How To Apply For A 13a Permanent Visa In The Philippines (requirements, costs)

10/23/2022

QUICK SUMMARY- How To Apply For The 13A Spousal Visa In The Philippines

  • Arrive In The Philippines- Enter the country on a different visa, for example, a business or tourist visa.
  • Conversion To 13A Probationary Visa- Apply at a Philippine Bureau of Immigration office for a Conversion To Non-Quota Immigrant Visa By Marriage (PROBATIONARY).
  • Amend To 13a Permanent Visa- After one year with a temporary 13a, you apply for an Amendment To 13a Permanent Resident Visa.

What is the Philippines 13a visa?

Foreigners who want to  live in the Philippines long-term to enjoy the gorgeous beaches, friendly locals, and affordable prices have a few different visa options:

  • You can play the renewal game with a tourist visa, which allows you to stay for up to 36 months.
  • If you meet the age and financial requirements, the SRRV is one of the cheapest retirement visas in the world.
  • If you are married to a former Filipino citizen who is now a naturalized citizen of a foreign country, the 13g Balikbayan Visa is ideal.
  • However, the most popular long-term visa for foreigners moving to the Philippines remains the 13a Permanent Visa.

The main requirements of the 13s Alien Spouse Visa are:

  • A Filipino national partner.
  • A valid marriage certificate recognized by the Philippines.
  • Proof you have the financial ability to support yourself and your family.
  • Are a foreigner from this list of 82 countries that grant permanent residence and immigration privileges to Filipinos

In my previous article, I detailed the Philippines 13a Visa, the specific immigration laws that allow foreign nationals to live in the Philippines, and the requirements and steps of applying for the visa at the Philippine Consulate General in your country of origin.

Additionally, I recommended applying for the 13a Spouse Visa from your country of residence and why that method is cheaper and faster than processing the 13a in the Philippines. However, if your Philippine spouse is stuck in the Philippines, you cannot apply for the 13a abroad. 

Your alternative is applying for your Probationary 13a Visa at a Bureau of Immigration Office (BI) in the Philippines (see the list here).

This post is meant for married foreigners currently in the Philippines with their Filipino national partners who want to convert their tourist visa to 13A Permanent Non-Quota Immigrant Visa. If you are applying for the 13a outside the Philippines, read Part 1 for the specific requirements.

Can You Help Me With My 13a Marriage Visa?

Yes. I have Visa and Immigration Specialist ready to remove the hassle, headaches, and complexity of the Marriage Visa Process. My Visa Experts are certified by the Bureau of Immigration (BI), Philippine Retirement Association (PRA), and the Department of Tourism (DOT) who can handle the visa on your behalf. Chat with a Philippine Visa Specialist here. 

Other Names For The 13a Non-Quota Immigrant Visa by Marriage

While you may hear the terms spousal visa, alien spouse visa, marriage visa, or foreign spouse visa, the official terminology is the 13a Non-Quota Immigrant Visa by Marriage. The 13a is named after Section 13 paragraph (a) of the Commonwealth Act No. 613 of the Philippine Immigration law.

 INSIDER TIP : Unmarried Minor Children- While foreign spouses with Philippine citizen partners are the primary applications, the 13a also applies to foreign unmarried children under 21 years old with a Filipino parent. 

Are there different types of Philippine Spouse Visas?

Yes, there are four: the 13a probationary and 13a permanent, the 13g for Returning Former Filipino Citizens (also dubbed the Balikbayan Visa), and the Spousal Temporary Resident Visa (TRV).

