Could Ostriches Help You Stay in The Philippines? (SVEG)

Are you looking to stay in The Philippines permanently? There are many options available to foreign nationals including the Special Visa for Employment Generation (SVEG). The purpose of the visa is to create jobs for Filipinos. The fundamental requirement is that you hire at least 10 Filipinos in a meaningful capacity.

SVEG Benefits

This visa carries many benefits not availed to other visa types. The principle ones being:

  • Exempt from the exit clearance requirements–specifically the Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC) and the Special Return Certificate (SRC)
  • Your dependent children and spouse will also be exempt from these requirements
  • An indefinite stay in The Philippines
  • The visa is not attached to your Filipino spouse–meaning if things don’t work out between you two she can’t have your visa canceled
  • No specific bank deposit requirements unlike the SRRV and SIRV

Qualifications for the SVEG

In order to qualify for the Special Visa for Employment Generation you must meet these critera:

  1. The business has to be legitimate and beneficial to the country. This means no sham corps, firearm companies, or churn and burn money-making schemes
     
  2. You must have a genuine intention to indefinitely remain in the Philippines;
     
  3. Pass a background check
     
  4. Your commercial investment/enterprise must provide actual meaningful employment to at least ten (10) Filipinos in accordance with Philippine labor laws and other applicable special laws.

What does meaningful capacity mean?

The law explicitly excludes, house workers and maids from satisfying the employment requirements. They must be full time employees and hold managerial, executive, professional, technical, or unskilled positions. According to the Immigration attorney I spoke to, farm hands do satisfy this requirement so long as it’s a real farm and not just your backyard.

The Process to Get the SVEG

  1. Secure the SGAF from either at the Public Information and Assistance Unit (PIAU) at the Bureau of Immigration G/F Main Office or from the official Bureau of Immigration website ( www.immigration.gov.ph. )
  2. Submit the documents for pre-screening to the Central Receiving Unit (CRU) or to the frontline officer or staff of other Immigration Offices able to process this transaction.
  3. Get the Order of Payment Slip (OPS).
  4. Pay the required fees.
  5. Submit copy of Official Receipt.
  6. Attend the hearing. Please refer to the Official Receipt for the schedule and venue of the hearing and Image and Fingerprint Capturing.
  7. Proceed to Image and Fingerprint Capturing Counter of the Alien Registration Division (ARD) and submit requirements for an Alien Certificate of Registration Identification Card (ACR I-Card) application.
  8. Check the website if visa application has been approved.
  9. If approved, submit passport for visa implementation.
  10. If ACR I-Card is approved, claim ACR I-Card.

SVEG Fees

The Bureau of Immigration’s website lists the current fees in Philippine Pesos for the SVEG as follows:

  • 29,330 pesos for the principal applicant (you)
  • 29,330 pesos for your spouse. This is if you’re wife isn’t a Filipino citizen already
  • 29,330 pesos for each dependent child
  • US$250 for the Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR-I) Card. Please note this is for each person

It’s important to note that these are just the listed fees. In reality you’ll have to pay attorney’s fees, documentation preparation fees, and other miscellaneous fees. After it’s all said and done you should expect to shell out at least 70,000 pesos which at current exchange rates equates to US$ 1,400.

Keep in mind this not including your substantial startup costs since in order to qualify you’ll need to hire at least 12-15 Filipino full-time workers right out the gate.

Related: Why Expats Love Transferwise

Disadvantages of the SVEG

There are onerous reporting requirements in order to prevent visa fraud. While the written requirement is 10 Filipino workers, in reality, you will need to hire at least 12-15. This is to keep you in compliance even in cases of employee turnover.

Who Should Get the SVEG?

Someone who is serious about starting a substantial business in the allowed categories might be a good fit for this visa. I don’t recommend someone just looking to start up micro business get this visa, as the employment requirements & costs can kill you. If you fall below the 10 employee threshold and get caught you can face deportation for visa fraud.

Also, if you don’t have experience managing employs you might have a hard time. A possible alternative for expats would be the Special Investors Resident Visa.

The SVEG vs The SIRV

The reason the Special Investors Resident Visa is a good alternative to the SVEG is that you have more control of your business. You are free to hire as many employees as you see fit and you don’t have to follow the onerous reporting requirements of the SVEG. The big disadvantage of the SIRV is the deposit requirement. You must deposit US$75,000 into a designated bank account.

In general if you can make the numbers work, meaning your labor costs are lower than the SIRV deposit requirements, then the SVEG is a good option. In my case I’m planning on creating a tourist attraction in a rural province where labor costs are substantially low. However, if you’re planning on hiring call center employees with college degrees and high levels of English skills in Metro Manila or Cebu you’re better off getting the SIRV.

An Advisory to Expats About Doing Business in The Philippines

Immigrants to any country tend to have more of an entrepreneurial spirit than locals. While that’s not a bad thing you before you even think about starting a business here you need to understand that doing business in The Philippines isn’t the same as doing business back home. It’s easy to be fooled by the cheap written prices but once you factor in the graft, the slowness of government agencies, and the ineffectiveness of the Philippine justice system you’ll quickly realize it costs a lot more to run a business here than is written on paper.

In addition to that, unless you’re doing some sort of export based business or a call center then you need to understand Filipino tastes. In most areas there just aren’t enough foreigners to support a business that caters almost exclusively to them. So before you get the idea of starting a ‘real sari sari‘ or a restaurant with ‘food that actually tastes good’ bear in mind that others before you have thought the same thing.

The Philippines was ranked one of the world’s worst places to do business for a reason. I’m not saying this to scare you, only to encourage you to do your homework first. If your passion is business then go ahead but if you’re just trying to get a visa you’re much better off getting an SRRV or a 13A Spousal Visa. For more information on those see my article on staying in The Philippines permanently.

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