Living in the Philippines on a Balikbayan Visa

What is a Balikbayan? Well, it is a person who is returning to the Philippines after spending some time abroad. If your wife is from the Philippines, but is living in your home country, when you take a trip back to the Philippines, your wife is a Balikbayan!

As a Balikbayan, your wife is entitled to some benefits, and one of them is a Balikbayan Visa. Here entitlement to this special visa is also extended to her spouse and children as well, so your whole family can avail of the Balikbayan Visa.

Now, I know you are wondering exactly what a Balikbayan Visa is, right? Well, it entitles you to a one year stay in the Philippines, without any need to check in at the Bureau of Immigration, or any other government agency. On top of this, after one year you can still stay in the Philippines by converting to a tourist visa, and going through the whole tourist visa process for another year. So, with a Balikbayan visa, you can get a total of two years stay in the Philippines. Nice!

After your two years stay, you and your wife can leave the Philippines, even for just a one or two day trip to Hong Kong or Thailand, and when you come back into the country you are good for another 2 years!

Now, there are a couple things to remember if you want to take advantage of the Balikbayan Visa program. Most importantly, you MUST enter the country with your spouse who is a Philippine citizen or former citizen. If you come in alone, you will NOT be issued a Balikbayan Visa. Another thing to keep in mind is that even if you are with your spouse you are not guaranteed of getting the Balikbayan Visa, although in my experience you will get it every time. One good thing to do is to keep a copy of your marriage license with you and show it to the Immigration official when you enter.

One other thing… if you want to work, you must keep in mind that unless you file for a work permit, you will not be permitted to work in the Philippines while staying under a Balikbayan visa.

In my opinion, for the spouse and kids of a Philippine citizen or former citizen, the Balikbayan Visa is a very attractive way of living in the Philippines!

Post Author: MindanaoBob (1354 Posts)

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur who is based in Davao. Bob is an American who has lived permanently in Mindanao since May 2000. Here in Mindanao, Bob has resided in General Santos City, and now in Davao City. Bob is the owner of this website and many others.

How to Move to the Philippines Manual


  1. says

    Hello Bob,

    Good info, will come in handy when the time comes. Now waiting for my wife to arrive in the States for the first time May 2007. Any info on what
    We need to do after her arrival in the States ?


  2. says

    Hi Randy – I am not sure exactly what you are asking. I guess I'd say that what you need to do after she arrives in the States is to enjoy your life together, give her time to adjust, help her through homesickness. Are you asking what you need to do to start getting ready to move back here to the Philippines? Sorry, I just don't understand. If you can clarify a bit, I would be happy to answer.

  3. gloria says

    My husband and I will be going home, (I'm a Filipina)can he immediately apply for a change of visa status? Can he also get a reentry visa, while he's on a balikbayan visa? I was informed that there is a need for a court hearing, is this true? It's weird though, I'm a Filipina and yet I'm asking questions to you who is a foreigner. But this is new to me and I don't have any idea on how the process go. Can you please give me an advise on what is best? Thanks very much.

  4. says

    Hi Gloria – Your question is a little bit unclear to me. I will answer the question in the way that I understand it, but if I am off base, please respond and let me know that I mis-understood.

    A multiple entry visa is something that is totally different from a balikbayan visa. Under a multiple entry visa his stay can only be 21 days, but can be extended after that. He will, however have to keep extending every 2 months and must leave within a year. So, I see no reason why he would change it upon entry. If he gets a multiple entry, his subsequent trips into the country would not be good for a one year stay, only 21 days.

    If he gets a balikbayan visa, he can stay for one year, and after one year he can convert the balikbayan to a tourist visa and stay for another year with renewals of the visa. So, he could stay up to two years without leaving. If he has a balikbayan, he can leave anytime he wants (doesn't have to say a year), but he will only get the balikbayan visa again if you are with him on entry.

    If he comes in on any type of visa and then applies for a 13 series resident visa while he is here, there will indeed be a court hearing as part of the process.

    Another option would be for him to apply at the Philippine Embassy of the country where you are currently located, and get the resident visa (13 series) before coming. Once he does that, he can come and go from the Philippines any time, and still maintain his resident status here.

    I hope this helps!

    • Cristina says

      Feb. 17, 2012

      Just to let the readers know that is current :0) I and my husband have decided to apply for immigrant visa for him at Phil Embassy in L.A (we are located in Wa.) where we thought wld be reasonable to avoid hassles in extending his stay in Phils. He was almost ready for his medical lab works (as per the requirements to acquire immigant visa) when he asked he how much wld the lab works cost…it wld cost $1000 and Xray ($97) is not included. We cldn’t afford to pay that much, so we have changed our mind and decided to go Phils as Balikbayan this April 2012. At least worry free for a year then rqst for extension for another year and I certainly hope it wldn’t cost us $1097.

      • says

        Hi Cristina – You cannot extend a Balikbayan Visa, they don’t do that. You can, at the end of one year, convert your Balikbayan Visa to a tourist visa, but that will require renewals at 21 days, 59 days and then every 59 days for up to a max of 6 months.

  5. zois says

    HI bob this balikbayans visa what write in passport I try to find
    on site on internet of immigration philippines but I can't to find
    I look for balikbayan visa. maby you think why I no go to ask
    in philippines embassy hear in athens greece because the philippine girl is no good no like to help you many philippina have problem about service in good.

    regards from athens

  6. says

    Hi Zois – No need to go to the embassy for a balikbayan visa. That can only be issued at the airport upon your arrival. As long as you enter the country with your wife, you should qualify for a balikbayan visa.

  7. zois says

    Hi bob you tell me what means if my wife receive the passport dual citizen.
    After I go buy 2 tickets for me and for my wife and I go
    travel for philippines and if arrive in air port in philippines
    after give to me issued for balikbayan visa.
    And no need to go in philippine embassy in athens in greece
    I take visa for me and also my wife no need visa for travel
    to philippines.
    and another question if travel for philippines my wife need to keep philippine passport and also greek passport in air port of philippines. and also I must to keep greek marriage certificate in
    my hand for issued balikbayan visa in air port philippines.
    sorry make to mutch question for you because the philippine embassy in athens no have good service and give information
    very easy.

    regards from athens

  8. says

    Hi Zois – Yes, what you are saying is correct. You get the Balikbayan Visa at the airport in Manila upon entry. No need to visit the Embassy. It is indeed a good idea to have your marriage certificate with you to be sure you get your balikbayan visa! Good luck!

