If you’re open to living in Asia, getting a second residency in the Philippines isn’t a bad option.
For westerners used to certain standards, Manila and parts of the rest of the country will feel just like home. It offers a tropical climate, English proficiency, and some of the lowest costs of living among similar areas in the region.
There’s a McDonald’s and Wendy’s seemingly on every block, and huge mega-malls where you can buy anything imaginable abound too. If you love fresh tropical fruit, you’d love it here.
Outside of Manila, the Philippines are home to some of the world’s best beaches – some say even better than Thailand.
The good news is that you don’t have to start a business, nor do you need a boatload of cash to earn residence here, unlike in many of the other places that offer residence by investment programs.
For example, while Hong Kong’s resident visa program offers among the most flexible options for parking your investment, their requirement is a steep US$1.3 million and has gone up once already.
Meanwhile, here in the Philippines, you can apply for the Special Investor’s Resident Visa (SIRV) for a low sum of $75,000.
The SIRV allows you to invest money in Filipino equities or a local company provided they fall into one of more than a dozen categories the government is looking to grow. These mainly include services, construction, tourism, and similar.
Interested? We’ll take you through the reasons why you should invest in the Philippines, program eligibility requirements, and the application process in this article.
As always, you should get in touch with the Nomad Capitalist team if you’d like to plant a flag in this rapidly growing Asian country and need our assistance.
Why the Philippines
Let’s go beyond the scenic beaches and the smiley people of the Philippines and look at the reasons why someone looking to invest should consider the country a highly attractive proposition.
First of all, while other countries are getting downgraded in their investment ratings, the Philippines has kept its BBB rating by the rating agency Fitch and has been cited as a country with a “stable outlook.”
Fitch said: “modest government debt levels relative to peers, robust external buffers, and still-strong medium-term growth prospects” are all the things that make the Philippines a great place to invest right now.
The country’s GDP growth ranges between 6% and 8%, after all.
Second, foreign direct investment remains high, reaching an all-time record of $10 billion in 2018.
Countries such as the Netherlands, the US, Japan, and Singapore see potential in the industries of the Philippines, such as gas, steam, manufacturing, and real estate, and invest huge amounts of money into them each year.
But the trust in the country isn’t only high because of its stable economic and political conditions.
The Philippines also has the human factor. The population of the country is over 105 million, most of whom are highly literate, efficient, and English-speaking too. That’s great news for every manufacturing-dependent business.
That, combined with the massive investments in the country’s infrastructure and the growth of the quality of life over the recent years under president Duterte, makes the Philippines a promising place to invest in.
What is the Special Investor’s Resident Visa (SIRV)?
If we’ve piqued your interest in the Philippines, then here is how you can not just invest in the country but also gain residence there.
Of course, it won’t be necessary for everyone to obtain residence – you can as easily invest in the country as a non-resident investor. But for those looking to internationalize their life at the same time, the Special Investor’s Resident Visa (SIRV for short) is an attractive proposition.
In the world of investment immigration, the sums at play are usually well into hundreds of thousands and even millions.
The more attractive the country is and the more global benefits that it offers an individual, the higher the price of the residence.
When it comes to the Philippines investor visa, we would argue that it’s one of the best-kept secrets. It offers you quite a bang for your buck, considering that the minimum investment required is $75,000.
You can invest in these ‘qualified forms’ of investment:
- Publicly-listed companies.
- Companies engaged in the priority areas of economic activities listed under the Investment Priorities Plan (IPP) of the Board of Investments.
- Companies engaged in services and manufacturing sectors.
Clearly, there are no real estate, no bank bonds, and no other more interesting options, but if you’re happy investing in business new or existing, then that’s a pretty good spread of investment assets.
As is true of every residence by investment program, the SIRV isn’t for everyone. For example, if you would like to invest in real estate as a way to diversify your investment portfolio, then steer clear of this program – real estate investment isn’t allowed.
So, who does the Philippines investor visa work the best for? There are three distinct groups of investors who’d benefit the most:
- Those who want to reside in the Philippines for an indefinite period of time.
- Those who are looking to invest in company stocks.
- Those who want to spend as little money as possible in internationalizing their lifestyle.
Do you fall under one of those categories? Can you see residence in the Philippines as an asset to your lifestyle and investment portfolio?
Read on to find out how you can apply for SIRV.
The Step-by-Step Application Process for the Philippines Investor Visa
The process is relatively straightforward and you should be able to get approved for your residence within a month or so.
Step 1: Make Sure You’re Eligible
Although the Philippines have done a great job by not excluding any nationalities from its SIRV program, there are a bunch of eligibility criteria that a foreign investor must meet to apply:
- Must be at least 21 years old
- Have no criminal record
- Have no contagious disease
- Have no record of being hospitalized for mental disorders
- Must have proof of having at least $75,000 that you can freely access and use
The great news is that under the same investment sum, you are also able to bring your family to reside in the Philippines if you would like.
