A few weeks ago, I've been researching a lot about the process of renewing and changing my last name in my Philippines passport while at the same time registering our marriage thru the Philippines Embassy in London!
Unexpectedly, I found out about the BALIKBAYAN STAY PROGRAM that all spouse or children of a Filipino/Filipina citizen can stay for one-year Visa-free in the Philippines! Usually, foreign passport holders have to pay for at least 93GBP to get 1-year multiple entry visas or get a free visa on arrival to enter the Philippines or visa-free for a month if you'll only do a short visit!
The Balikbayan Program, as instituted by Republic Act 6768 (amended by Republic Act 9174), was launched by the Philippine Government “under the administration of the Department of Tourism to attract and encourage overseas Filipinos to come and visit their motherland.”
Anyway, below are the details I found on different Philippines Embassy websites (Singapore, London, USA), full credits to our efficient Foreign affairs websites! This is the easiest and cheapest way to get a long-term visa for the Philippines.If a balikbayan has used his/her privilege and stayed in the Philippines for one year, he/she may apply for an extension of stay for multiples of two months up to one additional year by paying the appropriate fees at the nearest Bureau of Immigration office.
First, what is "Balikbayans"? – any overseas Filipino returning to the Philippines, including former Filipinos who have acquired foreign citizenship.
The Philippines’ BALIKBAYAN PROGRAM allows a one-year visa-free stay for Filipinos working overseas and for former Filipinos who have acquired citizenship in certain countries (refer to list of countries below). The visa-free stay privilege is extended to the balikbayan’s non-Filipino spouse and children, on the two conditions that (1) they enter the Philippines with the balikbayan and (2) they are citizens of a country listed below.Former Filipino balikbayans traveling to the Philippines are advised to bring either their old Philippine passport or a copy of the Philippine birth certificate as proof of their former Philippine citizenship. Accompanying family members of the balikbayan can bring appropriate supporting documents:
For the spouse: copy of marriage certificate
For each child: copy of birth certificate
For adopted children: copy of adoption papers
Philippine Law (R.A. 9174) provides benefits to balikbayans:
Tax-exempt maximum purchases in the amount of USD 1,500, or the equivalent in Philippine and other currency, at Philippine Government–operated duty-free shops
Exemption from Travel Tax provided that their stay in the Philippines is one year or less. If their stay in the Philippines exceeds one year, Travel tax will apply to them.
EXTENSION OF STAY
Visitors who are admitted as balikbayan are given an initial stay of one (1) year. Their stay may be extended for an additional one (1), two (2) or six (6) months at the Visa Extension Section of a Bureau of the immigration office. Balikbayans who have stayed in the Philippines after thirty-six (36) months may be required to submit additional requirements.
COUNTRIES COVERED BY THE BALIKBAYAN PROGRAM
Former Filipinos who have acquired citizenship from a country listed below can avail of the one-year visa-free balikbayan stay. If the country of citizenship is not listed, the balikbayan must apply for a Philippine visa.
The non-Filipino spouse and dependent children of a former Filipino can avail of the one-year visa-free balikbayan stay if their passport is issued by a country listed below. If the country of passport is not listed, the spouse or dependent children must apply for a Philippine visa.
Antigua and Barbuda
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Papua New Guinea
Republic of Korea
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Sao Tome and Principe
Trinidad and Tobago
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
United Republic of Tanzania
United States of America
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