Factors to consider when relocating to the Philippines in the time of COVID
US IMMIGRATION NOTES - Atty. Marco F.G. Tomakin (The Freeman) - October 25, 2020 - 12:00am

This week I talked with an elderly client planning to buy a residential property in the Philippines. She wanted to retire in her hometown where she can be close to her siblings and relatives. She would rely on her monthly pension income earned through the years working as a nurse in the US. She believes now is the right time to settle in the Philippines for good. But is it?

Against the backdrop of the uncertainties of this global pandemic, I urge everyone who is considering relocating to the Philippines to think about this very thoroughly. I’m not against nor discouraging this plan, but there are so many factors that must be given considerable thought. Consider the following:

1.) Does your US health insurance cover your medical expenses in case you get COVID-19 in the Philippines? Remember, the healthcare system in the Philippines operate mostly on pay-as-you-go basis. I know individuals charged almost half a million pesos in hospital costs alone due to COVID-19. You must also prepare for other non-coronavirus medical-related expenses that can also get very expensive.

2.) Do you have enough financial wherewithal to support your expenses? Is your monthly pension income enough to support you and your extended family?

3.) Be mindful of your immigration status in the Philippines. Are you a dual citizen? A US citizen required to obtain a Philippine visa? A greencard holder who needs to preserve permanent US residency?

4.) Have you filed an immigrant petition for anyone? When it’s time for your beneficiaries to file for their immigrant visa applications, as petitioner you must be living in the US when they enter the US.

5.) Do you have investments and properties in the US you’re ready to dispose of when you transfer to the Philippines? A friend of mine has several rental properties in the US but doesn’t want to sell them while he is living in the Philippines. He relied on a property manager to collect rent and maintain the apartments on his behalf, only to learn he was cheating on him. So make sure you have everything figured out, especially when it comes to your financial investments in the US.

I’m sure there are other factors to consider depending on your personal circumstances, especially now in the age of COVID. For me accessibility, availability, and affordability of healthcare especially for the elderly are the topmost criteria that should be seriously looked into if long-term relocation to the Philippines is being planned.

* * *

The other day I read a report here in The FREEMAN regarding employees at the Bureau of Immigration having a lavish lifestyle that couldn’t be fully supported by their salaries. I’m not surprised as corruption in the BI has been there as far back as the time of the late senator Miriam Defensor Santiago when she was appointed CID Commissioner. It’s just unfortunate that law-abiding employees at the BI are unfairly dragged into this mess. I hope President Duterte will include cleaning up the BI in his fight against widespread government corruption.

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