Founded in 1940, the Bureau of Immigration in the Philippines handles all immigration-related services and issues. This agency implements citizenship and immigration laws, regulating Filipino and foreign nationals entering and departing the Philippines. Furthermore, it offers various kinds of visas and services. To learn more about this government agency, keep reading as we share the history, functions, and responsibilities of the Bureau of Immigration Philippines.
Formerly acting as a division of BOC, the Bureau of Immigration focused on travel and ship cargo rather than monitoring the foreign nationals entering the Philippines. Today, it focuses on immigration-related concerns, from supervising foreigners’ arrival, stay, and departure to granting visas, certification, accreditation, and citizenships.
What is the Bureau of Immigration Philippines
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) in the Philippines is a government agency mandated to regulate and control immigration-related transactions. It imposes and supervises the country’s alien admission and registration. The agency also handles immigration and citizenship laws as specified by the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 provisions. Furthermore, it manages the immigration of foreign nationals in the country.
The Bureau of Immigration Philippines was formerly known as the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation from 1972 to 1987. It has a predecessor agency founded in 1899 as the Bureau of Customs (BOC) division. During the American regime, the Bureau of Immigration worked under BOC, focusing on ship cargo and travel. In 1937, immigration-related functions were transferred under the Bureau of Labor, monitoring the Chinese nationals arriving in the country who were conducting trade and restaurant business.
On January 22, 1940, the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, or Commonwealth Act No 613, was enacted by the Second National Assembly of the Philippine Commonwealth. On September 3, 1940, the Bureau of Immigration was established when the President of the United States of America signed it into law. It was formerly attached to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
But at present, the President of the Philippines and the DOJ have administrative control over the Bureau of Immigration. On July 25, 1987, the Administrative Code of 1987 was signed into law, renaming the agency into the “Bureau of Immigration. Despite the rename, the functions, responsibilities, and powers of the Bureau of Immigration remain the same.
Functions & Responsibilities
As per the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, the Bureau of Immigration must impose and regulate the alien admission, registration, citizenship, and immigration laws. Also known as the Commonwealth Act No. 613, this law is an Act to Control and Regulate the Immigration of Aliens into the Philippines. Here are the general functions of the agency:
- Serve as the chief enforcement arm of the President of the Philippines and DOJ, ensuring all foreign nationals within the country’s jurisdiction adhere to the prevailing laws
- Help local and international law enforcement agencies obtain peace against foreign nationals whose stay or presence is considered a threat to national security and public morals, safety, and health
- Function as the central repository of immigration records, which concern the entry, admission, residence, temporary sojourn, and departure of all foreign nationals in the country
Aside from that, the agency’s Board of Commissioners practices administrative and quasi-judicial powers on the following:
- Supervises the arrival/entry, sojourn/stay, and departure/exit of all foreigners in the country
- Observe the entry and exit of all Filipino citizens as per the Philippine laws and legal procedures
- Issue immigration documents and identification certifications on immigrant, non-immigrant, and special non-immigrant visas
- Issue special permits regarding immigration law enforcement (such as Special Work Permit (SWP), Special Study Permit (SSP), clearances, re-entry permits, etc.)
- Approve temporary visitors’ extension of stay and implement status changes as per law
- Administrative determination of citizenship and other relevant status
- Investigate, hear, decide, and execute orders concerning deportation, exclusion, and repatriation of foreigners
- Implements Blacklist, Watchlist, Hold Departure Orders, Alert List Orders, and Immigration Lookout Bulletin Orders
- Cancel immigration documents of foreign nationals violating immigration laws and procedures
- Investigate, arrest, and detention of foreigners violating immigration regulations and Philippine laws
- Operates holding facilities, such as the Bureau of Immigration Bicutan Detention Center
- Give accreditations to learning institutions and schools to officially welcome and enroll foreign students
- Provides accreditation to law firms, liaison officers, travel agencies, and others who have transactions with the Bureau of Immigration
Bureau of Immigration Philippines Visas
1. Child Born Abroad of Immigrant Mother
This visa is for a child born outside the Philippines during the mother’s temporary visit.
2. Child Born Subsequent to the Issuance of Immigrant Visa of the Accompanying Parent (13C)
The 13C visa is for children born after the accompanying parent obtains their immigrant visas.
3. Immigrant Visa by Marriage (13A)
The 13A marriage visa is granted to a foreign spouse of Filipino nationals, giving them the right to live in the Philippines permanently. It’s a Non-Quota Immigrant Visa, allowing multiple entry and permanent residency.
4. Permanent Resident Visa (PRV)
The Permanent Resident Visa is for citizens of a country giving similar permanent resident and immigration privileges to Filipinos. But before applying for PRV, the applicant should first secure a Philippine Probationary Visa or Non-Quota Immigration Visa by Marriage (13A), which is valid for one (1) year.
