Note: I do  not claim to be an expert here. All the things written  in here were purely based on our experiences as a successful applicants for 13A Visa. My husband is a British national and we still don’t have dependents. Situations for other nationalities may have a slight different procedures but I will try my best to find a common ground. 

 

1. What is a 13A Visa or Non-Quota Immigrant Visa (by Marriage) ?

It is where a foreigner can reside in the Philippines on the basis of a valid marriage to a Filipino citizen.

2. Who can apply for the said visa?

A foreigner who is legally married to  a Filipino citizen can apply for the visa even without denouncing his or her citizenship. And as long his or her country has a reciprocal agreement allowing Filipinos to become immigrants.

3. What are the documentary requirements that they need?

On the first folder we prepared the following:

  • A joint request letter of the applicant addressed to the Bureau of Immigration Commissioner. And it should be notarised at least a day before the actual application. Click here for the sample letter. You may copy the content and just change the information.
  • Duly Accomplished CGAF. Download the form here. Use blank ink, write legibly and use CAPITAL LETTERS. If the information isn’t available for you, write N/A instead of leaving it blank. For more information, please check this.
  • Original NSO (now PSA) issued Marriage Certificate.
  • Original NSO issued Birth Certificate of the Filipino spouse.
  • Photocopy of the government issued ID of the Filipino spouse.
  • Photocopy of the passport’s bio-page and the pertinent pages of it.
  •  NBI Clearance of the foreigner spouse. If the foreign spouse is living in the country for not less than six months.
  • BI Clearance can be applied on the day of your application. No need to fill out anything. However, we filled out the form at home just to be sure. But there’s no need to stress yourself about it.

On the second folder we prepared the following:

  • Another duly accomplished CGAF.
  • Photocopy of the passport’s bio-page and its pertinent pages.
  • Photocopy of the receipts of your applicable fees.

A bit of few reminders.

  • Arrange those documents properly according to the checklist from their website.
  • Punch them. Yes even the original documents (marriage certificate, birth certificate and half of the NBI clearance) Because you have to surrender them. They don’t need photocopies of them. So you have to photocopy them in advanced, so you have something left for yourselves. Or just order new ones after your application.
  • Try to understand that the documents stated from their website, they might need supporting papers in case they find some inconsistencies from them. Or to prove your identity. So do not be surprised. So think ahead of what they might ask and provide and attach all of them ahead of time.

4. We have a foreign documents with us, what shall we do?

Luckily for us we don’t have a foreign documents with us. This is a bit confusing to be honest. We phoned them loads of times since it really caused us confusion. Few of the officers said, we need to go to DFA because we have a foreign document with us (they’re pertaining to my husband’s birth certificate) but the others were saying we don’t need to as his birth certificate wasn’t on the requirements. But to do this, in case you were married abroad or you have a foreign document/s with you. You need to visit Department of Foreign Affairs or DFA to get it authenticated, or what they called Red Ribbon. From what I know, foreign  documents should be authenticated first from the Philippine Embassy in the country from where the document/s originated or by the said country’s Consulate General or embassy based in the Philippines before you proceed to DFA to have it authenticated. You can check the DFA’s website for more information.

5. Can I get an NBI Clearance on any NBI branches?

Sad to say, no. You can only get the NBI Clearance at their main office at Taft, Manila. Worry not, foreigner’s queue isn’t that bad. Here are the procedures on how to apply for NBI Clearance. Click here or here.

6. What are the types of government ID that are acceptable?

Passport, Postal ID, PhilHealth ID, Driver’s License, PRC ID. Since we just got married, I didn’t have any valid IDs with me. So I recommend that you have to get either Postal ID because you can get the ID after a month or two, it depends on your location, or update your status at PhilHealth and they will give your ID the same day.

7. What are the advantages and disadvantages on applying 13A Visa?

No more Visa Runs for the foreigner. No more paying of extensions every two months. Foreigners can finally have a business transaction. And apparently is now allowed to work in the country. It depends though on the employer, they mentioned getting a clearance from DOLE. It really isn’t a disadvantage at all, but it really requires patience. The procedures itself are easy but it will always be a waiting game. Plus you should really should have enough money for the application.

8. I am a tourist visa holder, can I work in the country?

Tourist visa holder is supposed to act like a tourist. So no, it isn’t actually allowed.

