BI reminds selected aliens with BI-issued visas still need travel pass to leave PH

Marje Pelayo   •   March 11, 2021   •   288

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) clarified that some foreign nationals holding visas issued by the agency will be required to present a travel pass before departing from the Philippines.

In an advisory, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said a departing alien must obtain a travel pass from the BI if he or she is a special non-immigrant who is exempted from securing emigration clearance certificate (ECC) and special return certificate (SRC) when leaving the country.

The said ruling is in compliance with an Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) resolution.

The said resolution requires visa issuing authorities to issue a travel pass to departing aliens who were issued visas pursuant to the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 and other special laws governing visa-issuing agencies, except those holding ECCs issued by the BI.

According to Morente, the ruling was crafted by the IATF to allow the BI to be the central repository of data of all foreign nationals in the country.

“While in the meantime, the data is being transmitted to us manually, we hope that in the near future we can start automatic data sharing,” he stated.

Morente advised concerned foreigners to apply for their travel pass at the office of the BI board secretary at the bureau’s main bldg. in Intramuros, Manila.

Applicants for the pass shall submit an accomplished application form and submit a copy of their passport’s biopage, airline ticket, and visa implementation page at least seven (7) days before departure.

Among the aliens who need a travel pass are those who were issued:
* Special Visas for Employment Generation (SVEG)
* Special Non-Immigrant Visa under Republic Act No. 8756 in relation to Executive Order No. 226 or the Omnibus Investment Code
* Special non-immigrant visas under PD 1034
* permanent resident visas under Republic Act No. 7837

BI gears up to impose travel ban on India; clarifies ban not ‘nationality-specific’

Marje Pelayo   •   April 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is gearing up in preparation for the imposed restrictions for travelers coming from India.

The resolution issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) bars the entry of travelers coming from India or those with a travel history to India within the last 14 days preceding arrival beginning April 29 until May 14.

“We will implement this measure seen by the IATF as our response to the emerging situation in India,” said Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente.

The said ban has been imposed following the detection and spread of a new covid variant first detected in India.

“The IATF deems that this proactive restriction must be put in place to slow down the surge in COVID-19 cases, stop further spread of variants, and allow the health system to prepare, essentially protecting more lives,” he added.

Port Operations Division Chief Atty. Carlos Capulong clarified, however, that the travel ban is not specific to any nationality but it applies to any traveler coming from the region.

“We are conducting 100% passport inspection to determine the travel history of an arriving person,” he said.

“If we see that the traveler has been to India within the last 14 days, then he will be excluded and boarded on the next available flight back to his port of origin,” he added.

Capulong added that they are not expecting incoming passengers from India as the IATF resolution clearly stated that airlines are directed not to allow the boarding of passengers pursuant to travel restrictions.

Passengers already in transit who will arrive before April 29 may be allowed, but will be referred to the appropriate agencies for stricter quarantine and testing protocols, to be subjected to an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period, the official concluded.

BI intercepts fake OFWs with falsified OECs bound for Qatar

Marje Pelayo   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Personnel of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Tuesday (April 22) intercepted two Filipinas illegally recruited to work in Qatar.

According to a report from BOC’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU), the two Filipinas were intercepted at the departure area of NAIA Terminal 3 when they attempted to board a flight via Qatar Airways.

“The quick eye of our immigration officers in the frontlines saw that there was reason to suspect the duo, upon noticing that their Overseas Employment Certificates (OECs) are not encoded in our linked database with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA),” TCEU Chief Ma. Timotea Barizo said in her report to Immigration Chief Jaime Morente.

As a matter of protocol, the duo were referred to the terminal’s POEA Labor Assistance Center (LAC) to verify their documents.

They returned presenting a validated slip, which the officers discovered were falsified.

During questioning by the BI’s TCEU, both victims then confessed that their OEC validation forms were only given by their handler near the airport’s exit, to whom they each paid P35,000 in return for the document package they presented.

According to Barizo, falsifying OECs is futile because they have an integrated system with the POEA to check if all departing OFWs are properly documented.

“Securing the proper documents and clearances from the POEA is crucial for all aspiring OFWs to protect them from abusive companies and employers,” Barizo further reminded.

Morente lauded the efforts of immigration officers against human trafficking but expressed his dismay towards trafficking and illegal recruitment syndicates.

“This should now serve as a warning to syndicates who may have falsely believed that the bureau has become lenient in screening documents during the pandemic,” Morente said.

Both victims were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation and assistance.

Immigration Bureau arrests 36 foreign nationals during illegal gambling operations

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Immigration (BI) arrested 36 foreign nationals during a massive illegal gambling operation at the Double Dragon Plaza Tower 3 in Pasay City on Monday (April 19).

According to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, they received reports of foreign nationals working without appropriate permits.

An investigation was conducted and has verified that the company is unlicensed and is not authorized to operate.

The 36 foreigners consist of 2 Chinese nationals, 2 Indonesians, and 32 Koreans.

BI Intelligence Chief Fortunato Manahan, Jr. reported that the company was discovered to be engaged in illegal live studio gambling.

“Apart from the live studio, they were also conducting illegal and clandestine online gaming operations,” he said.

“We initially rounded up 40 individuals but found 4 of them to be sufficiently documented, being permanent residents in the country. However, the other 36 were unable to present their passports and visas, and were caught in the act of working illegally,” he added.

Morente warned illegal aliens not to commit illegal activities.

“We call on all foreigners to legalize your stay,” said Morente. “Do not take advantage of the pandemic, because despite the challenges, our work never stops, and we will continue to arrest, deport, and blacklist any alien who dares to disobey our laws,” he warned. AAC

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