From Madras to Manila

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Overstaying in Philippines

Someone Sandi knows discovered last week that he had inadvertently overstayed his visa. While such an occurrence may be difficult to imagine in many other countries, it is as easy as falling off a log here in Philippines.

[Just to clarify, I meant that overstaying is easy in Philippines. Falling off a log is, of course, easy everywhere.]

The reason of course is that the visa is a fairly innocuous looking document that, at first glance, benevolently bestows on the bearer a three month validity. This illusion holds even at the second, third and fourth glances until you discover otherwise on some sunny day when, faced with a lack of reading material, you feel the urge to read every inch of the visa page. There, winking at you in plain view in the bottom 1/8 inch of the page, is the following ephithet:

authorized stay not to exceed 21 days

This clear, legible message is further highlighted by means of a signature directly over the number 21. Who could miss it?

The Men In Black Phenomenon

Of course, the chances of ones visa page being elevated to the status of 'reading material' are usually remote and hence such urges usually occur only in designated spots around the world. Such spots are called 'airports' for ease of identification and the urge is usually at its highest when you are second in line at the immigration counter.

[After extensive study of this 'last-minute' phenomenon, scientists have concluded that this is a modern manifestation of primeal survival instincts, which kick in just in time for you to avoid having the same happen to your private parts]

Having been thus unceremoniously transformed from an innocent and welcome 'tourist' to a dreaded and fearsome 'illegal alien' like some sort of a minor character in MIB, you flee from the airport, leaving your baggage to be removed from the airplane by Anti-Bomb squads while 300 fellow passengers thank God for a narrow escape.

[Three of them, resolving never to take a flight again, will set off for home, undergoing a treacherous and painful land journey during which they will be beset by thieves, chased by wild dogs and nearly run over by speeding vehicles while remaining in the constant misery of having a full bladder and nowhere to relieve themselves. And all this even before they leave Pasay City!]

At this point, you might feel unloved and unwanted but you could not be more mistaken. While the former might be true, the latter is certainly not. You are most certainly wanted by at least eight different authorities in Philippines alone, not to mention several international oganizations.

But Don't Be Afraid

There is a solution. And it is one part nitric acid mixed with three parts hydrochloric acid, a combination that is rumoured to dissolve gold. Nobody really knows the practical value of this discovery though, especially when related to visas.

The practical solution in this case is to have your visa extended, something you should have ideally done before overstaying but you can still make amends by paying a fine.

The procedure is simple - apply for an extension and pay the required fees and voila! In one to seven days (depending on your nationality and on whether you opt for express processing) you will have an extension of 30 days on your visa, starting the date it expired.

The fees are as below:
- Monthly Extension Application Fee: P 300
- Monthly Extension Fee: P 500
- Motion for Reconsideration: P 500
- Penalty for Overstaying: P 500 (this is applicable only in case you've overstayed)
- Legal Research Fee: P 30
- Express Processing: P 500 (in case you want your extension processed faster than normal)

In practice, it is also better to have someone familiar with the office go along with you in order to expedite the process. You could even get an immigration lawyer to handle the whole process for you and you need not even be present in person.

Once the visa is regularised, you are in the clear and need not worry any further. You are no longer persona non grata and are off the wanted lists, unless of course you have some other criminal activity to your credit.

But in that case, a visa extension is the least of your problems, I guess.


  • Well written and informative! I am in a similiar predicament now in 2008. Wonder what the fee prices are now. I've been told to just go and bribe the officials and weighing the other option of paying for extention and overstay fees.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:30 AM  

  • I overstayed in Cebu for 20 days on my 59 days and the guy said it was 1000 pesos...I said I read online it's only 500 so not sure if he was trying to scam me!!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:20 PM  

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