Can Filipino tourists apply for visas outside the Philippines?
Thanks for reaching out! May I ask how did you find out about the blog? I am not sure what you are saying because the only visa you need to apply in your home country is Schengen. Everything else, you can apply elsewhere. Even US visas, you can apply outside your home country. I’ve done it!
Did the Russian Embassy say this to you? Or you just got it from another person?
Thanks for replying! I was just googling about visa stuff and stumbled upon your blog then started browsing through all your filipino visa posts. So yeah then I decided to email you 🙂
I actually emailed the Russian embassy while I was in Dubai on a long term tourist visa and they said I can’t apply with them unless i’m a local citizen or on a resident visa (working in dubai, spouse visa etc.) but then I emailed the Russian Embassy in Armenia and they said that I can apply even if i’m just a tourist there. I’m currently just bouncing around countries but running out of new places to visit cause most visas are asking me to apply back home. I also emailed the japanese embassy in Dubai and they also said the same thing about applying back to my resident country. Sorry you got confused with my question but i’m asking for tips on which country outside the Philippines I can for visas for other countries. I already learned from your blog that I can get many visas in South America while travelling there like you getting your Argentina visa there etc. so big thanks for that!
In the age of millennial travel, my country, the Philippines is the top country in Southeast Asia who bred a new wave of travelers. You will barely come across our neighbors (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam) when you are traveling in Europe.
2019’s passport index ranking states that Philippine passport holders can visit 70 countries visa-free, VOA, and e-visa; Thailand, 81. Cambodia, 60. Vietnam, 57. Out of all these SEA countries, despite the passport limitation, Filipinos are everywhere and are constantly traveling. Regardless of social and financial status, nobody’s left out. It’s crazy how many Filipinos are traveling these days!
Filipinos are tenacious people. We have this word in Tagalog that is neither negative or positive: ‘ambisyosa.’ Ambitious is what we are so most of us have this roaring drive to go out of the country to travel, or more so, to work. There are 2.3 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to date. These are the ones recorded legally so you can imagine how much more out there is undocumented for.
These legal OFWs can apply for a visa outside of the Philippines because of their residency status. For example, when I went to Armenia, there were a lot of Filipinos who were freely entering the country on Visa On Arrival (VOA). Countries like Armenia and Georgia have different visa rules for Filipino citizens who are legal residents of the Middle East (UAE, Bahrain, Oman, etc). They need not apply for a visa prior to arrival. Additionally, they are allowed to apply for a visa to other countries outside the Philippines, let’s say for a Schengen visa. In Schengen rules, Filipinos are can only apply for a visa in their home country except for those who have residency status in other countries.
But what if you are an ‘ambisyosa’ Filipino traveler like me who does not have a residency status anywhere but the Philippines?
When I did a travel workshop for Power Mac Center last April 2018, I noticed that the Filipino tenacity comes with a limit. There were many smart and evolved attendees of the event but none of them knew how to be persistent. To be honest, I also grew up like that. I only learned to continue firmly or obstinately in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition when I went abroad. Persistency, although it comes with tenacity, is not something you’ll learn growing up in the Philippines.
Persistence did not exist in our culture because of the invasion by the Spanish and the Americans. The Spanish rule was a period of slavery while the American is about co-existing, but with hierarchy. I cannot give you a full Philippine history lesson in this post but these occupations had a great effect on how our culture is at present. And that is, being unconscious underdogs. If you’re a foreigner and you come to the Philippines, you will be treated with an ivy league hospitality. No matter how shitty of a person you are, you will be looked up to because of your skin color and your citizenship. Whatever you ask, we will do. Whatever you need, we will get for you. If the Philippines is under a caste system, you, as a foreigner, will be on top of that triangle.
Another factor that affects our persistence is our very unhelpful government offices. Instead of helping us, they make our lives miserable. Philippine banks have the most ridiculous rules in the world because they are controlled by private owners for profit. In this country, you can never do inter-bank transfers, and if you can, they come with a fee — a fee we are almost not willing to pay for. When I lived in Tel Aviv, Barcelona, Hong Kong, and Buenos Aires, I only had one bank account because I can easily transfer money to any other local (and even international) banks. In the Philippines, you have to have 4-5 bank accounts because this makes your life easier when it comes to money transfer or other transactions.
If you go to any government office, you will be in line for hours. And when it’s your turn to be accommodated, they will always find something to not help you. The Philippine rules do not prioritize their citizens. Instead, we are always put in situations where we are forced to give up and to not do anything about it.
