Friday, May 2, 2014

The Choreography of Reacquiring Philippine Citizenship

When my wife Lydia regained her Philippine citizenship last week. she had a motivation in doing so that I wasn't aware of:  an end to the alienation that she had felt in living here for nine years without the full empowerment that comes with the privilege of being a full member of the society in which she was born and raised.  So in taking this step Lydia not only helped to resolve my visa issue, but she regained the rights that accompany citizenship and, equally important, peace of mind.  

As I mentioned in my last post, reacquisition of Philippine citizenship and thus becoming a dual citizen in the process is on the whole not a difficult procedure and may take only one trip to the Bureau of Immigration to complete. But applicants have to make sure that they dot their i's and cross their t's. And as in any instance in dealing with a government office, "expect the unexpected".   For example, Lydia originally completed the application form  for reacquisition  of citizenship (BI Form MCL-08-01)  that she picked up from the BI in March. She properly completed it at home,  had it notarized as required, and presented it along with the necessary supporting documents to Immigration for approval on April 23, only to be informed that the application form  had been revised in the meantime.. So she would have to fill out a new app, (BI Form 2014 01 005 Rev 0) (legal size).  Further, the requisite photos of herself that she brought along were also invalid  as the requirement for their size and background color had also been changed.  The other problem was with one of her supporting docs: proof of her naturalization by a foreign government: The BI officer who reviewed her papers deemed it to be inadequate. Fortunately, Lydia was able to correct all these problems during that one visit.  But it was very stressful to be blindsided this way. 

So for those interested in regaining their Philippine citizenship, in addition to the above  Bureau of Immigration form, click here for the latest list of necessary supporting docs. Once you've finished the paperwork, assembled the file, and are ready to bring it to the BI in Intramuros, Manila, here is the "dance" you will likely have to do on arrival. I call it the "reacquisition shuffle:" But first a reminder: In almost any dealings with the BI, it's essential that you arrive there early in the day, preferably before 7:00 a.m. You snooze, you lose.

Present your completed file to the  Public Information Assistance Unit which is located on the first floor directly across from the building entrance. An agent there will scan your papers to ensure that you have the right forms. You can also pick up blank forms there as well.

Proceed to Window 14 where your application and supporting documents will be examined in depth.

If all is in order, you will be sent to the legal department on the 4th floor where a Bureau of Immigration attorney will administer the oath-taking.

After the oath-taking, return to Window 14 where the clerk will check your file for the attorney's endorsement.

Proceed to Window 15  where  your file will be reviewed for final approval.

After this authorization, go to the cashier at Window 21 and pay the P3,010 fee (ouch!)

Return to  Window 15  and  present  your  receipt for proof of payment.

You will then be directed to the "Air 21" Desk (not to be confused with the BI Cashier Window 21) where you will  pay a P100.00 delivery fee. The clerk will hand you a receipt with a tracking number and a delivery bag bearing your name and address. This is the envelope in which your approval for dual citizenship  will be sent to you within 30 days.

Take this envelope back to Window 15 and give it to the clerk. This is the final step in the "acquisition shuffle". Take a bow for your performance. You've earned it.