What is the change? The Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration (BI) has introduced an Alien Registration Project to register all foreigners, capture their biometric data and issue them a special security registration number.

What does the change mean? The program is voluntary at this time, despite an initial announcement that it will be mandatory.

  • Implementation timeframe: Registration of foreigners is being conducted Oct. 1, 2014 to Sept. 30, 2015 at the Bureau’s regional offices.
  • Visas/permits affected: The program affects many foreign nationals and particularly 9(a) tourist extension and Special Work Permit applicants who must appear in person at the time of application.
  • Who is affected: All foreign nationals staying 60 days or more.
  • Impact on processing times: No direct impact.
  • Business impact: The Bureau will be better able to track foreign workers and maintain updated records of all foreign nationals in the Philippines.
  • Next steps: All foreign nationals should plan to register with a Bureau office and attend a biometrics appointment where their photo and fingerprints will be taken.

Background: The Alien Registration Project will change the process for 9(a) tourist visa holders who seek an extension beyond 59 days, as well as for Special Work Permit holders. Both of these visas did not previously require in-person appearances, but now will include a biometrics appointment when they apply for an Alien Certificate of Registration Identity Card (ACR I-Card).

Foreign nationals exempt from registration include:

  • 9(g) visa holders, who were required to provide biometrics at the time of applications; they will register under the Alien Registration Project when they renew their ACR I-Cards.
  • Special Non-Immigrant 47(a)(2) Visa holders
  • Multiple Entry Special Visa holders
  • Those with valid ACRI-Cards (other than tourist ACR I-Card)
  • Tourists whose stay does not exceed 59 days.

To register under the Alien Registration Project, foreign nationals must download an application form, submit it along with identification at a Bureau office, sit for fingerprints and photo to be encoded in the agency’s database, and pay government fees of US $50 for a new ACR I-Card (or US $20 for re-issuance of an ACR I-Card). Registrants will obtain a special security registration number the same day and their ACR I-Card will be mailed to them.

BAL Analysis: Foreign nationals are on notice that the Alien Registration Project has begun and that it is likely to become mandatory. The Bureau’s initial announcement not only mandated registration but said that failure to register would result in monetary penalties or arrest and deportation of individuals found in violation of immigration laws. It later announced that registration will be voluntary during the rollout so the systems can handle the high volume.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in the Philippines. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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