To those who are first-timers here in our blog, I would like you to know that as of this writing, me and my American-citizen husband have been married for four years now. Ralph, my husband, is already a permanent resident visa holder which gives him the privilege to stay as long as he desires provided he does not fail to comply with the Philippine Bureau of Immigration’s Annual Check In. So far, up until this year, the annual reporting process has been smooth but the change of leadership in the bureau somewhat complicated the method this year.
We went to Bacolod satellite office last January 6, 2014 to do the report but we were surprised to find it jam-packed with foreigners, some were there together with their spouses while some were on their own. I say that it was surprising because normally, when we do the annual check in, we would only find two, sometimes three, people. This year however, besides the flock of people gathering outside the office, the inside contained a long line of foreigners and the usually empty chairs were filled with people who have already been attended to but were just waiting for something from the staff. Because I am not used to being around a huge crowd, I let Ralph fall in line on his own and decided to wait outside. When the guard saw him in the line, the guard steered him out and pointed to a paper that was posted outside the office wall.
Apparently, there was a change in the way the Annual reporting is done. The paper simply stated that each foreign national should submit an application form (which is weird because what’s the point of the application form when Ralph is already a permanent resident. What is the form applying him for?) After reading, I asked the guard where we can get such form but he took Ralph back to the line he fell in. I found it dramatic that they can’t just hand us the form. The guard said that after the staff gives Ralph the form, the staff will be providing him with instructions.
The instructions, which I later knew about, were simply informing him that Ralph needs to submit the form to the office which is authorized to receive it; one that has an I-Card reader because apparently, Bacolod satellite office doesn’t. The nearest branch that they suggested is in Iloilo. It is another province which we can only get to by ferry. Naturally, as if we have a choice, we went to Iloilo a week after. The whole travel was horrible because of the huge wave that rocks the ferry so hard we kept thinking the ferry was going to capsize.
Needless to say, we survived the whole travel dilemma. When we got to Iloilo Bureau of Immigration which was just walking distance from the port, there weren’t a lot of people, something that was a relief for me. I already procured all the important documents that Ralph needed for the Annual report back home. I didn’t let him do anything except sign it. I also made sure he had enough 2×2 pictures with white background in case the staff would ask for an extra. That is why I couldn’t help but get annoyed when I found a couple of foreigners there who seemed to be at a loss for what to do when they were asked for the picture, the notary etc. Most of them were senior citizens already and Ralph was the youngest (my husband is only turning 37 this March, 2014). Their wives were just sitting pretty in the chair texting, twirling their hair and what not. I’m like, come on! This is the simplest thing you can help your spouse with and you’re letting him do all the paper work? Be useful at least!
To those who just recently married a foreign national who wants to stay in the Philippines for good, make sure you check the Bureau of Immigration’s website for any changes regarding the process of annual reporting. Make sure you update your husband’s photos needed for any paperworks because the bureau only wants photos taken within the past 15 days.