Philippines 13A Visa For Foreigners Married to A Filipino Citizen

Philippines 13A Visa For Foreigners Married to A Filipino Citizen



This post can help fill in the gaps for people who are searching for information. This page may not be updated with the most current information. One is advised to consult the BI website and many blogs and forums to get a well rounded perspective of the 13A process.

Table Of Contents:

COVID-19 Impact

You may be aware that the Philippines is restricting entry to only certain groups at this time:

To date, only foreign nationals mentioned above; foreign spouses, children, and parents of Filipino nationals (COVID-19 Advisory No. 37); foreign nationals with long-term visas (COVID-19 Advisory No. 36); foreign seafarers; and accredited Foreign Government and International Organization officials and their dependents (COVID-19 Advisory No. 35) may be allowed entry to the Philippines provided that they have valid and existing visas and comply with relevant health and quarantine regulations. (COVID-19 Advisory No. 25).
Furthermore, the Philippines is not processing applications for new visas until further notice. 

I suspected that there may be some exceptions to the no new visa rule and indeed there is at least one.

On August 10 the Philippine Embassy with jurisdiction over Iceland and Norway released details regarding an exception to the new visa limitation:
The Embassy hereby announces that foreign partners of pregnant Filipino nationals may now request for exemption from the temporary suspension on visa issuance to visit the Philippines, subject to submission of the following, in addition to the requirements for a Temporary Visitor’s Visa:
1. Medical certificate on the pregnancy of the Filipino national;
2. Duly notarized affidavit executed by the foreign national that he is the partner of the pregnant Filipino national (and father of the unborn child), and that they have been in a relationship even before the COVID-19 pandemic;
3. Other documentary proof establishing the relationship between the foreign national and pregnant Filipino national; and
4. Documentary proof on the citizenship of the pregnant Filipino national. 
The Embassy emphasizes that above applications are requests for exemption from the temporary suspension of visa issuance on humanitarian grounds, and will be referred to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in the Philippines for processing and approval. The Embassy will issue visas to concerned applicants only after receiving authority from DFA.

Check with the Philippine Embassy in your country for specifics. 

If you are already in the Philippines 13A visas are still being processed by BI.


UPDATE December 2020

If you are going to the BoI main office, then they want you to make an appointment through the online system: http://e-services.immigration.gov.ph/

The page does not have an encryption certificate. 

Anything you enter may be passed over the Internet in clear text. If you are ok with that, then proceed.

Hopefully BoI will soon fix this.

UPDATE November 28, 2020

From the IATF, as of December 7, 2020:

  • Philippines shall allow entry of Filipino citizens’ foreign spouses and children, regardless of age, who are traveling with them.
  • Philippines shall allow entry of former Filipino citizens, including their spouses and children, regardless of age, who are traveling with them.
  • Travelers are allowed visa-free entry.
  • Travelers are required to pre-book a quarantine facility and COVID-19 test at an airport laboratory.
  • Travelers are subject to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry.


Currently the Probationary 13A and the 13A Amended to Permanent visas are each 8620PHP plus $50 for the ACR-I card under each visa. 

There will be many other fees and ancillary expenses tacked onto that ~22,000PHP.

This is for the principal applicant with no beneficiaries.

Some 13A Visa Terminology

The foreign (non-Filipino) spouse is the "applicant" and the Filipino spouse is the "petitioner"/"sponsor."

The 13A is called a "non-quota" visa, meaning that there is no numerical limit placed upon how many people may apply for and be granted this type of visa within a given year. Conversely, there is a Section 13 Quota Visa.

The 13A is also an "immigrant" visa, meaning it is for those who intend to live permanently in the Philippines, as opposed to a student or tourist visa.

The term "immigrate" refers to entering a country, whereas "emigrate" is a reference to exiting the country e.g. Emigration Clearance Certificate

When we arrived in the Philippines we were all given Balikbayan visas that were good for one year. The Balikbayan visa is a subclass of the Section 9A Temporary Visitor's Visa. If you are not married to a Filipino, the you will receive one of the other temporary visa types. My wife and daughter had not gone through the process of reacquiring/recognition for Philippines citizenship yet and that is why they both also received the Balikbayan visa.

