Philippine Retirement Visa: my experience with the SRRV

RETIRE IN THE PHILIPPINES. The Philippine government makes it quite easy to live permanently in the country. It has fewer restrictions than we have seen reported by other Southeast Asian countries.  We have seen several complaints about the hassle retirees get in Thailand. There are basically four ways that the foreigner can live in the Philippines. Let’s start with the Special Resident Retirement Visa.

I receive my SRRV, Citibank Tower, Makati

I receive my SRRV, Citibank Tower, Makati

SPECIAL RESIDENT RETIREE VISA (SRRV).  This is a top option if you are not married to a Philippine citizen, have a pension of more than $1,000 per month and have $10,000 to leave deposited in a Philippine bank.  It’s sort of the Cadillac (BMW?) of Philippine visas. You’ll never have to set foot in a Bureau of Immigration office.  You’ll apply and get your visa at the relatively plush PRA offices in the Citibank Tower in Makati. SRRV holders are exempt from ACR, I-card, exit clearance and re-entry permit requirements.  You get a special photo ID card and a pretty PRA visa with tropical island motif is inserted into your passport.  As of 2009, the PRA had 21,000 foreign retirees from 17 countries. There are several other categories of SRRV visa for those who are younger or do not have a pension. Please see the table below.

Types of SRRV visas

Types of SRRV visas

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SRRV ASSISTANCE.  Maria Rose Baranda is a myphilippinelife.com reader and is accredited by the Philippine Retirement Authority to assist those of any nationality desiring to obtain a Philippine SRRV retirement visa.  She will personally handle your application from start to finish. There is no charge to the applicant as Maria Rose receives a fee from the PRA to provide this assistance.  Maria Rose will be happy to answer your pre-application questions, however, there is a $25 fee payable in advance to Maria Rose if you decide retain her to apply on your behalf.  This fee ensures that the applicant has more than a passing curiosity regarding an SRRV.  This fee is refunded when the SRRV is issued.  Maria Rose promises prompt personal attention, no bribes and no dodgy-backdoor dealings.  If interested, email us at myphilippinelife@outlook.com.  We will forward your request to Maria Rose.

 

Here’s something I wrote after I received my SRRV in 2007.  In reading this keep in mind that it applies to what the PRA now calls the “SRRV Classic”.   While most new SRRV visas are now the newer “Smile SRRV”, the SRRV “Classic” is really the best bet for retirees with a pension.  The Smile SRRV which requires a $20,000 deposit seems more geared to younger and more more business-oriented Chinese and Korean applicants rather than retirees.  More information at the  Philippine Retirement Authority website.    Also check  http://www.philippine-embassy.de/bln/images/ConsularSection/VisaServices/pdf/special.resident.retirees.visa.srrv.info.pdf which is seems to be the SRRV FAQ which used to be on the PRA website but seems to have disappeared.

I received my Special Resident Retiree Visa (SRRV) in 2007. For those interested in the pension-based SRRV visa, here are a few things I’ve learned.

The pension-based SRRV allows a foreigner at least 50 years old who has a monthly pension of $1,000 or more to have permanent residence visa in the Philippines in exchange for keeping a $10,000 deposit in a Philippine bank, a $1400 application fee and a $360 annual fee.  It is an excellent option for a foreigner not married to a Philippine citizen.  One can argue about whether it’s a good option for those married to a Philippine citizen.  I foolishly did not get a 13a in the US, a relatively simple process.

I was planning to apply for my 13a in the Philippines but decided on the SRRV in order to avoid the various problems one can have when dealing with BID (Bureau of Immigration and Deportation).  If I lived in the Manila area I may well have gone the 13a route, but we are in the provinces and so had to deal with multiple trips to BID in Intramuros plus the fact that a 13a issued in the Philippines is probationary, so that at the end of a year there are more trip(s) to Manila.  Some provincial BID offices will handle your application without any trips to Manila, but from what I’ve heard, the “fees” can run P40,000 to P50,000 for the probationary 13a with more when one applies to have the probationary status lifted.

Here’s a few SRRV facts:

  • Timeline:  The PRA says you can have an SRRV in five business days.  This presumes that you have all the documents ready, bank deposit made and so forth.  Still, I thought they were pretty speedy. I sent my application to Bank of Commerce in Makati by DHL on July 30.  On Aug. 17 I was informed that my SRRV had been approved and I could pick up my SRRV visa at my convenience.
  • While most foreigners married to a Philippine citizen opt to get a 13a visa, such persons DO qualify for an SRRV.
  • The annual letter US Social Security recipients receive from the Social Security Administration stating the benefit amount for the upcoming year was acceptable as proof of pension in my case.  For me and most US SSA pensioners, this means we can get a SRRV for maintaining a $10,000 deposit with paperwork we already have.  You can fax or email a copy of your SSA benefit statement to the PRA for approval.

The only real glitch in my application had to do with pension documentation.  I sent my benefit statement to the PRA and they responded by email saying it WAS acceptable to them.  When the Bank of Commerce representative (see below) submitted my SRRV application on my behalf, he was told the proof of pension was NOT acceptable.  I sent an email to PRA management complaining.  They immediately apologized.  The   PRA management seems very anxious to provide good service but seem to sometimes have a hard time getting the attention of their staff.

