Sunday, January 19, 2014

My Annual Report Filing: An Unexpected Twist

My wife Lydia and I arrived at the Bureau of Immigration on Wednesday at about 6:40 a.m. and there were already  several people ahead of us. The doors opened promptly at 7a.m. By then the queue of course was longer. At about that time a security guard directed annual report filers to the guidance area for help in completing their forms. That's where we should have gone right away, but due to miscommunicated instructions, we thought we didn't have to do so because we had already filled out our papers. 

But once we finally got properly situated in the AR interview area, it took about an hour including waiting time, which might have been less had we gone to that section immediately. Actually, it took even longer for us to assemble and photocopy the required supporting docs (I-card and passport validation page copies, etc)  in the days before the annual report, not to mention the expenses involved, including the notary service fee of P200.00 for each of us . The good thing is that completing that package and having it ready for review before we got there saved a lot of time.

Once the examiner approves the annual report form, there  are  two more stops  to make where another examiner who gives the approved forms a quick  once-over before sending you to the cashier. After the P310 payment, you're done. Be sure to hang on to the receipt as you'll likely need that for next year's AR. 

The unwelcome surprise that I received is that the original examiner determined that there was an error in my permanent resident visa, specifically that it's supposedly the wrong kind.  However,  rather than hold me up for possibly several more hours to get the issue straightened out that day,  he logged the matter and signed off on  my annual report with the understanding that I would address the visa situation ASAP.  The strange thing is that I got the visa in 2005 but it took Immigration nine years to determine that something was amiss(?).

So I returned to the BI on Friday and proceeded to the visa section. I explained my predicament to the clerk, who  took my passport I-card, and the documents accompanying my annual review  inside the office where she evidently conferred with her supervisor.  She returned a short while later with the good news that as far as that department was concerned, there was  no discrepancy in my visa after all. This was because of a technicality that the annual report examiner hadn't considered in his status evaluation. So I sent a notice relaying that outcome  to him.

Yet  I wonder whether he will let it go at that as during the initial interview, he was very insistent in his position.  I only hope that he doesn't pursue the matter further.  The last thing that any expat needs is to get ensnarled with Immigration in a bureaucratic hassle stemming from circumstances that were not of his /her making in the first place.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The New Annual Report: Ouch!

In years past I've written posts regarding the annual report, which is a yearly registration and head tax that runs from early January to early March and  with which most aliens residing in the Philippines must comply. Until a few years ago, this used to be a complex procedure but was then revised and made more user friendly.  During this time, the only requirements  were that applicants show up at  the BI main headquarters or district offices and present their I-card, the previous year's annual report payment receipt,  a copy of their  passport validation page, and a P310 fee. Seniors were exempted from having to appear and instead were allowed to  have a 3rd party present their data and complete the filing in their behalf.  

However, effective this January, some radical changes have been  instituted by the new Bureau of Immigration commissioner that have once again made  completing the  annual report more difficult than in quite some time. The rationale behind this revamping is supposedly a need to clear out the dead wood of improper and fraudulent registrations and to modernize the BI's records.  Yet when the biometric I-card was introduced by Immigration around 2008, its  purpose was to prevent these very problems and  others which had been prevalent under the old ACR/ICR paper filing system.

Here is a list of items necessary for filers to complete the AR
  •   The 4 page form which must be filled out beforehand and notarized, complete with thumbprints.
  •   The filer's I-card plus 2 photocopies , one side of the card on the front and the other on the back         of the page..
  •   2 copies of the filer's passport validation page and date of last arrival in the Philippines page. It's         also a good idea to bring the passport itself.  If it was renewed in the Philippines, bring the expired       one as well. Annual report evaluators sometimes want additional data from this source.
  •  1 photocopy of the  visa page in your passport. Again, if the visa is in an old passport, bring it along with your new one.  
  •  Last year's annual report payment receipt.  
  •  Two 2" x 2" photos of the filer taken in the last 30 days (bring a dated receipt).
  •  Review  the form for  further information, such as instructions that are particular to the filer's particular situation
Arrive early. At the Immigration headquarters in Intramuros, Manila, the doors open at 7:00, and queues start forming around 6:30. Naturally, the later you show up, there will be more people ahead of you and the  longer the process will take. BTW Seniors are no longer exempted from appearing, but they will receive priority service.

For those who plan to execute the filing at a BI branch office, call there first to ensure that they are equipped to deal with this new procedure.  Click here for a list of Immigration branch offices and their phone numbers.

In my next post, I will discuss my personal experience in filing the new AR.