The SRRV is a type of Visa that encourages people from outside the Philippines to retire and invest in the Philippines. The SRRV allows a Expat to gain permanent residence in the Philippines WITHOUT having to marry a Filipina citizen. If you are already married to a non Filipina citizen, or if you are not married, but don’t want to get married, and you want to live permanently in the Philippines, this kind of Visa is probably your best option.
I will go into the SRRV in considerable detail below, but for now I just want to describe it in it’s simplest terms. The SRRV is under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA), whose main office is in Makati Manila.
The PRA has defined certain kinds of investments, and has a list of partners offering such investments, such that if you agree to invest in a PRA approved investment they will give you an SRRV.
So to simplify even more to it’s most simple essence, it’s basically this:
Invest money in the Philippines, get an SRRV visa – it’s that simple
How Much Will You Have to Invest?
The minimum investment to obtain an SRRV depends on your age and circumstances. The PRA lists three cases, each case having a different minimum investment. These cases are described as follows:
Case 1: Applicant is under 50 years old
Minimum investment: $50,000
Case 2: Applicant is at least 50 years old, but has no qualifying pension. Minimum investment: $20,000 dollars
Case 3: Applicant is at least 50 years of age and has a pension of at least $800 per month (single) or $1000 per month couple.
Minimum investment: $10,000 dollars
Types of PRA Investments
The PRA lists the following categories of investments which may qualify:
- Purchase of condominium unit
- Long term Lease of a house and lot, condominium or townhouse
- Construction of a residential unit on a leased parcel of land;
- Purchase of Proprietary Membership/Golf shares in golf clubs;
- Deposit into a PRA approved bank
Living in a PRA Approved Residential Community
Please keep in mind that you can’t just purchase any condominium, or construct on any leased land, it must be a PRA approved investment.
For practical purposes what this really means is this: You pick out a residential community/facility approved by the PRA and you buy a share or lease a condo, which allows you to live and play in this community. Different communities have different arrangements. But in all cases the bottom line is this: You have to fork out some good money, usually at least fifty and more typically one hundred thousand dollars or sometimes even more.
What are these communities like? Typically they are very upscale gated and guarded communities on the outskirts of a major city. They usually contain a golf course, tennis courts, a swimming pool and other facilities such as work out room, a restaurant and a bar. Basically it amounts to living in a country club.
If you want to live in a city without living in a country club type atmosphere, there may also be PRA approved condo units. Again, talk to a PRA office for details.
Country Club Share
This category is officially listed as “Purchase of Proprietary Membership/Golf shares in golf clubs” on the PRA web Site. Suppose you want to avail of the SRRV without committing yourself to living in a PRA approved community. What if you want to play at the golf clubs and tennis courts of such a community without actually living there? Many of the communities allow you to buy a “use of facilities” share. What this means is that for a certain amount of money you buy a share in the community which allows you to use all the facilities without having to live there. A typical share at a decent community with golf, tennis and swimming might cost in the neighborhood of $10,000 Dollars.
There is one problem however. That $10,000 investment may not be enough money to qualify you for the SRRV. As described earlier, depending on your circumstance, the minimum investment is 10, 20 or 50 thousand dollars. If you are in case 3 as described above your minimum investment requirement is only $10,000 and the “use of facility” share may be perfect for you. However, even if your minimum investment is (for example) $20,000 dollars, there is no reason you can’t invest $10,000 in your golf share, and another $10,000 in some other PRA approved investment.
Bank Deposit SRRV
The PRA gives you another option, for those that don’t want to live in a PRA community or buy a PRA approved country club share. Simply open up a special PRA bank account in a PRA partner bank and deposit the appropriate amount of money.
For example, suppose your minimum investment is $20,000 dollars because you are over 50 but have no qualifying pension fund. Simply open up the PRA approved bank account, deposit $20,000 into this account and the SRRV is yours! So very simple! Later on if you decide you want to buy into golf shares or live in a PRA approved residential community you can transfer your bank account investment into your new PRA approved investment.
Upside and Downside of SRRV Visa
What is the downside of an SRRV visa? Actually, if you leave money out of the discussion, there is no downside. The SRRV visa is a wonderful great fantastic thing. Extremely easy and quick to obtain and no reason to feel pressured into marriage!
Of course not everybody can leave money out of the discussion. The problem with the SRRV is that you have to put money aside and that money is basically untouchable so long as you want to keep your SRRV.