  9. Kevin K says

    Here's a bit of info for those that must physically leave the Philippines to renew a visa. Guam is a direct 3 hour flight from Manila. Continental Airlines flies there daily, sometimes more than one flight per day. Less than 4 miles from the airport is the Philippine Consulate (located in the ITC Building). There are never any lines, and you nearly always get a visa the same day you apply for one. For those longing for a bit of the USA while in a tropical setting, that is what you will get on Guam. As a US territory, you will find Cosco, Kmart, etc. and American english and dollars is the offical language and currency. Since it is a big tourist destination for Japanese (approx. a million visitors per year) There are a lot of hotels along "hotel row" in Tumon, which is an area less than 10 minutes from the Philippine Consulate. Guam is clean, doesn't have much traffic, and well, its like being in the states but with the same weather as the Philippines. There is a shopping center (Guam Premium Outlet) with a pretty good food court and adjoining movie theatres less than a half mile from the Philippine consulate, so if you go there with the intention of just staying a few hours for the visa and flying back, you can do so without having the expense of a hotel.

  10. zois says

    Hi bob I am sorry I no tell I pay you I write wrong I like ask you how mutch the fee for balikbayan visa. Now another
    question for balikbayan visa privelege need fhoto or no need.


  11. says

    Hi Bob, I thought I would throw in my little comment, balikbayan visa great for foreign husbands entering country, although advife lately is to ensure husband has applied for Permanent residency in his home country, no chance of corruption, no extortion fees, in London its about £100.00 with chest xray bloodwork etc, and evidence of means to live in Philippines, i.e. retirement pension, savings, business, or income generated from business in UK.

    Balikbayan great for initital year, if coming in and out, but at some stage I think permanent resident is the way forward.
    Wont require it this trip Bob, as we are heading North to Shanghai for a few days prior to my long trek back to the land of high living costs, extortionate taxation.

  12. Kevin K says

    I left comment # 13 above with info about flying to Guam to renew a visa. The phone number of the Philippine Consulate there is 646-4620 or 646-4630. Calling there from outside of Guam is identical to calling the USA. The area code for Guam is 671.

  13. neng says

    Hi BOB /FEYMA,we read your blog everyday, we've been going back and forth to the phil/usa for 14 years,and we always stay in the phil. for 11 months ,no paper works needed for "BALIKBAYAN VISA" all you need is your passport, the Immigration officer in manila upon arrival at the airport will stamp your passport "BALIKABAYAN" they will stamp the date of your arrival like for example,july 25,2007 then underneath they will write down july 25,2008..meaning good for 1 year…we enjoy reading your blog BOB,learned a lot especially bringing a dog to the phil .We'll be back in sept..

  14. says

    From personal experience I find the Balkbayan has been just what I needed for this first year. The only disadvantages I see are that many governement agencies and virtually _all_ commercila businesses do not understand it.

    Banks for example. Although there is no legal requirement that anyone can show me for permanent residency to have a bank account, many banks ask for an ACR … Alien Certificate of Residency before you can open an account. Just keep trying and you'll find one that follows the law.

    But the conveniences so far … and the price … have bene great for me. Funnily a lot of fellow ex-pats have negative comments about the BB and have even asked, when will you stop this nonesense and get a "real" visa? Ha ha, well, to each his own … but if you plan on a "real" vsa, such as the 13a … Get It Before You Come! It is more expensive and much more troublesome to get in the Philippines.

    Anyway, nice to see so many people thinking about living here … I like it fine no matter what the visa.

  15. says

    Hi Zois – Don't worry! I am happy to answer your questions. There is no need for any photos for the Balikbayan Visa.

    Hi Pete – I've missed you lately! You must be busy. Yes, I do believe that for those who want to live here long term the resident visa is the way to go, but if somebody will be coming and going anyway, the Balikbayan visa is a great resource. And, yes, I highly recommend applying for your resident visa in your home country. Doing it here is putting yourself in for a lot of hassles!

    Hi Kevin K – Good advice about Guam. If you want an "American" experience without actually going that far, Guam is a good alternative.

    Hi neng – I'm happy to have you as a visitor! Good luck on your coming trip.

    Hi Dave – Yep, the Balikbayan Visa is a good deal – much better than having to keep renewing a tourist visa! And, you are right about applying back home too!

  16. zois says

    Hi Bob you can tell me if my wife have the dual citizen
    is good idea to make philippino passport or not


  17. says

    Hi Zois – I don't think there is really any need for the Philippine Passport. The Greek Passport should be adequate.

  18. zois says

    Hi Bob many thanks again now you can tell me if I write
    the coment (post) and I write wrong my text how repair and I
    write correct on same text


  19. says

    Hi Zois – It is not possible for you to edit the comment after it is already posted. If you made a serious mistake, you can e-mail me, and I will edit it for you.

  20. says

    Hi again Bob, a little addition to your BALIKBAYAN VISA info here, I have a BALIKBAYAN VISA and all it takes is when you enter, like you said, WITH YOUR SPOUCE, never alone, forget that, you just simply say "I WOULD LIKE MY FREE BALIBAYAN VISA PLEASE" bingo signed sealed and delivered, another thing, at the end of your year do not go straight to a TOURIST VISA, instead apply for and receive the same day a 2 month extention on your BALIKBAYAN VISA, it can be done every other year, so instead of getting 24 months (12 balikbayan-12 tourist) you get 26 months

  21. says

    Hi Dave – I have heard of a few occasions when the Customs people asked to see a copy of the marriage certificate. Normally, though, just being with your spouse is good enough. I didn't know about the 2 month Balikbayan extension! That's good advice.

