In 2003, the Philippines government passed a law which grants its naturally born citizens who lost their citizenship through naturalization in a foreign country the opportunity to re-acquire their Philippines citizenship. Getting dual citizenship under this program offers numerous advantages to both the Filipino and his/her entire family.
1. One who re-acquires Filipino citizenship can vote in elections in the Philippines.
2. One can own real property
3. One can practice his/her profession
4. One can own and operate a business
5. The citizen’s spouse can get an immigrant visa that entitles him/her to permanently reside in the Philippines – come and go, avoid exit clearances, entry fees, etc.
Ownership of real property is a significant advantage, as existing law in the Philippines restricts ownership of real property to its own citizens. Although a foreigner is permitted to take title to a condominium, he/she cannot take title to real property (land and a house). A foreigner can lease land from a Filipino and then take ownership of a house on the land, but this type of transaction is extremely rare in the Philippines. Thus, through re-acquisition of his/her Philippine citizenship, the Filipino is once again able to purchase real property, with no restrictions.
For those wanting to retire to the Philippines, the ability to run a small business or practice one’s profession is a strong benefit. Through dual citizenship, retirement in the Philippines can be the start of a new chapter in one’s life, as a business person or a professional. Ownership of business as a sole proprietor or as a wholly owned corporation is severely restricted, unless a foreigner makes a significant investment ($200,000 as a minimum).
Without citizenship, a foreigner wishing to operate a business in the Philippines is limited to forming a corporation, of which he/she can only own a 40% interest. As a dual citizen, the Filipino re-acquires the right to wholly own his/her business. Thus, a foreigner married to a Filipino with dual citizenship can take 40% ownership of a business and keep it in the family by his/her dual citizenship spouse taking the remaining 60% ownership.
Other than being in an immigrant status, there is only one way a person carrying a foreign passport can reside in the Philippines for any significant amount of time, and even then it requires the foreigner to be married to a “Balikbayan” (a returning Filipino who was born in the Philippines). A Balikbayan and his/her spouse can visit and reside in the Philippines for up to one year, after which they must exit the country, and then re-enter should they wish to stay another year. This must be repeated on an annual basis
Balikbayan status is not an immigrant status, but rather a special non-immigrant visa status. Yes, one can enter without a visa and stay for a maximum of 21 days, and then get a renewal for another 38 days, followed by two month extensions for about USD $100 per extension, up to a maximum of one year. There is also a special retiree visa program permitting unlimited stay status, but it does not permit real property or business ownership.
There are only two ways for a foreigner to be registered as a non-quota immigrant and those are (i) be the spouse of a Filipino citizen who was never became a citizen of a foreign country, or (ii) be the spouse of a former Filipino citizen who has re-acquired his/her citizenship by obtaining a dual citizenship status. If desired, the door is open after 5 years residency for the foreigner to also obtain dual citizenship.
With a dual citizenship status, the Filipino has the best of both worlds – citizenship in the Philippines and all the rights that attach to that plus citizenship in his/her other country (e.g., Canada or USA) and all the rights that attach to that status.
Do you want more in depth information about visa and immigration options in the Philippines for a foreigner? I have just completed my new book on “Retirement Living in the Philippines”, which includes in depth writings as to the options
Download it at http://www.retirementlivinginthephilippines.com .
Further, the author is soon releasing two new books – one on money making opportunities in the Philippines and how to start a business as a foreigner, and the other regarding the coming real estate boom in the Philippines. To fully avail of these opportunities, one needs to plan now for the proper residency status when living in the Philippines.
Will Irwin is a powerful entrepreneur and business and life coach. He has started many online and offline businesses both in the USA and in the Philippines, residing in both Hawaii and the Philippines.