If you buy into a golf share, or you live in a condo in a residential PRA approved community you can argue that your money is being used towards a good purpose. However if you use the bank account method then that money is just sitting there, basically in escrow, and you can’t touch that money so long as you want to keep your SRRV.
What happens if you really need that money? Can you get it? Yes, but perhaps not immediately. You have to go to a PRA office and file an application for release of the funds. Once the release is approved you lose your SRRV. So basically, in the case of a bank account, if you want to live in the Philippines the rest of your life, it’s the equivalent of buying an SRRV for ten or twenty thousand dollars. I guess the bank account does make some interest, but I don’t think this amounts to very much.
In the case of a golf share or residence in a condo, if you want your money back you have to do two things. You have to find a buyer for your share, and you also have to file an application for release of your investment once a buyer is found. Of course, as in the case of the bank account, you will lose your SRRV.
There is one other way to get your money back without losing permanent residence. Suppose you come to the Philippines as a single man and invest, for example, $20,000 in a PRA bank account.
Now suppose at a later time you fall in love and decide to marry a Filipina woman. Having an SRRV visa does not prevent you from also applying for a spousal permanent residence visa. Once you get the Spousal permanent resident visa you could withdraw your money from the PRA bank account. You would lose your SRRV visa, but it would not matter because you would still be entitled to permanent residence via your Spousal visa.
Why Don’t Most Expats Avail of the SRRV?
Certainly a large number of Expats do avail of the SRRV. However, all in all, compared to the total Expat population, the SRRV holders only represent a small percentage of the total.
Why is this?
Well certainly part of the reason is the money considerations. There are many Expats that just don’t want to put aside the money required to obtain an SRRV.
However, I think money considerations is only part of the answer. The other part of the answer has to do with mindset. It takes a very together type of person to have the right mindset. The right mindset implies someone who really knows what they want from the get go. Someone who says to themselves, I want to retire in the Philippines and I’m going to investigate the best way to do it.
For most Expats this is not the way it happens. Most Expats, like myself, get sucked in slowly. Maybe they take a trip to the Philippines, they like it, so they schedule a second longer trip. Maybe after the second trip they schedule a third trip and on this trip they meet a woman and fall in love and decide to get married. They never even think about the SRRV. It never comes into their mind. Then maybe a year or two later they learn about it and say to themselves, hmmm, why didn’t I do that?
What Are the Steps for Obtaining an SRRV Visa?
Basically the process starts with you contacting a PRA office. From everything I have heard the staff at the PRA offices are extremely well trained and helpful, and will hold your hand throughout the whole process. I have even heard they will pick you up from the airport or your hotel and bring you to the office.
Once at the office you will start the application procedure. Of course make sure you have all needed documentation such as passports, bank account information, proof of pension, etc etc etc. Don’t error on the side of not bringing enough. Bring everything with you that could possibly be of use in the application procedure.
As part the application procedure you will also have to take a medical exam.
If your choice is simply to get an SRRV via bank deposit they can help you to do that immediately, and the SRRV can be in your hands in a relatively short period of time. If your choice is to find a golf share or residence they can probably help you with that as well.
PRA Contact Information
For more information see the PRA website at www.pra.gov.ph
The PRA has a number of offices as listed below
(For information about how to dial from the USA to telephone numbers in the Philippines see the earlier section titled: Use regular phone to have voice conversation)
Philippine Retirement Authority
4/F Citibank Center 8741 Paseo de Roxas
Makati City 1227 Philippines
Tel. No. : 02 – 848 -1412 to 1416
BAGUIO SATELLITE OFFICE
Address: DTI-CAR NERBAC, PTA Compound
PCCI Bldg; Gov. Pack Rd., Baguio City 2600
Direct Line : (074) 423 – 3123
Mobile Number : 0928 – 551 – 0953
Email : email@example.com
CEBU REGIONAL OFFICE
Address: Shop No. 7, 2nd Level, Waterfront Hotel
No. 1 Salinas Drive, Lahug, Cebu City
Direct Line : (32) 238 – 5693
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
DAVAO SATELLITE OFFICE
Address: DTI-NERBAC, Monteverde st., Davao City
Cell phone No. : 0928 – 551 – 0954
Email : email@example.com
SUBIC / CLARK SATELLITE OFFICE
Contact City Tourism Office, Ground Floor, Olongapo Convention Center
Old Hospital Road, East Tatinac, Olongapo City, Zambales
Telephone/Fax No. : (047) 224 -1471
Cell phone No. : 0918 – 924 – 0585
Email Address : firstname.lastname@example.org