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Only foreign nationals from a country on this list Are eligible a 13a. [Click to Expand]

Visa Applicant's Country of Citizenship
Algeria*
Argentina
Australia
Austria
Belgium
Belize
Bolivia
Botswana
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Brazil
Canada
Cape Verde
Chile
Colombia
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cuba
Czech Republic
Denmark
Ecuador
Egypt*
El Salvador
Estonia
Finland
Fiji
France
Gabon
Germany
Greece
Guatemala
Honduras
Hongkong SAR
Indonesia*
Iraq
Ireland
Iceland
Israel
Italy
Japan
Latvia
Lesotho
Libya*
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Macau SAR
Malaysia*
Malta**
Marshall Island
Mexico
Micronesia
Monaco
Montenegro
The Netherlands
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Nigeria*
Northern Mariana Island
Norway
Oman*
Papua New Guinea
Paraguay
Peru
Russia
Saudi Arabia*
Senegal
Serbia
Singapore
Slovak Republic
Slovenia
South Africa
Spain
Suriname
Sweden
Switzerland
Thailand
Trinidad and Tobago
Tunisia
Turkey
United Kingdom
Uruguay
USA
Venezuela
* Limited to male visa applicants married to female Philippine citizen partners
** provided that the marriage took place before 24 April 2001 or the couple has been married for at least 5 years.

* Limited to male visa applicants married to female Philippine citizen partners
** provided that the marriage took place before 24 April 2001 or the couple has been married for at least 5 years

*Hint the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom ARE on the list.  

What is the difference between the 13a Probationary and 13a Permanent?

Not much. Both are multiple entry visas allowing you to leave and re-enter the Philippines. Visa holders have the same rights and benefits with either visa, and the requirements and eligibility are nearly the same. The critical difference is the validity period.

13a Probationary

If you arrived in the Philippines under a different visa (tourist visa, work visa, etc.), the BI issues you a 13a Probationary valid for one year.

13a Permanent

As long as you maintain the Spousal Visa requirements, pass an NBI clearance, and have a clean BI derogatory records check, you can apply for an Amendment to Permanent Non-Quota Immigrant Visa By Marriage after one year.

How often do I have to renew the 13a Permanent Visa?

That is one of the essential advantages of a 13a Permanent Residence Visa vs. other visa categories. Once the BI approves your amendment from probationary to 13a Permanent, you can stay in the Philippines indefinitely without renewing your visa.

You still need to file an Annual Report with the BI, which costs 310 PHP or ~$6 and can be filed online. Additionally, you will need to renew your Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR-I Permanent Card) every five years.

General Instructions for BOTH the 13a Conversion and the Amendment to Permanent 13a

How To Apply For A 13a Conversion To Probationary Visa

  1. Complete a Consolidated General Application Form For Immigrant Visa (BI FORM CGAF CO-001-Rev 2)
  2. Submit the application form and required documents for pre-screening to the BOI Main Office Central Receiving Unit (CRU) or staff of another Immigration Office that processes Permanent Resident Visa applications (Here is a list)
  3. Get the Order of Payment Slip (OPS).
  4. Pay the required fees. Note that the visa fee is non-refundable and only payable in cash or money order made payable to Philippine Consulate General. The BI will not accept a personal check or credit card.
  5. Wait for an Official Receipt that contains the schedule and location of the hearing and instructions for image and fingerprint capturing.
  6. Attend your scheduled hearing
  7. Proceed to the Alien Registration Division's (ARD) Image and Fingerprint Capturing Counter and submit requirements for the ACR I-Card application
  8. Check the BI website for visa application status.
  9. If your 13a marriage visa application is approved, submit your original passport for visa implementation.
  10. Claim your ACR I-Card, when ARD completes the approval process.

How To Amend To 13a Permanent

The Amendment to Permanent steps are the same as above, except Step 7. You don't need to do another fingerprint scan. For your Permanent 13a, the ARD uses the previously captured biometric data from your visa conversion. 

How Long Does It Take To Process A 13a Marriage Visa Application In The Philippines?

The BOI usually takes 1 – 2 months to process after receipt of application and the required documents. 

 INSIDER TIP : Legally Recognized Marriages Licenses- Philippine law must recognize the marriage contract as legal and valid. Unfortunately, same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships are currently ineligible for the 13a Spousal Visa.