Your Children/Dependents

If your children with your Filipino spouse are eligible for Filipino citizenship, then you may want to go through that process first before you apply for the 13A. Otherwise, you will have to include them as dependents under your 13A application. 

Having the children recognized as citizens before applying for your 13A visa is essentially the same expense and time investment as making them visa dependents, but it saves you having to double your effort in doing it later.

You may apply for recognition of birth for your Filipino children either before or after you arrive in the Philippines. Keep in mind that if you had the birth(s) recognized abroad, then you may need transmittal details from DFA so PSA can locate the record and provide you with a PSA authenticated copy of the document in the future.
Also, if you are applying beyond twelve (12) months after the birth takes place, then you will need to provide an Affidavit For Delayed Registration Of Birth.

We did not have a PSA-authenticated birth certificate when we applied for Delayed Registration Of Birth (in the Philippines), so we had to submit a Joint Affidavit Of Two Disinterested Parties to serve in lieu of a birth certificate. 

More information about 13A dependents can be found on the Probationary 13A Visa web-page.

You Can Apply For A 13A Visa Before You Come To The Philippines

This may be done in most countries at the Philippine Consulate/Embassy, such as the one in New York City.

The process when you apply abroad differs from the process when applying in the Philippines in at least three requirements (that I have noticed thus far). 
The following is general information and you should confirm specific requirements with the Philippine embassy or consulate with which you intend to apply:
1. When you apply abroad you are required to submit a doctor's report, blood test, urinalysis, chest x-ray etc... This is not on the list of requirements for a 13A when you apply in the Philippines.
2. When you apply for your 13A in the Philippines you must submit an NBI clearance, but only if you have been in the Philippines for six months at the time you apply and there is no mention of any police clearance required from your home country. When you apply from your home country you must submit a police clearance (review of criminal history) from the police department having jurisdiction over the municipality shown as your address on your driver's license (as an example). All police departments should be familiar with this document, like the Denver PD.
3. When you apply for the 13A in your home country you will use the application on the Department of Foreign Affairs website. When you apply for the 13A after arriving in the Philippines you will use the Consolidated General Application Form found on the BI website.

Probationary 13A Visa

The BI Probationary 13A Visa page provides links to the application, the checklist and other requirements information for applying for  the Probationary one (1) year validity 13A visa.

The requirements checklist:


1. Joint letter request addressed to the Commissioner from the applicant and the petitioning Filipino spouse;

2. Duly accomplished CGAF( BI Form CGAF-001-Rev 2);

3. Marriage Certificate or Marriage Contract;

If you had your marriage contract authenticated at a Philippine Consulate abroad, then you may need transmittal details from DFA so PSA can locate the record and provide you with a PSA authenticated copy.

4. Birth Certificate or certified true copy of BI-issued Identification Certificate as Filipino citizen of the Filipino spouse;

Obtain copy via walk-in @ PSA or order online via PSASERBILIS.

5. Photocopy of passport bio-page and latest admission with valid authorized stay;

6.Valid National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Clearance, if application is filed six (6) months or more from the date of first arrival in the Philippines;

You do not need to obtain Barangay or municipality police clearance before obtaining NBI clearance. 

You should obtain NBI Clearance before obtaining BI Clearance. 

If NBI discovers a record in their database for someone with your name, then you will need to execute an Affidavit of Denial (sample) to assert that the person named in the NBI record is not you.

7. BI Clearance Certificate;

Bureau of Immigration Clearance is to show that you do not have any derogatory records with the BoI (i.e. not blacklisted, no delinquent fees, etc...)

If there is a hit in the database for your name, then you must apply for Certification of Not The Same Person (presuming it is indeed not you), for which there is another checklist of requirements and another application and an additional 500PHP fee - It may take anywhere from 1-7 days to process.

