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…

    • jof says

      Filipino women who acquired foreign citizenship by reason of marriage can now reacquire their Filipino citizenship (dual citizenship). their children can also acquire filipino citizenship.

      even f you haven’t been in the Philippines, Just go to the nearest Philippine embassy… you and your mother can process your filipino citizenship in their. though there are requirements like the Philippine passport of your mother or the NSO birth certificate of your mother to attest that indeed she was a Filipino Citizen before.

      according to feed backs, its easier to process apply in Philippine embassies than applying here in the Philippines so better apply at the nearest Philippine embassy in your area.

      My sister did this and she was able to acquire Philippine passport

  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?

    • iampei says

      yes they can. those elective positions which are reserved for natural born filipinos cannot be occupied even by elective/.appointive naturalized filipino citizens.

      ex. a naturalized filipino citizen can run as brgy. chairman or kagawad because the requirement is that they should only be a filipino citizen, not natural born.

  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

  8. rowena says

    My husband from middle east country and willing to be Filipino. When it times for process do we need to have a private atty. or we can do it alone?

    • Fehl says

      Yes, it’s usually requires a lawyer because you will take an oath and need to sign documents for your citizenship. However, it’s not so costly

  9. jemheartharb says

    Akoy may asawa sa pinas pero sya ay nag asawa ulit.ako naman ay may bf na lebanesse. Gusto nya akong pakasalan at stay sa pinas. ano ba ang puedeng solusyon para nakasal kami ng bf ko?

  10. harry says

    I am a British citizen and an orphan who wants to be adopted by a Filipino/a. That is to say I want a new family and life in the Philippines. Foreigners can adopt pinoy children so please let me know if Filipino can adopt foreigners? The comments on this post seem to refer to naturalization and not ”adoption”.

  11. Roby says

    hello.

    I started already with all the process. and next month there will be the initial hearing.
    I don’t have any problems regarding the naturalization.
    I am just worried about 1 thing – I am not speaking well the language,,,and I don’t know how to sing the National Anthem…. I hope it wont be a problem

    • David says

      Roby,

      Where did you get the application and instructions on how to apply to your Philippines Citizenship?

      Thank you in advance for your time,

      David

  12. Croesus says

    Hello Marifel,

    Nice blog you have here.

    Thank you for the information on becoming a citizen of the Philippines.

    I’ve been trying to locate an official site (i.e. government or embassy website) where I could grasp first hand information; please could you point any direction towards that?

    Considering the naturalization process, after being in the Philippines for a while.

    Thank you.

  13. jess says

    i’ve got no answers nor comments to your viewers because I’m in the same dilemma or even worse. I’m a Filipino by birth and was born in the Philippines from Filipino parents. I got married abroad to a foreigner (from the Middle East) and now have two children all born abroad. I received my foreign citizenship but never formally cancelled my Filipino citizenship (is it automatically cancelled once you gained foreign citizenship?) . I am now carrying and using my foreign passport as my Philippine passport already expired. Do you think I have to apply for re-acquisition of citizenship or undergo procedures to be able to stay in the country legally as a Filipino citizen. I would also like to apply for my children’s Filipino citizenship so they can stay and study in the Philippines. Another thing is I never registered my Foreign Marriage Certificate in any Philippine Embassy or office abroad. Also, I did not report the birth of my children to any Philippine office abroad. My researches from the internet is leading me to tons of information which is driving me nuts and giving me the idea to maybe just abandon the idea of legalizing anything. Besides, I gather i would be spending a lot for this. But on the other hand I would really like to legalize and finalize everything.. Can somebody help me start where or how?

    • Fehl says

      Since there are different and specific laws and rules by country regarding dual citizenship, I suggest you get a lawyer here to settle this officially.

    • Matt says

      I’m in the same situation as you! Except I’m the (adult) child in the scenario, whereas I assume you’re the mother. My mother was born in the Philippines. She got married abroad to a foreigner (from the USA) and now has two children, both born abroad (one of them being me). She received her US citizenship but never formally cancelled her Philippine citizenship (the US and the Philippines both allow dual citizenship, so technically she should still be considered a Philippine citizen, and even if the US didn’t allow dual citizenship, I think she’d still be considered a Philippine citizen by Philippine law, although she’d need to submit an “APPLICATION FOR RETENTION / RE-ACQUISITION OF PHILIPPINE CITIZENSHIP”) . Anyway, she has been carrying and using her US passport pretty much since she was naturalized as a US citizen. I am interested in verifying/applying for my Filipino citizenship so I can reside and work in the Philippines. I’m guessing my mother never registered her Foreign Marriage Certificate in any Philippine embassy. Also, my mother probably did not report my birth (25.5 years ago) to any Philippine office. I’ve done a lot of research (not recently, so I’m a little rusty) and have accumulated several webpages and PDF forms which are geared toward the US, but I imagine the process for retaining / re-acquiring Philippine citizenship should be quite similar if not uniform in all foreign countries. The website for the Philippine general consulate or embassy in your country is probably the right place to look. Here are some US-oriented webpages I’ve bookmarked that may help you:

      http://www.philippineconsulatela.org/consular%20services/conserv-dual.htm
      http://www.philippineconsulatela.org/consular%20services/conserv-registry.htm
      http://www.philippineembassy-usa.org/philippines-dc/consular-services-dc/faq-dc/#birth

    • jof says

      Jess and matt

      The answer to your question is Republic Act 9225… Yes parents who lostPhilippine citizenship by reason of marriage can reacquire Philippine citizenship. This also applies to their children. Just proceed to the nearest Phil embassy in your area and your application will be processed. you/children will reacquire Philippine citizenship (dual). and you will be issued Phil. passport

  14. jof says

    Sec. 3 & 4 of RA 9225 (Phil Law) provides:

    Section 3. Retention of Philippine Citizenship – Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, natural-born citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country are hereby deemed to have re-acquired Philippine citizenship upon taking the following oath of allegiance to the Republic:

    “I _____________________, solemny swear (or affrim) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and obey the laws and legal orders promulgated by the duly constituted authorities of the Philippines; and I hereby declare that I recognize and accept the supreme authority of the Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance thereto; and that I imposed this obligation upon myself voluntarily without mental reservation or purpose of evasion.”

    Natural born citizens of the Philippines who, after the effectivity of this Act, become citizens of a foreign country shall retain their Philippine citizenship upon taking the aforesaid oath.

    Section 4. Derivative Citizenship – The unmarried child, whether legitimate, illegitimate or adopted, below eighteen (18) years of age, of those who re-acquire Philippine citizenship upon effectivity of this Act shall be deemed citizenship of the Philippines.

  15. Stacy says

    I live here in Florida and my mom was a Filipino citizen at my birth. I’m 21 does that mean I can still apply for Filipino citizenship? I’ve tried calling the embassy and they do not answer my questions. Even if I was able to become a citizen would I first have to apply and submit the required documents first to be accepted onto the list for the consular outreach when it comes to Florida?

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