PROCESSING YOUR 13A VISA:
This process mostly applies to USA citizens. From my understanding, other nationals might have more interviews or a longer procedure to go through. I had a friend who applied as a Korean and had to go to two or three interviews, I only went to one.
Preparation: Make sure you have at least 4 copies of everything before going to the immigrations located in the city of Intramuros, Manila. Also, get some passport type pictures taken prior to going as well (6 each). You don’t need the copies or the passport pictures, you can get them all there at the Immigrations office for a small fee (2 pesos per copy and Protected content for 6 pictures) but reality is that it increases your time there. Also make sure that you fill out two forms of the BI Form No. RADJR- Protected content . Do not sign any of the documents; they all have to be signed in front of the notary. Download the forms at: Protected content
I have an image of the building layout but can past here so visualize it. Make sure that you take another form of ID when you go to the Immigrations office. They will hold on to one so bring your driver’s license or something, you don’t want them holding on to your passport because you will need it. I think I saw a guy who came in and had nothing but his passport, they made him go make a copy of it but the copier people where not there yet so he was frustrated waiting to make a copy to give to the Entrance people, thus bring plenty of copies of your passport to include your bio page and your visa stamp page. It never hurts to have too many. I recommend at least 4 or 5 copies of each. Also make sure you also bring a few copies of the passport for your spouse.
Paperwork you will require.
* Request Letter from the petitioner with a statement that all documents submitted were legally obtained from the corresponding government agencies; (Basically just type something up that says "all documents submitted were legally obtained from the corresponding government agencies" and leave signature blocks for yourself and spouse)
* Duly accomplished and notarized Consolidated General Application Form (BI Form No. RADJR- Protected content (Get this from website, Fill TWO of them out. I know it doesn't say to but they will want TWO)
* Original copy of NSO issued Birth Certificate of the Filipino Spouse;
* Original copy of NSO issued Marriage Contract or if the marriage was solemnized abroad, the Original copy of the Marriage Contract Authenticated by the Philippine Embassy/Consulate in or nearest the place where the marriage was solemnized, with English translation if written in other foreign language;
* Photocopy of applicant's Passport (bio-page, admission and authorized stay of at least twenty Protected content from date of filing);
* Original Copy of Bureau of Immigration (BI) Clearance Certificate. (Dont really need this, this only applies if you apply from overseas and not in Philippines)
* Joint Affidavit of applicant and petitioner attesting to the authenticity and genuineness of all documents submitted in support of the application; (Basically just type something up that says " attesting to the authenticity and genuineness of all documents submitted in support of the application" and leave signature blocks for yourself and spouse)
* Proofs of financial capacity of applicant and/or petitioner during their permanent residence in the Philippines. (I brought printed out bank statements to include my 401K, retirement funds, and even the title to my home in the Philippines).
The immigrations office opens at 7:30 am but it can be a while before they start servicing people if they are doing announcements or something. The copier section opens around 8ish or so. Guess it just depends on when they want to show up. To get to that copier section, you have to go in, then go to the left and exit back out the door. No matter what, you will most likely have to go there and purchase a long white folder for all your documentation Protected content or you can purchase one before going there. They kicked me out of the line for not having such a folder. It needs to have a two punch holder at the top. Pic on the left.
For the request letter, I typed up whatever I thought looked professional. According to the immigrations office, there is no standard protocol for the request letter. It only needs to state that all documents submitted were legally obtained from the corresponding government agencies and have a signature block for the petitioner. I also added an extra statement requesting that all the documentation submitted be returned to us. I doubt they will return them but it doesn’t hurt to ask. You will need two copies of the request letter and remember, don’t sign until in front of notary.
The BI Form RADJR- Protected content pretty much self-explanatory on how to fill it out. If printed out from the website, there is also another form which explains how to fill it out. Reminder that you will need to fill out two of the BI forms (It never says that you need two forms but believe me, I had to fill out two of them). Don’t sign and when you put your pictures on the form, they must be glued on and not stapled. At the immigrations office you can have them glued on at the copier section.
For the NSO copy of wife’s birth certificate, I actually requested 2 extra copies from the NSO prior to landing in the Philippines. It takes about 7 working days to get so we had the in-laws request for them a few weeks in advance. It was Protected content per copy ($7.50). We also requested for 2 copies of our NSO marriage contract since we got married in the Philippines. Total for 2 copies of each was 1,200 pesos ($30).
The Philippines is notorious for holding on to your documents and will not return them so I requested an extra copy of each just in case. We will need an extra copy of our marriage contract for clearing our household goods through customs.
