There are many people like me that have a permanent residence visa, and there are others who have a 'Long Stay' temporary visa (59 day visa). Each type of visa holder gets issued what is called an ACR I-card (Alien Certificate of Registration Identity Card). An I-card is a microchip based, credit card-sized identification card issued to all foreigners who wish to stay in the Philippine for more than 59 days.
The process is relatively straightforward, but tedious, and it is done at the same times as the application for a visa.
For the temporary visa, the application has to be processed before your 59 days of allowed stay. For the Permanent visa the application has to be processed within the first 60 days of the calendar year if you’re renewing your ACR I-Card; otherwise, you’ll face jail time, a fine, or deportation.
Normally the application filing is done at the same time you apply for a visa extension, but for those who would like to voluntarily apply for an ACR I-Card or renew theirs, here are the steps you need to take:
Make sure you bring your ACR I-Card & passport with you at all times. Losing your ACR I-Card will mean going through the application process and paying a new I-Card fee plus a P1,000 express fee.
Where can you file?
See the Bureau of Immigration website.
Overstaying is a serious matter for anyone who’s looking to visit the Philippines. Much like how Filipinos get deported when they overstay with a tourist visa overseas, any foreign national caught overstaying will get deported.
What is overstaying?
You’re an overstaying national if you’ve exceeded the maximum number of days your visa allows. This poses a problem, though, as 163 countries are allowed visa-free entry into the Philippines for anywhere between seven to 59 days.
Out of these 163 countries, only Brazilians and Israelis are allowed to stay for 59 days without a visa. Anyone who wants to stay beyond 59 days will have to be brought up with the Bureau of Immigration (BI); otherwise, you’ll be sent home packing, no questions asked.
You won’t be able to get away with overstaying in the Philippines since you’ll be deported and blacklisted, i.e. you’ll never be able to go back in the country again. If you want your Black List Order (BLO) lifted, you’ll have to file a letter of request addressed to the Commissioner of the BI. It’s best to get assistance from an immigration lawyer to have this arranged for you.
What to do if you’re about to overstay your visa or visa expires?
If you’re about to be tagged as overstaying, there’s really only one thing you can do: go to nearest immigration office or the BI main office seven days before your visa expires and settle everything that needs to be settled (fees and documents).
The process will depend on the length of your stay, but the most you can extend is 6 months. You can still stay in the Philippines without actually extending your stay for 6 months as long as your passport remains valid, but you’ll already be tagged as overstaying the moment it goes beyond what your visa or visa-free entry allows.
As most foreign nationals visiting the country are from countries that do not require a visa for a visit of at most 30 days, we’ll put a focus on getting a Visa waiver, issued to tourists who want to request for an initial extension of 29 days.
If you want to go beyond 59 days, you should get a Long-Stay Visitor Visa Extension, or LSVVE. The process is similar to getting a visa extension, but it will involve a much higher fee of P11,500, broken down as follows:
Fine for overstaying is at P500 per month. You’ll also be charged an additional P500 if you go beyond the maximum allowable stay or if you’ve overstayed for more than 6 months to get a Motion for Reconsideration on Updating and Extension of Authorized Stay.
For more information on visa fees, fines, and processes, please visit the Bureau of Immigration website.
IMPORTANT NOTE: My experience has been that it's wise to dress conservatively when visiting the immigration office. I have seen people being told that they could not enter if they were not wearing slacks and a nice shirt.
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