5. Returning Former Natural-Born Filipino Citizen (13G)
The 13G visa applies to the following:
- A former natural-born Filipino citizen
- A naturalized citizen of a foreign country
- Planning to return and permanently reside in the Philippines
6. Returning Resident (13E)
The 13E visa is for those who have previously obtained permanent residence and those returning to unrelinquished property in the Philippines after a temporary overseas visit.
7. Quota Visa (13)
The Quota Visa is for nationals of countries with diplomatic relations with the Philippines, granting similar immigration privileges to Filipino citizens.
1. Temporary Resident Visa (TRV)
TRV is for foreign nationals who don’t offer a reciprocity agreement with the Philippines and for Indian nationals married to a Filipino citizen and their children.
- Conversion to TRV by Marriage
- Extension of TRV by Marriage
- Conversion to TRV-Indian Married to Filipino
- Extension of TRV-Indian Married to Filipino
2. Temporary Visitor Visa (9A)
The 9A visa applies to non-visa-required tourists and all temporary visitors requesting an extension of stay.
- Visa Waiver
- Extension of Authorized Stay Beyond 59 Days
- Motion for Reconsideration on Updating and Extension of Authorized Stay
- Long-Stay Visitor Visa Extension (LSVVE)
3. Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor (9D)
The 9D visa is for foreign nationals of Germany, Japan, and the USA entering the country solely for commerce or trade purposes.
- Conversion to Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor
- Extension of Treaty Trader’s/Treaty Investor’s Visa
- Inclusion of Dependent in the Treaty Trader’s/Treaty Investor’s Visa of the Principal Holder
4. Accredited Official of Foreign Government (9E)
The 9E visa applies to accredited officials of foreign governments acknowledged by the Philippine government. It also applies to their families, employees, attendants, and servants.
5. Student Visa (9F)
The 9F visa applies to foreign nationals at least 18 years old who are taking a course at the tertiary level at a college, university, or seminary.
- Conversion to Student Visa
- Extension of Student Visa
6. Pre-arranged Employment Visa (9G)
The 9G visa is for foreign nationals visiting the country to partake in a legal occupation for salary, wage, or other compensation.
- Conversion to Pre-arranged Employee – Commercial
- Extension of Pre-arranged Employee – Commercial
- Conversion to Pre-arranged Employee Non-Commercial
- Extension of Pre-arranged Employee Non-Commercial
- Inclusion of Dependent in the Pre-arranged Employee Visa of the Principal Holder
1. Visa Upon Arrival (SEVUA)
The application for SEVUA is open for the following:
- Foreign investors and businessmen
- Athletes and delegates to exhibitions, competitions, or conventions
- Participants and speakers at conferences, international conventions, and other similar meetings
- Foreign investors and their executives
- Officials of the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and other international development partners, their dependent spouses, and unmarried minor child
- Other foreigners who are entitled to the benefits of this program
2. Special Visa for Employment Generation (SVEG)
This visa is for eligible non-immigrant foreigners who should employ at least ten (10) Filipinos in a legal and viable enterprise, industry, or trade.
3. Special Employment Visa for Offshore Banking Unit
This visa applies to foreign nationals designated by foreign banks to work in its offshore banking unit in the country.
Conversion to Non-Immigrant Visa of Offshore Banking Unit under PD 1034
Extension of Non-Immigrant Visa of Offshore Banking Unit under PD 1034
4. Special Visa under EO 226 as amended by RA 8756
This visa applies to foreign personnel or executives of area/regional operating headquarters from multinational companies.
- Conversion to Special Non-Immigrant Visa
- Extension of Special Non-Immigrant Visa
Bureau of Immigration Philippines Services
1. Annual Report (AR)
The Annual Report applies to all registered aliens and ACR I-Card holders, excluding Temporary Visitor’s Visa or Tourist Visa holders.
2. ACR I-Card Issuance
The Alien Certificate of Registration Identity Card or ACR I-Card is issued to all foreign nations holding a Temporary Visitor’s Visa or Tourist Visa and has stayed for over 59 days in the Philippines.
3. Voluntary Application for ACR I-Card
All foreign nations can voluntarily apply for an ACR I-Card at the Bureau of Immigration’s main office by bringing the application form and completing the documentary requirements.
4. Renewal of ACR I-Card
Foreign nationals who are existing holders of ACR I-Card can apply for renewal based on any of the following:
- Expiration of the card’s one (1) year validity
- Re-registration of an alien after turning the age of 14
- Change of visa status
- Replacement of ACR I-Card as per Alien Registration Act of 1950
5. Re-Issuance of ACR I-Card
The re-issuance applies to foreign nationals with existing ACR I-Card but requesting renewal based on any of the following:
- Lost card
- Damaged card
- Modifications of name, address, nationality, civil status, etc.
