Thousands of Koreans living in the Philippines stand to gain permanent resident status thanks to a new Bureau of Immigration (BI) policy.
Immigration commissioner Siegfred Mison said the BI had begun processing applications of Koreans seeking to make the Philippines their new home country.
This developed after Justice Secretary Leila de Lima approved BI Memorandum Circular No. SBM-2015-005, pursuant to Section 13 of Commonwealth Act No. 613, as amended, granting immigrant status to qualified Koreans living in the country.
More than 100,000 Koreans have made their homes here, all estimated to be spending an average of $800-$1000 per month. This adds up to almost $1 billion in consumer spending each year.
The BI chief said Koreans may be granted Permanent Resident Visas (PRV) if they have family ties to Philippine citizens; have business investments or possess qualifications, skills, scientific, education or technical knowledge benefiting the national interest of the Philippines.
“That means Koreans who have invested in the Philippines, married to a Filipino citizen, married to a permanent resident alien or is the son or daughter of a permanent resident alien parent, is eligible to apply for immigrant visa,” Mison said.
BI records showed that the Korean community grew from 90,000 in 2009 to more than 100,000 in 2014.
Most Koreans living in the Philippines are attracted to the low cost of English-language education and housing, both significantly cheaper than in South Korea. The warm climate is also a motivating factor.
The country has also been a popular destination for retired South Koreans on fixed pensions, so the government has promoted the settlement of South Korean retirees here, which also boosts the local economy.
“They came without warning, trickling in almost unnoticed until there were too many to ignore. It seemed, all of a sudden, that South Koreans were practically everywhere in the Philippines,” Mison said.
Currently, Koreans have settled in most major urban areas in the country. From up north in the cool city of Baguio to Davao City down south in Mindanao, Korean restaurants and groceries, bearing Korean-language signs can be seen.
They have established churches, hotels and resorts to gigantic manufacturing facilities. There are even Korean-only suburbs in Cavite province.