I wanted to send my mom some stuff when I was living in Tel Aviv. I went to the post office only to find out that I cannot send stuff in that branch. They asked me to go to another branch which is so far away from where I live. I am very familiar with the Israeli persistence so I tried be it. I told them I am only with a bicycle and I can’t drive all the way opposite the city to do what I had to do. The key phrase, that worked all the time: “what can you do to help me?” She then started to make calls and in the end, she accepted my package. The strategy? If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Sadly, we don’t do this a lot in the Philippines. When a government official tells us, “I am sorry, I cannot help you,” we don’t usually ask for other ways on how they can help us. Very few of us know that this is part of our civil rights and that government offices have to exhaust all their efforts in order to make things easy for us. It’s their job. I mean, what are they doing sitting on their desks all day if they are not able to help? We are used to getting no, and in turn, won’t ask for alternatives on how it will be a win-win situation. We are so used to dead ends and long processes for simple things. Of course, that isn’t the assigned government official’s fault – they are only following a system. A system that does not benefit any of us. This also led for us to have a culture of fixers and inside contacts. When you have both, then you will be able to get what you want.
What do these all have to do with Filipinos applying for a visa outside the Philippines?
It took me so much efforts to get my Argentine visa when I was traveling South America. So much that I’ve almost given up on getting one. I tried it in Peru and it didn’t work because my Peruvian tourist visa was expiring a week from my application. They need 2-3 weeks to process it. Neither did it work in Brazil. They didn’t say why they were not able to give me a visa but I guess I just didn’t have enough proof of funding at the time.
Then I met this Indian travel duo in Uruguay, who were also on their way to Argentina. I’ve seen them twice at the Argentine Embassy in Montevideo and they looked like they never had luck in getting a visa. I sat next to them and asked about their application status. They told me they can only apply for an Argentine visa in India and that they were rejected twice already. My heart stopped. When they said this, I officially gave up the dream of visiting Argentina.
There is a South America travel route that most backpackers follow. Everyone’s going the same way and at the time, the Indians were my mates – they took the same route that I took. Then we were both caught in a situation where we needed to apply for a visa to continue our journey. None of us are willing to go back to our own country for a freaking visa then go back. Not only that airfare costs a lot of money but it will disrupt the momentum of the travel.
This is what the Indians told the consul and when it was my turn for the interview, I said the same. My voice came with great power in every words I uttered. I had nothing to fear that time – I have all the requirements and was financially stable. I had proof to support my travels in Argentina. For every time she said no, I was suprisingly ready for the counter-attack. She wouldn’t relent so I asked her what can we do or how can she help me for this to be a win-win situation for us. She put her hand out the window and took all my documents. “Come back in 2 days and let’s hope for the best.”
It was a 1,000 power jump Super Mario moment for me. Even if I wasn’t sure I would get the visa in two days, I was proud of standing up for myself and for asking for alternative solutions instead of just walking away. I told my friends back home about it and they told me one thing: “if that was me, I would’ve just accepted the no.” You see, asking for another way to solve the problem is not normal for us Filipinos. We are used to getting the no and we accept it wholeheartedly. I never knew if the Indians made it but I did get a 70-day visa to Argentina.
Lesson of the story? Be persistent.
I don’t have any concrete advice for Filipinos applying for visas outside the Philippines but you’ve seen how persistence can get you a long way. Different countries have different rules and more often than not, regions like Latin America are a bit confused about how to deal with Filipinos asking for a visa. I’ve had many mishaps about this department which you can read in the visa section of this blog but I know, in my heart, that Schengen visa is the only visa that requires Filipinos to apply in their home country. The rest, you can apply anywhere. I even applied for a US visa in Israel! Well, it was rejected but at least I know I can. My Jordan visa was also issued in Tel Aviv despite not having a resident status. As far as I cann see, there are no concrete rules for Filipinos applying for visas outside the Philippines. All we have to do is to try, and of course, to hope for the best. It’s a tedious process but what can we do?
Just think about this: no matter how hard the process may be, you will get it. We’re used to hard anyway. It’s time to get out of that underdog mentality and be the citizens who go after what they want and does not let anybody get in the way.
Based on your experience, can Filipinos apply for visas outside the Philippines?
Which countries were you able to apply for a visa without residency status? How was the experience? Leave your stories and thoughts on the comment box below! It can help other Filipinos apply for their visas, too!