You can start the process of getting a permanent resident visa in your own country if there’s a Philippine Consulate there (there are eight in the United States, including two of its territories). You can also start the process while in the Philippines with only your passport.
There are requirements you can’t avoid. You must be married to a Filipino. It doesn’t matter if that Filipino is a dual citizen or not. You must have a source of income that doesn’t rely on the local economy.
A foreigner has the last precedence for employment in the Philippines, below the uneducated. If you’re aiming for retirement in the Philippines, you obviously don’t need a job. I’m focusing on getting a permanent resident visa as an American because I’m an American.
You can find the addresses and phone numbers at the Philippine Embassy’s consular finder page. The consulates are in:
The consulates have their own websites and it’s wise to get up to date information from the one that’s closest to you.
If you have a round-trip ticket to leave the Philippines within 30 days, you can enter and exit the Philippines with only an American passport. If you need to stay beyond 30 days, you can get an extension (called a “visa waiver”) at the Philippine Bureau of Immigration office closest to you.
You can get a non-permanent visa at any of the Philippine consulates in the United States. I received one good for a year at the consulate in Los Angeles a few months before I left, even though I didn’t need it.
Permanent resident visas are listed as non-quota immigrant visas on the consulate websites, so searching for the details can be a pain. You can find the requirements for non-quota immigrant visas at the Los Angeles consulate’s website.
To break it down for you, you need to be married to a Filipino or a dual American/Filipino citizen and your spouse has to sign an affidavit requesting it for you. You need to be financially secure. You have to be healthy. There are other requirements and you really need to read them at the link I provided.
The fee for the permanent resident visa is separate from the card you also have to pay for, the ACR I-Card. While the visa never has to be renewed, the card has to be renewed, the first renewal after one year and then every five years after that. You may be able to renew it at other locations, but you can always renew it at the main Bureau of Immigration office in Manila.
Every year before the end of February, you have to pay a small fee as part of your annual registration at the local bureau of immigration office. The last fee I paid was 310 pesos (around $8 USD). Your American passport must always be valid and you can renew it at the United States Embassy in Manila.
The permanent resident fee is $150 USD or the equal amount in pesos. The ACR I-Card is $50 or the equal amount in pesos.
There are a lot of “little” costs that can build up, not to mention fuel and toll fees. You can probably get everything done for less than $500 USD. I always recommend setting aside $1000 USD (in pesos), for fees I don’t know about and other added costs.
Edited and updated. Originally published in August 2013.