8. Original or certified true copy of Bureau of Quarantine Medical Clearance, if applicant is a national of any of the countries listed under Annex “A” of Immigration Operations Order No. SBM-14-059-A who arrived in the Philippines on or after June 2014.

Immigration Operations Order No. SBM-14-059-A was amended in 2016. The order pertains to the ebola outbreak. Check the list of nations in Annex A to see if it applies to you.

When your Probationary Visa is approved you will receive a document called the Board of Commissioners Order for Conversion to 13A Visa (Probationary). You need to protect that document because it is your proof that your visa was approved. Ours has the signature of the Commissioner, two Associate Commissioners, the Hearing Officer and the Chief of the Law and Investigation Division. It will also have a copy of your passport visa stamp on the signature page. 

You get another BoC Order when your permanent visa is approved and that document is what you will use whenever you apply for a renewed or replacement ACR-I card or if you should ever need to have your visa stamp replaced in a passport.

Where To Process The 13A Visa Application

You need to check the BI Directory of Transactions to determine which BI offices can process your various transactions. The file at that link was released July 22, 2020, so it is current as of the time of this writing, but make double sure that you are looking at the most current one by googling it and checking the date.

Batangas and Dagupan both are listed as receiving and processing both the Probationary Conversion to Non-Quota Immigrant by Marriage 13A and the subsequent Amendment to Permanent Non-Quota Immigrant Visa by Marriage (13a).

Angeles, Santa Rosa and Iloilo are listed as being able to process "Conversion of 13A." Since the wording is not the same as what is shown for Batangas and Dagupan I will not assume that they perform the same services. I strongly suggest that you should contact the Bureau of Immigration to be certain that a particular office is capable of processing a specific type of application (the Directory of Transactions notwithstanding).

When we first began the 13A process we inquired at a sub-office near us as to the requirements and where to submit the paperwork. A person in that office offered to accept our paperwork and submit it to Manila for a fee of 60,000PHP. We declined to take advantage of  the offer. If anyone approaches you with that type of arrangement, then you may wish to contact the Citizen's Complaint Hotline.

How To Apply For The 13A Visa 

On the BI Probationary 13A page you will see "How To Apply" and the ten steps of the application process:
1. Secure the CGAF from either at the Public Information and Assistance Unit (PIAU) at BI G/F Main Office or from the official BI Website.
2. Submit the documents for pre-screening to the Central Receiving Unit (CRU) or to the frontline officer or staff of other Immigration Offices able to process this transaction.
3. Get the Order of Payment Slip (OPS).
4. Pay the required fees.
5. Submit copy of Official Receipt.
6. Attend hearing. Please refer to the Official Receipt for the schedule and venue of the hearing and Image and Fingerprint Capturing.
  • Both spouses must be present. During our hearing the BI attorney asked how long we had been married, where we were married, if we had children etc....He also asked how we supported ourselves, but no documentation was requested. 
7. Proceed to Image and Fingerprint Capturing Counter of the Alien Registration Division (ARD) and submit requirements for ACR I-Card application.
8. Check website if visa application is already approved.
  • Our approval took four weeks.
9. If approved, submit passport for visa implementation.
  • You will be given a receipt for your passport.
10. If ACR I-Card is approved, claim ACR I-Card.
  • It may be possible for BI to send your ACR-I card to a BI sub-office. You will need to submit a letter of request for this.
  • See detailed ACR-I card information in the next section.

Alien Certificate Of Registration - Identification (ACR-I) Card 

Among other information openly available on the Internet pertaining to the laws governing the ACR-I card, I was able to find this excerpt long ago (though it is memory-holed now):
The validity of an I-card issued to a native born is 5 years and shall be renewed one month before its expiration. The enrollment to the ACR I- CARD Project and the renewal of I- Card subsequently issued are mandatory to all covered registered aliens. Thus, aliens who failed to comply with these requirements would be considered not properly documented and may be proceeded against under the provisions of Immigration Act of 1940, which includes deportation (Memorandum Order No. MCL- 07- 010, Providing for the Revised Implementing Guidelines for the ACR ICard Project).
Therefore, deportation is a possibility for you when you do not comply with all of the ACR-I card requirements. This includes applying for the card, renewing the card, complying with annual reports, notifying BI of changes in your address etc....

Some people confuse the ACR-I card with the visa, but the ACR card is not your visa. Your visa gets stamped in your passport on the "visa implementation" page (like the image at the top of this post).

Like your probationary visa, the ACR card is initially valid for only one year. However, when your Probationary visa is amended to permanent the visa becomes just that...permanent. The ACR card, on the other hand, must be renewed at five years and at ten years the ACR card must be "renewed" and "replaced."  I have not been through the ten year process of replacement yet and I will be sure to update this post with the details when I know for sure.

Application Process For ACR-I Card 

BI ACR-I card website

ACR-I card application

ACR-I card requirements:
1. Accomplished application form (BI Form 2014-08-006 Rev 0);
2. Certified true copy issued by the Records Section of the Board of Commissioners (BOC)’s Order granting the visa (for internal verification purposes);
3. Certified true copy issued by the Records Section of the Commissioner’s Order of Approval granting the Student Visa (for internal verification purposes);
  • not applicable to 13a
4. Photocopy of passport bio-page and passport pages bearing valid visa implementation and latest admission with authorized stay;
5. Photocopy of official receipt(s) of payment for applicable fees; and
6. Two (2) pieces of 2x2 photograph of the applicant with white background and must be taken within the last three (3) months from the date of application
It may be possible for BI to send your ACR-I card to a BI sub-office. You will need to submit a letter of request for this.

If Your Address Changes

Your physical address is recorded on the back of your ACR card. If you change your address it is the law that you notify BI of the change within thirty (30) days.

I have seen people in forums tell others to conceal address changes from BI to avoid the hassle of getting a new ACR card etc.... This is very bad advice. BI has an intelligence division and they are becoming increasingly adept at rooting out those who are not following the law. You risk deportation by taking bad Internet advice.

If you miss the thirty day deadline there will be fines per month until you apply for an address change with BI and this includes a new ACR-I card.

You will need Barangay clearance from your new address and you will also have to submit an affidavit for change of address. The total cost will be approximately 1500PHP plus $50 for the new card plus any fines for being late.

This same process applies if your ACR-I card is lost.

Anatomy Of The ACR-I Card

Bureau of Immigration Order No. SBM-2015-017 established a color coding scheme for the different types of ACR-I cards:

13A Permanent Resident

They say the Permanent Resident card is yellow, but it looks gold to me.

The Gratis card is for Filipino veterans of World War II who acquired American citizenship pursuant to the United States Immigration Act of 1990 and who have been granted Permanent Resident status under RA 7837:

Native Born

Probationary & TRV

Special Non-Immigrant



Treaty Trader

The Voluntary Registrant card serves Balikbayan; tourists with stays under 59 days; SIRV; and SRRV - these are not required to have an ACR card, but they can have one:

Your Permanent 13A ACR-I card will be yellow:

ACR-I Card front/back for 13A Permanent Visa holders

The SSRN (Special Security Registration Number) is a unique security identifier that is to be assigned to every registered foreigner in the Philippines. The SSRN along with your biometrics stored on the card may serve as your entry and exit clearance. This means that you, as a 13A visa holder do not need to visit a Bureau of Immigration office to obtain an ECC-A. You can obtain your ECC-B at the airport. More information about the Emigration Clearance Certificate.

The actual ACR # is on the reverse side under the Card Serial #. The ACR # is what you will record on your annual report data sheet.

The Certificate of Residence # under the ACR # is a bit mysterious to me, but I can tell you that my ACR # is the same on my probationary ACR-I card and my initial and renewed permanent ACR-I cards. The Certificate of Residence # is the same on my two permanent ACR-I cards, but my probationary ACR-I card has a different Certificate of Residence #.

The ACR card for your probationary 13A will state "non-immigrant" for your immigration status, whereas the permanent 13A card states "immigrant."

Your ACR # follows you through changes in immigration status. The Certificate of Residence # changes every time your immigration status changes.

Permanent 13A Visa

The BI Permanent 13A Visa page provides links to the application, the checklist and other  information about requirements for applying for  the Permanent 13A Visa.

You should begin your application to amend your Probationary 13A Visa to Permanent 2-3 months before your one (1) year ACR-I card and Probationary Visa are set to expire.   

The requirements checklist:


1. Joint letter request addressed to the Commissioner from the applicant and the petitioning Filipino spouse;

Tailored to Permanent Visa

2. Duly accomplished CGAF( BI Form CGAF-001-Rev 1);
Note: at the time of writing this article the current version is 2.1 per the link;

3. Joint affidavit of continuous cohabitation of applicant and the petitioning spouse;

4. Photocopy of passport bio-page and latest admission with valid authorized stay;

5. Valid National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Clearance, if application is filed six (6) months or more from the date of first arrival in the Philippines;

See probationary visa requirements (above) for more information.

6. BI Clearance Certificate

See probationary visa requirements (above) for more information.

7. Original or certified true copy of Bureau of Quarantine Medical Clearance, if applicant is a national of any of the countries listed under Annex “A” of Immigration Operations Order No. SBM-14-059-A who arrived in the Philippines on or after June 2014.

Immigration Operations Order No. SBM-14-059-A was amended in 2016. The order pertains to the ebola outbreak. Check the list of nations in Annex A to see if it applies to you.


Some differences from the probationary application process:

  • The letter of request is simply tailored to the permanent visa.
  • There is a joint affidavit wherein you attest that you have been living as man and wife.
  • You will definitely need the NBI clearance this time, as you will have been in the Philippines for more than six months (with few exceptions).
You will receive another Board of Commissioners order approving your amendment from probationary to permanent. Take care to maintain this document, because you will need it when you apply for ACR renewals, etc....

Notarization Of Documents

Bureau of Immigration policy on document notarization:
Immigration Commissioner Siegfred B. Mison ordered that all applications and/or letter requests being filed at any BI office shall no longer require notarization.
Only required affidavits and sworn statements shall require notarization.
You will have many affidavits that will require notarization throughout your visa process. When we went through the process there were public attorneys available within the BI office who notarized our documents free of charge. This may no longer be the case so be sure to choose a trustworthy notary for your sensitive documents.

Bureau Of Immigration Derogatory Records Check 

BI is closing the gaps on those whose bad behavior has been slipping through cracks in the system by implementing derogatory records checks at multiple points:
It is worthy to note that normally, a Dero Check is being conducted only once, that is, upon filing of the visa application. Thus, it is very possible that an applicant would be able to have the BOC-approved visa implemented on his/her passport even if his/her name was included already in the Bureau’s Derogatory Record database after he/she filed visa application but before the visa implementation.
In view of the foregoing, it is hereby recommended that all visa implementors, releasing window clerks and ACR I-card section staffs should conduct Dero Check again immediately prior to visa implementation, release of passports with implemented visas and release of ACR I-cards, respectively. Once there is a Dero hit, the head of office concerned shall prepare a recommendation to the BOC for the cancellation of the BOC-approved visa and ACR I-Card.

Employment Under 13A Visa

Permanent resident foreign nationals and probationary or temporary resident visa holders under Section 13 of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 and Section 3 of the Alien Social Integration Act of 1995 (7917)...
are exempt from employment permit requirements. 

The Bottom Line 

As you go through the 13A process be sure to keep every receipt and check all receipts to be sure that your name, the fee paid, the date and the item paid for is all 100% accurate. Never submit documents without getting an official printed receipt. Do not accept hand written receipts. 

