I’m Almost Gone

One day down with the packers and movers, one more day to go.

Despite getting rid of the fridge, oven, sofa, dining room set, outdoor furniture set and assorted other stuff, they’re guessing now that everything will not fit into a 20 foot container. Given another week I could probably get rid of enough stuff to make that happen, but I don’t have another week.

Then I come to the madness of Philippines visas. The tough part is trying to get information. So, for example, if you go to the website of the Philippines consulate in Hong Kong or the Philippines Department of Immigration, it will tell you all about how to apply for a 13(A) visa (the one I need). But nowhere does it tell you what that visa gets you. Nothing about how long it’s good for, nothing about the right to work once you’ve got it. Zilch. I should probably have done the visa three months ago but other things were taking up my time and attention.

Search around the web and one gets conflicting information. As near as I can figure it out, the first visa is good for one year. After that it gets renewed, either for ten years or infinity, that’s not so clear. Some sites indicate you can work with that, others indicate that I would still need to obtain some sort of employment visa or certificate. And then apparently I will need to get an ACR I-card, some ID card with a smart chip that all foreigners resident over one year are required to carry.

Here’s where it gets really kind of wacky. If you’re already in Manila and you apply there, apparently it’s a painful process that can take several months. If you do it before you get to Manila, it’s a different story – just a few days once you have all of the papers assembled.

The first painful bit is that they require a certificate of no criminal conviction from the police. You can’t go to the HK Police and just ask for that. You have to get a form from the requestor, then go to the police HQ. They will not send it to you and will not notify you when it’s done. You just have to wait 3-4 weeks and go back to the consulate to ask if they got it yet.

But it’s more painful to do that from Manila because the police require you to send in certain kinds of ID if you’re not applying in person. For example, I’d have to find some place in Manila to fingerprint me and attest that they’re certified to do so and swear that they are my fingerprints. Stuff like that.

The other annoying thing is that they request a significant medical exam – that’s what it says on the form, “significant,” without giving any definition of what they mean by that word, except to say that they want blood, stool and urine tests and a chest x-ray.

I couldn’t do it in Hong Kong (yet) because all of our original documents were sitting with a bank in Manila while our mortgage application was being processed. I only just got them back last week. The police form has been applied for here. So it appears it would actually be less painful for me to travel back and forth, HK/Manila, to complete the process here rather than starting it all over again there.  So while I wasn’t originally planning a HK trip until March, it looks like I could be back for a short visit in February.

Fun, fun, fun.

This will be my last post as a Hong Kong resident. I expect there will be one or a few more posts here until I get the new site set up.