  22. zois says

    Hi Bob I am crazy now hip hop hip hop hip you thinking what
    about zois. I read one book before many years the writter
    is american man and he is small win (small victorry) this is life
    one big travel. After 7 months my wife take the dual citizen.
    Why after 7 months because we wait from come in greece the
    birth certificate with red ribon. But if there is my friend Bob Martin
    of the site no finis my paper the Bob
    explain to me and ansuer for all my question somes I ask him
    every day I make him tired of my question.many thanks of your
    help Bob. Now Bob my wife have dual citizen. You know the embassy
    make philippino passport for my wife I ask why and ansuer me
    the philippino passport need for proom she is philippina in air port manila if we travel to philippines.And also for me ansuer
    my question about balikbayan visa you must keep your marriage cerificate in manila air port. I am sory for wrong gramar.


  23. says

    Hi Zois – No problem in asking questions! I am happy to help you. So, the Philippine Embassy went ahead and provided a Philippine Passport? Well, that's OK, no problem for you. Yes, I do recommend that you bring along your marriage certificate when passing through the airport. It's not totally necessary, but will absolutely insure that you get your Balikbayan Visa.

  24. Rick Austin says

    As far as balikbayan visa goes, it just is a luck of the draw on which
    immigration you get on arrival. I got one with no problem (wife PI citizen)
    2 months later a friend came over (with wife also PI citizen) asked for balikbayan status and was told it was only applicable if his wife was no
    longer a PI citizen/aka a former Filipina.


  25. says

    Hi Rick Austin – Yes, what you say is absolutely correct. The Immigration officials do not HAVE to give you a Balikbayan Visa. They normally do, to be denied is rare, but it can happen.

  26. James Musslewhite says

    I am a 50 year old American ex-marine with a 40% VA Service connected Disability, who has been married to a Filipino for 22 years, and we have a 14 year old son born in the US. My wife received her US citizenship 8 years ago. She owns a small Coco and rice farm on Dinagat Island. We moved to Surigao City, Del Norte Oct. 15, 2008 so she can tend her property, help her elderly parents, and to finish raising our son in the beauty of this land. He could fully understand what being half Filipino really meant, and learn the language and culture, and be able to live in both countries if he choose after his schooling is complete. We still need to go to Manila and start our paperwork, and my wife and son need to apply for their Dual citizenship. I am not sure what the process is for me applying for a Residency Card (Green Card). I have been told so many different things by Expats, but they have all be retirees, or moved here to get married. My wife is a Balikbayan returning home to live with an American husband and child. I have been told that the process will be easier because I fall into a different classification, due to my wife's status. Others tell me that I will be treated the same as every other applicant, and her status does not matter, and that 13A has been disregarded all together. I have checked Philippines Immigration and Embassy websites and they mentioned no such changes. They are also written as if for Male Balikbayans with American wives and children. Is it so unusual for an Balikbayan female to return with her American family, that nothing is written for such an occurrence.
    I need to know the proper forms, steps, and proper procedures to follow before we endure the financial burden of traveling to Manila with the wrong paperwork or insufficient funds to complete the necessary paperwork. Can you help with this information, or direct me to someone who has completed the same process I will have to follow.

    Editor's Note: It is my policy that I don't publish e-mail addresses in comments, James. Any information that people can provide should be provided here on the site so that others can benefit from it also. Bob

  27. James Musslewhite says

    Thank you for the quick response to my queries. Each person that I have questioned has only contradicted the one before, and each acted as if I should blindly trust their advice. I have been born on a weekend, but NOT LAST WEEKEND. They will not be the ones that will bear the financial burden endured by back tracking from being improperly prepared.. We have an expression in Texas, "The B.S. is so strong, that vegetables should be growing on the walls." I research government websites and find the language vague, dealing more with the visit than the stay. Your second option is what I had come to believe through my research, and it was nice to have it confirmed by your responses. I believe it is the best path to follow.
    I really enjoy being here so far, and have found a great place to settle down with my family. Once our paperwork is done, we can finally relax and get started with building our business and our futures here. Thanks again

  28. Justin says


    Out of curiosity, Could James acquire the 13g or 13a visa at the Philippine consulate in America? I ask because this may be easier as have recently read some stories of them demanding between 45-100tphp in bribes at BI to give the visas to some expats.

    I'm not sure what BI the people where going to but while the amounts seem high , to me at least, I do semi-believe the stories because in the past one BI office was so corrupt I literally saw the employees almost brake into a fist fight to see who was going to get the 2tphp for selling me a Balikbayan stamp without me needing to leave nation, they just charged 2tphp and took my passport to international airport, entered some stuff in computer, stamped it with 2 exit stamps (had been overstaying for 1yr) and then stamp it again with Balikbayan stamp good for 1yr. Cant complain about the service though as they even delivered the passport to my home after finishing, true door to door service.

    Anyway was just curious if he could apply at the consulates offices in America as doing such may prevent him from meeting some undesirable BI employees looking for easy cash to use in keeping their kabits taken care of.

    One things for sure, either way hes better off than the folks paying for the opportunity to spend their money in PI as never really thought the folks with the tourist visas seemed to logical as most where wasting money since they had generally Filipina wives and could have saved allot of cash by staying legal in country by other method.


  29. Justin says


    Sorry about that as only realized after your post that James is in Surigao City, nice place. Also, My apologies for mentioning corrupt practices on forum because rather common or uncommon you are correct in stating its not an issue that's best to put out on public view in a forum that is promoting the Philippines. I sincerely hope no one thought that I was condoning such actions because looking back in retrospect its now my opinion that if people just refused to engage in such practices that such practices may just phase out of existence in a generation or so.


  30. James Musslewhite says

    I will be going through the process in the next couple of months. I will let you know what we encounter and if anyone will try to take advantage of us. I hope we encounter professionals who only want to assist us with the paperwork we need to process, and not professionals using the process to assist themselves to the paper in my wallet. Thank you again for your help and I will touch base with you later. We love living in Surigao City, which was just rated the #1 child friendly City in the Philippines. It is a good place to raise a family, and is very safe to travel in and around.

  31. Justin says


    I also like Surigao city and have spent some time there as well as in a small municipality just outside there called Tagana-an as my wife has much family there and her grandfather ,recently deceased, was a mayor there

    Surigao is very safe but are several areas just outside Surigao City where rebel ambushes and such take place at times but they typically just targeted government figures and facilities and not expats.

    BTW, Saw where your wife is from Dinagat and wanted to ask if shes a PBMA member? I ask for no particular reason except because I have another expat friend online who's wife is a PBMA member from Dinagat and he routinely speaks very highly of Dinagat and says its very safe and peaceful place.


