Many foreigners who visit the Philippines stay here on a tourist visa. The initial stamp, that you get at the airport, is good for 21 days. If you want to stay longer, you can get an extension for another 38 days, bringing you up to 59 days. After that you can renew up to 2 months at a time for a total of 1 year. If you wish to stay longer, and still want to keep tourist status, you have to leave the country, and start over. You can find the fee structure for tourist visa’s at the Bureau of Immigration’s website.
I’ve met foreigners who went to Malaysia or Hong Kong, then returned the next day, to keep their tourist status. Some foreigners live like this for many years. If you visit your home country at least once a year, and you live near an immigration office, this is not a bad option. I did it this way for my first two years. Now I have an “Alien Certificate of Registration” (ACR) I-Card.
Whenever you renew your tourist visa, make sure you get official reciepts! If you should ever loose your passport, those reciepts will serve as proof of your being in the country legally. Keep those receipts in a seperate place from your passport. Doing this could save you a lot of money and hassles.
There are still small, mostly provincial immigration offices, who cannot issue official reciepts. These places may be more convenient, if they are close to where you live. But you go there at your own risk. They will be the ones to go to a larger office to get the actual visa issued. Sometimes they will also charge you “extra fees” for their services. Personally, I prefer to be the one to go to the larger office. I have been told Catbalogan has the ability to issue official reciepts for Samar Province, though I have not been there yet.
Some foreigners will tell you to always go to the same Bureau of Immigration office. I think this is because they did not get official reciepts. I have been to offices in Manila, Cebu, and Tacloban, and never had any problems. Just take your papers with you.
Disclaimer: Expat2Phils is not in any way connected to the Government of the Philippines, nor are we lawyers. What we offer are personal experiences, not legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer!