several such types of residence permits:

  • Permanent visa for a child born overseas to a Filipina. Similarly, a visa is issued for a child born to a woman holding an immigrant Philippine visa, but in a separate process.
  • Marriage visa (13A). This visa is only available to spouses of Filipinos from countries with a valid immigration agreement. It is initially issued for a probationary period of one year, after which you can apply for a permanent resident visa, which is exclusively available to 13A visa holders.
  • Perpetual visa for a former Filipino citizen who has lost their citizenship and returns for permanent residence in their native country.
  • Perpetual quota visa: The Philippines allocates 50 perpetual quota visas each year to citizens of countries that offer similar immigration privileges on a reciprocal basis. The selection process is highly competitive, with preference given to the parents, spouses, and children of Filipinos. Having a permanent residence permit can also enhance your chances of success, as can the applicant's high level of professional qualifications and investments in the country's economy totaling $50,000 or more.

How to Obtain Permanent Residency in the Philippines 

Non-immigrant visas are similar to temporary residency. There are several types of such permits:

  • Temporary residence visa: This visa is issued for five years to spouses of Filipino citizens who are citizens of countries with which the Philippines does not have a reciprocal immigration agreement. If the marriage remains intact after five years, the visa can be extended for an additional five-year period.
  • Student visa: This visa is issued to students over the age of 18 for the duration necessary to complete their studies. You can obtain it if you can prove that you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition fees. Another important condition is that the educational institution must be approved by the Bureau of Immigration.
  • Work visa is intended for individuals who are officially employed in the Philippines. The application process can be quite challenging, as the employer must demonstrate that they were unable to find suitable candidates among the local residents.

Special Visas

You can obtain a residence permit through special visas, which can be categorised into two main groups.

Special Work Visas

For any work activity in the Philippines, including business and investment, you need to obtain a work permit for foreigners. There are several types of visas for this purpose:

  • Special visa for an employee of an offshore banking division. This visa is issued to citizens of other countries hired to work in a foreign company of this type and allows them to reside in the country throughout their employment term.
  • Special Visa for Employment Generation (SVEG). Applicants must meet the prerequisite of providing workplaces for at least ten Filipinos. With this visa, you can stay in the country as long as this condition is met, but you will need to provide the authorities with an annual report on your business's performance.
  • Special Investor’s Resident Visa (SIRV). This type of residence permit is issued for an investment of $75,000 or more and allows you to stay in the country as long as this investment remains in its economy.

Photo: Bas van Wylick (Unsplash)

Special Resident Retiree’s Visa

A special program stands apart, available exclusively to pensioners over the age of 50. This non-immigrant Philippine visa allows you to obtain an indefinite residence permit, enabling easy entry and exit from the country. This residence permit eliminates the need for an annual report on the resident card, exempts you from taxes and customs duties on importing goods and personal belongings worth up to $7,000 at a time, and offers various other benefits. In addition, SRRV provides access to privileges and allows you to receive free assistance when interacting with government agencies.

There are several types of special pensioner’s visas:

  • SRRV Smile: This visa is issued upon a deposit of $20,000 in any local bank accredited by the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA).
  • SRRV Classic: This visa is issued to all retirees who purchase a condominium flat worth $50,000 or more or enter into a long-term lease of a house with a land plot. The requirements include a deposit of $10,000 and a pension of $800 for a single retiree or $1,000 for a couple. For those with a smaller pension, the deposit is increased to $20,000.
  • SRRV Human Touch: This visa is issued to retirees who require medical assistance. The requirements include a monthly pension of $1,500, a Philippine health insurance policy, and a deposit of $10,000.
  • SRRV Courtesy: This visa is available for former Filipinos aged 50 and older, as well as for foreigners aged 50 and older who are retired officials of international organisations recognized by the Philippine Foreign Ministry. The requirement is to deposit at least $1,500 in the bank.
  • SRRV Extended Courtesy: This program is exclusively for retired Armed Forces officers of foreign countries, provided their country has military ties or agreements with the Philippines. To qualify, retirees should demonstrate a pension of $1,000 per month and make a $1,500 deposit. This allows them to bring a spouse and two dependents. However, for each additional dependent, a $15,000 deposit is required in the bank. Dependents are defined as unmarried children under the age of 21.

General and Additional Documents You Need to Apply for a Philippine Visa

Everyone seeking to stay in the Philippines will need to provide the following set of documents:

  • An application in the prescribed format for the relevant type of visa.
  • A photocopy of the applicant's travel passport.
  • A certificate of admission to the country issued by the Bureau of Immigration with a valid residence permit.
  • An original medical certificate or a copy certified by the Quarantine Medical Clearance Bureau (this certificate is required for those arriving from specific countries listed in Appendix A of Immigration Operations Order No. SBM-14-059-A).
  • Recent photographs.
  • Relevant documents for the applicant's children if they are included in the visa application.
Visa Type
Additional Documents
A visa for a child born to a Filipina abroad or a child born to a female holder of a Philippine immigrant visa
Child’s birth certificate
Visa through Marriage (13А)
Marriage certificate, the Philippine spouse’s documents (birth certificate, ID card, etc.), clean record certificate, certificate of financial solvency (proving that you can provide for your family during your stay)
Permanent Resident’s Visa
Joint statement under oath from the applicant and the petitioning spouse that they have been co-living continuously
Visa for a former Filipino by birth
Clean record certificate
Quota Visa
Clean record certificate, proof of investment or special qualifications.
Temporary Resident’s Visa
Marriage certificate, the Philippine spouse’s documents (birth certificate, ID card, etc.), clean record certificate, certificate of financial solvency (proving that you can provide for your family during your stay).
Student Visa
Proof of the educational establishment’s accreditation by the Immigration Bureau, letter of acceptance, permission to enrol from the Commission of Higher Education (for medical schools) letter of acceptance for the applicant, bearing the official seal of the school, clean record certificate.
Work Visa
Work permit, a permission from the mayor, labour contract, tax statement, employer company’s documents, etc.
Special Visa for Offshore Bank Unit Employee
Confirmation from the employer certifying that the applicant is their employee, and an undertaking that the applicant shall only work for them, copies of the bank’s registrational documents.
Special Investor’s Resident Visa (SIRV)
Proof of an incoming transfer of $75,000 issued by the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), registration documents of the company that received the investment, clean record certificate.
Special Visa for Employment Generation (SVEG)
A commitment to employ a minimum of 10 Filipinos, documents for the company or the individual entrepreneurship, foreigner’s work permit issued by the Department of Labor and Employment clean record certificate undertaking to pay the employees a salary no lower than the minimal rate, etc.
Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV)
Medical examination, special form of the Philippine Retirement Authority, clean record certificate, confirmation of the money deposit.

You can find complete lists of the documents you need to provide for your visa on the Philippine Immigration Bureau’s official website.

In a Nutshell

Obtaining permanent residence in the Philippines can be a challenging process. The majority of those eligible for permanent residency are either Filipino by birth or investors. Even spouses are not guaranteed a permanent residence permit. However, the country offers numerous opportunities for long-term stays through various visa options, including the standard tourist visa.

Cover photo: Bambi Corro. Cris Tagupa (Unsplash)

All articles
Subscribe to this category so you don't miss any new posts
картинка на кнопке

Free consultation