PHILIPPINES – Alien Registration Program Launched, Voluntary for Now
On 1 October 2014, the Philippines Bureau of Immigration (BI) initiated an Alien Registration Program (ARP) to update its database of foreign nationals, but has already announced that it will not be mandatory for now, due to implementation issues and the initial high volume of applicants.
Who Must Register, and Who Is Exempt?
Between 1 October 2014 and 30 September 2015, a foreign national extending their stay in Philippines beyond 59 days is required to present themselves at the Bureau of Immigration to register under ARP. Although the BI has said that currently, registration is not mandatory, this is likely to change in the near future.
For 9(a) Tourist Visa holders extending their stay beyond 59 days, and Special Work Permit holders, the ARP registration will be done at the time of application for an Alien Certificate of Registration Identity card (ACR I-Card). Previously, a personal appearance was not required for an ACR I-Card application in these cases; it now is, since biometrics must be taken.
Those whose stay has not exceeded and will not exceed 59 days are exempt. Also, foreign nationals with a current, valid ACR I-Card which required a biometrics interview at the time of application (e.g. 9(g) Employment Visa holders) are exempt from the requirement and will be registered under ARP on renewal of their ACR I-Card.
Also exempt are holders of certain classes of visa, including the Special Non-Immigrant 47(a)(2) Visa and the Multiple Entry Special Visa.
The foreign national will have to give biometric data including photographs and fingerprints, submit an application form, present valid proof of identity and pay a processing fee at one of the participating BI offices in the Philippines. They will be issued on the day with a Special Security Registration Number (SSRN), to be used in all further transactions with the BI. They will also be issued (later, by post) a new-style ACR I-Card ($50 USD + processing fee).
- Note that ARP registration is still likely to be mandatory, once early teething troubles have been overcome.
- Note that Special Work Permit holders and those extending a 9(a) Tourist Visa beyond 59 days must now attend an interview in person to obtain an ACR I-Card.
- Ensure that any applicants awaiting processing of a 47(a)(2) or MESV and who will therefore be in visitor status for more than 59 days register under ARP.
- Note that holders of expired ACR I-Cards will be registered under ARP on renewal of the ACR I-Card, and that holders of valid ACR I-Cards may voluntarily register under ARP and obtain new card with SSRN for a fee.