What Happens If Your 13(a) Or TRV Visa Sponsor Dies?

What Happens If Your 13(a) Or TRV Visa Sponsor Dies?

This article is not legal advice. Consult with the Bureau of Immigration for answers to your specific circumstances. 

Table Of Contents

Death Of Visa Sponsor Can Result In Visa Revocation

It is not pleasant to talk about death and dying, but it is necessary to do so. I have read a few stories on the Internet that did not end well for foreigners whose visa sponsor passed away. There is an Immigration circular available that does address the issue, and this document is talked about on a few sites and it is also very much misunderstood.

The document in question is Immigration Memorandum Circular No. SMB-2014-009. The linked document is from the Immigration website and if you open it you may notice that there are two superscript references:
the surviving foreign husband, in his own capacity¹, or the child, as the petitioner²
In the linked document the notes that these refer to are missing so I have included my own copy of the document here that does include the two notes and I have also transcribed the complete document below.

I will go deeper into the explanation below, but the bottom line of this post is that if you hold a 9(a) visa and your Filipino spouse dies and the two of you have children who are recognized as Filipino citizens, then you can be your own petitioner or the child can be your petitioner in order to adjust your status to Non-Quota 13(a) visa or if you are from a non-visa reciprocity country you can adjust to TRV. Likewise, if you already hold a 13(a) or TRV, then you or the child can act as your petitioner to amend or extend the respective visa.

The circular is sometimes misinterpreted on the Internet. This is understandable. The document has a Flesch reading ease score of 26.3, meaning it is a difficult read, as most law documents are. The vast majority of information we read on the Internet is in the score range of 60-70. When people come across a more sophisticated document they have a tendency to read it as casually as anything else they find on the Internet and miss a lot in the process.

Documents written in legalese require a much more analytical approach to discern the meaning. Even trained attorneys argue over the meaning of laws. Sometimes laws are written to be ambiguous (or flexible) and other times they are written with great precision and you have to be very careful to understand the precise legal meaning of the specific words that are used. The way the law defines and uses a word or phrase may be very different from the way in which you are used to using it in everyday language.

Immigration Memorandum Circular No. SMB-2014-009

In accordance with Opinion No. 52, series of 2013, issued by the Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on 17 June 2013 concerning the interpretation of Section 13(a) of Commonwealth Act (C.A.) No. 613, otherwise known as the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, as amended and the application thereof on Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) under Law Instruction 33 and Memorandum Order No. ADD-01-038, the following guidelines shall be observed:
1. The dissolution of marriage by declaration of nullity, annulment, legal separation or separation de facto between the foreign husband and Filipino wife shall operate as a ground for the revocation of the foreign husband’s Non-Quota Immigrant Visa under C.A. No. 613, Section 13(a) or TRV, except:
a. If the dissolution of the marriage is due to the death of the Filipino wife and there is/are surviving child/children of such marriage; and
b. In the case of petition for (i) adjustment of status from Temporary Visitor Visa under C.A. No. 613, Section 9(a) to Non-Quota Immigrant Visa under C.A. No. 613, Section 13(a) or TRV; or (ii) amendment or extension thereof, respectively , the surviving foreign husband, in his own capacity¹, or the child, as the petitioner², may file a petition for Non-Quota Immigrant Visa under C.A. No. 613, Section 13(a) or TRV for the foreign husband.
2. Dependents under Non-Quota Immigrant Visa under C.A. No. 613, Section 13(a) or TRV must be:
a. Under twenty-one (21) years of age;
b. Unmarried; and
c. Accompanying or following to join his Filipino parent
Note #1 The foreign husband shall simultaneously be both the petitioner and the applicant.
Note #2 The foreign husband shall be the applicant and the child shall be the petitioner.

Guideline #1 Explained

Dissolution of marriage may cause the revocation of the foreign husband’s Non-Quota Immigrant Visa under C.A. No. 613, Section 13(a) or TRV, except in the case of condition "a" in which case the privileges in "b" apply.

Under condition "a", the exception to dissolution of marriage as grounds for revocation of a visa is applicable when dissolution is due to death of the Filipino spouse AND there are surviving children from the marriage.

The phrase "there is/are surviving child/children of such marriage" presumes the children to be Filipino citizens, as they will need to be in order to fulfill privileges in "b" (being the petitioner for the surviving parent).

The privileges in "b" apply to persons who have:
Individuals who fall under categories "i" or "ii" of Guideline#1b are given two options for maintaining their immigration status (explained by notes 1 & 2 in the document):
1. They can act as their own petitioner to convert their 9(a) to a 13(a) or TRV or amend or extend their existing 13(a) or TRV; or
2. The Filipino citizen child of the foreigner can act as the petitioner for their foreign parent.
A TRV is a type of visa that is available to foreigners married to Filipinos and who are from countries that do not have visa reciprocity with the Philippines, therefore they are not eligible for a 13(a) permanent visa.