Photo copy of Applicants Passport is pretty much self-explanatory. You need a copy of your main page, bio page and the visa stamp page, mines was the one depicting the Balikbayan visa . Once again, make sure to just get a few extra copies of all of them Protected content to be on the safe side. They will request for at least 2 from you on this day for this portion.
Original copy of BI clearance certificate is issued at the immigrations so no need to worry about that. I think you may not even need it if you’re applying for the visa while in the Philippines. This mostly pertains to those that are applying for the visa prior to coming to the Philippines.
Joint affidavit is also another makeshift document that you can type up. All that it needs to state is that it is attesting to the authenticity and genuineness of all documents submitted in support of the application. It needs to have a signature block for both the applicant and the sponsor. Printed name and signature above with dates of signature. Remember, don’t sign till in front of notary. You will need two as well of these.
Proofs of financial capacity, I simply provided a copy of my bank statements, 401k, and since we happen to own a home already in the Philippines, I also provided a copy of our title as well.
1st VISIT THE PROCESS: When you first enter, you will need to hand some kind of ID to the entrance personnel. They will issue you a badge so you can get your ID back when you leave. Your spouse will also need to be with you. They will also need an extra ID or copy of their passport.
Proceed straight forward to the review desk. If you are there early right after opening, most likely they will only be handling the ACR renewals first. Go to the line on the far right side. Once they review that everything is in order, they will direct you to the Notary section. There you will sign everything and the notary will do their job. They might request for extra copies of something or the other. Just go to the copier section and get your copy then jump back in line for the notary (you must return to the notary that initially started handling your paperwork).
Once all notaries are done, they will send you back to the review line. Once they review everything is in order and paper punch all your documents and put in your folder, they will forward you to a specific number window. You will turn in your packet, they review again then send you to another window. Here you turn in your packet then wait several minutes again. Basically, you will be doing a dance of the windows.
Finally they will send you to go pay. Most of the windows they will have sent you to are on the left side. When you go to pay, you will go to the right side to pay. You will pay a grand total of 10,657 pesos altogether. The initial fee is 8,157 pesos plus another 2,500 pesos for express lane fees. You can’t avoid the express lane fees.
Once you have paid, you will have to go back to the copier and make a copy of the receipts. Take the receipt and original back to the left side windows and give to them. They will then take some of the copies and let you have one copy. The copy has all the dates on it. It shows when to come back for your interview/finger prints and when you can be expected to pickup your 13A visa if approved. You actually get two dates to pick from for your interview.
2nd VISIT THE PROCESS: Make sure that you once again have extra copies of your passports and bring at least 2 passport type photos. Returned for the interview with spouse. Same as before, bring an ID to leave at the entrance or extra copies of your passport. My interview was at 9am on the 4th floor. They will not see you any earlier. We actually walked up and down the hall way till we found the name of our interviewer on their window and waited outside their door. You can also simply stay in the reception area of the 4th floor and they will call you. The interview was about 15 min long with your standard questions of how you meet your spouse and what your plans are.
Once completed, they gave us a copy of our documentation and sent us back down to the 1st floor for fingerprinting. I know it says 2nd floor room Protected content fingerprints but we ended up going to window 43 on the far right side.
*before going to the fingerprint window, I recommend going to the copier section and making a copy of the whole packet you just got from the interview, you will need it to turn in at the fingerprints section.
Turned in your original packet then take digital fingerprints and digital photo. We also had to confirm our information on a screen. I think this is for our ACR. Once done, they will give you you’re your packet back.
Afterward they sent us right next to the window for ink fingerprints. Here you will give them your extra copy that you had copied earlier and two of your passport type photos. They will give you a small form to fill out and they will staple your photos to the form. Ink finger prints are quick. Make sure to bring some baby wipes or wet wipes. Once done, you go back to window 43 and turn in your packet and they will tear off the bottom portion of you packet with a receipt of your soon-to-be ACR number. You will then return on the preliminary date that is set on your initial receipt to pick up your 13A visa.
3rd VISIT THE PROCESS: Pickup Passport with Stamp. Had to pay about 5PHP to window because he made me extra copies. Was advised to return Protected content to pick up ACR card. They gave me a number to call so I can call after 5 days to verify if card was ready.
4th VISIT THE PROCESS: ACR was ready in 5 days. Called them on the day I was going to pick it up so they had it ready for me as soon as I arrived. Walked in, showed them my passport and picked up ACR.
Woot, Now I hand all my required documents to my moving company here in the Philippines as my items arrived and they cleared everything from customs with no added taxes or fees.
I hope this was helpful to anyone. Now this was my experience and it was in Manila. It could be different in different areas, like Cebu. All window numbers are subject to change but I'm sure the process will probably stay the same for a few years. You never know.