Chinese tourists to get visa upon arrival

THE Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a department circular granting visa upon arrival (VUA) to Chinese nationals in a bid to encourage more tourists and investors from China.

Bureau of Immigration (BI)  Commissioner Jaime H. Morente announced that in line with the DOJ circular signed by Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II, the agency will be issuing landed visas to Chinese nationals at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) and three other international airports (Clark, Mactan and Kalibo) and five seaports (Manila, Puerto Princesa, Subic, Laoag and Caticlan) throughout the country.

Morente said the program is open to Chinese nationals who are members of tour groups organized by tour operators accredited by the tourism department; businessmen endorsed by local and foreign chambers of commerce and other government agencies; and athletes and delegates to conventions and exhibitions.

“Through this scheme, we aim to facilitate the expeditious entry and admission of Chinese nationals into the country and thus attract more tourists and investors from China,” the BI chief said.

Under the rules, interested Chinese nationals may, through their tour operator, apply for their landed visas at the BI for an initial authorized stay of 30 days. They may apply for extension of up to a maximum period of six months.

The BI added that applicants should be holders of valid passports and return tickets, and they should not be in the BI’s blacklist, or subject of an Interpol red notice. Each of them shall be charged a visa fee of $25 and P10 legal research fee.

Applications for VUA should be filed at least 10 working days before their arrival.

If the applicants are qualified, the BI commissioner shall issue an order approving the VUA, which will be presented by the Chinese passengers to immigration officers upon their arrival in the country.

Copies of the order shall also be furnished to the BI port operations division, whose personnel (immigration officers) shall implement the visa on the travel documents of the Chinese passengers during the conduct of arrival formalities at the port of entry.

Morente said a total of 106,036 foreigners have appeared at various field offices of the bureau in compliance with their annual reportorial obligation from last year up to March of this year.

The annual report of aliens is implemented yearly by the BI pursuant to the 1950 Alien Registration Act that requires all foreigners registered with the bureau to appear in person at the nearest immigration field office and pay their annual report fees.

Chinese nationals again topped the list of registrants totaling to 28,189, followed by 10,980 Americans, 8,799 Koreans, 6, 680 Taiwanese and 5,133 Japanese.

Also in the top 10 are Britons (2,886), Germans (1,929), Australians (1,615) and  Indonesians (1,332). Statistics also showed that the bulk of the registrants are holders of pre-arranged working visas, who numbered 24,514, and native-born aliens, who
totaled 18,301.

Earlier, the BI reported that a total of 2,717 foreigners were barred from entering the country during the first six months of the year as part of the agency’s bid to strengthen border security and thwart the entry of undesirable aliens.

Of the total, 1,594 were Chinese nationals, followed by Indians, 127;  South Koreans, 117; Americans, 106; Vietnamese, 101; and  Indonesians, 43.

Morente said of the 2,717 aliens who were ordered to return to their countries from January to June, 2,421 were intercepted at the Naia, while the remaining 296 arrived in the airports of Cebu, Davao, Clark, Iloilo, Kalibo, Laoag and Puerto Princesa, and the Zamboanga seaport in Zamboanga City.

The number of aliens denied entry during the first semester, according to Morente, was 39 percent higher compared to the 1,948 aliens who were turned
back in the same period last year. “We shall continue to exercise utmost vigilance in screening arriving foreigners by seeing to it that they are properly documented and are not likely to become public charges while they are here,” the BI chief said. “It is our job as gatekeepers of the country.”

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