• New In-Person Registration Program for Foreign Nationals
  • October 31, 2014
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • The Philippine Bureau of Immigration has announced that it will implement a new Alien Registration Program (ARP) which aims to register foreign nationals and update the Bureau’s database.

    Foreign nationals have long had to register for and maintain a valid Alien Certificate of Registration identity card (ACR I-Card). The number of registered foreign nationals will increase under the program.

    Registration is currently voluntary, but will become mandatory for certain categories of foreign nationals at an undetermined time. However, registration is already mandatory for departing foreign nationals who are required to obtain an Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC). They must register for the ARP to be able to leave the Philippines.

    Who Will Be Required to Register Under the ARP?

    When the ARP becomes mandatory, certain foreign nationals will be required to register in person, including temporary visitors (9(a) visa holders) staying for more than 59 days, and holders of certain long-term visas (such as 9(g) Pre-arranged Employment, 9(d) Treaty Trader, and Section 13 Immigrant visas) whose ACR I-Cards have expired.

    The foreign nationals mentioned above will eventually be required to register by September 30, 2015, but at this time, registration for them is voluntary.

    Who Is Not Obligated to Register?

    For foreign nationals exempt from obtaining the ACR I-Card - including holders of Regional Operating Headquarters and 47(a)(2) Special Non-immigrant work and dependent visa holders - ARP registration is voluntary.

    ARP registration is also voluntary for foreign nationals who already hold valid ACR I-Cards. However, if the ACR I-Card does not contain a Social Security Registration Number (SSRN), the holder may find it useful to replace the card in order to facilitate future transactions with the Bureau. Newly approved holders of ACR I-Cards will automatically be issued an ACR I-Card with SSRN.

    Foreign nationals who wish to register must do so by September 30, 2015.

    How to Register

    To register, foreign nationals must appear at a participating Bureau office for biometrics capture and to obtain an ACR I-card with SSRN. Applicants must bring a completed application form and valid identification, such as a passport or ACR I-Card (even if expired). Applicants may receive the SSRN the day they apply, but the ACR I-card with SSRN will be mailed.

    What This Means for Foreign Nationals

    Foreign nationals should be aware that the ARP is likely to become mandatory for many in the future. When it does, most foreign nationals staying 60 days or longer in the Philippines will need to register with a Bureau office to avoid penalties.