  • You CAN apply for the SRRV while in balikbayan status.  You no longer have to downgrade to a tourist visa.
  • $$$ Saving TIP.  If your spouse has become a citizen of another country, he or she will have lost her Philippine citizenship.  It’s easy to reclaim his or her Philippine citizenship through the simple dual citizenship program, but consider this;  as a former Philippine citizen your spouse may apply for an SRRV and can include you in her application.  Her application fee is $1400.  Including a spouse costs an additional $300 for a total application fee of $1700.  Now for the good part — the required deposit drops to $1500.
  • For the pension-based SRRV, you must prove that your pension check is deposited to a Philippine bank.  It’s not clear if this means it must be DIRECT deposited.  In my case proof meant a letter from the bank or copies of deposit slips. I know many are leery about direct deposits to Philippine banks, but for long-term residence in the Philippines, direct deposit might be convenient, especially for those who depend on the immediate availability of their pension payments.    Allied and BPI and Chinabank offer good direct deposit programs.  More info at this link.  If you choose to have your direct deposits made to a U.S. bank, you may deposit a corresponding check to your Philippine bank’s U.S. dollar account, but you will have to wait about thirty days for your check to clear and for the funds to be available for use in the Philippines.  The advantage of this approach is that it is free whereas Philippine banks make a charge for direct deposits.
  • I had good luck going through the Bank of Commerce for my SRRV.  At that time, they seemed to grasp the opportunities the program offered them.  Local branches will assist with the application.  The Iloilo JM Basa street branch was up to speed on the program and I’ve seen reports that their Dumaguete branch is too.  Your local branch should be able to help you put together your application package and then you can send it via FedEx or DHL to Bank of Commerce in Makati.  They will review it and then take it to the PRA offices for further review and submission.   I suggest you do not pay any fee or make any deposit until the PRA has informally reviewed your application and found it to be complete.  Then make your deposit, pay the $1400 application fee.  After you make the deposit, BOC will give you a deposit certificate for submission to the PRA.
  • My 2007 six month USD time deposit paid 4.25% interest.  Worldwide rates have fallen.  Don’t expect any significant interest to be paid on your SRRV deposit.  Once you have your SRRV, you can convert to peso time deposit paying quite good interest.  BOC is offering very good rates on five year, tax free, peso CDs.  Unless you plan on withdrawing the money to buy a condo or make other investments, you must keep the $10,000 on deposit.  You must have at least $50,000 on deposit to qualify to convert bank deposits to investments.  You cannot withdraw bank deposits without written permission from the PRA.  When you die your spouse will inherit the deposit, but will have to pay inheritance taxes before she can obtain the funds.  Since the inheritance taxes have to be paid before withdrawal,  the deposited funds can’t be used to pay the tax.
  • I was shocked to hear the Export and Industry Bank “ExportBank”, a nationwide Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) affiliate bank with fifty branches, was ordered closed by Philippine Central Bank in April.  I had assumed that the larger Philippine commercial banks were stable.  Evidently, I was wrong.  Those pension-based SRRV holders having their deposits at ExportBank with deposits of $10,000  may eventually get their money back through the PDIC which insures deposits up to P500,000.  Our heart goes out to those with larger deposits. They may have just lost tens of thousands of dollars, plus, in order to retain their SRRV they may have to fund new accounts with the required the SRRV deposit.  See the PRA notice HERE.  Those of us with SRRV deposits should take a second look at their choice of banks to hold their SRRV deposit.  Update: the Development Bank of the Philippines is now the only bank allowed to hold SRRV deposits.
  • Unless medically unable, you must travel to the PRA offices at the Citibank Tower in Makati one time to receive your SRRV ID card and visa and to sign and fingerprint an SRRV “affirmation” which outlines your responsibilities as an SRRV holder.  The whole process takes about 15 minutes.  We rendezvoused at the BOC Bel Air office and Pineda accompanied us to the PRA office for the “ceremony” complete with photo-op.  The view from the 26th floor PRA offices is fantastic.
  • If you commit to keeping your required deposit in a bank for three years they will give you a SRRV ID card valid for three years at a total cost of $20.  At the end of the three year period you apply for another card good for three years for $30 and so forth.    2011 changes.  The PRA is now charging an annual fee of $360 for the pension-based SRRV visa.  That’s quite a big jump from the previous $10 annual fee.  Evidently, those who obtained their SRRVs before the change may not have to pay the $360 annual fee.  To date, I have not been charged this fee. Since I am married to a Philippine citizen, I qualify for a 13a non-quota visa.  If the $360 fee is applied to me, I’ll apply for a 13a visa immediately.  For those who don’t qualify for the 13a visa, the SRRV may still be attractive.
  • Download the SRRV ID Card Renewal form here: Renewal_of_SRRV_Identification__ID__Card
  • The PRA offers to provide free assistance in getting drivers licenses and employment permits.  We took advantage of this, thinking that the PRA may have some some arrangement with the LTO.  This proved not to be the case.  This service might be helpful to clients (Korean, Japanese, Chinese are big users of the program) who do not speak English well and would have trouble navigating the LTO process, but otherwise you can just apply yourself in your Philippine home town.
  • Formerly, if you left the Philippines, you were required to let the PRA know three days in advance.  This policy has been changed and no notification is needed.
  • If you leave the Philippines frequently (more than once per year) you are exempt from paying the Philippine travel tax of P1,620.  This is true for all non-immigrant visa holders, not just SRRV visa holders.  However, to exit the Philippines without paying the travel tax you’ll have to get a travel tax exemption form PTA F356 from the Philippine Tourism Authority.  The fee for the  PTA F356 is P200.  You’ll have to show your ID pages of passport and stamp of last departure from and arrival in the Philippines.  HEREis a list of locations where the travel tax exemption form can be obtained.  Since most exit the Philippines through Manila, most will get their certificate at NAIA.  Allow extra time to deal with this process.
  • THE SRRV IS POPULAR WITH? The PRA reports issuing 27,000 SRRVs to citizens of 107 countries.  It may surprise you to learn that Chinese nationals comprised 38% of those who enrolled in 2011. Koreans were 27%, Japanese 10% and North Americans 6.5%.

OTHER PHILIPPINE VISA OPTIONS FOR THE FOREIGN RETIREE

VISITOR VISA.  The foreigner can arrive on a visitor visa.  On arrival you’ll be granted a 21 day visa.  Be sure you have an ongoing ticket out of the Philippines to show immigration officials if they ask for it.  The visitor visa can be renewed for another 38 days at an immigration office.  Further 59 day extensions can extend your stay up up to sixteen months.  After that, you’ll have to leave the Philippines and return to begin the cycle over again. This approach is followed by many long-term expats, although the visitor visa is not intended to allow permanent residency in the Philippines.  This alternative involves multiple visits to the Bureau of Immigration and payment of fees.  Some travel agents will take care of visa extensions for a fee.

BALIKBAYAN VISA. The foreign spouse and minor children of a Philippine citizen qualify for a special one year balikbayan visa — really just a stamp in your passport.  There are no fees or paperwork.  On arrival in the Philippines, tgive your Philippine spouse your passport and a copy of your marriage certificate and let her request the balikayan visa from the immigration officer on your behalf.  The granting of the balikbayan privilege is discretionary with the immigration officer.

No visits to the immigration office or payment of fees is required, but you must leave the Philippines before the end of your one year stay.  Then you may return to the Philippines more or less immediately and request another balikbayan stamp good for another year.  Your spouse must be with you when you return, otherwise you’ll be given a 21 day tourist visa.  Please note that the only documentation you’ll receive as proof of your balikbayan status is a small arrival stamp in your passport with a smaller stamp saying “balikbayan 1 year” or sometimes the regular arrival stamp with “BB” (for balikbayan) hand-written on it.

The balikbayan privilege is a great option for expats married to a Philippine citizen.  It’s totally free of charges and totally free of visits to immigration offices.  The only hitch is that that each year you have to pay for a round trip out of the Philippines for both you and your spouse.  This can be a very enjoyable requirement as long as your health is good enough to allow for such travel.  There are many pleasant and economical options.  Watch for special offers from the airlines.

TIP: Rather than leaving the Philippines at the end of the year, the foreigner can report to an immigration office and request that the balikbayan status be converted to a section 9a visitor visa.  Then you’ll be required to make regular visits to the immigration office and pay fees, just as you would as a regular visitor.  Not every immigration office may be familiar with this procedure so be sure to allow enough time to resolve any snafus.

SECTION 13a or 13g PERMANENT RESIDENT VISA.  If you’re married to a Philippine citizen or former citizen, you qualify for  permanent residency in the Philippines.  This is similar to the “green card” status of foreigners living in the US, but retaining their foreign citizenship.  With this visa you can stay in the Philippines as long as you want.  My advice to to apply for permanent residency at the Philippine embassy or consulate in your home country before you arrive in the Philippines. The process in your home country is quite fast and simple and the permanent resident visa you receive really is permanent.  You’ll need to stop in Manila for further processing, but that can be done in one day.

If you apply in the Philippines, you’ll likely need at least three trips to Manila.  Of course you can combine your trips to the BI office with other business or pleasure in Manila.  If you live near an airport with good connections to Manila (as we do in Iloilo) you can fly to Manila and return the same day.

On the first visit, you’ll submit your application.  That trip may be made at your convenience.  Each of these visits may include multiple steps, going from window to window and so forth, so get to the BI office early in the morning.  That way, you may be able to accomplish more steps and avoid additional trips or overnight stays in Manila.  The second visit will be when you’re summoned for an interview with an immigration attorney.  The date of that visit will be fixed by the BI. The third visit is to receive your visa.  If anything goes wrong, such as communications problems, not paying attention and being organized, more than three visits to BI are a definite possibility.

If you live deep in the provinces, this can involve considerable inconvenience and expense. If you apply in the Philippines you’ll only receive a probationary visa good for one year.  At the end of the year you have to reapply to make your visa permanent — more trips to Manila.  The Philippine Bureau of Immigration seems to really be making an effort to make the process of obtaining a visa more painless and less subject to requests for “additional payments”.  A friend recently went through the entire process (including five visit to BI) and said that he was not asked for, nor did he pay any “gratuities”.  Dressing neatly and being polite is recommended. The BI has greatly improved their website at: http://immigration.gov.ph/  Check it for the latest updates.