9. I heard alot of rumours that you need to have enough money from your bank account to qualify for the 13A Visa.

Actually, financial stability isn’t an issue at all. As long as you can pay the necessary fees and comply with the required documents, you are not going to encounter problems. It was my fear before since my husband was a tourist visa holder, although we have enough savings to support each other. We printed off additional documents in case they ask for them. Bank statement, and my Certificate of Employment.

10. They asked for an NSO issued marriage certificate, and we know it takes ages before NSO actually released it. You just got married, how come that you already have your marriage certificate with you?

After we got married, we asked our local civil registrar for the advanced report for our marriage contract. We explained the reason why we immediately need it. She issued an endorsement for us and told us to go the NSO near us instead in the main office. Now, I don’t know if some of the branches are allowed to do this. We went to the NSO branch and after few working days, we claimed our marriage certificate.

14. Did you ask for an agent’s help?

No. We did all the procedures all by ourselves. To actually see how it is done. Plus, we don’t have a budget for an agent, and it also doesn’t guarantee you for a speedy procedure.

15. How much did you pay for  the application? It says on the website you have to pay around Php 8,500.00?

The amount on their website is just a rough estimation of your actual fee. We paid  Php 10,978.00 including the ACR I-Card and Visa Implementation fees, and the BI Clearance, and an extra Php 1,000.00 for an early hearing. We wrote a request letter addressed to the Immigration Commissioner thru the hearing officer. We stated our reason why we need for an early hearing.

16. Early hearing? You can actually request for it?

Yes. We were advised by the evaluator that we can request for it since we came from a very far place. However, there’s no guarantee that they will grant your request. You must have a very valid reason.

  17. Can you please share the timeline of your application.

We applied for my husband’s 13A Visa last July 22. Upon receiving the official receipt, there were two dates written in there for the interview/hearing. We can turn up either August 2 or August 5, but since we requested for  an early hearing, we finished the process half a day that usually finish for weeks. August 11 when the application has been approved but it was posted last August 24. September 2, when his visa has been implemented and ACR I-Card has been claimed.

18. What if I turned up late or did not go for the interview? Can I reschedule it?

From what I know, you cannot reschedule it. If you cannot turn up for the assigned date or turned up late, it will be the cause of the denial of your application. Or you can repeat the process all over again, and pay again.

19. I am so nervous for the interview, what are the possible questions they might ask?

Fortunately our hearing officer actually didn’t ask us anything that much. Seems that he wasn’t in the mood to. He did ask us about his citizenship, when and where our marriage took place. And that was it! But according to some blogs that I read, they’ve been asked the same thing and what they do for a living.

20. Can you please tell me the whole process of the application.

After we completed the required documents, punched them on two separate long folders we proceeded to the Public Assistance Information Unit. And have our documents checked. When our documents are finally okay, the officer listed his name and asked us to wait for few minutes. After like 5-10 minutes his name was called and we went to an office behind their desk, and gets evaluated. After the short interview, we were asked to go to Window 25 – Central Receiving Unitto assess again our documents and directed us to the next window for the assessment of the payment. Next, we went to Window 12 – Cash Sectionand paid the necessary fees. We photocopied the receipts outside, and we wrote a request letter for an early hearing. Then we went to the 4th floor, Room 424, to ask for the approval. After our letter has been approved, we went to Window 20 – Central Receiving Unit, had our papers checked once again and gave us a small piece of paper to be filled out and directed us to Window 39 – Assessment of Payment. We filled out an order of payment form and proceeded to Window 12 to pay Php 1,000.00 for an express lane.  Went back again to Window 20 and submitted our folder. We were told to wait until 10.15 am. We decided to just spend it at the 4th floor. By 10.15 am we approached the staff from the lawyer’s office and asked us to wait for a couple of minutes. By 10.30 am we went inside, it was just a brief conversation. We just signed papers and biometrics is next. We first got a number from the queue near the lobby and went toWindow 44 – ACR I-Card. We’ve waited for his number to appear on the screen. We submitted the second folder to Window 44, and proceeded to biometrics. And handed us the claim stub. That’s it.

21. Do they have dress codes there?

Yes. You can wear pants, and shirt. Do not wear slippers. Although some of the foreigners still wears shorts and ladies wears mini skirt and sleeveless blouse. But just to be sure, dress appropriately.

