Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Applying for a Philippines Student Visa? Here are some tips!

Well, since I really found no help on the internet for Applying for a STUDENT VISA or any of the sort online, I thought that I would try to give my best advice on how to go about this. First of all, many of the requirements were recently cut out, which we foreigners should all rejoice at, as if we needed to jump through those hoops we would lose our minds!
Now, before continuing, the BEST way to go through this whole process is to have a Filipino friend who is familiar with how things work, or at least will be willing to do a lot of the talking for you. Honestly, you feel like a walking dollar sign coming towards people, who will eagerly take advantage of you.

So, what do you need to do, and were do you need to go? For me, the BIG 3 were the 1) NBI clearance 2) Bureau of Quarantine and 3) Clearance Certificate/NICA Clearance at the Bureau of Immigration.
Student Visa 6550.00 PHP
Visa Extension 3030.00 PHP ( if needed)
ACR Card 5600.00 PHP
Physical Exam( Bureau of Quar.) 950.00 PHP
NICA Check ( Bureau of Imm.) 1-2000 PHP

** Student Visa, Visa Extension, ACR have Express/Rush Fee included, because they didn't give me an option. It's just automatically included **
-General Fare for LRT is between 12 PHP for short distances, and 14 PHP for longer rides.
-DO YOURSELF A FAVOR have extra copies of your passport info page and last stamped page, as well as extra 2x2 pics!! They don't seem to care if the pics are very good, mine were all from a photo booth.
1) NBI Clearance:
If you are able to access the LRT than look for the Carriedo stop on LINE 1. When you exit the LRT station, look for ANDOKS chicken, when facing Andoks, turn left, and the NBI building is about the 5th building on your left. You'll see a little signs for it, but just look for the big lines and/or guards outside. Go up the escalators and you'll come into a big room, most likely with a ton of people. Get in the line and pay the 20 peso fee, which you NEED to do. From there, make your way to room 604. Once on the 5th floor, look for the back stairwell and go up one more floor. From there, you'll fill out some paperwork, and go all the way back down to STEP 1. This part is quite easy.....just follow the steps. Have some spare change to pay for the wet nap to wipe your fingers after they fingerprint you! (5 php). Finally, they'll tell you to come back a few days later! (
I'm assuming like any other service, if you pay under the table, they'll rush it. If not, they're a bunch of pricks, like they were for me and wouldn't even give it up a few hours early.) Try not to get overwhelmed as there's a lot of stuff going on around you. ALWAYS be conscious of your surroundings and pickpockets. ALSO just walk there. I took a trike, the guy tried to charge me 80 pesos for a 3 min walk from the station. It is really quite simple to do, but it's also time consuming depending on which day you go. I went early Monday morning, and it seemed like so did the rest of the city. I went back on a Thursday and Friday and the place had half the amount of people!

2) Bureau of Quarantine:
Again, if you can use the LRT than go one stop further to on LINE 1 at Central Station. If you're comfortable using jeepney's then use that, but a taxi is a safe bet. The easiest way to get there by taxi is to say you're going to HOTEL MANILA. You're actually going to the Bureau of Quarantine, but no one seems to know where that is. If you're looking at the front of HOTEL MANILA, you want to use the road to the right (You'll see a a set of traffic lights and SHAKEYS, take a left). So now you're on the road beside Hotel Manila. Walk straight. You'll think that you shouldn't keep going because you'll see concrete barriers, etc. KEEP GOING. Then on the RIGHT HAND SIDE lies the BUREAU OF QUARANTINE. MAKE SURE that when you enter, you Turn Right after the guard station. (
DO NOT go into the main building. I did, no one told me until it was too late. I waited in line with all Filipino men [should have been my first clue] so I asked one of the nurses if I was at the right place and showed her my sheet saying I needed a physical check-up. Of course she said yes, and the next thing you know I was getting a shot/needle and had to pay 1000 PHP! Then they decided to inform me they made a mistake and took me to the correct building. Again, this was all after I explained exactly why I was there. Quite convenient on their part...once in the correct building I was told that I had to pay an additional fee for the check-up. I argued it was their fault that I was in the wrong building, and the guy actually felt bad because the guards did not tell me which building to go to. I guess being a lone white foreigner doesn't really mean anything to a guard...I'm a regular I out of this ordeal, I wasted 1000 PHP...and this was actually only a short time after I had just payed off the official at the Bureau of Immigration![see below!] ). Once you're in this brick building they will want your PASSPORT AND 2 PHOTOS and you will pay a 950 PHP fee for the physical examination( TIP!! MAKE SURE to bring tissue!!!! You'll have to poop in a cup, and there is no ass-wipe provided! ). For me, they said to come back the following day, however, the fellow looked as if I would have paid him I could have had it later that day, but the boss was there. When you go back to pick up the documents, make sure they stamp/seal your passport page. GO back to where you got dropped off, as there are always taxi's waiting.

3) Bureau of Immigration:
IF you are getting a STUDENT VISA, and you are doing all of the running around( my university did this to me) then you are looking for a Clearance Certification/ NICA Clearance. Walk straight through the doors. Don't listen to the people outside, and proceed up the stairs. Go to the 3rd floor and turn left. On your Left Hand Side, you will see the window for NICA Clearance. Now, here is where you HAVE to be persistent. Tell them what you need, they will ask for one of the Notarized forms you should have filled. They will ask you to fill a small sheet, and then they will write a date for you to come back. For me, that date was 3 weeks later!! However, be dramatic, tell them you NEED it that day!! How can you please get it that day? . SELL YOURSELF. (
This happened to both myself and a Korean girl in the same situation. They then brought us into the office, one at a time, where we talked to the Supervisor. Again, sell your story of how you need the paper that day not 3 weeks later, as you'll most likely be kicked out of the country by then for overstaying your 21 day tourist visa. Once in the office, I asked if I paid could it be rushed. Once I was in the office of the Supervisor, they asked me why I needed the paper. They agreed and told me [by hand words used] to pay 1000 PHP, but the Supervisor wouldn't take the money. I had to give it to one of the lower level employees who was in the office as well. The boss wouldn't say anything about money, rather he just held up fingers and motioned who to give the money to and what to do! haha. Corruption at its finest!!
I'm not sure why I paid that much, because the Korean girl said she paid 2000 PHP. Either way, a few hours later I had the useless little paper and I was good to go.) As I said, If you are the one doing all of the running around, and/or your school isn't going to help in the process, then take your chances. I went to the Student Window on the main floor, inside the building, and the guy behind the counter offered me to rush the process if I paid him a fee. I declined because I did not have my documents, but it is very likely that even the lower level employees are looking to cut deals on the side.
* DON"T be afraid to mention MONEY. Just play stupid and ask if there's any way to make it go quicker or who do you have to talk to! Believe me, it's a pain in the ass to continuously have to return to these places! *
**IF you are getting a VISA EXTENSION, it's actually really easy and quick. Most countries have an automatic 21 day Tourist VISA, however, if you are going to go over this amount of allotted days, than do this while you're at the Bureau of Immigration. Make sure you have you're passport and a photocopy of your info page and the last stamp you have. You can pick up a form at the desk immediately in front of you as you enter the building. Fill this out, along with your photocopy and passport. It should take a few minutes, then you go pay a 3030 PHP fee, go back to the original window, wait about an hour, and you're DONE!
Tip: the earlier you go the better. It gets crowded and crazy at about 10am **
*** IF you need something to be notarized then there are Notary Publics at both the NBI building and Bureau of Immigration, however, I have no idea how much they charge. It should be no more than 100-200 PHP, as per normal***

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