Documentary Requirements for Conversion To 13a Probationary

Bureau of Immigration Clearance Certificate required to amend the 13a permanent visa


The requirements for both the Probationary 13a and the Permanent 13a are nearly identical, except for a notarized affidavit required for the 13a Permanent.

  1. Joint letter request addressed to the Commissioner from you and your Filipino spouse
  2. Visa application form (BI Form CGAF-001-Rev 1) with your complete address, immigration status, and passport details
  3. A Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) authenticated Marriage Contract or Marriage Certificate
  4. The Filipino spouse's Birth Certificate or certified true copy of BI-issued Identification Certificate as a Filipino citizen
  5. Photocopies of valid passport bio-page and visa page showing the latest authorized period of stay
  6. A new National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Police Clearance
  7. Bureau of Immigration Clearance Certificate completed no more than six months before filing your visa application; and
  8. An original or certified true copy of Bureau of Quarantine Medical Clearance, if you are a citizen of Annex A countries
  9. Additional Requirements for 13a Permanent- Joint affidavit of continuous cohabitation signed by you and your Philippine spouse and potentially a Barangay certificate
  10. The immigration officer can request additional documents as necessary

LIST OF COUNTRIES Requiring Bureau of Quarantine Medical Clearance [Click to Expand]

Annex A Countries Requiring Bureau of Quarantine Medical Clearance
Afghanistan
Angola
Bangladesh
Benin
Bolivia
Burkina Faso
Burundi Guinea-Bissau
Cambodia
Cameron
Central African Republic
Congo
Cote d’Ivoire Mali
Democratic Republic of Congo
Ecuador
Equitorial Guinea
Eritrea
Ethiopia
French Guiana
Gabon
Gambia
Guinea
Guyana
Iraq
Israel
Liberia
Mauritania
Myanmar
Niger
Nigeria
Pakistan
Papua New Guinea
Paraguay
Peru
Senegal
Sierra Leone
Somalia
Sudan
Suriname
Trinidad
Uganda
Venezuela
Vietnam

*Hint the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada are NOT on the list.

 INSIDER TIP : Proof of 13a Permanent Visa- The Bureau of Immigration will issue you a Board of Commissioners (BOC) Order for Conversion to 13a Visa (Probationary) document as proof your probationary status was approved. Keep this document safe until your amendment to a Permanent 13A is complete.
The BOI will issue you a new document as proof you now have a Permanent 13A visa. Again, keep the record safe, as you will need to present the permanent BOC order for your Alien Certificate of Registration Identity Card (ACR-I card).  

Notarize Documents In The Philippines For Visa Applications

Thanks to a 2014 order by Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Siegfred B. Mison reducing the processing time for the 13a Spousal Visa, the 13a application no longer requires a notary for letter requests or visa application forms. However, all sworn statements and affidavits still require notarization.

Do I need to notarize any documents for my 13a conversation application?

No. The documentary requirements for the 13a conversion (letter, application form CGAF-001, Marriage Certificate, Birth Certificate, etc.) do not require notarization.

Which documents require notarization when amending the Probationary 13a Visa to Permanent?

As mentioned above, sworn statements and affidavits used for the spousal visa application require notarization. Specifically, the Joint Affidavit signed by visa application and their Filipino citizen partner swearing continuous cohabitation needs a notary public to witness the signatures and verify the identity of the visa applicant and petitioning spouse.

What is the Bureau Of Immigration Clearance Certificate?

The BI issues a clearance certificate after completing a derogatory records check to verify the visa holder is not listed on the Hold Departure Order (HDO), Black List Order (BLO), Precautionary Hold Departure Order (PHDO), or Watch List Order (WLO) databases.

Suppose you do not have any criminal cases pending or outstanding arrest warrants. You have not committed any crimes or violated any immigration laws, such as illegally staying in the Philippines. In that case, your BI clearance certificate will be clean. 

What is an Alien Certificate Of Registration - Identification (ACR-I) Card?

An ACR-I card is a document that proves you are a legal residency in the Philippines. Failure to produce this document can result in deportation from the country. You must renew the ACR-I card every five years, at least one month before expiration. 