  32. James Musslewhite says

    My wife's family are mostly members of the PBMA cult. She has lived 22 years in Houston, Texas in the center of the Bible Belt, and has become a Born-again-Christian, which now causes a conflict with her past beliefs. She know Jesus is her savior, the son of God; and now shuns their belief that Master Ruben is the savor, being just a man. The island is beautiful and the people are warm and friendly. It is a 1 hour boat ride from Surigao City, to Cagdiano where my wife was raised. She own a family coco and rice farm between Cagdiano and Cabunga-an, and we also own a sea front lot in Tagbirayan. I have traveled throughout the island, and know several foreigners who live and travel there. There is never an incident with foreigners and the locals, and I would suggest it to anyone that enjoys backpacking. There are jungles and Hardwood forest, and each hill top allows for beautiful views, the seascapes are spectacular, with private surfing areas yet undiscovered to commercial interest. It is one of the last places that still preserve the true old fashion Pinoy family culture. I will build my retirement home there and hope to live there until the lord calls me home.

  33. George says

    Hi Bob,

    Great info and insight. I am a Balikbayan born here and have been back 3 years now after more than 30 years working outside the country. The 1st 2 years here, I just left the country and upon coming back, I would get my new one year BB visa. However, my current one has gone past the one year mark. Your advise please?? I plan to stay indefinite. Thank you.

  34. says

    Hi Bob,

    My husband is 53 swiss, and me is 26 and my son is 3 years old dual citizen. My questions is: What is really best visa to got. I am pilipina and not yet have a dual citizen. We plan to go back in philippines this coming end of year but wondering what kind of visa we would apply. I heard about Balikbayan visa, but i could not find in any website about the rules and regulations if you plan to buy a house and lot, make a business, or they need also a money deposit. In balikbayan visa, if my son can go also to school in philippines. then go out in the country for one day and go back again. Also, with my husband. I could not have a problem with the Imigrations. What is the requirements with it. It is allowed to make a deposit in with any bank with thier names or no?
    About in 13a i read in some website. But is not clear with me so much. About if you will apply here in switzerland. after it you need to go in manila just to process again? then after a year what it should be? i hear that it would takes a little bit of time or days to renew always.

    Hope to hear you soon. Michelle

  35. Kenneth says

    Hi S’Bob,I have a swiss partner or boyfriend,Im a Filipina.We’ve been together for almost 2 yrs.He arrived in the Phils. last April 2009 and he got a 1 yr visa that he really pay with big amount(Php 16T plus).Before his visa will expire,he process to renew it again last feb. 2010.But he did not go to the bureau of immigration,instead he just let somebody(the man who give him the 1 yr visa upon his arrival last yr 2009) from the immigration office to give another yr of visa,but of course he pay again with P19,000.What they do is that they put a stamp DEPARTURE from Phils and then ARRIVAL(Phils.)and stated there that his visa is valid until feb 2011.It is always departure(phils.) and arrival(phils.),but no stamp from other country or a destination that you depart and arrive.Now my question is,is it good that we will just travel to singapore or other country so that he can renew his visa?Can he get a balikbayan visa or 1 yr visa even if we are not yet married?We already have one child.Please help,as I don’t like him to get visa again from the fixers of immigration.Im afraid that he can have a penalty because his visa before was invalid or fake…Thanks in advance and sorry for the long messages

    • says

      What he did was illegal, and if caught he won’t have any fine to worry about, he will have to go to jail. My best advice would be to get an attorney and get this sorted out.

  36. Gerlie Abdon says

    Hi Bob ,Me and my Husband are Filipino citizen, we are planning to have a vacation for 2 months in the Philippines but im wondering do i need to get a visa for my daughter, because she is a canadian citizen.
    I’m hoping for your respond,Thank you and God Bless…

    • says

      Hi Gerlie – If you and your husband are Philippine Citizens, then your child is too, no matter where she as born. She is a citizen of Canada and the Philippines. All you need to do is file papers for her at the Philippine Embassy or consulate in Canada and she can then get a Philippine Passport and can stay an unlimited amount of time in the Philippines.

  37. Martyn Loveday says

    There was a fellow called James Musselwhite referenced on your site (search engine) who briefly blogged on the Square Foot Gardening site; do you know him is he still there and would he like to contact me? My wife’s family is into SFG successfully in Zamboanga City

    • jamesmusslewhite says

      Hello this is James Musslewhite, yes I am a member of the Square Foot Gardening site that you mentioned. I would be more than glad to exchange information or answer any gardening questions you or your wife might have. I am formally trained in Biology and Botany with over 25 years of commercial horticultural experience in Sub-Tropic and Tropical regions. I was first introduced to a form of Square Meter gardening when I was stationed on Okinawa from 1985-1987 and was probably one of the first people to purchase Mel’s book on Square Foot gardening. Please feel free to contact me anytime and I am sorry for such a late reply but I had overlooked this thread and just spotted it today..

      • Mike Cullinane says

        Hi James Musslewhite, I’m and avid gardener from the UK about to settle in Batangas and can you please send me your email details, and I’ll contact you for some words from the wise with reference to organic (or as close as I can get) gardening if that’s OK.


  38. Cristina says

    I am a Filipina origin, US permanent resident for 3 yrs now married to US citizen. Have been living here since ’08 and couldn’t get a job for the reason being, I came here on a wrong timing USA is going through economic recession. Second, not very easy to land a job when you’re on your 50’s, too many competition. Now, I and my spouse have decided to leave the beautiful Evergreen State (Wa.) too cold, I have given up in addition to the unemployment situation here. Life is survival and a struggle. My husband is on a Social Security Disability since he was 52 (he’s now 56) and boy the $1700 he’s getting is hard to stretch out to make both ends meet. So, we have decided to leave soon for Phils anytime May 2012 as soon as we get the bank docs from PNB (Phil Nat’l Bank) L.A inorder for us to open an account in Phils. It’s such a long process, it’ll take 4-6 months to receive an account number and our bank book. On the other hand, we were planning to apply for an immigrant visa (13a) for my husband but the medical requirements such as Lab works (blood serology, urine and stool and x-rays) are not covered by Medicare and we do not have that huge amount of money to pay for those medical requirements, so we have decided to just travel to Phils and get a Balikbayan visa. Now my question is, before the 12 months BB visa should we apply for a tourist visa so his stay could be extended? If it’s extended for another year, do we need to go and see the Immigration every 2 months? It’s kinda hassle. I need yr opinion, if his stay is extended for another year after his 1 yr BB visa is finished and after the 1 yr extension is over, can we apply for immigration visa instead of exiting the country and coming in again because it’s such a waste of money.

    • says

      Hi Cristina – I am going to just give you my honest opinion, although I am sure you will not like what I have to say. I am just being honest with you, though.

      If you cannot afford the cost of a few medical tests to get a resident visa, you really cannot afford to live in the Philippines. We are talking like a couple of hundred dollars at the most. When you start having to renew visas and such here int he Philippines, you will blow through that amount in no time. If your budget is that tight, you would be much better off to just stay in the States.

      Good luck to you.

  39. james smyth says

    hi bob love all your site and good read ref philippines, im going PI with my wife who is a filapina we are married 3 years she lives here UK has brit ciz.. she has a wee house in san jose del monte , im just wondering if you know anything about the flooding there is it a thing that happens often? and what do you think of sjdm
    to live in as a expat would be very obliged for and inf on it. jim . thanks

    • says

      Hi James – Thank you very much for stopping by, and I am very happy that you enjoy my site!

      To be honest, there are lots and lots of places in the Philippines called San Jose and also Del Monte. Could you give me a bit more information? Which province are you talking about?

  40. Daniel Roe says

    Hello Bob,

    In reading your information about Balikbayan. If I have the marriage certificate and the registration of the marriage with the Philippines consulate. Is it possible to get the Balikbayan without my wife being there? My fingers are crossed.

      • Daniel Roe says

        Thank you Bob,
        I already sent my wife there to find a place to live. Would have been nice to to apply for this visa. So I guess I need to go to immagration either in Manila or there in Davao for an extension. And then work in the direction for a 13A.

          • Daniel Roe says

            Flying to HK has an estimated additional cost of about $ 850.00 us dollar, with her flight and mine traveling through HK. That is at a quick check with flights.
            Thank you for the option.

            • says

              I use HK only as an example. You must have a stopover somewhere. For example, if you had a stopover in HK, she should be able to come there for $150 or so to meet you. But, that is only an example. Over the course of 16 months, you will spend $500 to $600 on visa renewal fees if you enter on a tourist visas, so the $850 is not really that far out of line.

    • james smyth says

      Hi bob, sorry I did not get back to you sooner , have been very busy getting things sorted, have left the UK was in Luzon for a couple months now living/working Bangkok the past year.
      The question is not needed now I went there and did not like the house or the area and we have been lucky to sell it since. Oh it was Bulacan , anyway ive just sent you another remark here on your site I’m sure you will come across it ref BB visa in support of something you said, i am sure I will be chatting with you soon to pick your brain thanks for the reply . Jim.

  41. Jerry P says

    Hi Bob ,
    Im in need of your help i have a gorgeous woman im in love with who lives in San Jose del Monte, Philippines but i am living in Michigan usa.. i want to move yes move to her country and then marry her at a later date we have known each other for 2 yrs but because im on ssdi money is tight so no travel for me to go there. So my questions to you are what do i need to move there and maybe even work there can i keep my social security disability if i move there to live and what is the process to do all of this and then marry her as well i call her Gem as we would love your help in this mater and maybe then i can see what the cost is as well to fly there
    Thanks Jerry

    • says

      Hi Jerry P – What do you need to move here? Well, nothing special… you need a will to come and an airplane ticket. I don’t know if you can keep your disability payment, that is on a case by case basis. I know some who have been able to, and I know some who have been denied.

      Basically, when you first come here, you will be on a tourist visa, which is good for 21 days. You can extend that for up to 16 months, but then you must leave, even just for a day, and return again. You might go to Hong Kong, Vietnam or maybe Thailand, it’s up to you. You can go anywhere outside the Philippines. When you return your visa clock starts all over again for another 16 months stay in total.

      Alternatively, once you get married you can apply for a 13(a) resident visa and stay here for as long as you want, without the need to leave every 16 months, and no extensions and such.

      Hope this helps.

  42. Jerry P says

    oh and Bob do you know what the cost is for a visa ,work permit passport sorry never traveled or had any of these before

    • says

      There is no cost for the initial 21 days visa. Extensions, which must be done at 21 days, 59 days, and then again every 59 days after that, cost roughly between $70 to $90 or so, it varies each time.

      If you go for the permanent resident visa (after marriage) you can find a rundown on that here.

  43. sally curry says

    Hi there,

    I’m a balikbayan and wants to extend my stay in the Philippines. I heared that after 1 yr of stay in the Phils. as balikbayan, I can convert my visa into tourist. My question is, where should I go to have my visa converted? I live in Mindanao part of the Philippines. Please advise. Thank you!


  44. Che says

    Hi Bob,

    My husband and I live in the UAE right now. I am Filipino amd he is British.

    I understand the mechanics of the Balikbayan visa but have some questions I hopedyou can help me with.

    1. Balikbayan visa can only be obtained when I can prove I have been living outside the Philippines for a minimum of 1 year. What happens when that year is over, husband and I travel to say HK for a few days and come back together. Does he get a BB visa again, or will he get a 21 day visa because I have not been out of the Philippines for 1 year?

    2. is the Balikbayan visa a single entry visa? What happens if say 4 months into the 1 year visa, my husband decides to go to HK for a few days without me? When he comes back, can he tell the immigration officer that he has a BB visa that is still 9 months valid?

    Thanks for your help, Bob

    • says

      Hi Che,

      1. Generally, that “1 year out of the country” requirement is not enforced. If you leave the country even for a day, you can get a BB stamp upon re-entry.

      2. The BB stamp becomes invalid upon exiting the country. Your husband can only get a new BB stamp if you re-enter the country with him. If he re-enters alone, he is not eligible for the BB stamp.

  45. Ron says

    Hi Bob, et al — Very informative and useful thread about visas. Just to clarify a few points and hope make visas a little less mystifying.

    Starting with visitor’s visas, specifically entry visas. They are available from all Philippine Embassies and Consulates and come in 3 flavors. (1) Valid for 3 months, single entry. (2) Valid for 6 months, multiple entry. And (3) Valid for 12 months, multiple entry. They are valid from the moment they are placed in your passport and may be used for as long as they are still valid. Upon entry, they will afford Immigration the right to place a 9a visa (visitor’s visa) in your passport that is valid for 59 days. Without an entry visa (visa free), Immigration will give you a 9a visa valid for 21 days.

    If a foreigner arrives with a Filipino or Former Filipino spouse, the Filipino may avail of the Balikbayan Program which will afford their foreign spouse and/or children who need one, a one year visa. It may be extended beyond a year by purchasing extensions, 2 months at a time, for up to one additional year. These are not 9a visa extensions, but they are extensions to the Balikbayan visa first obtained and unlike 9a extensions, an ACR is not required (this may change according to rumors emanating from BI).

    • says

      Hi Ron – Personally, I see no value in obtaining a visa from the Embassy or Consulate before coming to the Philippines. You can get the 21 days automatically upon arrival anyway.

      Your information on the Balikbayan Privilege is incorrect, slightly. A Balikbayan Visa may never be extended beyond one year. At the end of a year, you may convert to a 9a Tourist Visa and run for an additional 16 months on that.. but you will no longer be on a Balikbayan Visa beyond 1 year.

      • Ron says

        Hi Bob — You must be right. The implementation of the Balikbayan Privilege is under the auspices of the Department of Tourism which I researched some time ago and my memory is likely faulty about extensions.

        However, about obtaining an entry visa before traveling affords the traveler a 59 day stay when they arrive at no additional cost. A single entry visa valid for 90 days costs Americans US$30.

        If one wishes to arrive visa free (without an entry visa), a 21 day visa will be issued. If one wishes to stay longer they must purchase a 38 day extension for about US$70. Therefore, if one wishes to stay longer than 21 days, a single entry visa will cost half as much. US$40 may not seem like much to many, but some will find value in it and it would buy a number of good meals.

          • Ron says

            Sorry Bob. The 59 day visa is free at the port of entry. There are no additional charges. To get it however, one must pay for an entry visa. The cheap one is $30. It is single entry and is valid for 3 months.

            If one wishes to come and go several times, the multiple entry visas valid for 6 months ($60) or valid for 12 months ($90) are available. When entering the Philippines with any of these entry visas, you would receive a 59 day visa to stay at no additional charge.

              • Ron says


                Yes, as I’ve been saying there is a charge for an entry visa. These are available ONLY from Philippine Embassies and Consulates around the world. US$30 for the cheap one, valid for 90 days.

                The 59 day visa to stay in the country is ONLY available at a port of entry in the Philippines and there is no charge.

                Bottom line is that at the end of 59 days, one would have ether paid US$30 for an entry visa or PhP3,030 (approx US$70) for a 38 day extension. US$30 or PhP3,030, your choice.

              • says

                I am sorry, Ron, but your information is inaccurate. One of my goals for this site is to provide accurate information to those who visit. I can only encourage readers to ignore this inaccurate information.

  46. kristel says


    I hoe this thread is still alive.I came here with my 2 stepkids and my 2 biological kids. My question is , are the 2 stepkids eligible to get a 1 year balikbayan visa ?? They didnt get one at the airport but im hoping that i could still get that for them at the immigration if they are eligible for it.

    • MindanaoBob says

      It depends, Kristel. If you or their father are Philippine Citizens or former Philippine Citizens, then they should be able to get BB visas upon entry, if the Philippine parent is with them at the time of entry.

      However, they are not eligible for this trip, because they have already entered the country. They cannot get one after already entering.

      • kristel says

        Dear Bob,

        Thanks for the reply. Yes I am a filipino citizen and they are not my biological kids, and i came with them without their dad here in the philippines.We could take a trip to Guam if its possible for them to get one. Is there a link that you could send to so I will be able to look it up more.

        Thanks again Bob

  47. Tony says

    Re: Balibayan visa run, minimum absence.

    Hi Bob,
    I acknowledge I should buy your book., but am most grateful for free advice.

    Can you please advise, when doing a BB visa run, is one required be absent overnight.
    Your comments suggest I need to be gone for a day, kindly elaborate, if you will.
    Could we theoretically clear customs in HK airport and return immediately?
    The reason I ask is that my Filipina wife is reluctant to leave our kids overnight.

    I’m not averse to leaving the kids with Lola for a night out in Hong Kong.
    Cannot waste airfares on a day trip to be told by BI that we have returned too early.

    I enjoy and appreciate your well informed posts


    • says

      It is my understanding that you must be out of the country overnight. Of course, this is the Philippines, which means that you can never know for sure how the law will be enforced.

  48. Chuck says

    Hi Bob quick question? Can u get a balik bayan stamp at a philippine consulate here in the USA before going to the philippines or do u have to get it upon arrival to phil at airport? i too am married to a filipina and have been 6yrs now and are planning to go back again in the springtime here. Thnx Bob i look forward to ur reply…

    • MindanaoBob says

      No, a Balikbayan stamp can only be issued when you arrive in the Philippines. It can be gotten in Manila, or any other Philippine airport where you enter the country (Cebu, Davao, etc). Remember, your Philippine spouse must be entering the country with you if you are to be eligible.

  49. says

    hello bob, my fiance and i planning to geting married just wanna ask is he qualify to have a balik bayan visa. another thing is he want to stay in philippines permanently what are the requirements to process. 2nd, is he can travel alone even he have a balik bayan visa like visiting his family and relatives in singapore for only week or month. thank you hope you reply me soon. God Bless.

    • says

      Hi Rech – Your husband will only qualify for a Balikbayan Visa after you are married, then you must both leave the country and re-enter together. At that point, he could get a Balikbayan Visa. If he leaves the country again and re-enters without you, he will not get a Balikbayan visa on his re-entry. You must accompany him. You should make sure that you are in possession of your marriage license upon your re-entry too. Why not apply for a resident visa – 13a visa – since he will qualify for it after you marry.

  50. mick says

    hi, i have a child to a filipina woman although we are not married. (long story) i am on the childs birth certificate as father. doew this entitle me to enter the philippines on balikbayan visa if my daughter travels with me?

