It’s that time of the year when foreigners residing in the Philippines have to troop over to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to file their annual report. Holders of the super digital and incredibly innovative ACR I-Card (Alien Certificate of Registration) have to report to the BI within the first sixty (60) days of the year to settle a fee.
After my traumatising experience during the renewal of my ACR I-Card in 2012, I hate visiting the BI in Intramuros. It is stressful and having a degree in broadcast journalism makes me hyper critical and highly observant (e.g. long time to return change, staring contest, red tape… so on). When I went to the bureau this morning I was already expecting to spend the whole day there just to process my annual report because the deadline is March 1. [ACR I-Card holders who are abroad during the first 60 days of the year are allowed to just fly back to the country to settle this within the first 30 days, if I am not mistaken… so take that with a grain of salt].
OK ranting about BI is so passe na. I’ll get to it. My experience this year at the BI in Intramuros.
- Date: 24 February 2014 (Monday) — a few days before the “60 days” deadline ends.
- Approximate time to finish everything: 1 hour only — despite lots of people, see notes below
- Annual Report Fee this year: PHP 310.00
- MUST BRING: Original Passport (not just a photocopy), ACR I-Card (duh), a 2×2 or passport-sized picture that will be pasted onto the form, extra ballpen and your own folder to keep things organized
- WILL HELP: Bring all your past receipts of Annual Reports just in case some glitch forgot to record your previous payment into their system. Know your parents’ passport numbers and have them ready. Know everything about your status in the Philippines like what visa you have been issued with.
Steps for the 2014 Annual Report
MY STEP 1. Once inside the building, follow the blue line to the back area. It leads down a hallway where you exit the side of the building where tents are set up. Get the new 4-page form and fill it up. There are high tables and plenty of space to write stuff. [Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask around. Dahil, we are all in this together. Do note the people you are queued with so you can determine if you are going in the right direction.]
MY STEP 2. After accomplishing the form which requires details about your parents passports, get in the queue for [PRE-EVALUATION]. This took only 10-15 minutes for me even if the tents were full of people. There were about four or five officers handling the crowd all at once which was himala (that’s Tagalog for “Miracle”, fantastic. Kudos sa naka-isip na ‘to. The nice evaluator I got skimmed through my accomplished form to individually verify each item I wrote vis-a-vie my passport.
There’s a Senior Citizen lane. +5 points, BI.
MY STEP 3. After this, proceed to the [ISSUANCE OF QUEUE NUMBER] back inside the main hall. You basically get in queue to get a queue number. Took about 5 minutes and there was a cute officer pa nga. Uhm, hi. Taga-La Salle ka rin?
MY STEP 4. Hold onto your number and walk a few steps to the center of the main hall where the [ANNUAL REPORT PROCESSING AREA] is located. Wait for your number to appear on the screen. This took about 15 to 20 minutes, with a room full of people. In fairness, it was FAST and a far cry from my 2012 mental breakdown during renewal which took three days.
MY STEP 5. Once your number appears, head to the designated counter indicated sa screen (e.g. Counter 1) and then hand the nice officer your form. He/she will do an assessment and if clear *fingers crossed*, it gets handed back to you with a [PAYMENT ORDER] slip which indicates how much you have to pay. This time it was a standard PHP 310.00. Walang express lane fee… pag may express lane fee hindi naman ganitong kabilis. Slide to the next counter to settle your payment. Expect the spiel: “Sir, may ten pesos kayo?”
MY STEP 6. Done! I deserve Jollibee or authentic Savoury chicken.
My experience of the Annual Report 2014 went by smoothly.
However, the nice man in front of me during pre-evaluation apparently had an issue that his address had changed when it didn’t change at all. At some point during the pre-evaluation to assessment, he was told that he had to file a “change of address” document of some sort and to have it notarized… he patiently explained to the assessment officer in front of me that his address hadn’t changed at all. The officer elder initiated a staring contest with the man’s forms… if you get what I mean.
Eventually the earnest man’s patience and voice tone worked and the staring contest ended… the elder officer crossed out the “discrepancy” on the form and the nice man got to leave without having to repeat X-amount of processes. Kind of weird na na-hold siya sa ganon… “change of address” was indicated but the guy’s address was the same on the form with the one written on his ACR I-Card. Paano nangyari yun.
- Go early.
- Be patient and try to smile. (I smiled at one of the Sisters there.)
- When in doubt, ask people. Conditions or counters change and they will be updated with what’s happening or be just as clueless as you.
- Bring your old Annual Report receipts to avoid having to double pay something.
To the BI, things have improved with this cycle. +1 point in the restoration of my faith with this bureau.
Share your stories at the BI this year or in previous years!
Let me end with the parting chat I had with my evaluator in Step 1. In a friendly conversation (not interview) she curiously asked me why I was in the Philippines (and not in the United States).
Dahil kahit ganito, mahal ko ang Pilipinas.