The Bureau of Immigration (BI) will be implementing the resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) on expanding the list of foreigners allowed entry to the Philippines starting February 16.
In an advisory released by the BI, following IATF Resolution No. 98, beginning February 16, those with valid and existing visas who were not permitted to enter the country under the previous IATF resolutions are now allowed to enter.
“Additional categories with existing visas are now allowed to enter,” said BI Commissioner Jaime Morente. The list includes foreigners with valid 9(g) working visas, 9(f) student visas, Special Visa for Employment Generation (SVEG), and Special Investors Residence Visa (SIRV) under Executive Order 63, issued on or prior to March 20, 2020 may now enter the country.
It can be recalled that in March, the government imposed the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the entire Luzon due to the spread of Covid-19.
“It will allow those who were unable to return due to the travel restrictions,” said Morente. “However, those whose visas were issued after March 20 would still need to present an exemption from the Department of Foreign Affairs upon entry,” he added.
The resolution added that holders of Special Resident and Retirees Visa (SRRV), and 9(a) temporary visitor’s visa may also be allowed to enter, as long as they present an entry exemption document.
BI Port Operations Division Chief Atty. Candy Tan explained that not all tourists may be allowed entry.
“Tourists would need to present a pre-applied entry exemption document. The entry exemption document may be requested from the DFA’s Philippine posts abroad, subject to their assessment and approval,” said Tan.
Tan added that the visa free privileges of foreigners from 157 countries remain suspended.
“Those who wish to enter the country under a tourist status must secure an entry visa first,” said Tan. “Only those that fall under the balikbayan privilege may be granted visa-free entry,” he added.
A Balikbayan, by law, means a former Filipino, his or her spouse and children, and the spouse and children of a Filipino.
Tan reiterated that only those traveling with the Filipino or former Filipino spouse, and are nationals of visa-free countries under EO 408, are entitled to the balikbayan privilege. “If they will be entering the country without the Filipino or former Filipino spouse, then they would have to secure an entry visa,” she stated.
The BI said that all passengers are required to have a pre-booked accommodation for at least six nights in an accredited quarantine hotel or facility.
“Despite the inclusion of other categories, we are not expecting a major upsurge since the number of arriving passengers remain controlled,” said Tan.
“Arrivals are subject to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers set by the National Task Force for Covid-19,” he added.
Morente warned that those who were cleared for entry but subsequently found to have presented a fake booking for a quarantine facility by the Department of Tourism (DOT) will be referred to the BI for deportation proceedings.
“We warn those who will try to circumvent quarantine requirements by presenting fake bookings,” said Morente. “We are in close coordination with the DOT, who will refer to us anyone found to have presented fake documents during their arrival,” he warned.