More foreigners, balikbayans coming to Philippines

Rudy Santos - The Philippine Star
More foreigners, balikbayans coming to Philippines
This photo taken May 26 shows stranded Overseas Filipino Workers who will be flown back to their home provinces through the 18 chartered flights of the Department of Transportation as part of the government's“Hatid Probinsya Para sa mga OFWs” program.
Department of Transportation / released

MANILA, Philippines — More foreigners and balikbayans have been arriving through the country’s main gateway since the government reopened the Philippines to international travelers last Feb. 10.

Personnel operating at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminals observed that more foreign tourists are now coming in from France, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, China and other Asian countries.

Airlines also reported a noticeable increase in passenger arrivals at the NAIA.

Yesterday’s Gulf Air flight GF 154 from Bahrain, for instance, arrived with 214 passengers. At the height of the pandemic, this flight only had about 50-60 passengers on board.

“We are slowly on the edge of recovery,” an airline officer told The STAR.

Dana Sandoval, spokesperson of the Bureau of Immigration (BI), said foreigners from visa-free countries who wish to visit the Philippines must be fully vaccinated or they will be denied entry.

This requirement, along with a negative RT-PCR test 48 hours before boarding the flight from the country of origin, applies even to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and returning overseas Filipinos or balikbayans.

The BI said an arriving balikbayan and his/her spouse and children who are traveling with them are now exempted from presenting an outbound ticket.

But they should be registered online with One Health Pass prior to boarding their flight to the Philippines like all other inbound passengers.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) recently exempted the outbound ticket requirement for returning overseas Filipinos and their families.

“This adjusted policy allows those arriving under a balikbayan status to better enjoy their one-year visa-free privilege,” explained Morente.

Balikbayans, as defined by the BI, are former Filipinos who have been naturalized to any of the 157 countries under Executive Order No. 408, s. of 1960 as amended.

Balikbayan is entitled to a one-year visa-free entry, which they can extend to their spouse and children if traveling to the Philippines together with them.

Family members of Filipinos not included in the list of visa-free countries, on the other hand, are required to secure an entry visa prior to their arrival.



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