- Rejected card (printed wrong details on the card due to the applicant’s negligence/fault)
6. ACR I-CARD Waiver
It applies to emergency departures of foreign nationals from the Philippines if their ACR I-Card release is still pending.
7. Cancellation of ACR I-Card
The applicant can cancel their ACR I-Card if they meet any of the following:
- Naturalization as a Philippine citizen
- Conferment of Philippine citizenship
- Marriage to a Philippine citizen if the female alien
- Repatriation/retention of lost Philippine citizenship
8. Philippine-Born Registrants
This service is for children born in the Philippines with parents, both or either legal permanent residents.
1. Application for Retention/ Re-Acquisition of Philippine Citizenship
This service is for former Filipino citizens who’ve been naturalized in a foreign country and want to re-acquire or return their Philippine citizenship.
2. Inclusion of Dependents under RA 9225
This service applies to dependent children below 18 years old who are unmarried Principal applicants under RA 9225.
3. Recognition as a Filipino Citizen
The recognition is eligible for foreign nationals who want to be acknowledged as a Philippine citizen, given the mother and/or father were/was a Filipino citizen during the applicant’s birth.
4. Affirmation of Recognition as a Filipino Citizen
The qualified applicants for this service are foreign nationals acknowledged as Filipino citizens for a certain period.
5. Cancellation of Alien Certificate of Registry (ACR)
Foreign nationals who applied for ACR can also request cancellation of their application in case of the death of an alien.
1. Special Study Permit
It’s for foreign nationals who are not qualified for a Student Visa.
2. Provisional Work Permit
This permit is for foreign nationals if their pre-arranged employment visa application is still pending.
3. Special Work Permit – Commercial
It’s issued to foreign nationals who will partake in gainful employment for 3 to 6 months.
4. Special Work Permit – Artists & Athletes
Lastly, temporary visitors participating for less than six (6) months in their respective professions, including artists, athletes, performers, and entertainers, should apply for a Special Work Permit.
The main office of the Bureau of Immigration also issues the following certification:
- Certification for Not the Same Person
- ACR I-CARD Certification
- BI Clearance Certification
- Pending Visa Application Certification
- Certified True Copy Certification
- Travel Records Certification
- Certificate of Non-Registration/Registration
Trusted Traveler Program
The citizens of countries allowed to enter the Philippines without an entry visa can apply for this program given they meet the following:
- The applicant should travel at least once as a temporary visitor to the Philippines and stay in the country for not over 30 days on each visit
- The applicant was not convicted or charged with any crime, offense, or felony in their country of nationality
- The applicant doesn’t have any recorded violation of the Philippine immigration laws, rules, and regulations
In addition, the agency handles Filipino and foreign nationals seaman who wish to join aboard or require repatriation.
- Joining Filipino Seaman
- Signing Off Filipino Seaman
- Joining Foreign Seaman
- Repatriating Foreign Seaman
- Filipino Supernumerary
- Foreign Supernumerary
- Visa Crewlist Fee
- Penalty on Late Filing/Non-Filing of Foreign Seafarer’s Notice of Arrival (Joining Crew)
The Bureau of Immigration also issues the following:
- School Accreditation
- Accreditation of School Representative/Liaison Officer
- Travel Agency or Office
- Travel Agency or Office Liaison Officers
- Missionary or Non-Profit Organization
- Missionary or Non-Profit Organization Liaison Officers
- Law Office
- Law Office Representative or Paralegal
- Consultancy or Corporations
- Consultancy or Corporations Representative or Liaison Officer
On July 12, 2023, the bureau launched an online portal where locals and foreigners can process the following e-services:
- Annual Report
- Emigration Clearance Certificate – B (ECC – B)
- Petition for Re-acquisition / Retention of Philippine Citizenship
- Tourist Visa Extension
- Visa Waiver
- Waiver of Exclusion Ground
- Waiver for Exclusion Ground
- Downgrading of Visa
- Transfer of Admission Status
- Amendment/Correction of Admission
- Re-Stamping of Visa
- Failed to Stamp – Encoded
- Failed to Stamp – Not Encoded
- Interim Extension (Grace Period)
Through the Bureau of Immigration, Filipino and foreign nationals can access immigration-related services, allowing them to secure necessary visas and retain, re-acquire, or grant as a Philippine citizen. The agency also works with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate, decide, and implement orders. Additionally, the bureau helps with the arrest and detention of foreigners violation the Philippine laws and regulations. Therefore, the Bureau of Immigration Philippines helps protect and ensure the nation and its people’s safety.