Philippine Citizenship – How to become a Filipino Citizen if Foreigner

Because it was Independence Day on the 12th, I am inspired to post about this topic. How to become a citizen of the Philippines if you are a foreigner? Perhaps you are an American or Canadian, or British or Japanese or Korean or Australian and you decided to get Philippine citizenship for some reasons. This post is for you.

There are millions of Filipinos who want to migrate to other countries and decide to leave their citizenship and adopt the new ones or decide to have dual citizenship; however, there are some foreigners who want to become Filipino citizens. If they meet the requirements, they will be granted the citizenship. The most common way to get this is through Naturalization.

Before we give the ways on how to get Philippine citizenship, let us first discuss who the citizens of the Philippines are and how to become a Filipino.

become philippine citizen if foreigner

CC BY Gian Cayetano Flickr photostream

Philippine Citizenship Law

There are 3 bases in Philippine nationality law:

  • By Birth
  • By Blood
  • By Naturalization

By birth a.k.a Jus soli is quite self explanatory. It means you’re an automatic citizen if you were born in the Philippines soil or territory.
By blood a.k.a. Jus sanguinis is also obvious. You are a citizen if any of your parents is a Filipino citizen on your birthdate according to the Philippine Nationality Law.
By Naturalization according to the Bureau of Immigration of the Philippines is the judicial act of adopting a foreigner and clothing him with the privileges of a native-born citizen. It implies the renunciation of a former nationality and the fact of entrance into a similar relation towards a new body politic.

  • If you are a foreigner born and lived in the Philippines:

On June 2001, Republic Act 9139 was approved and it provides that foreigners under 18 years old who were born and resided in the Philippines and have resided here since birth and meet the specified qualifications under the act may be granted citizenship. Such requirements and qualifications are posted in this link. If you want to file for a petition, you are required to file 5 copies containing what is required on Section 5 under that RA 9139.

  • If you are a foreigner who was not born in the Philippines:

The Revised Naturalization Law may be applicable for you.
The following are the requirements according to the Section 2 of the Revised Naturalization Act of the Philippines on how to acquire citizenship by naturalization:

He must not be less than 21 years of age on the day of the hearing of the petition;
He must have resided in the Philippines for a continuous period of not less than 10 years;
He 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;
He 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;
He must be able to speak or write English or Spanish or anyone of the principal languages;
He 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 Philippine 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.”

Philippine Citizenship through Marriage

Can you become a Filipino citizen if you married a Filipino? Lots of foreigners think if you have married a Filipino, they can also become a Filipino citizen right away. The fact is you won’t be entitled automatically. If you have married a Filipino, you are entitled to the citizenship privilege your spouse have received when he/she married you. Unlike a foreigner who can apply for citizenship if he stayed for 10 years here, you being married to a Filipino allow you to apply after 5 years instead. Under the law of Naturalization, you must take an oath and renounce your citizenship and leave your former nationality. Your wife however can choose to be a citizen of this country or your country or both according to the Philippine Dual Citizenship Law.

It is surprising how lots of foreigners and people want to settle and become citizens here while lots of Filipinos want to leave the country. The Philippines is a beautiful country and the weather is so nice. But jobs and the economy are not so good due to not so nice political splice and corruption. Anyhow, it’s still a nice place to retire and to enjoy paradise. The world’s most beautiful beaches are here. The friendliest people are here, too. Life is easy and simple. Anyone can survive comfortably even just having one job.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional lawyer or an expert of immigration. I am only sharing this post as a result of my research and a brief background of Law from my college degree.

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