Technically, the Balikbayan program is not a Visa, but rather a privilege, the Balikbayan Privilege. However, for the purposes of this site, we will call the privilege by it’s popular name, the Balikbayan Visa.
In language terms, in the Filipino language, “Balikbayan” translates to English as “return to nation” or generally means a person who is returning to his homeland. The Balikbayan Visa is available to former citizens of the Philippines, their spouses and children. So, for example, if Maria goes to live abroad for work, marriage or whatever reason, and she becomes a naturalized citizen of the foreign country where she moves to, when she returns to the Philippines, she is eligible to take advantage of the Balikbayan Privilege and receive a Balikbayan Visa. Additionally, Maria’s husband, be he American, Saudi, British or whatever nationality may also be given a Balikbayan Visa if he is traveling with Maria at the time of their entry into the Philippines. If the couple enters the country separately, the husband is not eligible fort he Balikbayan Visa. The previous information regarding Maria’s husband also holds true for her children, be they citizens of a foreign nation.
Those issued a Balikbayan Visa are given a one year stay in the Philippines. There are no charges or extensions necessary to stay up to one year. Should you wish to stay longer than one year in the Philippines and are issued a Balikbayan Visa upon entry, you may stay on the Balikbayan Visa for a full year, then report to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and convert your Balikbayan Visa to a Tourist Visa, at which time you can stay up to a maximum of 24 additional months following the rules and regulations imposed on a tourist visa holder in the Philippines.
If you wish to be issued a Balikbayan Visa upon your entry to the Philippines, and are the husband of the former Philippine Citizen, it is advisable to carry with you your Marriage Certificate, showing proof of your marriage and eligibility to be issued a Balikbayan Visa. The Immigration authorities will not always ask for a Marriage Certificate, but have been known to do so at times. Again, if you are the child of a former Philippine Citizen, it would be advisable to carry a copy of your birth certificate, again to prove your eligibility to be issued a Balikbayan Visa.
If you are a former Philippine Citizen, having been naturalized in another country, you may want to consider re-acquiring your Philippine Citizenship through the Philippine Dual Citizenship law. By availing of the benefits of this law, you can be a citizen of both the country where you were naturalized and in the Philippines too. Once you re-acquire your Philippine Dual Citizenship you may stay in the Philippines for as long as you wish free of charge, and without the hassle of Visa renewals.