The U.S. Department of State reports that about 400,000 Americans flock to the Philippines each year. Most go back to their homeland bearing stories and memories of bustling cities dotted with some of the largest shopping malls in the world; pristine, white sand beaches and numerous other natural attractions; and, more important, fun-loving and warm people who welcome foreign guests with open arms.
An American who has made the Philippines his home since 1989 describes the country, and the Filipinos, as "addictive," and the more than 250,000 American citizens who decided to stay in the island country may have felt the same way. If you wish to relocate permanently in the country, two avenues---the quota and the non-quota immigrant visas---are open.
Quota Visa Requirements
Only 50 quota visas are available to American citizens yearly. Complete the immigrant visa application form and submit it to the Philippine consulate general in your area. Include your passport, recent photos and proof of income in your application. After its initial assessment, your application will be forwarded to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila for further review. A personal interview with a consular officer is mandatory before your actual visa can be issued.
Non-Quota Visa Requirements
You can have a non-quota immigrant visa if you are married to a Philippine citizen or are an unmarried child under age 21 of a Philippine citizen. Also qualified for this type of visa are natural-born citizens who were granted citizenship by another country and their spouses and unmarried children below age 21.
Along with a completed application form, you need to submit your passport, recent photographs, proof of your spouse's or parent's Filipino citizenship, proof of your relationship to the Philippine citizen, medical examination report, U.S. police clearance certificate, proof of financial capacity and a visa fee. If you are a natural-born Filipino, also include your original birth certificate or an old Philippine passport in your submitted documents.
Other Types of Visas
A visa is not required for U.S. citizens visiting the Philippines for 21 days, but those who want to stay longer may opt for a visa for tourism and business purposes, a student visa, a special resident retiree's visa or a special investor's resident visa.
Living in the Philippines can be tough---and a brave act---for those who are used to the comforts and security of the United States. Traffic and pollution in Manila most often is described as a nightmare, while bureaucratic red tape and corruption is a crippling problem that causes frustration for foreign businessmen. Still, a lot of foreigners find that the unhurried life in most of the Philippines' cities and provinces, the breathtaking gifts of nature and the Old World values and charm of this culturally rich enclave can be well worth the risk.