TOURIST VISA EXTENSIONS FOR THE PHILIPPINES

DISCLAIMER: I am not an expert or an Immigration professional by any means, I am a travel blogger who is sharing what I have learned during the time I have been in the Philippines. All the below information is from my personal experiences and may change. It is intended to help you when extending a tourist visa, but I would recommend getting the most up to date information from the Bureau’s website or in person from the Bureau of Immigration. 

 

 

 

You have seen the pictures of Boracay or other Island resorts and want to have a holiday in the Philippines?

 

The good news is that the Philippines have a visa on arrival program that will allow most passport holders to turn up to a Philippine airport and organise a 30 day visa on arrival. (If you are travelling on an Indian or Pakistan or Chinese passport you may need to organise a visa before entry)

If you are looking at staying in the Philippines for longer than 30 days you will need to organise a visa extension. Essentially, you will need to extend your visa every 2 months. The maximum length of time you can do this is for 16 months. Extensions of stay after 16 months, up to 24 months, need the approval of the Chief of the Immigration Regulation Division. Extension of stay after 24 months need the approval of the Commissioner. There are various budget airlines in the Philippines and it may be cheaper and easier to do a ‘visa run’ to another country to reset your 16 months. Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, China or Japan are not too far and a return ticket can be bought relatively cheaply.

 

The Philippines do not offer visas in less than one month blocks. Example: If you need to extend for a month and a week, you will need to apply to get your visa extended for 2 months to ensure you are covered.

 

In order to extend your visa, you will need to visit an office of the Bureau of Immigration before your visa expires. Anytime from a week before to the day before is fine. If your visa runs out on a weekend, you will need to visit an office BEFORE the weekend, otherwise you will be charged extra for not having a valid visa.

For a list of all offices click here or here is a map of the country with the offices.

 

I have only ever been to the Bureau of Immigration – Makati Immigration Extension Office, so my experiences are related to that particular office and other offices may be different.

 

Ground Floor, Board of Investment Bldg, 385 Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City

 

 

 

  • You will need to dress appropriately, which means no shorts and no thongs/flip flops. Security will not let you in if you arrive in attire not fitting.

  • You can either take the application form with you already filled in or obtain one from the office (The forms are not on display, so you will need to ask for a form) The form can be downloaded above.

  • You will need a 2 x 2 photograph (2 inch by 2 inch) of yourself on a white background to be attached to the application form. The picture must have been taken with-in the last 3 months. They DO have glue at the office.

  • Obviously you will need to take your passport.

  • You will need the names, addresses and phone numbers of 2 ‘references’ in the Philippines for the form.

  • You will need the flight number from when you entered the country, but it will probably be on your passport from when it was stamped on arrival.

  • Ensure you have enough cash (in Pesos) when you visit. The fees are listed here.

The cost of the visa does vary. All up the cheapest I have paid is P2830 and the most is P8489. If you will be in the country for longer than 59 days (including the 30 days you got when you arrived) you will be required to buy a 12 month ID card. The ACR-I Card (Alien Certificate and Registration) is a microchip based, credit card-sized, identification card and according to the website costs $50 USD + P500 – (which is approx. P2750. You can also open a bank account in the Philippines with this card.) The price for the visa does depend on if you are extending for 1 or 2 months and also how many times you have extended before. There is an express fee included that is P1000 (but I have paid as high a P2000 on occasion), but this fee is compulsory, whether or not you are in a hurry.

The Makati office does seem a chaotic, but now I have been a many times I have realised it is organised chaos. Once in the office there are no signs or people to tell you what to do, so I will attempt to explain it here to give you a head start.

 

  • The bureau shares the building with other businesses but is on the ground floor. Look for the Bureau of Immigration sign near a single doorway. There is a reception area that can help if you are lost.

 

  • Once you find the entrance you will see a long corridor, sign in at the door and then walk to near the end and turn left. In this small room there are 4 counters.

 

  • Proceed to counter 1 or 2. These workers do the initial processing. Some days they will give you a number and then you can sit until it is called, other days they will just take your paperwork. No money is required at this stage. They only require your passport and application form. (and ACR-I card if you have one)

 

  • Once they have initially processed your application they will call you name (usually your middle name for some reason). They will give you 2 receipts as well as a letter to say you are not on the Blacklist. This can take anywhere from 10 minutes to over an hour, depending on workload.

 

  • Just to the right of counter 2 is the cashier, which is counter 3. This is where you pay. You will need to pay the amount on BOTH receipts added together (they are not duplicates).

 

  • If the cashier is busy, he may say to just leave your forms with the money on the counter. If you do this, ensure to use the paperclips provided so the money is not lost. Take a seat and wait for your name to be called. The longest I have waited is 30 minutes for the cashier.

 

  • After paying, the cashier will give you a receipt for your payment (don’t lose this, you will need it to get your passport back later) and then he will take your passport, application and blacklist letter. 

 

  • It takes a number of hours to process your visa application, and the cashier will generally tell you to come back after 4.30PM to collect your passport. When I have arrived before midday, they usually advise to come back in 3 hours.

 

  • When you return, go to the little entrance way between counter 4 and 1 and try to get someone’s attention and let them know you are picking up your passport. You then sign the release book and you are then done.

 

  • If you have also getting an ACR-I card, it takes seven days to process, so you will need to come back in another 7 days to collect that as well.

Things to Remember

 

  • There are not many desks or spaces to fill in forms etc, so perhaps take a book or something sturdy to write on if you need to fill in the form in your lap. I recommend printing one out and pre filling.

 

  • The process can take up to 2 hours just to submit everything, then you will need to return to pick up your passport.

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  • The Makati office is only for extensions of visas. For all other transactions you will need to attend the head office in Intramurous.

 

  • It is a good idea to take a pen, in case you need to use one, as they are rare in the office.

 

  • If you stand there waiting to be served you will wait forever, so you need to be at least a touch assertive to ask questions or hand in the forms.

 

  • If you have been in the country longer than 6 months consecutively you need to secure an ECC (Emigration Clearance Certificate) from the bureau a week before departing.

 

  • There is a photocopy service on the first floor if you need it.

ACR-I card

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