A Visit to Philippine Bureau of Immigration


Expats living in the Philippines, without a resident visa, must get their visa extended every 59 days.  I usually try to stay clear of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) just to make sure no one upsets me and I respond by saying something I shouldn’t have.  Today’s visit to BI was a perfect example.  Well, I would have never done what this expat did.  What he did was next to insanity.

Today, a guy in Mandaue City, Philippines, was at BI trying to get his exit clearance which requires a 2*2 inch picture.  He had only a 1*1 photo and the BI officer told him she needed a 2*2.  He responded with “its all I have” in a raised and disgusted voice.  The officer continue to tell him that she had to have a 2*2 and continued to insist he did not have it.  Soon the officer told him not to raise his voice to her and the expat asked “Why not?”  She reminded him he was in immigration to which he said “So what?”  Not a smart move on his part.  Her reply was “I will deport you if you continue.”

Now he understood! He replied with asking where he could get the required picture.  She told him and he left. He was on the verge of getting thrown in the Mandaue Immigration Jail!  The exit certification he was attempting to get is required after an extended stay in the Philippines.  The point being, if you have been here that long you should already know better.  Based on the way this guy was acting at BI, I’d guess his time here will be limited.

I’ve heard other stories about pushy Americans in BI, often over the BI dress code.  This guy took rudeness to a new level!  Its a lesson in how to get thrown out of and blacklisted from ever returning to the Philippines.

When you go to BI, you need to dress in shirt (not t-shirt) and long pants.  Also flip-flops are not allowed, you need to wear regular shoes. If you do that, you should meet their dress code.  But always be respectful to all BI employees.  Be on your best behavior.  I usually hire an agent to handle my extensions just to be on the safe side.  The cost is about an extra P500 to P1000 or $ 10 to $ 20 USD.

On a side note, when I went to Bangkok a couple of weeks ago I walked up to  the immigration window on my way out of the country.  The woman was behind a glass that had only a small opening to slide your papers through.  I don’t remember even that but there must have been something or I could not have given her my passport.  The area is huge, with high ceilings and is noisy.  Lots of echoes.  She told me something but I could not hear her.  When you can not hear someone, most of us will raise our voice and after I walked away, I realized I had.  She kept talking and I couldn’t hear her and she made no effort to help me.  Very frustrating.  I guess she realized I could  not hear though or it could have gone badly for me.