Your spouse and all dependent children (under the age of 21 and unmarried) can accompany you.
Step 2: Decide What to Invest In
The main premise of the SIRV program is that you must invest a minimum of $75,000 in business. However, it cannot just be any company – it must be one in a pre-approved industry. Luckily, there is a wide range of approved industries on the list:
- Business and financial
- Construction and engineering
- Health and social
- Tourism and travel
- Recreational, cultural, and sports
Essentially, you are prohibited from owning stock in companies that do wholesale trading or sell condominiums. Other than that, you’re free to invest in any company and its stock as part of your SIRV application.
Step 3: Apply for the SIRV
You can apply for residence in the Philippines at your nearest embassy or consulate.
And if you’re already in the country, you’ll be glad to know that you can also visit the One-Stop SIRV Center in Manila to apply directly. That will also ensure faster processing.
You will need to submit the following documents in order to apply for the Philippines investor visa:
- Your passport
- Your birth certificate
- Your marriage certificate (if applicable)
- A filled-out application form
- A personal history statement (a CV of sorts)
- Police clearance from your country of residence, translated and authenticated
- A medical certificate noting that you’re physically and mentally fit
- Proof of the intention of the remittance of funds from the Development Bank of the Philippines or the Land Bank of the Philippines
- An application fee of $300
If all goes well and your application gets approved, you will be issued with a probationary SIRV that will be valid for six months. You will need to make the required investment during that time.
Step 4: Convert Your Probationary SIRV to an Indefinite SIRV
Now comes the time to actually make your investment. For this, you will need to be physically present in the Philippines.
As part of the application process outlined above, you will have moved the required investment sum into one of the two government-owned banks.
You will need to take that money and invest it within six months to convert your probationary SIRV to an indefinite SIRV.
Luckily, the government has tuned down the bureaucracy of the Philippines investor visa program as much as is humanly possible. So, SIRV residents are able to enjoy swift reply times and very little paperwork as a result.
However, what the government can’t do for you is choose which company you would like to invest in.
You will, therefore, need to do a little homework to obtain the Philippines investor visa and ensure that your investments are well placed. Solid local market and financial advice are highly desirable at this point – we can help.
One thing to note is that you don’t have to top up your balance if the value of any equities you hold drops.
If you invest in a private business, their standards for reporting on your behalf are rather lax. It’s you who has to file an annual report of your holdings, but it’s nothing too complicated.
Finally, you are able to reside in the Philippines for as long as your investment exists and meets the minimum investment threshold. In other words, your residence has no expiration date.
Step 5: Citizenship in the Philippines
The one downside to planting your second residence flag in the Philippines is that citizenship is hard to come by. You become eligible for naturalization after ten years, but must have knowledge of Filipino history and be able to speak Tagalog.
However, few foreigners are requesting citizenship after ten years because it’s not the easiest thing.
Even some of the officials we’ve met at the Immigration Office are not so sure about the process.
For citizenship, you would be better off camping out in nearby Singapore for a few years, but it’s much more expensive (many rich Singaporeans are buying property in Manila as a value play) and the rumor is the government is going to clamp down even harder as demand for foreigner capital wanes.
The Philippines Investor Visa – Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Special Investor’s Resident Visa (SIRV) in the Philippines?
The Philippines investor visa is a residence program that allows foreign investors to officially gain residence status in the Philippines in exchange for an investment of at least $75,000.
Who is the Philippines investor visa program best for?
The SIRV is best suited to those who want to live in the country indefinitely (permanent residence), invest in stocks, or are looking for a low-cost way to internationalize their lifestyle.
How can I get residence in the Philippines?
A foreign national who meets a number of criteria and who has a minimum of $75,000 that he wishes to invest in the Philippines can apply for the SIRV. The application process is relatively straightforward and takes just a few months.
What investments are not allowed under the SIRV program?
Foreigners aren’t allowed to invest in stocks of corporations that work in wholesale trading, condominium units, or partnerships if they wish to obtain their residence permit.
Can my family come live with me in the Philippines under the SIRV?
Yes, your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are considered your dependents under the SIRV and can therefore come to the Philippines with you.
Can I get Filipino citizenship?
Unfortunately, it’s very hard to obtain Filipino citizenship via residence in the country
Is the Philippines Investor Visa The Residence for Me?
The world of investment immigration is changing all the time.
It was one of the cheapest (minimum investment of $1,500) and the most popular ways to internationalize one’s life that is now off the table, at least until the government updates the program’s conditions and opens it up to investors once more.
That’s why the best time to start internationalizing is now and the Philippines is a great place to do just that.
The Philippines investor visa (SIRV) program is a great option for those looking for a fast and cheap way into a rapidly growing Asian market.
For a price of just $75,000, you can invest in a business of your choice and have a chance to plant a flag in the Philippines.
We can help you navigate the application process and get your Philippines residence. Get in touch with the Nomad Capitalist team today.