Global Client Alerts


New Special Work Permits Now Required For Each Entry; Alien Certificate of Registration Card to be Required for Additional Categories of Foreign Nationals
December 21, 2009

Recently, the Philippines implemented significant policy changes affecting foreign nationals on short-term stays or temporary assignments.

New Special Work Permits Now Required For Each Entry

Effective immediately, Special Work Permits (SWPs) are valid only for the duration of the holder’s current stay and are automatically canceled upon departure from the Philippines. Individuals returning either to resume an assignment or to commence a new one must apply for a new SWP after re-entry, provided that the total project or assignment period does not exceed six months. Previously, a SWP remained valid regardless of the number of foreign trips that the holder made within its validity period.

SWPs will generally continue to be issued for a period of three months, with an extension of three months possible. However, the Bureau of Immigration, in its discretion, may issue a SWP for the specific term indicated in the applicant’s assignment letter. In no case will a SWP’s validity period exceed six months.

The Bureau has advised that certain cases may be granted an exception from this new policy. However, the Bureau has not issued guidelines for how to obtain an exception and will evaluate exception applications on a discretionary and case-to-case basis.

Alien Certificate of Registration Card to be Required for Additional Categories of Foreign Nationals

The following categories of foreign nationals will soon be required to obtain the biometric Alien Certificate of Registration identity card (ACR I-card), according to a recent Memorandum Circular from the Bureau of Immigration:

  • Business visitors and tourists who were permitted a stay of 59 days, including extensions, and who are seeking to extend their authorized stay;
  • Special Work Permit holders, regardless of length of stay; and
  • Special Study Permit holders, regardless of length of stay.

Note that foreign athletes and performing artists who require an SWP but whose stays do not exceed 59 days, are exempt from the ACR I-card requirement.

The expansion of the ACR I-card program is expected to be implemented in January 2010. The Bureau is also expected to release additional details on the implementation of the ACR I-cards for these new categories of foreign nationals at that time. In the meantime, the entry requirements for these groups continue as they are now. They generally must provide a passport valid for at least six months; a return or onward air ticket; and, in the case of visa nationals, an entry visa issued by a Philippine embassy or consulate.

Holders of the following visa types will continue to require an ACR I-card: 9(d); 9(g); 9(f); 13; 47(a)(2) (Board of Investments); Special Investor’s Resident Visa; and Special Visa for Employment Generation.

Holders of the following visa types will continue to be exempt from the ACR I-card requirement: 47(a)(2) (Philippine Export Zone Authority); Regional Operating Headquarters; Special Resident Retiree’s Visa; and other visa types as may be expressly exempted by law.

Fragomen is closely monitoring these developments and will provide updates as they become available.

In preparing this alert, Fragomen worked closely with Buan & Temprosa Law Offices in Manila, Philippines. The content of this alert is provided for informational purposes only.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen Global Immigration Services or send an email to .