Where do I apply for the 13a visa in the Philippines?

After arriving in the Philippines, you will need to submit your 13a application forms at a Bureau of Immigration (BOI) office. However, not every BOI office receives, implements, and approves every type of visa application. 

Bureau of Immigration Main Office where you can complete a 13a probationary visa conversion

You can submit your 13a applications forms at the Philippine Embassy or Consulate of your home country. Photo Credit

List of Bureau of Immigration Offices Accepting Permanent Residence Visa Applications

BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION MAIN OFFICE 

Address: Magallanes Drive, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines 1002

Direct Line: (+632) 8-524-3769

Email Address: 

  • xinfo@immigration.gov.ph
  • immigPH@gmail.com
  • binoc_immigration@hotmail.ph

BI OfficesType of OfficeServices Offered
Cagayan de OroDistrict OfficesReceiving only
Cebu CityDistrict OfficesReceiving and Implementation
Davao CityDistrict OfficesReceiving and Implementation
IloiloDistrict OfficesFull service
San Fernando, La UnionDistrict OfficesFull service
TaclobanDistrict OfficesAmendment Only
Angeles CityField OfficesFull service
Bacolod CityField OfficesReceiving and Implementation
Baguio CityField OfficesReceiving and Implementation
BatangasField OfficesReceiving and Implementation
DagupanField OfficesFull service
Santa RosaField OfficesFull service
ViganField OfficesReceiving for probationary only
ZamboangaField OfficesProbationary only

You can download the latest list from the Bureau of Immigration website.

How much does the 13a visa cost in the Philippines?

Since you go through the Spousal Visa process twice (Probationary and Permanent), you will pay double the visa fees.

Header

Visa Fee

PRINCIPLE APPLICANT

PHP 8,620

DEPENDENT-SPOUSE

PHP 8,620

DEPENDENT-B16

PHP 8,370

DEPENDENT-B14

PHP 7,870

Additional Fee for ACR I-Card

1 Year +USD $50

*Fees are updated as of 06 March 2014 and may change without prior notice. You can find the latest visa fees on the BI website.

Payment of Visa Fee

 The BI only accepts cash payment for the visa fees. Personal checks or credit cards are not accepted.

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Important 13a Visa Terminology

Non-Quota Immigrant Visa for Foreign Spouse of a Philippine National

Officially, the Philippines Marriage Visa refers to the section of Immigration Law in Commonwealth Act No. 613, commonly known as The Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 Section 13 (a). 

Non-Quota Immigrant Visa- allows permanent residence in the Philippines under Section 13

Section 13 refers to allowing specific Immigrants into the Philippines

Section 9- refers to "Temporary Stay," such as a tourist visa (9a) visa or student visa (9f).

Immigrant- refers to permanent residence in the Philippines.

Quota Immigrants- the Philippines only admits 50 foreigners per year from countries that also allow immigration privileges to Filipinos

Non-Quota Immigrants- are foreigners exempt from the 50 person per year limit.

Alien Spouse- The wife or the husband with a Philippine citizen partner. 

Non-Immigrant Visa- For a temporary visit to the Philippines for tourism (9a), transit (9b), business meetings (9d), or university education (9f). 

Key Takeaway: Applying For The 13a Spousal Visa In The Philippines

Completing the 13a application in the Philippines requires going through the process twice, first for the Temporary and again for the Permanent and paying double the fees. 

However, the 13a Temporary to Permanent Visa remains the best way for a foreign national to immigrate to the Philippines IF your Filipino spouse cannot join you in your home country. Otherwise, applying for the marriage visa outside of the Philippines will save you time and money. 

NEXT STEPS

If you liked this story on Philippines safety, you will enjoy these other posts on living in the  Philippines

Expat Guide To Living In The Philippines- Costs, Visas, Safety, Pros & Cons (2022)
Philippines SRRV Visa Update and Requirements- All Your Questions Answered (2021)
How To Get A Philippines Retirement Visa For As Low As $1500

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FAQs: Applying For A 13a Permanent Visa In The Philippines

Can I apply for a Probationary 13a Visa before arriving in the Philippines?

