2 South Korean nationals barred from entering PHL

Robie de Guzman   •   August 19, 2020   •   437

File photo of the Mactan, Cebu Airport

MANILA, Philippines – Two South Korean nationals were prohibited from entering the country after presenting fraudulent documents at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Wednesday.

The two foreigners reportedly presented bogus copies of certificates of their alleged marriage to Filipinos.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente identified the foreigners as Shin Bumsik and Woo Jungje.

The bureau said the two stopped at the airport last August 17 after arriving via Aseana Airlines flight from Seoul.

Both passengers, who had tourist visas, presented scanned copies of marriage certificates purportedly showing they are married to Filipinas.

This reportedly aroused the suspicion of the immigration officers on duty who decided to refer the passengers to their supervisors for secondary inspection.

Immigration officers later found that Shin Bumsik was only 20 years old and could not have married a Filipina as he had never traveled to the Philippines before.

Woo Jungje, on the other hand, was caught lying as it was discovered that he was out of the country at the time of his supposed marriage last October 2019.

Morente said the two foreigners have already been included in the immigration blacklist of undesirable aliens.

“Don’t trick our officers by presenting bogus marriage certificates because that will not work. You will be turned back to where you came from and can no longer return to our country,” he said.

The BI Chief stressed that possession of an entry visa does not guarantee a foreigner’s entry into the country because immigration officers have the lawful mandate and discretion to assess arriving foreigners, inquire about the purpose of their trip, and examine the documents that they presented.

“If you lie and resort to fraud and misrepresentation, you are unfit to be given the privilege to enter our country. You will be excluded and booked on the first available flight back to your port of origin,” Morente said.

Nearly 3,000 Chinese nationals ordered to leave PH for violating visa rules – BI

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A total of 2,736 Chinese nationals have been ordered to leave the country for violating the conditions of their visa, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Tuesday.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that from January to October, Chinese nationals who were granted visas upon arrival (VUA) but failed to leave on their departure date were given orders to leave.

Under the VUA system, visa grantees are not allowed to extend their stay beyond 30 days.

“More than half of those who were ordered to leave were blacklisted from the country,” Morente said in a statement.

“While some were unable to leave due to circumstance, following the cancellation of many flights due to the pandemic, those who stayed without sufficient basis were included in our blacklist,” he added.

The VUA program, a joint project of the tourism and justice departments, was launched in 2017 to attract Chinese tourists and tour groups to travel and stay in the Philippines without the need to apply for visas at Philippine consulates in their places of origin.

Travelers may apply for a VUA through tour operators accredited by the Department of Tourism.

“VUA arrivals account for only around 5% of total Chinese arrivals in the country,” Morente said.

“Most of those who arrived already secured their entry visas from our foreign posts abroad,” he added.

The implementation of the VUA was suspended in January due to the coronavirus disease pandemic.

Immigration employees showing COVID-19 symptoms to get free swab tests

Robie de Guzman   •   October 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Employees exhibiting novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will be provided with free RT-PCR tests, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Monday.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the effort is to ensure the health and safety of the bureau’s personnel.

“Being frontliners, BI personnel are one of the most at risk as we are in close contact with numerous people every day in the performance of our duties,” he said.

BI Deputy Commissioner Aldwin Alegre, who chairs the BI COVID Task Force, said the swab testing will be conducted through the help of partner agencies.

“We have received allocation for swab kits from the Philippine Coast Guard and the Local Government Unit of Manila,” Alegre said.

“We are very thankful for their support, and this will go a long way in our fight against Covid,” he added.

Alegre said priority will be given to symptomatic employees, as well as those who came in close contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients.

Testing for BI employees will be conducted at the Palacio de Maynila, Manila Health Office, and Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros.

BI to ease departure travel restrictions starting October 21

Marje Pelayo   •   October 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has announced that it will be implementing eased departure restrictions for Filipino citizens following the resolution issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases. 

“Starting October 21, the BI will be allowing the departure of Filipinos with non-essential travel,” BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said.

“Outbound tourism is now allowed for Filipinos, subject to compliance with protocols set by the IATF,” he added.

Initially, only foreign nationals, overseas Filipino workers, permanent visa holders, students enrolled abroad, participants accepted in exchange visitor programs, as well as those who had essential travel, were allowed to depart.

Recently, the IATF through Resolution no. 79 further relaxed restrictions now including non-essential travels.

However, the IATF requires outbound Filipino tourists to present a round trip ticket, health and travel insurance, and a negative antigen result at least 24 hours before departure. 

Also, according to the ruling, if the country of destination requires an RT-PCR test, then the same must be presented instead.

Departing Filipinos shall also be required to sign a declaration acknowledging the risks of their travel, to be provided by airline check-in counters. 

Commissioner Morente stressed that after the said process, passengers will still undergo regular immigration assessment.

He clarified, however, that inbound restrictions are still in place. 

“We are on standby for any changes in policy, as directed by the IATF and the President,” he stated.

Currently, only Filipinos, their spouse and minor children are allowed to enter the country holding tourist visas. 

Restrictions allow foreign children with special needs of Filipinos, the foreign parent of minor Filipinos, and the foreign parent of Filipino children with special needs to enter the country.

Those who are eligible to enter are required to secure an entry visa from Philippine embassies or consulates, prior to their arrival.

Apart from said categories, accredited foreign government and international organization officials and their dependents, foreign airline crewmembers, foreign seafarers with 9(c) visas, and foreigners with long-term visas are also allowed.

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