The following list shows countries that DO have visa reciprocity with the Philippines. If your country is NOT shown, then you MAY be required to obtain a TRV, rather than a 13(a) Visa:

The following country list corresponds to countries that have no visa reciprocity with the Philippines (for exceptions see starred countries above):

Guideline #2 Explained

Guideline #2 is sometimes misunderstood to be a condition of Guideline 1(b). Guideline #2 is an entirely separate issue from #1. Guideline #2 is for dependents under a Non-Quota visa, meaning they are not Filipino citizens. They are children born outside of the Philippines and whose Filipino parent has not yet filed the paperwork to have them recognized as Filipino citizens. Guideline #1 is dealing with a Filipino spouse who has died, therefore it is not logical to interpret guideline 2(c) as a condition for Guideline 1, as it is impossible for the child to "accompany or follow to join" a deceased parent. And it is also not possible for a non-Filipino child to petition a foreign parent as stated in guideline #1(b). Furthermore, a child who is recognized as a Filipino citizen would have no need to be a visa dependent.

Immediate Steps To Take If Your Sponsor Dies

I have spoken to The Bureau of Immigration about this topic and they do confirm that the 13a Permanent Resident Visa will remain in effect due to having a child/children with the Filipino spouse if the child/children are also Filipino citizens.

BoI does caution that visa status may be lost on account of remarriage.

BoI also advises that a visa holder in this situation should also apply for a new ACR-I card to amend civil status from married to widowed.

Amendments to the 13(a) visa can be processed at the Legazpi, Naga City or Intramuros Manila immigration offices. I Base this off of the Immigration Subport Directory of Transactions. Be sure to check that document and double check by contacting the office to be certain that they do process these transactions before you ever set out to go there.

Other Options If you Have No Children Or If Your Children Are Not Filipino Citizens

If you have children with the Filipino spouse and they are not recognized as citizens, but can be, then you may want to expedite getting that done.

Otherwise, if you have no children who are Filipino citizens you only have a couple of options:

Section 13 Quota Visa - The Quota Visa is similar to the 13(a) Non-Quota Visa. Only 50 persons of each nationality that has diplomatic relations with the Philippines are allowed to apply for the Quota Visa each year.

You can see from the Quota Visa application that the requirements for approval are quite a bit more demanding than the 13(a), as demonstrated in item #4 on the checklist:
4. Proof of applicant’s special qualifications like academic degrees, awards, certificates of recognition, and other documents attesting to the applicant’s special qualifications, skills or knowledge, or proof of financial capacity or investment, including but not limited to:
a. Bank certification of inward remittance amounting to at least US $50,000.00 or equivalent in other foreign currency;
b. Documents evidencing ownership/purchase of a condominium [condominium unit(s) acquired within four (4) years prior to filing the Quota Immigrant Visa may be considered] with a corresponding proof that the amount that he/she invested came or was inwardly remitted from foreign sources;
c. Documents showing ownership of or investment in an existing corporation, enterprise or business concern [shares of stock or other equivalent proof of ownership in a corporation or business concern acquired within four (4) years prior to filing the application may be considered with a corresponding proof that the amount that he/she invested came or was inwardly remitted from foreign sources;
Regarding "a", I do not know if there is a time limit on how far back you can claim remitted cash into your bank account to qualify for the $50,000. There may also be a limit to how far back a specific bank can produce a certification for you. The one bank that I have spoken to about this told me that they can only certify remittances up to twenty-four (24) months into the past.  

Philippines Visa Policy Map
Philippines Visa Policy Map
9(a) Temporary Visitors Visa - This option will be quite burdensome, especially if you have been enjoying a relatively easy to maintain 13(a) Visa. The 9(a) must be extended every 59 days at a cost of about $100 per 59 day extension. The 9(a) can only be extended for three years for non-visa required persons and two years for visa required persons.

Special Resident Retirement Visa (SRRV) - The SRRV is managed through the Philippine Retirement Authority and not the Bureau of Immigration. There is no need for an annual report and you can come and go with no need for Immigration Clearance Certificates.

Five different options are available for the SRRV.

The Expanded Courtesy option is available to retired military:
For foreign nationals, 50 years old & above, who are retired Armed Force officers of foreign countries with existing military ties and/or agreement with the Philippine Government. A monthly pension of at least US$1,000.00 and an SRR Visa deposit of US$1,500.00 are required.The SRR Visa deposit includes the principal applicant and 2 dependents. Additional dependent, entails additional SRR Visa deposit of US$15,000 each (except for former Filipinos). CHILDREN must be legitimate or legally adopted by the Principal Retiree, unmarried and below 21 years old upon joining the program.
The initial processing fee for the principal applicant is $1400 and $300 for each dependent. A $360 annual fee is also stated.


Unknown said...

Thanks for the clarification on this subject. I am British National formerly married to my Filipino Wife who died in August of this year
My question is should I renew my 13A card immediately or wait for its renewal in April 2021 (having been issued April 2016)

pd said...

Above under Immediate Steps To Take:

"BoI also advises that a visa holder in this situation should also apply for a new ACR-I card to amend civil status from married to widowed."

It is my understanding that any time there is a change in your status (marital status, address etc) that you have 30 days to notify BoI.

If you have a FaceBook account you can message BoI for guidance and they will respond promptly during the regular work week:


Or you can call them first thing Monday morning.

If there is a BoI office is near you then check on the COVID restrictions before you go to the office.

But do not allow more time to pass. Contact BoI immediately and tell them the situation so they can inform you as to the appropriate course of action.