The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has suspended the license of a travel agency that allegedly created fake Visas Upon Arrival (VUAs) for Chinese nationals, the bureau announced today in a press statement.
The unnamed travel agency is currently being investigated, and was told to explain why its license should not be canceled in light of the discovery of the alleged crime.
“We received a report from our men stationed at the airports that they have intercepted a number of Chinese nationals who showed fake VUA orders,” said Morente. “What these illegals do not know is that we have incorporated VUA records in our computer systems since early last year, hence visas are immediately verified upon presentation to the officer.”
He added that the BI had already put in place certain measures to prevent the tampering of VUAs.
“Apart from real-time system verification, we have also instituted the Special Operations Communications Unit that conducts checking and auditing of VUAs encountered at our ports,” said Morente. “We will not tolerate those who make a mockery of our policies. We have put in safeguards to ensure that tampering will not happen, do not even think schemes like this will not be caught.”
The government first allowed VUAs to be issued to Chinese tourists in 2017 in an effort to boost investment and tourism. Initially, the 30-day VUAs could be extended to up to six months, and could also be converted into work visas. But amid a growing backlash to what some have characterized as an overwhelming influx of Chinese workers, new rules released earlier this month say that VUAs could no longer be renewed or converted to work or resident visas.
Chinese workers have been moving to the country in droves to work at Philippine offshore gaming companies, or POGOs, which largely serve a Chinese clientele. POGOs have become easy targets for criticism in recent months, with some being called out for tax evasion, and at least one official accusing them of being magnets for crime.
This article, Immigration Dept suspends travel agency for allegedly creating fake visas for Chinese nationals, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!