Expats Guide: Becoming a Filipino Citizen

expat living becoming filipino citizen
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A citizenship is something someone is very proud of as this means certainty of membership in a community, political society and of course, the state. Citizenship is defined as the “state of being vested with the rights, privileges, and duties of a citizen,” who is “a native or naturalized member of a state or other political community.”

There are foreigners who desire to apply for Filipino citizenship. This article will give details on what are the ways of legally becoming a Filipino Citizen.

Under Philippine Nationality Law, there are three bases on how to become a Filipino citizen:

1)  By Birth (Jus soli) – means that you’re an automatic Filipino citizen if you were born in Philippines soil or territory.

2) By Blood (Jus sanguinis) – means that you’re a Filipino citizen at birth by virtue of the nationality of your parent(s) (mother or father) who are Filipinos.

3) By Naturalization – means that under the Bureau of Immigration of the Philippines, a judicial act is done to adopt a foreigner and clothe him with the privileges of a native-born citizen. This also means that the foreigner will renounce his former nationality during the process.

 

Naturalization is the best option for foreigners who wanted to become Filipino Citizens. Under the Revised Naturalization Law of the Philippines (Commonwealth Act No. 473), these are the requirements that applicants or petitioners must comply:

  • Must not be less than 21 years of age on the day of the hearing of the petition;
  • Must have resided in the Philippines for a continuous period of not less than 10 years;
  • Must be of good moral character and believes in the principles underlying the Philippine Constitution, and must have conducted himself in a proper and irreproachable manner during the entire period of his residence in the Philippines in his relation with the constituted government as well as with the community in which he is living;
  • Must own real estate in the Philippines worth not less than P5,000, Philippine currency, or must have some known lucrative trade, profession, or lawful occupation;
  • Must be able to speak or write English or Spanish or anyone of the principal languages;
  • Must have enrolled his minor children of school age in any of the public or private schools recognized by the Bureau of Public Schools of the Philippines where Philippine history, government and civics are taught or prescribed as part of the school curriculum, during the entire period of the residence in the Philippines required of him prior to the hearing of the petition for naturalization as Philippine citizen.

However, under Section of 4 of the Revised Naturalization Law, the following persons cannot qualify for Filipino citizenship:

  • Persons opposed to organized government or affiliated with any association or group of persons who uphold and teach doctrines opposing all organized governments;
  • Persons defending or teaching the necessity or propriety of violence, personal assault, or assassination for the success and predominance of their ideas;
  • Polygamists or believers in the practice of polygamy;
  • Persons convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude;
  • Persons suffering from mental alienation or incurable contagious diseases;
  • Persons who during the period of their stay in the Philippines, have not mingled socially with the Filipinos, or who have not evinced a sincere desire to learn and embrace the customs, traditions, and ideals of the Filipinos;
  • Citizens or subjects of nations with whom the Philippines is at war;
  • Citizens or subjects of a foreign country other than the United States, whose laws do not grant Filipinos the right to become naturalized citizens or subject thereof.”

 

The routes of becoming a Filipino citizen:

1) The courts – if you are a foreigner who has married a Filipino then a judicial process will allow you to become a Filipino citizen.

2) The Office of the Solicitor General – the OSG has the power to approve petitions for naturalization. The processing fee is around P40, 000 or $800.

3) An act of congress – if you have made a significant contribution to public life in the Philippines, your application to become naturalized can be sponsored by a senator or congressman.

 

Philippine Citizenship through Marriage?

Many foreigners assume that marrying a Filipina will automatically entitle them a Filipino citizenship by virtue of their marriage. This is definitely wrong. Just like a Filipina marrying a US citizen for example, she does not automatically become a US citizen because of their marriage. The only advantage on this is that you are lessening the required number of years before you can apply.

As part of the requisites of Revised Naturalization Law mentioned above, you must live in the Philippines for 10 continuous years. And because you married a Filipino citizen, you only have to do so in 5 continuous years before you can apply.

However, this comes with a disadvantage. Under the Philippine law, you shall renounce your current citizenship as part of your Filipino citizenship application process. And most of the times, it is hard for foreigners, depending on your country’s laws, to re-acquire your citizenship.

 

Other Special Qualifications

Aside from being married to a Filipino man or woman, the ten years continuous residence shall be reduced to five years to petitioners having the following qualifications:

  • Having honorably held office under the Government of the Philippines or under that of any of the provinces, cities, municipalities, or political subdivisions thereof;
  • Having established a new industry or introduced a useful invention in the Philippines;
  • Having been engaged as a teacher in the Philippines in a public or recognized private school not established for the exclusive instruction of children of persons of a particular nationality or race, in any of the branches of education or industry for a period of not less than two years;
  • Having been born in the Philippines.