Post updated Jan. 12, 2014

Comments (261) Write a comment

  1. Hi all. Only just found your interesting Web Site.
    I have been living in the Philippines for for almost 30 years and been married to a Filipina for the same length. I am a holder of the 13a permanent residence visa which if you read of all the above, you know what it is. How ever, I am approaching retirement age and going to have a choice whether to keep the 13a or apply for the SSRV. I think I am inclined to keep the 13a becouse of its simplicity. You only pay an annual report fee of p310.00 and submit a couple photo’s. And you do this at the nearest Immigration office nearest to where you live. Don’t have to show anyone your (my small) financial ability. I leave the country no more than twice a year, so its not too much in paying exit/return immigration clearance. p2,380 each time.
    You get your own Medical Insurance–its affordable. I have used it twice ( 2 injury’s)and have availed of it to help pay Hospital and medical treatment.
    Another thing i don’t know if its been mentioned: Making use of the Philippine Senior Citizen card! As long as you are a resident and have a permanent address it is given free. You can make quite a few savings on medicine, spectacles, bus fair etc..
    All has been mentioned on cost of living.
    About law & order and personell safety: in all the years I have lived here in the Philippines, I have only been pick pocket once of a small sum (you learn of that lesson) and never been in trouble from the law. ok boring, but the thing is, you apply yourself always in a polite smart friendly manner and always be alert and stay out of trouble. And life is ok and never boring in the Philipines.
    Jerry

    Reply

    • Jerry,
      How does one go about getting a 13a Visa? I have married a filipina about 7 years ago, and in about 3 more years we will move to the Philippines from Texas. I must say that I do NOT like what I saw about the SRRVs, at all! It would cost me $10,000 minimum amount kept in a PRA-approved Bank and other associated fees.

      I like what you said about the 13a being so affordable! I appreciate any info you can share!

      Thanks so much!
      peace and love,
      brian

      Reply

    • The use of of the senior citizen’s card by non-Filipino nationals is risky because it is illegal and carries hefty fines. It has nothing to do with residency.

      Reply

  2. Bob, what website do I go to, to check out the 13a Visa?? I am still in America, and am researching my paths to retiring to the Philippines! Thanks!

    Reply

  3. Am I to understand, that if I were to get the 13a Permanent Resident Visa from an office in the US (my current home country), that I would NOT need to get ANY SRR Visa? Does that mean that I would NOT need to deposit ANY funds into a PRA Bank? As I am not yet retired and still under age 53 without ANY pension, when I am ready to move to the PI to retire, I will sell my current USA home, and bring over $150,000USD with me when I move, will I need to have a monthly income, if I have such a large deposited sum? At 56 years of age, I will be eligible for SSI, but after reading these posts, I see that I will NOT have SSI benefits if I move to the Philippines, because the SS Admin will not pay SSI benefits overseas?? Is there any requirement to have a monthly income with the 13a Permanent Resident Visa, if one has a large lump sum deposit? Thanks for all your info, Gary and others on this forum!! Peace!

    Reply

    • Brian,

      If you are married to a Philippine citizen and receive a 13a visa, you have no need for an SRRV. You cannot receive Supplementary Security Income (SSI) in the Philippines, but you can receive regular Social Security retirement while living in the Philippines. I do not advise you to brink such a large amount with you to the Philippines. As far as I know, there is no income requirement for a 13a visa.

      Bob

      Reply

  4. Hi Bob, hi Carol,
    I am already here in the Philippines on a SRRV. The time I applied I was under 50 years. Therefore I had to pay my $ 50.000. After my 50th birthday I went to SRRV office to ask whether I can have my $ 30.000 back. They said yes after the renewal of my Visa. On the the day of my renewal I asked again and they said I could have my money back but than I have to pay $ 3000 every year and the rest of my $ 20.000 has to go on a different account. Do you have an explanation for that?
    What can I do to get my money back?? Hope you can help me!
    Best regards
    Eveline

    Reply

    • Eveline,

      This does not sound right. I can see that the SRRV deposit and the refund have to be segregated in different accounts. You should then be able to withdraw funds from the non-SRRV account. The same thing happened with the excess funds which accumulated in my SRRV deposit account. They would not give me the funds, but they put them in a separate account from which I could make withdrawals. Perhaps you have to pay the PRA a $360 annual fee because they are considering your changed SRRV new account, subject to the $360 annual fee. I will forward your email to Marie Rose Baranda to see what she thinks.

      Bob

      Reply

  5. To whom it may concern, I would like some information reference the SRRV Visa. I am a US Military retired. I would like to know is how much does a person need to have in the bank when applying for the SRRV Visa. Some people say is $10,000 and some other people say $20,000 and some other say $1,500. I also have checked the website. I do not see $1500 but I seen 10,000 and $20,000. I would appreciate if somebody would tell the amount. I would also like to know the annual fee. I have seen $360.00 annual but some people say its $10. I knoe there are a lot of people out there with a lot of knowledge reference this matter, thanks

    Reply

    • Mr. Perez,

      If you have a pension you can qualify for an SRRV with a $10,000 deposit. There is a $1,400 application fee plus a $360 annual fee.

      Bob

      Reply

  6. Can I get a retirement visa SRRV just by depositing the $20,000 or do I need to have my pension paid into Philippine bank each month. What if I didn’t have a pension paying out yet?

    Reply

    • Kev,

      With a $20,000 deposit, you should qualify for the SRRV “Smile” visa. No pension is needed.

      Bob

      Reply

  7. Where does the 10,000 dollars go? Can you ever get it back? Is it just gone and when you dies they keep it?
    Dave

    Reply

    • Dave,

      The SRRV deposit must remain in the bank as long as you have your SRRV. You can ask the PRA to leave the program. They will revert you to a tourist visa and authorize the bank to release your funds.

      If you die, once inheritance taxes are paid, the funds can go to your your legatees. If you are married to a Philippine citizen, it can go to her. Philippine inheritance laws apply, not those of your home country.

      Bob

      Reply

  8. Hi my name is nick I’m a disabled veteran I have been looking into retiring in the philippines I’m recently divorced I plan on moving in ten years I know a lot can change in that time but I like to plan ahead my question is how much do I need to live a comfortable life not just survive but be able to do things other than live paycheck to paycheck I’ve heard that all you need is $800.00 a month or so I have a hard time believing that my other question is the $10,000 that you deposit in the time locked account once you get your srrv visa can you withdraw that money for personel use and my final question is I have been working on a monthly budget while I live in the philippines I’m guessing that rent would be the biggest expense what kind of place can you get for $800.00 a month if I decide to live in bulocan thank you

    Reply

    • Hi Nick,

      Yes, it’s possible to live on $800 or even less. Some of the major variables are whether you have a car, whether you drink and party, whether you have a wife and/or girlfriend (and you probably will if you move here), whether you provide some help to wife or girlfriends family (you will), whether you have air conditioning, whether you have medical problems, whether you’d like to travel and whether you can eat mostly Philippine rather than imported foods and so forth. $800 is about P35,000 per month. I have seen acceptable unfurnished apartments for P5,000 to P10,000. Your electric bill with aircon should be P4,000 or so. Internet is P1,000. You really don’t need a car — depending on your disability.

      The $10,000 is basically has to be kept in the bank. You can also come as a tourist and just keep on extending your stay every 59 days up to three years. Then you have to take a short trip out of the country — then return for another three years.

      You should arrive with an emergency fund of several thousands of dollars. You will need funds for travel, rent deposits, furnishings and emergencies. Also enough for a return ticket.

      You can see our expenses for 2013 at http://myphilippinelife.com/cost-of-living-for-expat-family-in-the-philippines-2013/

      Bob

      Reply

      • Hi this is nick again I was wondering what is smarter to do obtain a srrv visa before I make the big move or do it in the states before I move to the philippines I’m just thinking ahead thank you nick

        Reply

        • Nick,

          You must be in the Philippines to apply for the SRRV. Of course you can be sure you have all the documentation you need before you come.

          Bob

          Reply

      • Is the extension LIMIT of the tourist visa of 59 days 2 years or 3 years? you gave both numbers im just confused. My plan is thus, im married to a filipina and my mom with her mentally disabled son together get around $2800 a month from the government, part is my fathers anuity /retirement not sure, and the other is i think some type of disability for my brother, ill need to call my SS office and check if they can receive this money over there. We want to move there for 3 to 5 years simply to be able to save $1000 to $1500 a month for the fuill duration, then return to the USA if we choose and pay cash for land and a small fixer upper house.

        Last question, with the SRRV did i read it wrong…does it allow for 2 dependents within the $10000 fee? if so what must the status of these dependents be, age and such.