  51. Melanie Rodrigues says

    hi bob. my kids and I are all holding Philippine passports except my husband. my husband and I are legally married in the Philippines for 15 years now but living abroad. we go to Philippines every year (by the grace of God) for 12 years and i have been applying tourist visa for him at our embassy here. so, will he be qualified to have a Balikbayan visa if i apply for him upon arrival at the Phil Airport even though I’m still holding Philippine passport? Are ALL FOREIGN NATIONALS legally married to a Filipina entitled to have Balikbayan visa? …and how much would it cost? Thank you very much. your site is very very informative…God Bless you.

    • says

      Hello Melanie – You cannot apply for a Balikbayan Visa at the Embassy or Consulate. You must obtain it upon your entry to the Philippines. If your husband is with you, and be sure to have your marriage certificate with you, then he is entitled to receive a Balikbayan Visa, which will allow a one year stay. Foreign nationals who are married to a Philippine Citizen, or to a former Philippine Citizen are entitled to have the Balikbayan privilege extended to them. The Balikbayan Visa is free of charge.

    • says

      By the way, Melanie, you can also get a more in depth answer to your query by checking my book, Can I get a Balikbayan Visa. The book is only $7.99 and can be downloaded immediately upon payment. The book includes full information on who is eligible for the Balikbayan Visa, how to get it, how long it is good for and other such information.

  52. pardeep says

    Hi Bob,

    Good day to you, Im a indian citizen and im going to manila this month with my filipina spouse and a canadian born son, i saw on your website that im also entitled to a balikbayan privilege since me and my spouse and son are all travelling together, but im also planning to go to india and come back to manila by myself, can i just show my balikbayan stamp to the imigration officer or i need to apply for entry visa since im travelling back to manila by myself? thank you so much.

      • Chetan says

        Hi Bob,
        i am an Indian national married to Filipina currently living in Cebu and my visa and ACR is valid until JAN 2015 but I’m planning to visit and live in INDIA for few months during that time my visa and ACR will expire also i don’t have any US, Japanese, Australian, Canadian, Schengen, Singapore or UK visa in my passport. So do you think am I still eligible to get the balikbayan visa when i enter to Philippines along with my spouse and Philippine born kids.

        Thanks in advance.

        • says

          Hi Chetan – I am sorry to say, but the laws for immigration here are different for Indians than for Westerners. Unfortunately, I do not know the laws well that apply to Indians, so I do not have the answer to your question.

    • Aryana says

      Hi Pardeep!

      Could you please update us on your experience with the balikbayan stamp in the Philippines? My husband is an Indian national and will be asking for the balikbayan stamp when we travel to Philippines next month. Were you able to obtain a balikbayan stamp upon arrival?

  53. geraldin says

    hi bob,
    im a filipina.,we process my husband 13a visa,were on probitionary now and we apply for permanent and the BI ask for FBI clearance we already send the fingerprints card to them and after 1 month the FBI said they can’t read his fingerprint and his probitionary visa is run until october 30,2013…what should we do if were running out of time should we go out in the phil.and get BB wen we re-entry…………..thank you

    • says

      It’s a tough situation. Leaving the country is one solution, but if you do that your probationary 13a is than null and void. Try to do a rush on a second set of fingerprints, perhaps you could get it done in time.

  54. junbette steven says

    what about i lost my citizen us filipino
    i process my papers to immigrate in canada
    now i reiceve my citizen become a canadian citizen
    and now i want to return my country to visit but i lost my citizen us filipino
    what can i do?how many months to process my citizen so i can revived it.
    pls help me.

    • says

      Just apply for Philippine Dual Citizenship. You will be able to keep your Canadian Citizenship, and also re-acquire your Philippine Citizenship. The application process can take from a couple weeks to almost a year.

  55. Andras says

    Hi Bob!

    We are a recently married couple. Not sure if I understand the Balikbayan visa correctly.
    Is it enough just to go out for a few days from the country and when we return we can apply to Balikbayan visa already? Even though my wife works here, in the Philippines and not dual citizen?
    If it is possible, am I eligible to apply for working permit with Balikbayan visa?
    Thank you in advance for your response.

    Appreciate you site!

    Thank you!

    • says

      Hello Andras – You can apply for a Balikbayan Visa if you are already married and you are in possession of an NSO certified copy of your marriage certificate. There is no requirement for dual citizenship or anything of the sort. Since your spouse is Filipino and you are not, that is all that is needed. When you reenter the country, request the Balikbayan Privilege before they stamp your passport. They are supposed to then ask to see your marriage certificate (they don’t always ask, sometimes they just trust that you are married). They will stamp a 1 year BB Visa into your Passport.

      You do not automatically get a Work Permit, but you can certainly apply for one.

  56. Myheart says

    Hi Bob,

    I am filipina and married to a foreigner with 1 child. We are going to stay in the Philippines for a few months & gonna apply for Balikbayan visa. I just want to ask if availing for a balikbayan visa a copy of the return plane ticket is required also?

    Thank You.

    • says

      Those who obtain a Balikbayan Visa are not required to have an ongoing plane ticket. Some of the airlines do not understand that, and you may have to argue your point with them.

      • Myheart says

        Thank you for the information you are a great help. But I was confused with the information provided at the website of the Philippine Consulate General. Under Dual Citizenship (Inroduction Note, Question# 12) it was said those entitled to a balikbayan visa have a return air trave ticket. Could you clarify this one for me.

        Thanks a lot.

      • Arnie says

        Greetings Bob enjoy your website My filipina wife and our daughter just returned from trip to Bangkok for two days mainly for my bb stamp on return. However the Thai airways agent insisted that me and my daughter both us citizens to show a outbound ticket out of the philippines. I being a retired airline staff i could quickly produce a ticket however she would only accept seeing a paper copy of the ticket not the online exact same image of our tickets. Lucky Bkk has a internet cafe in departures area when we arrived in Mnl customs agent never asked to see tickets. That was why the Thai agent insisted we would not be admited into Philippines.

