US Embassy in Manila cancels visa appointments scheduled through March 31

Marje Pelayo   •   January 6, 2021   •   276

MANILA, Philippines — The United States Embassy in Manila has canceled all visa appointments scheduled through March 31, 2021.

Specifically, the schedule cancellation affects applications for H-1B, H-2B, L-1, J visas of individuals participating in the intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program, as well as any spouses or children of covered applicants applying for H-4, L-2, or J-2 visas.

The decision is in line with the Presidential Proclamation on Suspension of Entry of Immigrants and Nonimmigrants Who Continue to Present a Risk to the United States Labor Market signed by US President Donald Trump on December 30, 2020.

U.S. Embassies and Consulates have continued to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services since March and will continue to do so as they are able.  

As global conditions evolve and the Philippine conditions improve, we will begin providing additional services, culminating eventually in a complete resumption of routine visa operations.

Once routine visa services resume, all affected applicants should reschedule their visa interviews through the Embassy call center by phone at (+632) 7792-8988 and (+632) 8548-8223, or through the online appointment system at ustraveldocs.com/ph. 

The Embassy maintains that there is no fee to change an appointment, and the validity of the visa fee payment is extended until September 30, 2022.

Thi is to allow all applicants who are unable to schedule a visa appointment as a result of the suspension of routine consular operations an opportunity to schedule and/or attend a visa interview appointment with the already paid fee.

PH expands entry restrictions, bans travelers from the US effective Jan. 3

Marje Pelayo   •   January 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced the expansion of entry travel restrictions effective midnight of January 3 following an order from Malacañang.

According to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, the list of those restricted to enter the Philippines now  includes foreign passengers coming from the United States of America (USA).

The USA adds to the list of 21 countries with temporary travel restrictions imposed due to the reported new strain of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that has plagued the United Kingdom.

“However, aliens from the US eligible for entry that arrive prior to January 3 will be allowed to enter but will be referred to the One Stop Shop for an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period,” Morente explained.

Meanwhile, Morente clarified that Filipinos who will be arriving from said regions will be allowed to enter, but will likewise be referred for a strict 14-day quarantine.

According to the BI, foreigners coming from the following countries are temporarily prohibited from entering the Philippines:

  • United Kingdom
  • Denmark
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • Israel
  • The Netherlands
  • Hong Kong SAR
  • Switzerland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Lebanon
  • Singapore
  • Sweden
  • South Korea
  • South Africa
  • Canada
  • Spain
  • USA

The BI Chief clarified that in the new ruling, starting January 3, passengers who are merely transiting through any of the countries covered by the ban will be allowed to enter, provided that they stayed in the airport the whole time and were not cleared for entry in the covered country by its immigration authorities.

“Aliens with connecting flights and merely had a layover in the 21 countries may now be allowed to enter if eligible for entry,” said Morente.  

“But if they left the airport or were cleared for arrival in the 21 countries, then they are prohibited from entering the Philippines,” he added.

Morente added that those who traveled to the 21 countries 14 days prior to their arrival in the Philippines will also be disallowed entry.  He stated that aliens not coming from the 21 restricted countries are subject to the existing Inter-Agency Task Force Against Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) guidelines.

The BI appealed to the public to bear with the government for implementing the travel restrictions.  

“These are temporary measures that the government needs to take to prevent the entry of the new strain of Covid-19,” said BI Port Operations Division Chief Atty. Candy Tan.

“While we are hoping for the revival of confidence in international travel, we are constrained to take these measures for everyone’s safety,” she stated.

Immigration Bureau arrests alleged US pedophile in Cebu

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — An alleged American pedophile, wanted for sex crimes in the United States (US) has been arrested in Cebu, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced on Sunday (December 13).

Donald Robert Tyler, 57, was arrested in his home in Brgy. San Roque, Ginatilan, Cebu by joint operatives of the bureau’s fugitive search unit (FSU) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Thursday (December 10).

“The arresting agents were reportedly armed with a mission order which Morente issued at the request of American authorities in Manila,” the BI reported.

Based on a report, Tyler is subject of an arrest warrant issued by a circuit Court in Josephine County, Oregon on November 4 last year.

The BI said Tyler is a retiree in the Philippines, but is already considered an undocumented alien due to the cancellation of his passport by the State Department. The agency also added he will be banned from re-entering the Philippines for being an “undesirable alien.”

Tyler will be temporarily detained at the BI warden facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City pending his deportation. AAC

US FDA authorizes first COVID-19 kit for self-testing at home

Robie de Guzman   •   November 18, 2020

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it has approved the first novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) diagnostic test for self-testing at home.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the US FDA said it has issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit, made by Lucira Health, for home use with self-collected nasal swab samples in individuals age 14 and older who are suspected of COVID-19 by their health care provider.  

The Lucira COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit is a molecular (real-time loop mediated amplification reaction) single use test that is intended to detect the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19, the US FDA said.

“While COVID-19 diagnostic tests have been authorized for at-home collection, this is the first that can be fully self-administered and provide results at home,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn.

“This new testing option is an important diagnostic advancement to address the pandemic and reduce the public burden of disease transmission,” he added.

The FDA said the test works by swirling the self-collected sample swab in a vial that is then placed in the test unit.

“In 30 minutes or less, the results can be read directly from the test unit’s light-up display that shows whether a person is positive or negative for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Positive results indicate the presence of SARS-CoV-2,” it added.

Individuals with positive results are advised to self-isolate and seek additional care from their health care provider.

While those who test negative and experience COVID-like symptoms should follow up with their health care provider as negative results do not preclude an individual from SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The kit may also be used in point-of-care (POC) settings such as doctor’s offices, hospitals, urgent care centers and emergency rooms for all ages but samples must be collected by a healthcare provider when the test is used at the POC to test individuals younger than 14 years old.

The test is currently authorized for prescription use only, the FDA said.

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