 

Petition for Citizenship

Applicants or petitioners wanting to acquire Philippine citizenship shall file with the Special Committee on Naturalization which is composed of Solicitor General as chairman, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, or his representative, and the National Security Adviser as members, a petition of five copies legibly typed and signed, thumb-marked and verified by the applicant, with the latter’s passport-sized photograph attached to each copy of the petition, and setting forth the following:

a) The petitioner’s name and surname, and any other name he/she has used or by which he/she is known;

b) The petitioner’s present and former places of residence;

c) The petitioner’s place and date of birth, the names and citizenship of his/her parents and their residences;

d) The petitioner’s trade, business, profession or occupation, and if married, also that of his/her spouse;

e) Whether the petitioner is single or married or his/her marriage is annulled. If married, petitioner shall state the date and place of his/her marriage, and the name, date of birth, birthplace, citizenship and residence of his/her spouse; and if his marriage is annulled, the date of decree of annulment of marriage and the court which granted the same;

f) If the petitioner has children, the name, date and birthplace and residences of his/her children;

g) A declaration that the petitioner possesses all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications under this Act;

h) A declaration that the petitioner shall never be a public charge; and

i) A declaration that it is the petitioner’s true and honest intention to acquire Philippine citizenship and to renounce absolutely and forever any prince, potentate, State or sovereign, and particularly the country of which the applicant is a citizen or subject.

Along with this, the application shall be accompanied by:

a) Duplicate original or certified photocopies of petitioner’s birth certificate;

b) Duplicate original or certified photocopies of petitioner’s alien certificate of registration and native born certificate of residence;

c) Duplicate original or certified photocopies of petitioner’s marriage certified, if married, or the death certificate of his spouse, if widowed, or the court decree annulling his marriage, if such was the fact;

d) Duplicate original or certified photocopies of birth certificates, alien certificate of registration or native born certificate of residence if any, of petitioner’s minor children, wherever applicable;

e) Affidavit of financial capacity by the petitioner, and sworn statements on the good moral character of the petitioner by at least two (2) Filipino citizens of good reputation in his/her place of residence stating that they have personally known the petitioner for at least a period of ten (10) years and that said petitioner has in their own opinion all the qualifications necessary to become a citizen of the Philippines and is not in any way disqualified under the provisions of this Act;

f) A medical certificate that petitioner is not a user of prohibited drugs or otherwise a drug dependent and that he/she is not afflicted with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS);

g) School diploma and transcript of records of the petitioner in the schools he attended in the Philippines. Should the petitioner have minor children, a certification that his children are enrolled in a school where Philippine history, government and civics are taught and are part of the curriculum; and

h) If gainfully employed, the income tax return for the past three (3) years.

 

Competent court

The exclusive jurisdiction to hear the petition is the Court of First Instance of the province in which the applicant / petitioner has resided at least one year immediately preceding the filing of the petition.

 

Guidelines during the Hearing of the petition

  • No hearing of petitions within thirty days preceding any election.
  • Hearing of petitions shall be made public, and the Solicitor-General, either himself or through his delegate or the provincial fiscal concerned, shall appear on behalf of the Commonwealth of the Philippines at all the proceedings and at the hearing.
  • If, after the hearing, the court believes, in view of the evidence taken, that the petitioner has all the qualifications required by, and none of the disqualifications specified above, and has fully complied with all requisites, it shall order the proper naturalization certificate to be issued and the registration of the said naturalization certificate in the proper civil registry as required by the law.

 

Decree of Naturalization and Naturalization Processing Fee

Within 30 days from the receipt of the notice of the approval of his/her petition, the applicant shall pay to the Special Committee on Naturalization a naturalization fee of One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) payable as follows: Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) upon the approval of the petition and Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) upon the taking of the oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, forthwith, a certificate of naturalization shall be issued.

Within 60 days from the issuance of the certificate, the petitioner shall take an Oath of Allegiance in the proper forum upon proof of payment of the required naturalization processing fee and certificate of naturalization.

If the applicant fails to take the Oath of Allegiance within the required period of time, this makes the approval of the petition deemed abandoned.

 

Effect of the naturalization on wife and children

  • Any woman who is now or may hereafter be married to a citizen of the Philippines, and who might herself be lawfully naturalized shall be deemed a citizen of the Philippines.
  • Minor children of persons naturalized under this law who have been born in the Philippines shall be considered citizens thereof.
  • A foreign-born minor child, if dwelling in the Philippines at the time of the naturalization of the parent, shall automatically become a Philippine citizen, and a foreign-born minor child, who is not in the Philippines at the time the parent is naturalized, shall be deemed a Philippine citizen only during his minority, unless he begins to reside permanently in the Philippines when still a minor, in which case, he will continue to be a Philippine citizen even after becoming of age.
  • A child born outside of the Philippines after the naturalization of his parent shall be considered a Philippine citizen, unless within one year after reaching the age of majority, he fails to register himself as a Philippine citizen at the American Consulate of the country where he resides, and to take the necessary oath of allegiance.

 

Conclusion

As many Filipinos would want to give up their citizenship in exchange of another one, all the while many foreigners dreamed of having a Filipino citizenship. A great irony it is!

The process of becoming a Filipino citizen may be expensive and tedious but if you’re really determined of becoming a Filipino citizen – experiencing the full rights and privileges of a citizen as well as its culture and tradition without stay restrictions – then the whole process and waiting period will be worth it.

 

 

Sources:
http://www.chanrobles.com/commonwealthactno473.html#.WoTvioNubDc
http://askthepinoy.blogspot.com/2011/01/feature-post-what-are-pros-and-cons-of.html
https://www.slideshare.net/rizieljoanne/citizenship-23372651
http://www.lawphil.net/statutes/repacts/ra2001/ra_9139_2001.html

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