  57. Mari says

    Bob. My husband is a European citizen and he’s been here since april 2014. We got married on June 2014, until now my husband was renewing his tourist visa and it cost him a lot. Now we are expecting a baby to be born on April 2015. Can he stay here longer using the Balikbayab privelege if we go out both of the country like thailand, indonesia, japan, etc, stay there for few days then go back here in the Philippines with me. Is he eligible for Balikbayan visa for one year? Thanks.

    • says

      Yes, he can certainly get a Balikbayan Privilege as long as you re-enter with him and you have your marriage contract with you. That would not be a problem. The other option would be for your husband to get an 13a resident visa, then he would never have to leave.

      Good luck to you, Mari.

  58. Chris Mason says

    Hi Bob
    I have a one year BB stamp on my British Passport given when I arrived in the Phil last year with my Filipino wife. The question is’ do I need an EXIT VISA (ECC) when I depart the Phil next month. My BB will be only 10 months used on departure. .Many different opinions on this even from immigration!!

  59. Mike Dufour says

    Hi Mr. Bob,, just looking at all the messages on your site and i am so glad i found you. Here is my story: I have found a very nice Filipina Josie 9 years ago and despite the time, the flame still the same. 2 Years ago she applied for a divorce through Canadian office and got it and also had her ex Filipino husband to sign the said paper. We both invested a little fortune in Phils to build a house, piggery and one fish pond. Josie has a Phils passport and is permanent resident in Canada. My question are the followings: 1) If we get marry here in Canada on a civil way do you think i will be able to apply for BB visa considering that Josie is still married in Phils ( no divorce in Phils ) although on a divorced status here in Canada. 2) With a marriage certificate from Canadian authorities and both of us going to Phils embassy in Canada can i apply for a 13a resident visa there. Many thanks for your help. Regards Mike

    • says

      Hi Mike – Unfortunately, in the eyes of the Philippine government, if you and your friend get married (no matter where), your wife will be a polygamist. The Philippine government does not recognize that divorce in Canada, so your friend is still married.

      Because of this, you cannot get a 13a Visa. You may be able to get the Balikbayan Visa, but not legally. The reason you may get it is because it is issued at the airport, and there is really no investigation. But, as I said, the visa will technically be illegal.

      • Mike Dufour says

        Hello Mr.Bob I understand our situation and we are now looking for a honest lawyer in Phils to start the annulment procedures. If someone has already done that with an honest and legal lawyer then i would like to have some advises. Thank you

  60. Brian says


    I met my now Filipina wife in Korea last year. We married here in Korea and are headed back to the US and I questions about citizenship related to the Balikbayan Visa. She has asked me if she becomes a US citizen if this would impact us ever wanting to live in the Philippines in the future. Does the fact that we married in Korea not qualify me for a Balikbayan Visa, or does it not matter where we were married? Do we need to our register the marriage in Korea with the Philippine Embassy once we get to the states?



    • says

      Hi Brian – If she becomes a US citizen, she is still eligible for a Balikbayan Visa in the future. There is no impact based on becoming a US citizen.

      As her husband you are qualified to receive a Balikbayan Visa if you travel into the Philippines accompanied by her. Getting married in Korea has no impact on that.

      Since you were married in Korea, it would seem to me that you should register your marriage at the Philippine Embassy in Korea.

      • Brian says


        Thanks for the reply. If she maintains her Philippine citizenship and just remains a green card holder while in the US will that allow us to buy property in the Philippines in the future vs. her becoming a US citizen?


        • says

          Hi Brian – If she keeps her green card she can own property. However, if she is out of the USA for more than a few months, especially if that happens more than once, she will lose her green card and no more right to enter the USA.

          Why not have her become a US Citizen and then after she is a US citizen, file for Philippine Dual Citizenship under the Philippine Dual Citizenship act? Then she will be a US Citizen and also a Philippine Citizen, with the full rights that both offer. Including owning land in he Philippines.

  61. says

    Hi James Musslewhite – You have been given a lot of misinformation, my friend.

    First, the 13(a) visa has not been discarded, it is still a valid visa. You do not qualify for a 13(a) though, because your wife is not a citizen of the Philippines. You qualify for a 13(g) – which is what I have, so I know about this – which is the same as 13(a) except it is for spouses of former citizens. It is not rare at all of a Filipina wife to return with her husband and kids – there are tens of thousands of situations like that.

    There are two things you can do:

    1. You, your wife and son can all apply for 13(g) visas, and live her permanently. Just go to the Bureau of Immigration and tell them that you wish to apply for a 13(g) and they will provide you all the forms and information that you need.

    2. Your wife can apply for dual citizenship. Once her dual citizenship is acquired, your son will also be a dual citizen – that is automatic when the parent applies. After your wife is a dual citizen, you then become eligible for a 13(a) visa, and you should follow step 1 (except getting an "a" instead of a "g") for yourself only.

    Good luck to you.

  62. says

    Hi Justin – Indeed, you can get a 13 series visa at any Philippine Consulate or Embassy. James is here in the Philippines, though. I don't think such bribes are common, and also it's something I would not feel comfortable about discussing in a public forum like this.

  63. says

    Hi James Musslewhite – I am not familiar with PBMA, but I am happy that your wife has worked through that already. Your place in Surigao sounds really nice.

  64. says

    Hi George – You say you are a balikbayan, which to me means that you are either a Philippine Citizen or a former Philippine Citizen. Right? If you are a citizen, you don't need any visa! You can live here as long as you want, you're a citizen after all! If you are a former citizen, you should file for dual citizenship, reacquire your Philippine Citizenship, and then you can stay for as long as you like. Good luck.

  65. George says

    Hi Bob,
    I was born and raised here till the age of 19. My father was a U.S. citizen at the time and my Mother is a Filipina citizen. I was required to choose at the age of 18 and picked U.S. Eventually I worked abroad in many countries.
    Whenever visiting the Philippines, the customs officer always would see in my passport that I was born here so gave me the one year Balik Bayan stamp. I have gone passed the one year mark so should I just inquire with Immigrations?? Thanks again.

  66. says

    Hi George – You didn't really say how long past the 1 year mark you are. But, you can actually go to the BoI and convert your Balikbayan Visa to a Tourist Visa and stay another 16 months. Yeah, I'd go to the BoI and see what they recommend. It should not cost you much for overstaying, as long as you take care of it.

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