It’s a new year, Happy New Year, and time for the visit to the Bureau of Immigration for the Annual Report required for my 13a Resident Visa.

Being that I like to be prepared, and I was close to the office anyway, I stopped by the Bureau of Immigration a week or so ago to check on this year’s requirements. They seem to change every year, and as noted last year, by office. I was pleased to find out they were the exactly same as last year. I secured a copy of the correct Annual Report form and went on my way. I was set to show up after the first of the year with all required paperwork.

I keep forgetting – this is the Philippines, we aren’t in Kansas anymore.

You see between the time I picked up the form and checked on the requirements, one week, Manila had informed the Davao sub-office that there was a new Annual Report Application Form and new requirements. From a simple 1 page form to a complex 4 page form. But that was just the beginning.

You are now required to provide two 2 x 2 current passport photos (within the last 30 days), get fingerprinted AND get the new form notarized. No, the Davao BI does not provide a notary service (but that is probably coming), you are on your own to figure out where to get that done.

I was none too pleased to learn that I had wasted two trips to the BI and would need to return for a third. Not having any choice, I left and went to a coffee shop. I was able to complete the form, though much of it was redundant information that the ACR-I was implemented in the first place for. Other information was none of their business – my Mom’s passport number? It said to leave no boxes blank, so I filled in a lot of “N/A”.

I found an attorney on the 17th floor of the building that housed the coffee shop, and had them do the notary. I’m sure I paid too much, but I wasn’t in the mood to take a jeepney all over Davao to find a cheap notary. I had the photos done at the mall.

I didn’t go back the same day, as I had made plans to meet up with some friends. It wouldn’t have mattered because as the day gets late the BI fills up, and you will be there for the remainder of the day. No, I knew I’d come back bright and early the next morning. That is my approach to the BI, get there when they open.

As it turned out, I was the first one at the BI the next morning. I knew they would find something I didn’t have, even though I checked with the head of the office before I left the day before. They had told me one photo, but now requested a second. Thankfully I had brought all the photos with me that I had done at the mall the afternoon before. After going to 2 windows, 6 times total, I was done. Just under an hour.

The fee for the Annual Report was still “just” P310. If you add in my notary with 2 copes (P270), the photos (P59), a photo copy of the OR (P3), plus the extra trip (I’ll only count one), P70, then the whole thing cost me about P712.

A couple of things to note – I asked why they didn’t require my previous OR (Official Receipt) and was told that it was in the computer. That made sense until I got to the end of the process and they asked me to make a photocopy of the new OR for their records. I also needed the standard copies of my passport pages, ACR-I card and Visa to go along with the new form and requirements. They never requested to see my original ACR-I or passport.

I don’t see the point of the notary if I’m signing it in person. If I have someone bring it in for me, then that would make some sense. The fingerprinting is also questionable. Again I don’t see how they are going to get that if someone is presenting it for you, and that is allowed according to the form.

I truly don’t understand why we can’t go in, present our ACR-I card and/or passport and be done with it. If we have information that changed, we could be given an opportunity to update that, but it’s my understanding that we are required to update things like address anytime that happens, not just at the first of the year.

This new form and procedure is supposed to be standard for all of the Philippines, but I’ll venture to guess that many smaller office don’t follow it this year. By next year it will undoubtably be different anyway. Learning my lesson from this year, I will wait until after the first of the year to inquire what those new requirements are for 2015.

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