I checked, and I haven't seen any posts for a while on obtaining a 13a "Resident" visa. Not a lawyer, but I thought I would post what I learned from my recent venture through the processing. Of note, I was in on a Balikbayan stamp, so I didn't need to worry about extending my visitor visa. Apparently that can also be done, but I can't comment on it.
Step 1: Make sure you are legally in the country. Either visitor visa, or on a balikbayan stamp.
Step 2: Gather up all your required documents:
1. Your passport.
2. Your spouses passport (this won't be included in the petition, but they asked us for it during the notarization process).
3. Your spouses Birth Certificate - NOTE: This MUST be an NSO authorized copy. Order directly from NSO and they will deliver in Metro Manila within 3 business days. Approx 300php. Old birth certificates with stamps etc are not acceptable. I highly recommend just ordering a new copy to avoid issues (we had an OLD NSO copy that was NOT accepted).
4. A copy of your marriage contract - NOTE: This MUST be an NSO authorized copy. A notarized copy of your marriage certificate from another country is NOT necessarily sufficient. We had a copy that was notarized at the Philippine Embassy in Canada. Official stamp (but no seal!), and it was NOT accepted. If you have a certified copy from your local embassy, they SHOULD have transmitted it to NSO, so my recommendation is to simply get an NSO copy. No issues then. Same price...approx 300php delivered (same as birth certificate, it's about 140php for the document, the rest is "delivery" charge).
5. Get your inbound flight number/date. Ifyou have a balikbayan stamp, it will be written there.
Step 3: Write and print out your request letter. This is your SPOUSE requesting your visa conversion. Message me if you want an example letter. There are a few floating around the internet, but I found most of them were missing one critical sentence. The letter MUST state that "all documents submitted were legally obtained from the corresponding government agencies". If you miss this sentence, your app will not be processed!
Step 4: When you have all your documents, head to BI. For those going in Manila, go Monday - Thursday. Friday is Quiapo Day, and traffic can easily add 30 minutes to your trip! First thing (for 8am) is the best. Wear PANTS and SHOES! Rental is 70php if you forget.
Step 5: Go to the photo place, immediately to the left of the main doors. Have your photo taken. Protected content . Don't wait for them to process, head to Step 6.
Step 6: Go to the desk underneath the stairs (directly in front of the main entrance). Get a General Application Form (BI MCL- Protected content . Fill out:
a. Type of Application: Visa Conversion
b. Personal Info: Fill out completely. Applicant is you, not your Filipino spouse (even though they are the ones technically petitioning you). Note: If you have children, it has a "Name of Children" section. Put first AND last names in here (even though the box is quite small. Will get rejected if not.
c. Travel Info: Fill out completely. Present Immigration Status: Visitor or Balikbayan.
d. Petitioners Information: This is the tricky part. This part is actually left blank. However, you must put N/A in ALL the fields.
e. Same for Employee's Other Information and Applicants Other Information. N/A in all the boxes.
Step 7: Go pick up your photos.
Step 8: Head over to the photocopier (far right from when you walk in the main entrance. Through a glass door, then in a little hidy hole to your right. Photocopy your passport bio page and entry stamp page. Copy your petition letter. Have your spouse sign both copies (they only required one copy, but they say to have two). Copy the General Application (we ended up needing to use the second copy because of a mistake made by the duty officer). BUY A FOLDER from the photocopier. 2php per copy, 20php for the folder.
Step 9: Back under the stairs, on the right hand side, is a duty officer. My wife and I actually did this section together, and it worked well. We provided him the documents. He checked over the General App, then glued one of the photos to this. We then asked him to review the letter. Once that was done, we both signed the General Application. Spouse signs the Applicant's/Petitioners (left side), and you sign the Applicants (right side). My wife then took the petition letter to the Notary Desk (free notary here..don't use the guys outside!!) and notarized the petition letter. During that time, the duty officer continued to review the other documents. When my wife was done, I went over with the General Application. Filled out the passport number/issued/on section at the bottom and had the notary fill the rest out. Took it all back to the duty officer, who filled out the Checklist. He then put the documents together for us.
NOTE: You will read info on BI Clearance. This is done behind the scenes. You don't even need to worry about it.
Step 10: Head over to Window 14. Hand it to the clerk (you may have to get someone's attention. They did NOT issue numbers here. Some people go for coffee. Unless it's really busy, I don't recommend this, as they came back within about 20 minutes (most people are outside having coffee and miss this). All they did to get my attention was wave the general app page with my picture. Be watching for this!!!! They will then give you two payment slips. Make sure your information is correct on them. One if for the general fees, the other is for the express fees. I recommend you pay both.
Step 11: Just to the left at Window 13 is the cashier. Pay the fees. She will give you an official receipt. Take this reciept to the Photocopier and get a copy (not sure why they don't just print two copies! Yikes). 2php. At least the photcopier puts but on the same page.
Step 12: Take the original receipt back to Window 14 and give it to them. On the receipts will be TWO hearing dates. It's optional as to which you pick.
That's it for the first visit! Easy right! If you follow this process though, you can be in and out in 45 minutes (if you do this March - December...as Jan - Feb are exceptionally busy at BI due to all the resident visa holders having to do their annual visit!).