Investor Visa Program for The Philippines
by Jose Vicente E. Jimenez, Jimenez Gonzales Liwanag Bello Valdez Caluya & Frenandez, The Philippines
Generally, the Philippine Immigration Act covers visas such as the Treaty Trader/ Treaty Investor 9(d) non-immigrant visa, and the 47a (other investor) PEZA visa for foreign executives working in designated economic zones.
However, other special laws have been promulgated in order to boost investment in the Philippines i.e. Omnibus Investments Code of 1987 (Executive Order No. 226), Granting Incentives to Foreign Investment in Tourist-related Projects and Tourist Establishments (E.O. 63) and Creating the Philippine Retirement Park System (E.O. 1037). The qualifications for the issuance of Special Investors Resident Visa (SIRV) are specified under EO 226 and EO 63. Furthermore, government agencies such as the Philippine Retirement Authority have also come up with a Special Retiree’s Resident Visa (SRRV) where foreigners are welcome to retire and invest in the Philippines. Recently, the Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration have also issued a Memorandum Circular advocating a Pro-Investment Visa Upon Arrival investor’s program.
In this connection, below are options to a foreign investor in considering application for investor’s visa.
Pro-Investment Visa Upon Arrival
The Pro-Investment Visa Upon Arrival program covers foreign investors and businessmen duly endorsed by the Board of Investments, Philippine Retirement Authority, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, local business councils or local and foreign chambers of commerce and industry. The program also covers athletes and delegates to sports competitions, conventions and delegations, as well as participants of international conventions, symposia and conferences
One who is employed in Philippine-based multinational corporations who avail of the program shall upon arrival be granted a three-month initial stay which he may later extend for a series of six months. Said multinational executives are also entitled to multiple entry privileges, so they can enter and leave the country while their visas are still valid. Applicant shall be charged a visa fee of US$100 and Php10 .00 legal research fee. The program assures foreign executives a fast, hassle-free and more convenient service from Philippine immigration officers. Moreso, their dependent spouse and unmarried minor children may be included in this visa.
Under this program, foreign businessmen who are not employed by multinational firms are entitled to single entry privilege and upon their arrival be granted an authorized stay of 30 days as a temporary visitor. Within the 30-day period, he should apply for a change of his status to any other visa categories appropriate to his chosen field such as working visa, retiree’s visa, immigrant quota visa, or special investor’s resident visa. Applicant shall be charged a visa fee of US$25 and Php10.00 legal research fee.
Special Investors Resident Visa (SIRV)
SIRV is issued to expatriates who are willing and able to invest the amount of at least US$75,000.00 in the Philippines or US$50,000 for foreign nationals investing in tourist related establishments and development of retirement parks.
Foreigners may be issued a SIRV if he had not been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude; not afflicted with any loathsome, dangerous or contagious disease; has not been institutionalized for any mental disorder or disability; and is willing and able to invest the amount of at least US$75,000.00 in the Philippines. Proof of remittance in acceptable foreign currency to the Philippines is required. Ownership of shares of stocks in either existing corporations: publicly- listed companies, companies engaged in Investment Priorities Plan (IPP) projects, or companies engaged in the manufacturing and service sectors; or in new corporations: companies to be engaged in the manufacturing and service sectors, or companies to be engaged in IPP projects are accepted as eligible forms of investment
The applicant’s spouse and unmarried children under twenty-one (21) years of age may also be issued the same visa. The visa of a dependent of the SIRV holder shall be co-terminus with that of the principal and/or be automatically cancelled upon his reaching 21 years of age and/or marriage.
For investors in tourist-related projects the applicant-investor must visit the country at least twice a year and stays in the country at least seven (7) days for each visit. An annual report is needed to prove that he has maintained his investment in the country. The investor, his wife and unmarried minor children shall be permitted to enter and reside in the Philippines as special investor residents for as long as the investment subsists.
For investors in retirement park development projects, permanent resident status may be granted to foreigners participating or taking up residency under the retirement programs or projects of the Philippine Retirement Park System (“System”), through a minimum investment of 50,000 U.S. Dollars, withdrawable only upon withdrawal from the retirement program of the System of the participant. The applicant’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may also be given permanent resident status, if accompanying or if following to join him after his admission into the Philippines as a permanent resident.
Special Retiree’s Resident Visa (SRRV)
A foreigner who wants to invest in the Philippines may choose to apply for a Special Retiree’s Resident Visa (SRRV) and be registered as a retiree with the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA), or be registered with the Board of Investments. To apply for SRRV, a foreigner (or a former Filipino) must be at least fifty (50) years of age and must stay in the Philippines. He must deposit a minimum amount of $50,000 in a bank accredited by the PRA.
Under the SRRV the foreigner’s spouse and/or legitimate or legally adopted unmarried child under twenty-one (21) may be given an indefinite status if they are accompanying the foreigner-applicant or joining him soon after his admission in the country. There will be an additional deposit of US$15,000.00 or any equivalent acceptable foreign currency for each additional legitimate or legally adopted unmarried child under twenty-one (21) years of age.
The good thing about applying for SRRV is that it only takes at least one (1) month to process provided that all documents are complete. Furthermore, member holders are exempted from paying travel tax provided they have not stayed in the Philippines for more than one year from date of last entry into the country. They can own real property in the Philippines provided that said foreigner is married to a Philippine citizen and that the land is registered in the name of the Philippine spouse. Natural-born former Filipinos may also apply for a SRRV and acquire a maximum of 5,000 square meters of urban land and three (3) hectares of agricultural land.