        Reply

        • Philippine immigration regulations are a bit in flux. The Long Stay Visitor Visa (LSVVE) is being rolled out but, for the time being, is only available through the Intramuros immigration office in Manila. It gives a six month initial stay. I presume that a visitor will arrive and receive a normal thirty day visitor visa and then, if they wish, may go to the Intramuros immigration office to apply for the LSVVE. As to how long one may stay, here is my understanding: “No LSVVE shall be issued to visa-required nationals whose stay exceeds twenty-four (24) months and thirty-six (36) months for non visa-required nationals.” My conclusion is that the normal two year limit is extended to three years for LSVVE holders. Unfortunately the Bureau of Immigration website does not currently give many details. Do a search on Google and most information is from Philippine embassies and consulates around the world. You should be able to get more authoritative information at the Intramuros office when you apply for the LSVVE.

          My reading is that the SRRV allows two dependents. These can be a foreign spouse or children. To qualify as a dependent the children must be less than 21 years of age.

          Reply

  9. Hi, I have a question concerning the visitor visa and the SRRV visa. Is it possible to go to the Philippines under the tourist visa and later convert to the SRRV without leaving?

    Reply

  10. Hello MyPhilippineLife,

    The SRRV looks like a great program. I am trying to see if my spouse and I are qualified. I am 52, no worries, but my spouse is 24. Most doc’s and info on the Philippine immigration site and/or PRA site state that the Principal Retiree must be over 35. But others are more generic and state “applicants”. We have 1 year old daughter, who is of course fine as my dependent. Any thought as to what the real fine line of the regulatory legalese states in this area? I fear we may have an issue here in a gray area.

    Possibly if my spouse does have issue, I may be able, as retiree and as husband, to sponsor her for another visa category once my SRRV with daughter was approved?

    I guess if my spouse was rejected under SRRV then she could simply do the 21 day tourist + 38 + 59. I have read in this thread two statements. One that stated this method could be extended for a stay to 6 months and a second that stated up to two years before a departure from Phil was required. Any idea which is correct?

    Thank you, sincerely,
    Martin

    Reply

    • Martin,

      My guess is that your wife (who is not a Philippine citizen?) does not have to meet the age requirement. The rules can be vague and interpretations impromptu, but the PRA will want to sign you up unless there is a specific problem. Each enrollee is a revenue stream! I realize it can be difficult to get an answer out of the PRA. If you like, I can refer you to Maria Rose Baranda who is a agent for the PRA. She may know the answer.

      Bob Hammerslag

      Reply

  11. Anyone here with experience applying for the recently introduced LSVVE of 6 months extension. If you have applied for a period of 6 months that took you beyond the 16 month stay limit, how many weeks did you wait for the commissioner’s approval? How many trips to Intramuros Main Office?
    Dev

    Reply

  12. Hi all, excellent site and TY for the info everybody , I was of course wondering all kinds of things lol , I am on ssi of 850 a mo. and confused about a post about ssi and pension not being the same , I can get my ssi in any country as long as its not communist ,,,,, the you cant get it there or something , had to do with the US address getting caught part , and I suppose that theres only 2 ways to not make a 10 grand deposit , get a visitors visa in which case you’ll be leaving eventually , or get married and maby wish you had gotten the visa , Ive heard about the family trying to move in on you = Major Drama , anyway thxz for any insight ,

    Reply

    • Hi Chris,

      People often confuse Social Security Retirement benefits with SSI supplemental income payments. Social Security benefits can be paid to you just about anywhere in the world, except as you say, a few that are banned. SSI is not paid overseas. Who wants to retire in North Korea anyway? Regarding marrying a Filipina and having problems with the wife’s family — it depends. It depends on the family, it depends on the wife’s ties with the family and it depends on you and how well you manage the situation from the first. Your wife’s family could be a tremendous asset or a nightmare. It depends!

      Bob

      Reply

    • Don’t confuse SSI Social Security and regular Social Security or disability benefits. If you are on SSI then you can’t get benefits beyond 30 days outside the country. SSI is for low income people that didn’t pay enough into the federal system in order to collect full benefits. Thats why the rest of the money is provided by the State that you live in. To be rather blunt about this matter if your on SSI benefits then your screwed because you can only live in the United States to collect those benefits. I am on Social Security disability that is called SSDI and I can live any place in the world except North Korea like Bob said. Some people get SSI at earlier age if they are disabled providing you didn’t pay enough into the federal system. Chris It sounds like your getting (SSDI) Social Security Disability Insurance which in that case you are fine. The reason that I think your on SSDI instead of SSI is because SSI limit I believe is only $728 per month, but you said that your getting $850 per month. I must caution you that if you decide to move to the Philippines it’s not much money to work with. I have heard of single people doing it, but on a very very frugal income lifestyle. I suggest if you can afford it, bring emergency money and if you can buy a small condo unit to live in then do it. My SSDI income is $1,375 and I still budget it very carefully. I still hope that I live long enough to get to the $2,000 monthly pension amount which I call the comfort level with no worries. However with the US governement screwing the VA and Social Security people with cost of income level that we call cola I may never live to see that amount. Good luck Chris and If I were you, call Social Security to make sure.

      Reply

  13. I had a question regarding the police clearance report and medical examination clearance.

    I am from the UK and have a UK passport but have not lived there for the past 12 years. I am living in Bulgaria now in europe for the past 7 years. Would i need a police report from the UK where i have not lived for the past 12 years or from Bulgaria where i have lived for the past 7 years ?

    Also is the medical examination clearance just like a full blood test that checks everything ? Any further information on this ?

    Thank you

    Reply

    • Starman,

      This is a little complicated. I suggest contacting Maria Rose Baranda on this one — mariarose.baranda@gmail.com Regarding the medical exam, you can see the form the physician needs to fill out at https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=A4884A99B1DA2737!35337&authkey=!AC1xKsDjPsVwbcU

      I recommend that the application for the SRRV be done in the Philippines and I recommend that you not try to accomplish the application from elsewhere. The process in the Philippines is straightforward and you are very likely to be approved unless very unusual circumstances apply.

      I am curious as to why you’d exchange retirement in Bulgaria for the Philippines. Climate? Any comments on Bulgaria as a retirement destination will be of interest.

      Bob and Carol

      Bob

      Reply

      • Thank you for your reply.

        I have already sent her an email.

        However I noticed a post you had posted on the 19.05.13 as shown below. From the post I presumed that i could just get the police clearance in the Philippines.


        GOIloilo 19.05.13 @ 11:39 am
        My suggestion is that you wait to apply for your SRRV at the PRA offices in Makati. Just stay in a nice Makati hotel. The PRA will help you complete the police clearance and physical exam and banking. Trying to do the medical and police clearances in your home country is an exercise in frustration and expensive besides.

        Bob

        Actually i am not of retirement age at the moment and i work via the internet. I was living in Bulgaria because the cost of living is very very low. However it does get very cold in sinter times which i do not like. Summer can be upto +40c and last winter we had -20c.

        Living costs are very cheap for example :

        Electric about 6 Pesos a Kwh unit
        Internet with a 30Mb/s connection about 440 Peso a month.
        Water is about 54 Peso for 1000 litres
        Taxis are 40 Peso a KM
        Public transport about 29 Peso a journey
        Bottle of red wine about 150 Peso

        Its a great place to stay with fantastic food and wine which is quite similar to the Greek Cuisine.

        Reply

        • Starman,

          I do stand corrected. The PRA is now requiring police clearances from overseas, according to Maria Rose Baranda. Further, these clearances must be authenticated by the Philippine embassy in the originating jurisdiction. Maria Rose can help with this and her services are free because she gets a fee from the PRA for each successful application. Just keep in mind that you do not have to obtain an SRRV in order to stay in the Philippines. Many (if not most) foreigners come on a 21 day tourist visa. This can be extended for 59 day periods for about P5,000 per extension. After two years you have to leave the Philippines and return but this can be a quick and inexpensive flight to Hong Kong etc.

          Thanks for the information on Bulgaria. Have you spent time in the Philippines?

          Bob

          Reply

  14. Hi, seems like SRRV smile is good to me. i want to work in my home country right now until retirement, then move to philipine. my concern is is it possible for me to change SRR smile to classic by then? i mean if now i apply smile category and then change to classic by the time i move to phil dozen years later. i want to ue the deposit to buy condo

    Reply

    • Sen,

      You want to get and SRRV Smile now and a Classic later? You will use the Classic investment to buy a condo in twelve years?

      If you are going to continue to work in your home country for the next twelve years, why do you need an SRRV now?

      It seems likely that you could change from one type of SRRV to another. Of course it’s hard to know what policies will be twelve years from now. There have been significant changes in the last few years. The question I would have is whether they would charge you the application fee again when you want to change SRRV types.

      Bob

      Reply

  15. Great info here… hope u can help me out.. i’m planning to go under srrv classic without pension then use the money to purchase house/condo and let my wife stays there while I work back in my country (better pay) and travel every month/week back to Philippines.. is this possible???

    Reply

  16. Great Site!
    Quick Question: with SRRV SMILE – can you ship your belongings to the philippines? If so – is there any limit on shipment size? any tax?

    Reply

  17. Hello

    I applied for and was given a sec 13 quota visa more or less 5 years ago and done the renewal thing each year. The visa is a stamp on a passport, Sec 13 Quota and signed by the head of Immigration and i was also issued an I card . I went to a lot of trouble to submit a lot of documents , health, pychiatric (sp) , proof of ability to support myself/income , NBI and police stuff back home showing I did not have any legal problems . At the time i was younger than 50 and i have the recollection that the PRA visa would have cost $750/year to maintain ( i’ve forgotten the how i came to that conclusion) . My I Card was to expire in 2013 and I submitted an application for a new one. It seems that this application has been held up and was forwarded to an investigation unit because the officer who facilitated the quota visa got into trouble for monkey busines which made the other quota visas he had anything to do with suspect. I’ve done nothing improper and do you think i could forfeit/give up the sec 13 quota visa and apply for a special retirement visa. The fees i pay to come and go are high , they seem higher than the travel tax and departure tax combined or i’m sure i pay a lot more than 2100 plus pesos. The PRA visa is exempt from the travel tax but more importantly i’m not sure how to “demand” my i card be processed and if they want to take away the sec 13 it is ok with me and it may be less expensive . I don’t have a pension but i work and have income as well as employees and i pay all of the taxes and good wages and Pagibig (sp) and am legit and contributing and well what do you think? I also do not know if I can leave the country without an I Card having a quota visa stamp on my passport. Going to immigration is a nightmare and in my opinion i should be treated well as i feel i contribute and blah blah blah.

    Reply

    • There are numerous stories about quota visa been sold by unscrupulous people.
      It was only a matter of time that problems would start popping up.

      The SRRV cost less than USD 400 per year. The Higher amount you mentioned is 1% of the large deposit that younger people had to invest in those days and was the fee if they wouldn’t leave the money in a bank account.

      Contact Mary Rose for details about getting SERVICE. I have SRRV and since I travel a lot I benefit from the privileges. With SRRV you can got an AEP.

      Reply

    • As far as we know, enrollees in the SRRV may apply for Philippine citizenship in the same way as anyone else can. You have to be a resident for ten years (this can be reduced under some conditions) and speak Spanish or English plus one Philippine dialect. Check the Philippine immigration website for more details: immigration.gov.ph

      Reply

    • That’s a very good question Wayne. From what I understand under Philippine law if you are given an opportunity to accept Philippine citizenship then you must relinquish your current citizenship to your country. However I hear that if you are a Filipino citizen for example that becomes an American citizen that you can apply for dual citizenship. But in your situation assuming that your not a Filipino and probably an American or British they will require that you give up your citizenship. But there’s always loopholes in laws for example if you’re American the only way you can lose your citizenship is if you go to the American consulate or embassy and renounce your US citizenship which would be insane to do as far as I’m concerned. I believe there is a waiting period of 10 or 20 years I’m not sure exactly on the time limit. If you are offered citizenship Philippines they will probably require you to give up your US passport to them. That does not constitute you losing US citizenship. You can accept Philippine citizenship if you have to give up your US passport and go to the American consulate or embassy the next day and get another passport. There are many advantages of having dual citizenship for example if get in trouble with the law and your US passport gets revoked based on child support, owing back taxes and even student loans can get your passport restricted. If you happen to be on the run from the law of US authorities getting Philippine citizenship will not help you very much and I will explain why. Way back in the day former president Clinton signed an extradition treaty between the United States and the Philippines to extradite all criminals. I can honestly understand your feeling for wanting dual citizenship but you must remember Philippine citizenship has a lot of disadvantages travel wise. You may be allowed to travel to a few Asian countries. Getting a Philippine passport is like a downgrade to the cream of the crop American, British, Australian passports because you can travel anywhere in the world. You can’t even go to Japan on a Philippine passport unless you kiss the Japanese officials @ss at the Japanese Embassy for a visa. The Philippines certainly makes it easy for you to stay in the Philippines legally but getting Philippine citizenship can be like pulling teeth. I read about a foreigner that got into trouble with an underage girl in Angeles city which was a pure set up by Philippine national police. This guy picked up a girl from a go-go bar and off they had gone to the hotel. Next thing you know the police are at his door. Apparently she used her older sisters birth certificate to get work at the go-go bar. But when police came to hotel room they had her real birth certificate which showed that she was 17 years old. They took this poor guy and gave him a hard time telling him how much trouble he’s in. They wouldn’t let him have access to a telephone for couple of days and demanded money in exchange for his freedom. Eventually the guy’s live-in partner came to the police station showing a Philippine passport. The police first thought it was fake or not legitimate and immigration officials were called. It had turned out this guy had been in the Philippines for 23 years and obtained Philippine citizenship. The police realized they could not get money out of him and eventually released him. I will give you a piece of advice if you get in trouble with the authorities. Do not call your embassy for help and I will tell you why. If you call your embassy then they will simply make sure that justice system works and everything is in order. Basically after the embassy is notified you cannot buy your way out under any circumstances because the government will be monitoring the case. American embassy never helps its citizens while they’re behind bars. Sure they will come to jail and visit you to check up on your health and they will tell you how they cannot help you. The most they can do is pass on a message to your family and friends that you’re in trouble and recommend a good attorney. In rare cases if your health is at jeopardy they will get you vitamins. Another thing you need to reconsider before you call your embassy and that is what happens if you’re found guilty? Then the State Department will be notified and depending on the crime they may even revoke your passport for good. I as an American citizen absolutely have no confidence with the American Embassy and its officials at all. When you’re in the Philippines you are on your own. Your best friend is a cash reserve for emergencies in your bank. When you are locked up in jail you have to make that important decision, are you going to dance with the devil and pay the cops off or be like Rambo and tell them to go blank themselves and ride your timeout in jail.

      Reply

  18. hi bob..thanks for reply on visa extesions…i am looing at the SRRV scheme now……bob another question !!…i have been married previously in fill about 10 yrs ago…back to nz…didnt work out and we divorsed in nz…i have now met another lady in fill(yes i am a tiger for punishment) and lived together as partners for past 3 yrs….question !!i am divorsed in nz but what is my status in fill??can i marry her in fill or even in nz ….cheers ian

    Reply

    • Ian,

      Was the first marriage registered in the Philippines with the NSO, the government registry? As we understand it, if you have a legal divorce outside the Philippines, you are free to remarry, in the Philippines or elsewhere. Bring an official copy of your divorce decree. For a more informed answer you could join and post your question on the excellent forum http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MAG-ANAK/. Best wishes to you both.

      Bob and Carol

      Reply

  19. hi bob….like your site and good info….bob after 16 mths of visa extension i read it simple to start again by going overseas and return to start the whole process again….i understand many do it..what is the stance of fill immig on this??? appreciate your comments…thanks

    Reply

    • Ian,

      My understanding is that yes – extend your tourist visa as needed until the sixteen month limit is reached, leave the country (even momentarily), return and you can start all over again. As far as I know, this is perfectly legal, although the Bureau of Immigrations says the tourist visa is not intended for long term residence and they could refuse to continue to do so. These extensions are a source of revenue and employment, so it’s likely to continue.

      Bob and Carol

      Reply

  20. Hi, i been reading all the post here and its a great site go get all the informations. Anyway, I have a question, I’m planning to get the SRRV Smile Visa. I’m a Malaysian born living and working here in Kuala Lumpur. I’m 34 and will turn 35 next January 28th 2014. Looking forward to start a living there in the Philippines and planning to move by Christmas this year and that would be before 25th December. I would come in on a tourist visa and then will apply for the SRRV Smile at the PRA office in Makati. Honestly no plans to go back to Malaysia soon after that but, do i still need to show a return ticket at the immigration? Is that a must? and since i will turn 35 only on 28th January 2014, can i submit my application even before that? Do they accept that?

    Reply

    • Amreet,

      I wish I could give you definitive answers, but decisions by Philippine officials do not always completely follow set rules (but things are getting better). Possibly the PRA would allow you to apply and not issue the SRRV until after you turn 35. You could try emailing or calling the PRA to ask but even then you may not be able to be sure that what one staff member says will be honored by another. Of course, it would be safest to enter as a tourist and apply after you turn 35. Applying before you turn 35 would be a gamble. It’s the same with ongoing travel tickets. Sometimes they ask and sometimes they don’t. The safest thing to do is to buy the cheapest ticket you can find and consider it disposable. Otherwise you might be refused entry or forced to buy a higher-priced ticket. Since there has been some Philippine-Malaysian tensions, perhaps they would be less inclined to be generous. Hope this helps a little.

      Bob and Carol

      Reply

      • Hi. Thanks for the reply and information. Anyway I would be making a 2 weeks trip sometime in mid of September and will go to the PRA office to get more details on how i can go about my SRRV Smile Visa. Hope everything goes well and smooth.

        Reply

  21. Hi pls can u qnswer the following
    -can i pay the 10 000 US now and move there in say 5yrs and if so does this give me any entitlements re entering philippines in this interim period
    Can i leave the money in the bank and not purchase property
    Can i work when im there with this visa
    Do i ever get residency
    Am i able to pull out of the whole thing and what would i stand to lose
    whats the correct amnt to be paid ive received so many different versions im 49 yrs old single with no dependents

    Reply

    • Answers interspersed in CAPS below question:

      -can i pay the 10 000 US now and move there in say 5yrs and if so does this give me any entitlements re entering philippines in this interim period
      THE BEST THING TO DO IS TO COME TO THE PHILIPPINES AND GET YOUR SRRV HERE. THEN YOU CAN COME AND GO AS YOU PLEASE.

      Can i leave the money in the bank and not purchase property

      YES.
      Can i work when im there with this visa.

      MY UNDERSTANDING IS THAT YOU CAN WORK WITH THE NON-PENSION SRRV BUT NOT WITH THE PENSION SRRV. YOU WILL NEED ADDITIONAL WORK PERMITS FROM THE LABOR DEPT.
      Do i ever get residency

      THE SRRV IS PERMANENT RESIDENCY AS LONG AS YOU ABIDE BY THE TERMS.

      Am i able to pull out of the whole thing and what would i stand to lose.

      YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO SURRENDER YOUR SRRV, REVERT TO TOURIST STATUS AND WITHDRAW YOUR SRRV BANK DEPOSIT. THERE IS SOME DELAY AND PAPERWORK TO DO SO.

      whats the correct amnt to be paid ive received so many different versions im 49 yrs old single with no dependents

      $20,000 UNLESS YOU HAVE A MEDICAL CONDITION AND PENSION.

      Reply

  22. QUestion. Must you really have at least 50 000 USD to apply for the 13 (a) visa even if you are married to a filipino? Thanks.

    Reply

    • No. I think you are confusing the SRRV retirement visa with the 13a immigrant visa. There is no deposit for a 13a, just the application fees.

      Reply

  23. I am currently trying to move my mother to the PI to live with my wife and I. I am working overseas and travel home every 3-4 months. She only recieves $400.00 per month from SS and has no way of gathering 10,000 for a deposit. What options do I have to get her there so my wife can care for her? I can make a deposit of 10K for her, but what about her monthly pension not meeting the 800?

    Reply

    • Andrew,

      She could come on a tourist visa and just keep renewing it. Loads of foreigners here do just that. She will have to leave the country every year or two, which could be a problem if she is ill, or becomes ill.

      Bob

      Reply

      • Good copy, that is what another person I spoke to advised me. Thank you for the response and confirmation.

        Reply

      • That sounds like it would be a bad idea to bring your mother to the Philippines if there are health concerns at question. $400 is not a whole lot of money and no doubt she would need your help. It sounds like she qualifies to receive SSI benefits in the United States If she is 65 years old then she can collect $725 every month however she will not be able to leave the United States if she collects SSI benefits. Plus they will pay for her Medicare premium as well as prescription medications providing she applies with Medicaid. I have heard of some Filipinos using a home address in the United States and collecting SSI benefits while living in the Philippines. However you take a big risk in getting caught doing that. If you choose that option definitely do not go to the American Embassy and register because they will notify Social Security if you’re collecting benefits. There was a Filipino guy that I knew that was collecting regular Social Security benefits and SSI benefits even though he did not go to Social Security office in the American Embassy. He did go to the embassy to register as a resident that he staying there in case family need to locate him. However since he had registered with American Embassy they gladly will gone next door to the Social Security office and reported that he was living in the Philippines. He automatically losses SSI benefits and was made to pay back pass benefits that he had collected while out of the country. If they find out that you have been outside the country for more than 30 days which is unlikely they will revoke your benefits. For example if your mother is collecting regular Social Security benefits of $400 and SSI pays $325 additional that she runs the risk of losing that. She would have to come back to United States every year to fill out the yearly SSI papers to requalify. Sometimes you can just mail them the application form and sometimes they require that you walk into their office. It’s something to think about.

        Reply

    • Dear Andrew,

      I do not know if this is a feasible option. I’m sure she can marry a Filipino guy in order for her to get a 13 a permanent resident visa. That doesn’t mean she has to actually live with the guy and be a life to him. I’m sure there were a few rich Filipinos actually out there that would pay just to marry American so they can have the opportunity to go to the United States. Of course this is not very legal to do but that’s an option to consider. $10,000 is a lot of money to put down on the deposit. I wouldn’t be surprised if she could find some unscrupulous Filipino out there and pay him $500 or even 1000. Unfortunately your mother will spend too much money trying to renew visas if she does not go that route. Under her circumstances I really don’t think Philippine retirement visa benefit her since she does not qualify anyway. Of course the $800 requirement is written down on paper but when you deal with Filipino officials in person they might turn a blind eye to that requirement. But like you said $10,000 is a lot of money and probably beyond her reach respectfully speaking.

      Reply

  24. I am retired Army. I am 50 years old and recieve a pension of $1071 after deductions. Is that engough to retire to the Philippines. Any recommendations. I plan on making my move in a few years

    Reply

    • Hi Donald,

      This is always a tough question to answer. You definately can live in the Philippines on $1071 per month. You can rent a modest but decent apartment for $125. You will want aircon. That could cost another $100.00 per month for electricity. You will want internet access and cable TV, another $50. You can rely on public transportation or by a motorbike. Do do not mention a spouse or children. If you come here, there is a good chance you will end up married or at least with more members of your household. That can cost more. If you marry, expect to help your wife’s family. As a veteran, you’ll get medical care here but still may have out-of-pocket expenses. Also consider the effects of differential inflation. COLAS in the U.S. are adjusted for inflation in the U.S. Inflation in the Philippines is higher, so you may lose ground every year. We spend more like $1,600 per month. We own our own home. Although we don’t pay rent, it can cost more to own than rent. We have a maid (my wife’s sister) and a part-time outside helper. We currently have four persons in our household and provide some help to my wife’s family. We live comfortably, but not lavishly. Our travel is limited, as is our dining out. So, you can live OK on your $1071 if you don’t mind living modestly. In addition to your SRRV deposit and fees, bring enough to get setup and to have an emergency fund. Hope this helps. Bob and Carol

      Reply

      • I would agree with Bob and Carol’s answer. I have a friend here in Bacolod aged 56. He had hoped to live here on $1,000 a month bit has struggled. A lot depends on your lifestyle obviously, and he plays golf three or four times a week, but I would work on a minimum of $1,500 a month.

        Also, do not overlook exchange rate risk. 10 years ago $1 bought Ps 55, now it buys 43.

        Reply

      • Dear Bob,

        Something does not sound right here. You’re getting $1600 and own your own home and still struggling to get by in the Philippines? Pardon me for saying this but it sounds like you’re giving out too many handouts to your wife’s relatives. Supporting 4 people is already part of your problem. That is enough to support you and your wife and a part-time maid that doesn’t do live in. When you have a live-in maid you’re expected to feed her. Of course I do not know all your financial circumstances to consider your budget such as food cost and medications. Assuming that you and your wife are only living together with nobody else around you would spend about $400 in groceries give or take. Hundred dollars on Aircon running 24 seven. $50 for cable phone and Internet. An average maid will cost in the province less than $50 however the cheaper you pay the maid you face a bigger risk of getting personal belongings missing. If you use public transportation that is rather cheap then you can save on money rather than own a vehicle. You should still have enough money left over to at least go to a moderate restaurant three times a week and still have pocket money left over at the end of the month. If you are renting a place then I could understand your situation. It sounds like you need a little more discipline in your budget and learn to say no to your wife’s relatives. Being married myself to a Filipina can be a very difficult thing to do. I tell my wife okay no problem but when you give them money it will be less for you. She gets the message real quick that if I give to her relatives then she will have less for herself to spend. Remember charity begins at home. Please yourself before you please others. I made it a point to put my foot down right from the beginning that I would not be supporting her family and be a Santa Claus. I will help family members with stuff like dental problems such as a toothache that needs to be pulled and minor emergencies. I make it a point not to accept to be sponsors or accept being a Godfather to new born child from the family. Although it supposed to be an honor it’s a perfect little scam to obligate yourself to provide support. Another problem that many foreigners face when they buy a home is that the place is too big for them to suit their needs as well as maintain the home itself. My wife wanted me to buy a big house. I asked her what the hell for it’s only for the two of us and we can’t have kids anymore. I told her a two-bedroom house would be sufficient because the extra room would be for a live-in maid. I often see foreigners getting a 3 to 5 bedroom houses then marry a Filipina. All of a sudden her relatives want to move in the house then that’s when the problems start. I told my wife from the beginning that I do not need any of her relatives living with us.

        Reply

        • Hi Steve, I just read your post but I agree with what you wrote about renting a large house. Myself and my wife relocated to Bacolod a few months ago having lived in Manila for over a year,I get a pretty good pension to live a comfortable life here. In Manila we rented a condo with 2 bedroom/ 2 bathrooms and a maid´s room…the extra room was used as an office and the day we moved in,I told my wife that I did not want any family members trying to move in with us, because I noticed one of her sisters who frequently visited us, suggesting that she could stay with us in the condo for a few months until she got herself sorted..I bluntly refused. In Bacolod, we are renting a 4 bedroom /4bathroom 2 storey house…(ok the owner wanted to use it as a boarding house for students, but changed her mind and renovated it to what it is today) The rent was reasonable and it was newly renovated so I decided I would take it although it was too big for us. It didn´t take long after we moved in, before suggestions were being made to have one relative move in to one of the rooms……well they did not have to finish the sentence..I put my foot down very hard and told my wife no way….but ok if some of her relatives wants to stay for a few nights, I´m would be ok with that but no moving in permanently because as you mentioned, it can cause irritation and even put a strain on our marriage. I have never liked to live in close quarters with a lot of people around on a daily basis anyway. I do understand however that it is a way of life in the Philippines. On the other hand I have helped some of her family members financially and I´m ok with that so long as it doesn´t become a habit ….I´m adjusting to life here in the Philippines and willing to accept some of the customs, but I refuse to be a person of interest everytime someone is in financial needs. I ´ll probably live here for a year or two before relocating to a something smaller and cosier. Cheers!!

          Reply

          • Richie, thanks for sharing your experiences and perspective on this. I’d just like to say that I am a very private person and, like you, the thought of family members moving in would normally be terrifying to me. My wife’s sister and niece have been staying with us for five months. They will be going home in another month and I have to say that I will really miss them. There are other members of my wife’s family which would not be such good guests or be so welcome to stay. I guess my point is that in this, as in so many things, the specific circumstances and personalities may be more important than the principle. Bob

            Reply

          • Dear Richie,
            Smart move you made telling your wife right away no relatives moving in. It’s a long time custom that I have discovered to be very abused until your used. Just be careful that no relatives don’t weasel themselves in your place, they will often say they will only be staying a few days. Then they will turn around and cry and make a sob story to your wife saying I’ve been evicted, My spouse/boyfriend/relative battered me, I lost my job, I have no money, I spent the money on medical bills, I paid for mama’s funeral. I am feeling sick or just came from the hospital and I have no place to go. I have heard all the excuses and must say they come up with good ones. Sadly to say there are some unscrupulous relatives that got it in the thick head that once a relative is married to a foreigner it’s time to milk him dry and play the guilt trip on the wife. I don’t want to give people the idea or the impression that I have negative feelings about Filipino people in general. I must say that most of the time Filipinos are at their best when they are at their worst. I have seen daily poverty on a regular basis which seems like regular life for a Filipino. However that’s a different story when you see typhoons that wipe out the family’s home with little belongings they have. It’s amazing to see all family members chipping in and doing their little part to help a particular family get re-situated. Most of the time if you ask a typical American family members for help you are on your own. I remember my brother-in-law from my first marriage to a Filipina approached me for help for medical bills. I told him after 21 years this is the first time you ever spoke English to me ever and it’s to ask for money. When I was married to your sister he would never speak a word to me and you would give me funny looks like I didn’t exist. Why all the sudden Rudy after all this length of time you decide to talk to me? He couldn’t even answer me. I didn’t want to be cold or heartless to his situation. I tell them give me your prescription and I will purchase it at the pharmacy one time only. He tried to get me to give him cash for the medications and I told him no. Then he makes an excuse that he has to see his doctor for the prescriptions. I tell him lets go see the doctor down the street. We see the doctor and he gives the prescription for high blood pressure and beta blocker. I paid the doctor 200 pesos for the visit and I have the prescription slips from him. He wanted to go with me to the pharmacy and I told him no wait at home. I think I spent about $45 for a month supply of meds for him. I got to this house and hand him his medication right in front of his wife. I told his wife make sure he takes his meds and doesn’t try to sell them. As I’m leaving the house my brother-in-law’s wife approaches me. She asked if I was interested in doing business. I told her no I am not, I’m retired and I want to enjoy my time and not worry about business matters. She wanted me to give her $1500 so she can play them money lending business they call 5 star. She was making all kinds of promises on a huge return of my money. I told her I was not interested. Then she looks as if she’s going to cry and says to me you don’t trust me. I told her I don’t know you because this is the first time we met. I told her that I had a very bad marriage with your husbands sister and a divorce proceedings lasted longer than the marriage itself. I told my brother-in-law’s wife that I have done more for him today buying his medications then his entire family has ever done for me. This is the last time that I can help my former brother-in-law. Please make sure he takes his medications so he does not end up in the hospital again cause he didn’t take his high blood pressure medication.

            Reply

        • I agree with you.Just me and my Pinay gf(been living together for 13 months) have a nice 2 bedrrom apartment with locked gate.7,000 pesos a month for rent,1000 pesos a month inernet(smart bro) 260 pesos a month cable tv,370 pesos a month for water and 900 pesos for propane that lasts 5-7 months depending on how much we cook.We live in Baguio City so a/c in summer not necessary(not even a fan) and no heater in the winter.About 50usd a week for food.Drawback is 5 months rainy season which is adaptable and now ending.Right now its a nice bright sunny day.Temps here year around of 60F to 78F and cant complain about that.I live on just under 1000usd a month.depends on your life style.Good luck!

