In 2003, the Philippines government passed a law which grants its naturally born citizens who lost their citizenship through naturalization in a foreign country the opportunity to re-acquire their Philippines citizenship.
Getting dual citizenship under this program offers numerous advantages to both the Filipino and his/her entire family.
1. One who re-acquires Filipino citizenship can vote in elections in the Philippines.
2. One can own real property
3. One can practice his/her profession
4. One can own and operate a business
5. The citizen’s spouse can get an immigrant visa that entitles him/her to permanently reside in the Philippines – come and go, avoid exit clearances, entry fees, etc.
Ownership of real property is a significant advantage, as existing law in the Philippines restricts ownership of real property to its own citizens. Although a foreigner is permitted to take title to a condominium, he/she cannot take title to real property (land and a house). A foreigner can lease land from a Filipino and then take ownership of a house on the land, but this type of transaction is extremely rare in the Philippines. Thus, through re-acquisition of his/her Philippine citizenship, the Filipino is once again able to purchase real property, with no restrictions.
For those wanting to retire to the Philippines, the ability to run a small business or practice one’s profession is a strong benefit. Through dual citizenship, retirement in the Philippines can be the start of a new chapter in one’s life, as a business person or a professional. Ownership of business as a sole proprietor or as a wholly owned corporation is severely restricted, unless a foreigner makes a significant investment ($200,000 as a minimum).
Without citizenship, a foreigner wishing to operate a business in the Philippines is limited to forming a corporation, of which he/she can only own a 40% interest. As a dual citizen, the Filipino re-acquires the right to wholly own his/her business. Thus, a foreigner married to a Filipino with dual citizenship can take 40% ownership of a business and keep it in the family by his/her dual citizenship spouse taking the remaining 60% ownership.
Other than being in an immigrant status, there is only one way a person carrying a foreign passport can reside in the Philippines for any significant amount of time, and even then it requires the foreigner to be married to a “Balikbayan” (a returning Filipino who was born in the Philippines). A Balikbayan and his/her spouse can visit and reside in the Philippines for up to one year, after which they must exit the country, and then re-enter should they wish to stay another year. This must be repeated on an annual basis
Balikbayan status is not an immigrant status, but rather a special non-immigrant visa status. Yes, one can enter without a visa and stay for a maximum of 21 days, and then get a renewal for another 38 days, followed by two month extensions for about USD $100 per extension, up to a maximum of one year. There is also a special retiree visa program permitting unlimited stay status, but it does not permit real property or business ownership.
There are only two ways for a foreigner to be registered as a non-quota immigrant and those are (i) be the spouse of a Filipino citizen who was never became a citizen of a foreign country, or (ii) be the spouse of a former Filipino citizen who has re-acquired his/her citizenship by obtaining a dual citizenship status. If desired, the door is open after 5 years residency for the foreigner to also obtain dual citizenship.
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