22. Where I can apply for the said visa?

Not all Immigration offices can  perform this type of transaction. We live in the south town of Luzon, and the “nearest” office than we can apply for the visa is the main office. Here’s the complete list wherein you can transact your application.

23 . Where I can find if my application is successful?
Here’s the link where you can actually check the status of your application. However, they don’t regularly update the website, so might as well phone them when your expected date is drawing near.

24. What is the best time to apply for the said visa?

Of course as early as possible. But in our case we maximised the time of his allowed period of time to stay in the country. British citizen like him is allowed to stay in the country as a tourist for 36 months or three years before he a). Leave the country for good or for visa-run and repeat the process all over again b). Get married and apply for the 13A Visa. Of course we chose the latter because that was really the plan. Only it took us almost a year and a half before we get married and sort the application. We didn’t encounter problems though, so regardless either way is fine. If you chose the latter option though, make sure you’re going to allot a long allowance for the applications, because it takes a month or two before its approval. And the document preparation actually takes ages. And also make sure you still have at least 3 weeks left before the expiration of your tourist visa extension.

25. Oh  no! My tourist visa is about to expire and my name isn’t on the agenda verification yet, do I need to extend it?

As sad as it sounds, yes! You need to buy more time whilst waiting for the approval of your application. Cus if you don’t extend, they might deny your application. And like I mentioned you’re not really sure on when they’re going to update the status of your application. So you really better keep an eye on their website, once your visa is about to expire and your name isn’t on the agenda yet. Or call the Executive Director’s Office in this number 465-2400 local 237. They are the proper department that can actually answer your query.

26. Finally, my name appeared on the agenda verification, what will I do next?

Call the Executive Director’s Office for the instructions. Normally, they will advice you that once you saw your name on the agenda,  you can actually go there and have your visa implemented and claim your ACR I-Card. But we waited for one week before we proceed for the implementation. It didn’t hurt us. So if you’re living far away from the Immigration, try to phone them  first to verify.

27. What are the requirements for visa implementation?

We just brought his passport, the duplicate copies of the receipt of his 13A Visa application, the original receipts of his latest tourist visa extension, the claim stub for his ACR  I-Card, and we printed off the agenda verification only the section with his name listed on it.

28. Can you please tell me the procedures of visa implementation

After gathering all the requirements we proceed to the 2nd floor, Room 201, Window 1- Receiving, Executive Director’s Office and gave all the necessary requirements. We filled out a form and handed it back again to Window 1. After few minutes, we were called and gave us a claim stub and told us to wait for 3 hours. After 3 hours, we went back to Window 2 – Releasing and they gave us back his now stamped passport together with the original receipts of his 13A Visa application, receipts of his latest extension that were stapled to his passport and a certified trues copy of an ordered signed by the high-ranking officials of the Immigration stating that his application has been approved. That his status is now upgraded from tourist to probationary resident. And then we were asked to go toWindow 42 – ACR I-Card Releasing to claim his now colour purple I-Card. Before lunch, we were finished with all the procedures.

29. So your application is now finally approved, what’s next?

Annual Report every first quarter of the year. And we are going to apply for its amendment to permanent residency two months before the expiration of his probationary residency. Probationary residency expires after a year.

30. Can we apply through representative?

Yes, as long as the representative is accredited by the Immigration and is authorized to transact but business with them. If you have enough money for this, then go give it a try. However, like I mentioned it doesn’t guarantee you  speedy procedure. They’re just going to do things for you. You can actually apply without their help, as the process wasn’t hard at all.

31. Are they going to require me for medical examination?

Some foreigners are required to submit the Original or Certified True Copy of Bureau of Quarantine Medical Clearance, if applicant is a national of any of the countries listed under Annex “A” of Immigration Operations Order No. SBM-14-059-A who arrived in the Philippines on or after June 2014. Click here for more information.

32. Do I need a police clearance from my home country?

It was actually a requirement before, for those foreigners who live in the country for less than six months, but they don’t require this anymore as well as the 2×2 white background pictures.

33. Can you please share with us your actual experience during the application? We need more information.

Of course. Please click [1][2][3][4][5][6]. These includes from the start to finish, the explanation of each instructions of the said visa and even how to avail the documents that are needed on the application.

Published by Chie Taylor