PH Immigration suspends agency caught duplicating visas

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday said it has suspended the accreditation of an agency for allegedly duplicating approved visa orders.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said they found an evidence that the agency allowed some Chinese nationals to avail of the visa upon arrival (VUA) facility though fraud, misrepresentation, or false information.

“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,” Morente said in a statement.

“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.

The Immigration chief said the agency, which was not identified pending investigation, was required to submit a written explanation on why its accreditation should not be cancelled and its cash bond should not be forfeited.

He added that they have instituted strict measures to ensure that tampering with VUAs will not happen, following concerns from the public regarding the issuance of said visas.

“Apart from real time system verification, we have also instituted the Special Operations Communications Unit (SOCU) that conducts checking and auditing of VUAs encountered at our ports,” Morente said.

“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,” he added.

Last January 8, the Department of Justice issued Department Circular No. 001 ordering tightened procedures on the granting of VUAs to Chinese nationals.

In said order, the department shortened the allowable period of stay for VUA holders to a maximum non-extendible period of 30 days.

The visa upon arrival program was implemented by the BI following a 2017 circular from the DOJ ordering the grant of VUA to Chinese nationals.

The move, as initiated by the Department of Tourism, aimed to provide faster processing to attract more tourists and investors from China, which reports say has the world’s largest number of outbound tourists.

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