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One year Visa-free Balikbayan Stay in the Philippines for the Foreign Spouse/ Children of Filipino Citizens

Kach Umandap - Howe Inspiration and Love Stories, Philippines 95 Comments

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!

Kach and Jonathan - Pictrip pictorial in London

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.

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 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 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.

Monkey DividersCOUNTRIES 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.

Andorra Greece Panama
Angola Grenada Papua New Guinea
Antigua and Barbuda Guatemala Paraguay
Argentina Guinea Peru
Australia Guinea Bissau Poland
Austria Guyana Portugal
Bahamas Haiti Qatar
Bahrain Honduras Republic of Korea
Barbados Hungary Romania
Belgium Iceland Russia
Belize Indonesia Rwanda
Benin Ireland Saint Kitts and Nevis
Bhutan Israel Saint Lucia
Bolivia Italy Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Botswana Jamaica Samoa
Brazil Japan San Marino
Brunei Darussalam Kazakhstan Sao Tome and Principe
Bulgaria Kenya Saudi Arabia
Burkina Faso Kiribati Senegal
Burundi Kuwait Seychelles
Cambodia Kyrgyzstan Singapore
Cameroon Lao People’s Democratic Republic Slovak Republic
Canada Latvia Slovenia
Cape Verde Lesotho Solomon Islands
Central African Republic Liberia South Africa
Chad Liechtenstein Spain
Chile Lithuania Suriname
Colombia Luxembourg Swaziland
Comoros Madagascar Sweden
Congo Malawi Switzerland
Costa Rica Malaysia Tajikistan
Cote d’Ivoire Maldives Thailand
Croatia Mali Togo
Cyprus Malta Trinidad and Tobago
Czech Republic Marshall Islands Tunisia
Democratic Republic of the Congo Mauritania Turkey
Denmark Mauritius Turkmenistan
Djibouti Mexico Tuvalu
Dominica Micronesia Uganda
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
Eritrea Myanmar Uruguay
Estonia Namibia Uzbekistan
Ethiopia Nepal Vanuatu
Fiji Netherlands Vatican
Finland New Zealand Venezuela
France Nicaragua Vietnam
Gabon Niger Zambia
Gambia Norway Zimbabwe
Germany Oman
Ghana Palau

Monkey Dividers

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Comments 95

  1. My daughter was born in the Philippines and has Phillipine passport before. We received our canadian citizenship year 2010. Is there a limitation in availing the Balikbayan free visa? She is now 18 years old and planning to study in the Phillipines. Does she need to apply for a student visa since she is now carries a canadian Passport?

  2. Good day

    Can you study in the Philippines if you avail the Balikbayan privilege? My daughter is planning to stay for a year and study there for 1 year.

  3. Hi! I was born in the Philippines, but as of 2015 was naturalized as a US citizen. I have an unpaid internship in the Philippines this summer – will I be able to receive the benefits of the Balikbayan Program? Or is the program exclusively for leisure/tourism purposes? Thanks in advance!

  4. Hi,

    I am a Filipino citizen and I am married to a Mexican national, who is also a US green card holder. We are both males (same sex). Will he be given balikbayan status if we arrive together?

    Thank you.

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      Author
  5. Hi. We have BB status for our kids, but it will expire soon. Do you know any way the kids can live with us in the Philippines? Do children need visa here? Immigration asked us to pay 200,000 and it was very cheap. But we can’t afford that. Us foreigners are not rich like Filipinos! Thanks.

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  6. Hi,
    Do you know if me as foreigner, married with a Filipina, can enter the Philippines and get a balikbayan stamp (visa) when i’m entering the Philippines on my own? I could show our marriage certificate but i don’t know if thats enough.
    Thank you in anticipation.

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      Author
  7. i have my husband pakistani and we want to stay for good in the Philippines and i dont the know where we will start to process a proper visa for him. thankyou

  8. Hi, my husband got a Balikbayan visa on Mar 8, 2018, and it will expire soon. We already applied for 13a visa back in November, but up to this date, we still haven’t received any response/his name is still not listed on the list of approved 13a visas. We have an upcoming trip on March 11, 2019. If we leave the country on Mar 11, is he gonna be tagged as overstayed even though we already submitted a 13a? I don’t mind paying fees and penalties, I just want to make sure that we won’t have any issues coming back? Hope you can help.

  9. Dear Respective,

    I am Nepalese male married to Filipino Citizen.I am staying in Philippine in tourist visa, married and doing business there its been a year now.Suddenly i have to come back to Nepal for family purpose for few months.Now i need to go back to Philippine.What will be my visa state, visa requirements and procedure to re entry Philippine?Plus Do i need return ticket since my wife and business is there i am not sure when i will be back? Once i am re entry there i am thinking to apply for TRV.This kindly request you to mention about my concerns what will be the requirements to re entry and do i need return tickets or not?

    First visa entry was free visa for Nepalese.

    Hoping to hear from you asap.

    Thank you

    Best regards,

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      Author
      1. Hello Ms. Kach…i want to ask to ask u…my husband is from india and we have 2 babies (indian citizen)..what are the initial step to do…im confuse about the article..now we are currently in saudi..if they will come with me to philippines ,,are we able to get the balikbayan program..thanks

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  10. Is that possible to get balikbayan visa my American husband? to present only our marriage contract in imigration? if im not with him in the flight. Coz I know we need travel to other country to get stamp.

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  11. Hi Kach,
    I’ve been reading all the information here about BB visa. Me and my husband are planning to go back home this year but I only stay for a month. my husband will stay longer.atleast a year or before his BB visa expire.but I will go back again after 6 mos. My question is ,would it be possible if I left him back home and will not affect his BB visa ? Thank you so much for your response.
    God bless
    Emily

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      Author
  12. I am a Fil mother marries to a Malaysian and we have 2 kids born in Malaysia..sometime in 2000 i brought my kids to philippines and stay for good to escape my abusive husband. My sons are 23 and 22 now..they still hold malaysian passports and are now expired. I never renewed their visa..what are the consequences? I reallu dont know what to do.

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      Author
      1. Wont there be a record of their entry at the Bureau of Immigration and thus make it difficult for them to exit in future??

  13. HI Kach ,
    Thanks for your blog this is very helpful 🙂
    Me and my Husband ( polish ) and 2 kids ( Polish citizen ). Is planning to visit next year to Philippines for longer time let say 1 year , since they can be granted the BB visa. My question is do we need to book a return ticket ?if we are not really sure how long we will stay in that 1 year period? . And if for example 1 year is finished , can we travel out of Philippines for let’s say 3 days in HongKong then travel back to Philippines and avail this free BB visa again ? .

    My husband also travel often , so if he get out of Philippines , this 1 yr bb visa will not be valid anymore, right. How if me and him travel outside Philippines for few days and go back to Philippines , will he again avail d BB visa ?
    Thank you for your response in advance . It will be highly appreciated

    1. Hi, let me help you with your questions.

      1. About the ticket. yes! Its Ok not to book a returned ticket yet as you don’t know until when you will stay in the Philippines. Also, you may acquire your children a Philippine Passport like what I did to my kid. So they can stay in the Philippines as they like and if there are changing in visa ruling in the future, they may not be affected as they hold a Philippine passport.

      2. Your family is planning to travel to Hongkong and return again in the Philippines? yes! they will surely get a BB visa. We travel as well in Indonesia for two weeks and returned to the Philippines, my wife gets a BB visa again.

      3. Husband travelling a lot? My wife too as she is travelling back and forth in the Philippines without me but with my kid and she gets a BB visa for 1 year.

      Hope it helps. God Bless!

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