As many others have done before, I got a Non-quota Immigrant 13a Permanent Resident Visa. I choose to do this in the United States, before I left, as opposed to applying after I moved to the Philippines. Whether that is necessary is completely a personal decision. There are pluses and minuses to doing it either way.

The procedure to get the visa seems daunting at first. The actual process isn’t nearly as bad as it looks. As with all things with the Philppines, getting clear, precise information is extremely difficult, and that is where most of my anxiety came from.

For me the most difficult part of the entire process, other than trying to make sure I was doing everything needed, was the medical. My consulate, which is located in San Francisco, required that my medical form was notarized with my physicians signature. Since I could not locate a physician that had an office with a notary, I had to schedule a second office visit for the sole purpose of having a mobile notary come and witness my physician sign the required form, once the results where in.

Also, because I do not have any medical insurance, the cost of all procedures were my direct responsibility. Not being able to determine exactly what tests were needed for the blood work ended up costing me quite a bit. I paid over $700 for all my tests, which also included the chest X-ray. At least in my case, the X-ray was accepted on CD, and not film as the requirements state.

I sent all my paperwork in early because I had scheduled a meeting with the Consulate Outreach in Seattle. The Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco makes several trips throughout the year to cities within their jurisdiction to handle certain matters. I will refer you to their website for the list of times, cities, and services. This is a great service for those not near your consulate, and I encourage you to look into it.

I was told each time that I called, and emailed, that a personal interview was indeed required. When all was said and done, it was not true in my case. I did not need to go in for a personal interview. I asked why, and the lady on the phone said that it was because I had all my pertinent documents notarized – the application and the medical form. I don’t know if that is in fact what happened, or if it was because my documents were so detailed and organized. Whatever the reason, I was very happy to learn that my visa was approved already, and I was able to get it back so quickly. Once they had received my paperwork it was approved within 2 days.

Because of the unexpected approval without the personal interview, I had to send another USPS Postal Money Order for the return postage. I had my Passport, with visa, back in hand about a week later.

These are the requirements that I used as a guideline for my documents. Each consulate seems to have a different set:

13(A) Permanent Resident Visa


  1. Passport of applicant (valid at least 6 months from date of application)
  2. One (1) original and one (1) photocopy of the duly-accomplished Immigrant Visa application form, typed or printed legibly in black or blue ink
  3. Four (4) identical colored photos, 2” x 2”, taken within six months before the date of application, showing a clear front view of applicant’s face, with a white background. No sleeveless attire. Blurred or low quality photos are not accepted.
  4. One (1) original and one (1) photocopy of documentary evidence to prove spouse’s or either parent’s Philippine citizenship and to show applicant’s relationship to the Philippine citizen, such as, birth certificate, Philippine passport, marriage contract (original will be returned)
  5. Medical Examination Report, duly-accomplished by a licensed physician whose signature must be notarized, and which should not be more than six (6) months from date of application, together with laboratory reports (original and one photocopy)
  6. Chest X-ray negative, standard size, to be presented to the Embassy and hand carried to the Philippines
  7. Police Clearance Certificate from place of residence of applicant (original and one photocopy)
  8. One (1) original and one (1) photocopy of evidence of sound financial status (e.g. proof of real property, investment/s, bank certification, pension, or notarized Affidavit of Support from a relative in the Philippines, with attached documents to substantiate declaration or claim)
  9. Personal appearance for interview
  10. Self-addressed return envelope, with appropriate stamps, via US Postal Service or private courier of choice, preferably with tracking numbers, if Passport with Visa is to be mailed back
  11. Visa fee of $150.00 (non-refundable), payable in money order, bank draft, certified check or cashier’s check, and cash when personally applying. Personal checks and credit cards are not accepted.
  12. Note: The Philippine Embassy/Consulate General assumes no responsibility for any delay or loss in the mail, or while the documents are in the custody of the courier service. The applicant should note the tracking numbers of all envelopes used and submitted.

To be safe, I also sent a notarized letter of request from my asawa. As I said before, the application, medical form, and my wife’s request letter were all notarized.

The other concern I had with our documents involved the original marriage license that we provided. We had not been married long enough to be able to secure a NSO certified copy. From what I had read, a certified copy of all Philippine documents was normally required. Their list did not specify, but since I was concerned, I also provided photos from my wedding and other original documents from the mayor’s office on Samal (where the wedding occurred). Whether any of that was needed or not I’ll never know. It was never brought up or questioned.

I have heard some stories of consulates not being easy to reach by phone or email. That was far from my experience with the San Francisco Philippine Consulate. They answered emails quickly and thoroughly. I was able to reach them by phone each time I tried. My only complaint would be the inability to get clear direction, such as the blood work requirements. That aside, I was very pleased with their response and treatment of me.

I could have waited until I got the Philippines to do all this. As it turned out I would have saved some money, as the medical isn’t needed there at all, but I would have spent a lot of time and trips.

I still need to visit the Bureau of Immigration once I get to the Philippines. This will be for my ACR-I card. I plan to do this in Davao, even though you are told to check in with Manila. I know of at least one other expat that has finished it in Davao, and I also asked the consulate if I could do that. Of course, they were not completely clear, but did finally say, “yes”.

Whether I did the right thing by getting it ahead of time, I can’t really say. It does ease my mind knowing that I have one less thing to take care of once there. I also save the trouble of visa extension(s), in addition to the useless return ticket that would be required otherwise.

If the medical hadn’t of been so costly, and such an ordeal, it would have been well worth the decision to complete it here. As it turned out, maybe it was a push.

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