Foreign individuals seeking to travel to the Philippines to work, tour, study, invest, or retire are required to obtain a Philippine visa to be granted legal entry upon arriving in any of the country’s international airports. Failure to secure a Philippine visa will subject foreign nationals to administrative fines from the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in the Philippines.
Visa options in the Philippines are generally divided into two categories: a) non-immigrant visas and b) immigrant visas. But there are also visas enacted through special laws or presidential proclamations, called special visas.
Foreign nationals seeking to visit the Philippines for tourism, business, or medical purposes must secure a Tourist Visa or Temporary Visitor’s Visa (TVV). They can obtain a 59-day tourist visa at the Philippine Embassy/Consular of their country of origin before traveling to the Philippines. If they are already in the Philippines, they can extend their stay for 29 days by filing a 29-day visa waiver at BI’s main office in Intramuros, Manila before the expiration date of their authorized stay.
Foreign individuals legally sponsored by their Philippine-based employers to come to the Philippines for gainful employment must secure a Work Visa or 9g visa. The petitioning employer must indicate that the foreign national is indispensable to the management, operation, administration, or control of the Philippine-based company. The 9g visa validity period approved by BI must correspond with the foreign national’s employment contract.
Foreign nationals who are citizens of countries with diplomatic relations with the Philippines can apply for a Quota Visa. To be eligible, a foreigner must possess technical knowledge, special experience, or outstanding ability in a certain field or sector that is of national interest or greatly contributes to the national economy. They are also required to prove that they have a sustainable investment that must be approved by the BI Commissioner. This visa is only issued to 50 foreign individuals of any nationality every year.
Foreign individuals legally married to a Filipino citizen can apply for a Marriage Visa or 13a visa. To be eligible, the marriage must be recognized as valid under existing Philippine laws. The foreign spouse must also prove that they do not have any derogatory records, are not afflicted with any harmful or contagious disease, and have sufficient capacity to support a family in the Philippines so as not to become a burden to the community and the country.
Special Non-Immigrant Work Visas
Foreign individuals employed by multinational companies with subsidiaries or regional headquarters in the Philippines can apply for a PEZA Visa or Regional Operating Headquarters (ROHQ) Visa. The PEZA Visa or 47a2 visa is granted to foreign nationals employed by foreign companies registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) or Board of Investments (BOI). They are also granted to foreign employees of companies engaged in oil drilling activities in the Philippines. The ROHQ Visa, on the other hand, is issued to foreign executives of regional headquarters in the Philippines. The foreign executive must be paid at least US$12,000 per year by their employer for a maximum of three years.
Special Immigrant Visas
Foreign nationals seeking to come to the Philippines for indefinite stay or permanent living for work, investment, or retirement purposes can apply for any of three special immigrant visas: 1) Special Investor’s Resident Visa (SIRV); 2) Special Visa for Employment Generation (SVEG); or 3) Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV).
An SIRV is granted to foreign investors interested in investing a minimum of US$75,000 in either new or existing companies in the Philippines (companies that are publicly-listed or engaging in certain industries).
An SVEG, on the other hand, is granted to foreign individuals who commit to employ at least 10 Filipinos in a lawful and sustainable enterprise, trade, or industry in the Philippines. The foreigner must directly and exclusively engage in sustainable investment and perform management acts or the authority to hire, promote, and dismiss employees.
An SRRV is granted to foreign nationals seeking to retire in the Philippines and obtain multiple-entry/exit privileges. To be eligible, a foreigner must be aged 35 or older and must deposit anywhere from US$1,500, US$10,000, or US$20,000 depending on the type of retirement program they want to avail from the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA). If qualified, they can bring their spouse and one child with no additional visa deposit. Larger families require an additional deposit per dependent in excess of two.
Special Work Permits
Foreign nationals seeking to obtain a work visa in the Philippines are required to apply for a work permit. Those seeking long-term employment must secure an Alien Employment Permit (AEP). An AEP authorizes a foreign national to obtain lawful employment in a sector or industry where no local manpower is able or willing to perform the job responsibilities they want to engage in. Conversely, foreigners who want to obtain short-term employment of up to 6 months can apply for a Special Work Permit (SWP).