          Reply

  25. Bob and Carol great article on Visa’s, I gained my permanet Visa through marrige.
    I have read a few of the posting and it appears many guys post question about retirement here in the Philippines. I want to point out the word “guys”.
    I have never read a post about girls wanting to retire here in the Philippines.
    I could write a book about what I know as fact, not just made-up stories, but this may not be the correct place to vent what I know.
    I do feel very strongly in telling the truth and giving facts, so that anyone can make an educated choice as to if this country is the rigth place to retire.
    Maybe instead of posting a book, if people want to hear more, email may be a better choice, but I’m not to sure posting my email to the public is to smart an idea.
    FYI about me….I’m Japnese/American….born in Santa Monica Cailfornia, live in the Los Angeles area into my 50′s. I made 17 trips to the Philippines between 2004-2008 and stayed 60 days or longer each trip. This was done so that I would learn all I could about the Philippines before I moved here. Boy was I wrong, I had much to learn from 2008 to the present (2013). I am educated, Mechanical/Electircal aerospace engineer and earned my teaching certificate to teach at college.

    If anybody or you Bob and Carol want to know more, I guess post to this post or we can start to email each other. I think people including yourselfs Bob and Carol will be in for an eye-opening jolt abut the true colors of the people of the Philippines.

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  26. what if I have no pension but could deposit the required amount? is there a way to get the srrv?

    Reply

    • You will have to show that you have a reliable flow of income. Exactly what the PRA will accept is an open question. It would be best if it’s from a government, annuity, company or possibly a bank.

      Reply

  27. I am almost 50 years old, with good pension.

    10,000 is to be deposit. I understand that one!
    what is with 800.00 dollars? is it for my living that I can with draw?

    Can any one explained that one please.

    Reply

    • Tin Phan,

      You must receive at least $800 per month in pension benefits ($1,000) to qualify for pension-based SRRV. It is $1,000 for a couple. The PRA is not involved in any way in your pension benefits except to confirm that you receive them.

      Bob and Carol

      Reply

    • The $800 is a minimum amount that you must earn with a pension in order to qualify for a SRRV visa. The $10,000 deposit stays in the bank and cannot be withdrawn unless you choose later on to opt out of the SRRV visa retirement program. You can however make use of this $10,000 deposit to purchase a condominium or townhouse unit.

      Reply

  28. I am a 36 year old Veteren of Iraq and I have been living here full time for close to 2 years with many other Vets around me. The VA in Manila has good medical care and if you live far from manila like i do, 4 hours, they have networks of other doctors in your area to serve you there so you wont have to travel.
    Even when i do have to travel to Manila VA they pay my travel fare and hotel cost.
    Feel free to email me with any questions.
    brian.mason6@gmail.com

    Reply

    • Brian,

      Thanks for your helpful comment. We have made it into a post because we receive quite a few inquiries about VA care and, as Bob is not a veteran, it’s hard for us to answer with any authority.

      Bob and Carol

      Reply

  29. I was reading your excellent post on SRRVs and noticed the message from Rick about his reluctance to come to the philippines due to the levels of violence. I retired here two years ago and have a wide circle of Western friends and acquaintances here in Bacolod. If you are sensible then you are just as safe here as anywhere.

    Reply

    • Thanks for your comment. Yes, this is a difficult subject to talk about. Our experience is just the same as yours. In our seven years in the Philippines, we have had nothing but good experiences. This certainly clashes with the perception and the numerous news reports of murders and kidnappings, especially of foreigners. The vast majority of people everywhere live without being subject to violent crime, even in places like the Philippines where reported crime rates are high. For a contrast, the reported homicide rate in the Philippines in 2008 is 6.6 per 100,000 people. In Singapore it’s .4 per 100,000. In the USA it’s 5.4. Even in Zamboanga, the kidnapping rate is probably pretty low statistically speaking, but I’d certainly warn foreigners that it’s a dangerous place. I really enjoy life here and feel our neighbors are exceptionally decent people but we can’t let that warm glow obscure the many reports of murders of foreigners, here on Panay Island and elsewhere in the Philippines.

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  30. I am a disabled military retiree who had intended to move to the Philippines when I start Social Security in two years. After all of the grim news I have read on your various posts I have decided that I am better off remaining in the U.S.

    The Philippines just as here in the U.S. has changed much for the worse and it makes me sad because I grew up around these people while living in Hawaii but I just cannot bring myself to chance the danger, stress or worry that your posts bring to light. If I have to suffer violence at least here in the U.S. the police will do their jobs and if I need medical care I will not be treated poorly and the Mail here in U.S. is honest and more reliable.

    But like many disenchanted citizens who blame the US government for the crime and other woes we suffer now, I also blame the Philippine government and the wealthy families that control it for the current suffering of the average Filipino and also the risks to foreign visitors and expats. When people who are professionals (police, lawyers, doctors, etc. ) no longer are honest or care about their fellow humans then it is not long before total breakdown of a nation and then mass revolution. God help us all.

    Reply

    • Rick,

      I hope your decision is not based on what you’ve read here. We try to be realistic about the problems of Philippine retirement but perhaps our desire to not oversell the Philippines really creates too black of an image. We love living here. For us the advantages far outweigh the negatives. I have had no problems with crime whatsoever. Medical care is not as good here but I have found doctors in Iloilo which I am comfortable with. I go to Manila for more important medical matters. I am more concerned about the quality of my life than its duration. For me, living here, among Filipinos, is good medicine! They are so kind to me. However, as a vet, you’ll get better care in the U.S.

      Bob

      Reply

    • I think you should reconsider and reevaluate the situation. Yes the Philippines does have problems with crime and other sorts however using common sense will protect you in the long run. You may want to consider buying a condominium unit if you’re really worried about crime. At least in a condominium unit there will be security and more facilities. Of course most people want to be around a beach house overlooking the ocean instead of looking at four walls and a condominium unit. Personally I think you are shortchanging yourself and robbing yourself of a great and exciting life as a retiree living in the Philippines. I myself only had one big concern and that was getting medical treatment should I need it. For example Medicare benefits are not available in the Philippines but they’re trying to pass a bill in Congress for Medicare portability. I do know that if I run into a drastic emergency, hopefully I can get on an airplane and take a short three hour flight to Guam or an eight hour flight to Hawaii. The nice thing about it is that you can get doctors to make house calls in the Philippines. It’s one thing buying blood pressure pills and seeing a doctor for simple visits it’s another thing if you have to get a serious surgery. I would highly recommend avoiding any kind of surgery in the Philippines if you can help it and go to the states if you have VA or Medicare benefits. Other than that my friend I would still take a chance and enjoy your life in the Philippines. I do wish that the peso rate exchange would get better for us pensioners but I don’t see it likely for a very long time. Even at 43 pesos to one it’s still not bad. I will not get political here because we all know the situation. Don’t give up on the Philippines and the people. Most of all don’t give up on yourself take a chance in life. If things don’t work out you can always pack your bags and head back to the land of sour milk and dried up honey.

      Reply

  31. Your recommendation of securing 13a in USA sounds fine. Assuming i take that course of action what documents and notorized statements are required to do this in a single trip? My other option is of course here in Philipines. I reside near Manila but we are building in Leyte where with listed documents can also apply in smaller office.Given the choice would prefer smaller office assuming it does not require multiple visits due to logistics. Was prepared to apply this year however rules changed and now requires local USA police dept letter and validation by Philippine embassy. No where can i find what documents need to be re-submitted at end of probational year. If these documents need to be acquired at USA philipinne embassy (proof of marriage) would like to know that now so everything can be done with one return trip to us. In addition, due to prostrate cancer, must return to VA every 6 months for blood work and to keep benefits in place. Is this allowed under the 13a and if so are there any fees one must pay? I appreicate your blg but these specific questions seem not to be addressed to date. Thankyou

    Reply

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