Only foreigners with permanent or immigrant visas will be allowed to enter the Philippines, the country’s Bureau of Immigration (BI) said today.
Just a few days ago, the Duterte government had announced that all non-Filipino nationals with a “valid and existing visa” will be allowed to enter the country starting next month. However, the BI clarified that only those who are living in the country, and not visiting tourists, will be allowed entry.
“For the information of the public, the entry of foreign tourists, non-immigrant visa holders, and other categories of aliens are still prohibited. They will be turned back if they land in any of our ports of entry,” Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente stressed in a statement.
Morente said that he had to release the advisory after the bureau’s field offices were swamped with calls and questions from people who thought that the Philippines has opened its doors to all foreigners.
“The resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is clear — only foreigners with existing long-term visas will be allowed entry beginning August 1. So if you are not a permanent resident here, do not attempt to travel to the Philippines because you will be excluded and denied entry by our immigration officers,” Morente said.
Only four foreign visa categories will be allowed entry next month, according to the bureau. The said foreigners should fall under the following categories:
- Immigrant visa holders
- Foreigners who obtained resident status through Republic Act 7919 or the Alien Social Integration Act
- Foreigners who availed of Executive Order 324 or the Alien Legalization Program
- Foreign nationals who were born in the Philippines
BI Port Operations Division Acting Chief Grifton Medina emphasized that foreigners married to Filipinos and their dependents, and as an exception, foreign diplomats, can also enter the country as earlier resolved by the IATF.
“We are therefore advising the different airlines to take note of these latest travel guidelines so that they can accordingly inform their foreign customers who may wish to book their flights to the Philippines,” Medina said.
He added that the BI is not expecting a surge in foreign arrivals despite lifting restrictions.
The bureau’s records show that there are some 15,000 foreign residents of the Philippines stranded abroad due to the pandemic, Medina said.
Nearly 200,000 foreign citizens live in the Philippines, according to data released by the Philippine Statistics Office in 2010. The majority of them come from the United States, China, and Japan.