Yes. If you and your Philippine spouse are together in your country of residence, you can and should apply for the 13A Permanent Non-Quota Immigrant Visa BEFORE arriving in the Philippines. 

If you both can make a personal appearance to submit the 13a application form at the Philippine Embassy or Consulate nearest to your country of residence, you skip the one-year probation. By directly acquiring the 13a Permanent overseas, you avoid paying for the probationary to permanent amendment process and additional fees you would incur in the Philippines.

Can I work in the Philippines holding a 13a Probationary Visa?

Yes. Foreign nationals with an approved 13a Spousal Visa, either probationary or permanent, are exempt from the Alien Employment Permit requirement needed for foreign nationals to work in the Philippines.

If your 13a Probationary is still in process before your work contract starts, you can apply for a Special Work Permit (SWP)– Commercial allowing temporary employment for up to six months. 

What is the difference between the 13a Permanent and the 13g Balikbayan Visa?

Both are Spousal Visas allowing permanent residency to foreign nationals with Philippine citizen spouses. The crucial difference is the current citizenship of the Filipino spouse. 

You use the 13a when your spouse is a CURRENT Phillippine national. You use the 13g when your spouse is a Balikbayan, i.e., a returning former Filipino citizen who is now a naturalized citizen of a foreign country.

Am I allowed to work in the Philippines on a 13a Probationary Visa?

Once the Bureau of Immigration approves your 13a Probationary, you are allowed to seek employment without requiring an Alien Employment Permit (AEP). 

However, while the BI is still processing your 13a conversion, you are technically still under your prior temporary non-immigrant visa type. If you need to work while the BI is processing, you can apply for a Special Work Permit (SWP)– Commercial temporary visa holders to work for three to six months. 

If the SWP expires before the BI completes the 13a conversion, you must renew the work permit.


About the author

Hi, That's me. I'm Marco Sison. I am a survivor of the corporate rat race. I started Nomad FIRE to show you an alternative to the stress and grind of 70-hour weeks to pay off a mortgage, student loans, and countless bills. After getting laid off in 2015, I said screw it all and retired early at 41 years old. I have traveled the last five years to over 40 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries for 70% less cost than the US. I have been featured in: US News & World Reports, Huffington Post, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, Best Life, CW Network, Dr. Wealth, and others. [view press...]

  • William R says:

    Hello,

    I have the NON-QUOTA IMMIGRANT VISA BY MARRIAGE (PROBATIONARY) last year. (March 2022) The visa is good for 1 year. At what point do I (can I) apply for the renewal? I have to assume it is before the actual 1 year point? But I am not sure how early I am allowed to start the application process. Also, not sure exactly what to expect on the renewal process. Thank you.

    • Marco Sison says:

      Hi William,

      You should look to convert your 13a Probationary Visa 2-3 months before expiration. The Bureau of Immigration allows earlier renewal under extenuating circumstances (such as an overseas employment contract requiring you to be out of the country).

      If you would like assistance in dealing with the 13a visa process, drop me a line.

      https://nomadicfire.com/philippines-visa-consultation

      Cheers,

      Marco

  • Hi Marco, do I need to apply for residency if I was born in the Philippines but live abroad? I have to prove that I am a resident to be able to apply for copyright for books I have written and published. I am told I need to be a resident here. I have a house here but I don’t know how to prove that I am a resident. Thank you forbyour help

    • Marco Sison says:

      Hi Chona,

      Your situation is unclear, as you don’t mention what country you are living in. Additionally, I don’t know what is required to apply for copyright protection. I suggest speaking to a legal professional in your country.

      However, when you say you “live abroad,” that usually means you are resident of the country you are living in. Most countries consider you a tax residency if you live in that country for more than 183 days per year. You generally cannot be a resident of more than one country.

      Good luck in your search.

      Cheers,

      Marco

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