This article was published in August 2016.
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 a 1-year multiple entry visa 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 from 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.
- For the spouse: copy of the 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.
|Angola||Grenada||Papua New Guinea|
|Antigua and Barbuda||Guatemala||Paraguay|
|Bahrain||Honduras||Republic of Korea|
|Benin||Ireland||Saint Kitts and Nevis|
|Bolivia||Italy||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines|
|Brunei Darussalam||Kazakhstan||Sao Tome and Principe|
|Cameroon||Lao People’s Democratic Republic||Slovak Republic|
|Cape Verde||Lesotho||Solomon Islands|
|Central African Republic||Liberia||South Africa|
|Cyprus||Malta||Trinidad and Tobago|
|Czech Republic||Marshall Islands||Tunisia|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||Mauritania||Turkey|
|Dominican Republic||Monaco||United Arab Emirates|
|Ecuador||Mongolia||United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland|
|El Salvador||Morocco||United Republic of Tanzania|
|Equatorial Guinea||Mozambique||United States of America|