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Living in the Philippines on a Balikbayan Visa

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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.

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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!

Living on BalikbayanAfter 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!

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Bob Martin

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur. Bob is an American who lived in Mindanao from 2000 until 2019. Bob has now relocated back to the USA.

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Bob
Bob
15 years ago

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.

RANDY
RANDY
15 years ago

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 ?

Thanks
Randy

Craig
16 years ago

Hi Bob,
THANKS for the information….! You spelled out exactly what I need to do…

MindanaoBob
13 years ago

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.

George
George
13 years ago

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.

MindanaoBob
13 years ago

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.

George
George
13 years ago

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.

James Musslewhite
James Musslewhite
13 years ago

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… Read more »

Justin
Justin
13 years ago

James, 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… Read more »

James Musslewhite
James Musslewhite
13 years ago

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… Read more »

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