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.

Comments

  1. Jack says

    Foreigners cannot become Filipinos! I am an immigrant here from America. I have been here 8 years now. I am only 36 years old. May Pinay na asawa ako, at may 4 anak namin. Nakakapagsalita ako ng Tagalog, pero kaunti lang. May pasok ako. Nagbabayad ako ng taxes, at pag-IBIG, at SSS, pero I cannot become Filipino! You need to have Filipino parents to become Filipino!

    Such a country! We allow Filipinos to become American. Why not let us become Filipino?

  2. Matt says

    What if I was born in the U.S. to a mother who was at the time of my birth (in 1989) a citizen of the Philippines but has since become a naturalized U.S. citizen? Since the U.S. and the Philippines both allow for dual citizenship, I surmise that my mother might still be considered a citizen of the Philippines, and by extension so might I, but neither I nor my mother have returned to or had any contact with the Philippines since I was born, so I’m not sure if any citizenship status that might have been applied to me on the basis of of jus sanguinis has since been effectively revoked. Thanks.

    • SedonioBing says

      Nope, the constitution states that those born of fathers or mothers who are filipino citizens are filipino citizens. Thus you are a natural born filipino citizen from the point of view of the Philippines, unless you have specifically renounced it. Yes, you are also an american by virtue of birth (the US adops Jus Soli principle), but it is from the point of view of the US. Before the dual citizenship law came into being, the term dual citizen refers to a person who is recognized by two countries as its citizen, However, from the point of view of each country, theirs is the only citizenship of such person. Meanwhile, the subsequent change of your moms citizenship has no effect on your being a filipino because her acquisition of US citizenship does not retroact to the time of your birth

      • Matt says

        Awesome, thanks! I did some research and came across this:

        http://www.philippineembassy-usa.org/philippines-dc/consular-services-dc/faq-dc/#birth

        Are these all requirements to have my citizenship officially recognized by the Philippine government? I’m not sure if my family has all this documentation available, which seems to imply that I may be a “Filipino citizen” with no means of proving so.

        Also, I’m not sure if all these requirements were supposed to have been fulfilled when I was originally born (in 1989). I hope it’s not too late…

  3. VR says

    If one was born in 1970 in the Philippines of a Filipino mother and a foreign father (who 2 yrs later became a naturalized Filipino) and then later became a U.S. ciitizen can he/she apply for dual citizenship?

    If not, how can he/she re-acquire Filipino citizenship?

  4. jack says

    Why on earth would a foreigner want to be a Philippine citizen? There are no benefits. Corrupt officials squeezing you for tax and money. Not to mention discrimination. No thanks.

    • Contrarius says

      Several reasons I can think of. First, only citizens can own land and 100% own businesses. Second, if you are going to reside permanently in the Philippines, why would you NOT want to gain citizenship? Also, some other countries have a lot of negatives to their citizenship such as the US tax on worldwide income. It could be someone wants to gain Philippines citizenship to get out from under foreign restrictions.

      I am considering Philippines citizenship myself for all of those reasons and several more personal ones. However, it will be several more years before I can do so which will give me some time to be SURE it is what I want. YOU may not see the benefits of being a Philippines citizen but that does not mean no one else does.

      • Fehl says

        I love here in the Philippines. I can visit places as beautiful as Maldives, Caribbean and not pay thousand of dollars. There are ups and downs living here but still, this is home.

  5. Ike says

    How did Andray Blatche get citizenship so quickly and easily. He doesn’t fit any of the requirements?

  6. Contrarius says

    Do you know anyone (aside from celebrities like Andray Blatche) who has successfully acquired Philippines citizenship? I have heard that while it is theoretically possible, it is almost impossible in practice. I’m not sure that is true and I would like to see what has happened with those who tried.

  7. genevieve cababarros says

    I have Indonesian friends who stayed in the Philippines for more than ten years. they wanted to become Philippine citizens, but they were not able to pay their immigration fees for more than ten years due to financial difficulties. this time, they were able to pick up financially and wanted to become Filipino citizens and willing to pay for their unpaid immigration fees. Is it possible for them to become naturalize Filipino citizen?

    • Fehl says

      They must go to the immigration office and settle everything first. If they were not considered as overstaying, then they have a chance

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