Copy and digitally scan every document and receipt that your receive. This is most import for ACR-I cards, BoC orders and annual report receipts. You may wish to make a double sided copy of your ACR card and have it laminated. It is best to buy your own printer/copier/scanner so that you can limit third party access to your sensitive documentation. 

Important links for reference: 
I suggest that you navigate to the BI Operations Orders web-page and read them all.

Good Luck


Unknown said...

Hi and thanks for the informative write up. I have just been and filed my temporary 13a at the main office. A few things are slightly different as of 14/09, firstly, and a pain in the butt, passport photocopy, not just bio page and latest arrival page, but the whole damned thing, front cover to back, including all blank pages, subsequently 450 pesos lighter! The other pain was the cgaf form changed, seemingly overnight, to a double sided one. Couldn't get the number of that one as the lady dealing had already fixed it into my folder. I don't know if it's just the main office, but you need 2 legal size folders to submit your papers, and again, not sure if it's due to the appointment system there, but you have to get a separate appointment for bio metrics capture. Hope that may help someone!

pd said...

Thanks for the details @ 12:52

ceendee said...

Good day! Thanks for this very helpful article. I want to know if we can send letter of request also to send my husband's passport together with his ACR card to B. I branch near us?

pd said...

You need to ask Immigration because we did not do that. Please let us know what they tell you. Thanks

malikqimran said...

Hi Goodmorning. My father has a TRV visa. He got lockeddown in Pakistan since February 2020, he was going home yesterday but failed to due system failure in PAK airport and today he tried again but said that his Visa is not allowed yet to enter. They said because in his visa it is not said there that he has a 13a TRV. What should we do?

pd said...

There is no 13A TRV. The 13A and TRV are two different things. You get TRV when you are a citizen of a country that does not have visa reciprocity with the Philippines. As for what you can do, contact Bureau of Immigration is all I can tell you. We have no personal experience with TRV.

Do not take the following as an official answer but the DFA website


States that if you are a foreign spouse with a valid visa then you are allowed to come in.

I would imagine that it would be a good idea to print out that order and also have a copy of marriage certificate along with the visa to show when attempting to avail of this privilege.

contact Immigration by phone or visit their facebook page

You need an account to ask them a question but they respond to messaging promptly. If they provide a solution get a name as a reference for that answer.

This is not legal or professional advice. Just a person on the Internet with an opinion.

Robert & Deanna said...

This is an awesome body of information you have prepared. I am so grateful. Have two questions. Which docs need to be printed n legal sized paper and which ones are k for A4 sized paper? I get conflicting feedback. Second question: when I have all my papers prepared, do I need an appointment to submit them to the Central Receiving Unit (CRU) or to the frontline officer or staff of other Immigration Offices able to process this transaction? Again, thank you for the time you have put into this website. I appreciate it so much.

pd said...

US letter size is 8.5in x 11in.

A4 is 8.27in x 11.7in.

In the US legal size is 8.5in x 14in.

In the Philippines we have what is called "long bond." this is also commonly called legal. It is 8.5in x 13in.

I have seen one site saying to print a 13a visa application on A4. It is a DFA site. When I click on the application pdf it does not work because they botched the link. Maybe DFA is different. That is who you would apply with from overseas. But I have seen nothing but 8.5in x 13in.

Double check. Something may I changed making all of this incorrect.

As for making an appointment to turn in your paper work... We never made an appointment and the BoI site linked below mentions nothing about an appointment. Maybe with COVID there is some kind of appointment system, but we have not heard anything.

When visiting BoI websites like the one below I have been getting an intermittent error:

Conversion to Non-Quota Immigrant Visa by Marriage

"The requested URL was rejected. Please consult with your administrator."

This has been happening for weeks/months. You just have to try again later.

Robert & Deanna said...

So are you saying you think we can just walk in without an appointment?

pd said...

BoI launched online appointment system in June

BoI suspends online appointment system in August

Your best bet is to contact BoI if you want an answer that pertains to right now.