BI: Overstaying Chinese nationals with Visa Upon Arrival told to leave
The Visa Upon Arrival program was suspended in January due to the novel coronavirus.
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BI: Overstaying Chinese nationals with Visa Upon Arrival told to leave
Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - October 27, 2020 - 3:29pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration has ordered more than 2,700 Chinese nationals who violated conditions of their visa to leave the Philippines.

In a statement on Tuesday, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that, from January to October, the bureau ordered 2,736 Chinese nationals to leave for violating the conditions of the Visa Upon Arrival.

The Chinese nationals entered the country through the VUA program implemnted by the departments of justice and tourism.

A VUA holder is not allowed to stay in the country more than 30 days, according to the amended rules.

READ: DOJ shortens visa upon arrival for Chinese tourists to 30 days

Morente said that some of those ordered to leave were unable to leave the Philippines due to the cancellation of flights during the pandemic. But those “who stayed without sufficient basis were included in our blacklist,” he added.

More than half of the Chinese tourists ordered to leave will be barred from entering the Philippines again.

VUA still suspended

The VUA program was launched in 2017. Visas upon arrival are granted to Chinese tourists screened by Department of Tourism-accredited tour operators in China and vetted by the BI.

Chinese tourists and groups are allowed to enter the country under this program without the need to apply for visas in Philippine consulates in their place of origin.

Morente said that VUA arrival account for 5% of the total Chinese arrivals in the country.

In January, the immigration bureau suspended the implementation of the VUA to address the risk posed by the coronavirus by “[slowing] down the influx of group tours.”

It remains suspended to this day.

The VUA program is also currently in hot water as the Senate continues its investigation into corruption in BI. The Senate Committee on Women uncovered the “pastillas” scheme at the bureau were immigration officers receive a fee for the seamless entry of Chinese nationals into the country.

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