Before you all panic or think I have entered my dotage, let me assure you that permanent or temporary visas are very real. The Philippines has, like many countries a system of permanent (immigrant) and temporary (non-immigrant) visas.
If you look visa by visa it may seem that some of the provisions of a non immigrant visa may seem to approximate those of an immigrant visa. You are correct and this has made the placement of some, supposedly non-immigrant visas in that category quite confusing.
So the first lesson we as expats have to learn is to go back to the basics.
One of the purposes of permanency, one could argue its prime purpose, is to provide a pathway to citizenship.
Now before you jump up and down, let me explain. The key requirement to become a naturalised citizen is 10 years continual residence in the Philippines. That is unless you are married to a Filipino citizen, when it can be reduced to five years.
I would suggest that the only visas where this is possible are the non-immigrant ones.
- Sec13. Quota Visa
- Sec13a. Non-Quota Visa
- The SRRV Retirement visa
Now most of us will not want to become citizens of the Republic of The Philippines, but the option is there.
Also as with all visas there are conditions, but we will look at those in another Flash Points post.
The Role Of Non-Immigrant Visas
These visa provide a way for people to come here without any expectation that they will be able to stay forever.
All other visas are specifically called non-immigrant visas to make it clear that they do not offer this pathway. In addition the temporary nature of non-immigrant visas is emphasised, by the need to regularly renew them.
Most of you will be familiar with tourist visas and the need to regularly renew and also the need to leave the country after three years so the process can reset.
Study visas run from year to year and their renewal is dependent of performance and behaviour.
While persons here on a work visa also have to renew regularly and have to prove that the government definition of needed is still the case.
To further clarify the purpose of certain visas, the Bureau of Immigration is currently working to tidy up the Sec 9a Visitor visas, they have been signalling significant change for a while, so don’t be surprised when it comes, hopefully it will clarify the situation for those who are long term residents, but who do not choose to marry.