I have met several expats, both on and offline in the past few weeks, who are here on a Sec 13a visa. Not unusual you might think, but these men, but it equally applies to a woman on the same visa, have separated from their spouse. One is still living in the marital home but both he and his spouse live separate lives, the other has walked away from the relationship and is currently building a new home and is living with a new Filipina. Both believed that they still had visa coverage for living here in the Philippines.
The bad news is they don’t.
This Is The Law Regarding The Status Of Your Sec 13a Visa
A visa granted on the basis of marriage to a Filipino citizen may be revoked if the marriage is void,
a) couples separate or divorce,
b) the marriage is annulled,
c) the marriage was contracted to evade the Immigration Act (CA 613), or
d) loss of citizenship of the spouse.
I know there are many cases where couples have a spat and one moves out temporarily. Most couples have experienced that “going home to mum” or “spending a night or two at the local watering hole” while ruffled feathers are smoothed and/or male pride is restored. That is not the separation being talked about.
What is being referred to is a permanent separation, even if the parties are living in the same house, but no longer live as a married couple. When that point is reached is the time when the Bureau of Immigration can revoke your visa.
If you have ongoing animosity with your former spouse, they can report you as in contravention of your Section 13a visa and you can be on an immigration blacklist, without even knowing it. To be taken aside and questioned, fined and deported, when you next appear for annual reporting or take a trip outside the country.
However the more frequent scenarios are these:
a) Not thinking anything is amiss and talking openly with officials at the Bureau of Immigration about your separation.
b) Being contacted when the annulment papers are finalised and published.
c) Returning from getting your divorce in your home country, answering “divorced” to the Civil Status question and then claiming Sec 13a permanent Residence Status.
The Good News Is That You Can Change To One Of Several Alternative Visas.
You can apply for a change of visa status to one of either the:
a) The Long Stay Visitor Visa Extension (LSVVE) or
b) Revert to the Extension Of Authorised Stay Beyond 59 Days Temporary Visitor Visa, which is available for either one or two months at a time.
In addition if you meet the criteria you can apply for:
a) Special Residents Retiree Visa SRRV or
b) A quota visa under Sec 13g. See the Wiki
The key to successfully achieving this is by fronting up to your local Bureau of Immigration office as soon as your separation is confirmed and discussing your options with them.
Despite what you may read on some forums, these officials are people just like you and I trying to do a difficult job the best way they can. Cooperation, gets positive results.