How long can a US Citizens stay in the Philippines?

Whether you need a visa or not to enter the Philippines depends on your intent of your stay and how long you plan to stay there. Since the Philippines continues to maintain diplomatic relations with the US, US citizens may avail themselves of visa-free entry into the Philippines, provided their stay does not exceed 30 days. There are also other factors that plays a part in what type of visa you can apply for, such as marital status. Being married to a Filipino citizen allows you access to other types of visas  not offered to others.

Less than a Month

For those US Citizens who plan to travel to the Philippines for less than 30 days, you will not need a visa to enter. Upon entry, you will receive an entry stamp when you arrive at the airport which will also contain the date you must exit the Philippines (30 days from the date of entry). For you to receive a 30-day entry stamp, your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of departure. In addition, you must also provide a return ticket to the United States or an onward ticket to another country.

Visits over 30 Days

For US Citizens who plan to stay longer in the Philippines for longer than 30 days, a visa must be obtained prior to your arrival. To obtain a tourist visa, you will need to present a copy of your itinerary, hotel reservations, proof of financial capacity (photocopy of latest bank statement and an employment certificate from the employer indicating position and salary, or affidavit of support), and an invitation letter from friends or family members living in the Philippines. If you’re applying for a business visa, you will need a letter from your employer or sponsor. There is a fee to secure your temporary visa – single entry valid for (3) months – $30.00 USD, multiple entry valid for (6) months – $60.00 USD, and multiple entry valid for (12) months – $90 USD.

Immigrant Visas

Immigrant visas are reserved for a foreign national based on their valid marriage to a Philippine citizen and their children under the age of 21. To apply for an Immigrant visa, applicants must submit a medical examination which also include chest x-rays, police record and an in-person interview. In addition, you must also provide documentary evidence of spouse’s Philippine citizenship in form of NSO birth certificate or passport, evidence of financial status such as bank statements, real state or a notarized Affidavit of Support from a relative in the Philippines, with attached documents to substantiate declaration or claim. The current fee for an Immigrant visa is $150 USD which must be paid in cash or money order. Personal checks and credit cards are not accepted.

Balikbayan Program

The Balikbayan Program as instituted by Republic Act 6768 (amended by Republic Act 9174) was launched by the Philippine Government to attract and encourage overseas Filipinos to come and visit their motherland. This is in recognition of their contribution to the economy of the country through the foreign exchange inflow and revenues that they generate. The program allows visa-free entry to the Philippines for a period of one (1) year for foreign passport holders, with the exception of visa-required nationals.

Under the “Balikbayan Program” of the Philippines, the following persons are considered Balikbayans:

  • a Filipino citizen who has been continuously out of the Philippines for a period of at least one year from the date of last departure;
  • a Filipino Overseas Worker; and
  • a former Filipino citizen who had been naturalized in a foreign country and holds a foreign passport (original proof of former Philippine citizenship, such as old Philippine passport, birth certificate, or foreign naturalization papers showing Filipino nationality will be required).

Balikbayans are entitled to the following benefits:

  • travel tax exemption
  • visa-free entry to the Philippines for a period of one year from the date of arrival in the Philippines
  • duty-free shopping privileges up to US$1,500.00

Family members (spouse and children) of a Balikbayan who are holding foreign passports are also entitled to Balikbayan privileges, on the condition that they:

  • travel with the Balikbayan;
  • pay any applicable immigration fees; and
  • observe and comply with immigration rules and regulations.

Balikbayans traveling to the Philippines are advised to declare before the Philippine Immigration Officer at the port of entry that he/she is availing of the privilege and has to present either their old Philippine passport or copy of Philippine birth certificate as proof of their former Philippine citizenship.
Accompanying family members of the balikbayan should 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

If you do not fall within the following categories or you have any questions in regards to your status, visit http://www.philippineembassy-usa.org/ for more information.

Travel now before you miss the golden age of travel

by: Alvin Adriano, ACC, CTA

Traveling has become easier for everyone within the last 8 months and the trends continue to show that this is the golden age of travel. With comparisons from year to year, 2017 is set to break record lows in affordability, increase customer satisfaction and consistent on-time departure and arrivals. It doesn’t matter if you are flying domestic or internationally, there has never been a better time to book a trip and escape from your normal routine and experience the world.

Since 1970, after the deregulation of the airline industry, prices for flying has steadily fallen, allowing passengers to enjoy affordable prices to almost anywhere in the world. Economy prices have reached the lowest margin in three years and continue to set records. Last month, United and American Airlines introduced there “basic economy” fares which allow even more reduced rates to compete against ultra-low fare carriers such as Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant.

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Even in the international sector, airlines such as Emirates and Etihad Airlines continue to add new routes, connecting more destinations and has allowed easier accessibility with numerous hubs and itineraries to choose from. With a variety of choices, passengers now have a lot more flexibility which will keep prices low.

Three years ago, roundtrip tickets to Manila ranged between $900-$1100 per person with only 3-4 carriers to choose from. Today you can buy the same ticket for less than $700 with numerous airlines with far better connection times and routing.

In addition to lower pricing, the overall experience before and during the flight has greatly improved. Technology has vastly improved the experience and has allowed passengers the to view flight status, receive real time notifications for delays and cancellations and receive their tickets via email or text. Long gone are the days of paper tickets, teletext and inefficient practices that made travel so drawn out and frustrating. Paperwork is the thing of the past and today’s passenger are so well equipped that all their travel documents can be stored on their electronic devices or a cloud-based app.

What about the in-flight experience? My brother-in-law recently took his first international flight to Manila and was so amazed with the number of amenities onboard that he stayed up for the entire flight watching movies, connecting to the Internet and playing games. On Delta Airlines, you can enjoy Wi-Fi and check your email, post your trip on Facebook and play online games while soaring above at 30,000 feet. Staying connected is an important benefit these days and you can enjoy access for 24 hours for only $28.00 per pass.

And lastly, the ease of travel has become even easier with more countries participating in transit programs allowing passengers to avoid purchasing an expensive visa to enter. China now offers a 72-hour visa free transit in eighteen cities for passengers with passports of 51 countries to stay without a visa on direct transit. More and more countries are adopting visa-free policies to increase tourism and drive growth.

Traveling the world can lead to new passions and will broaden a person’s perspective. It is the quickest way to break down perceived barriers between cultures, beliefs and ideas. This year instead of settling for material possessions, budget a trip to explore the world which you can treasure your experience forever.