One of the unfortunate, if necessary, consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic is the imposition of travel bans by governments in order to protect their people and their territories. The Philippines is no exception to this, as its government moved swiftly to craft rules restricting the entry of foreign nationals to control the spread of the virus.
In order to clarify who, exactly, may or may not enter the Philippines in the wake of the pandemic, and under what conditions, we have summarised below the recent regulations issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI), in response to recommendations of the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
The regulations impose a general ban on the entry of foreign nationals (non-Filipinos), even those who hold valid visas or hold visa-free privileges. Said regulations also suspend the issuance of new visas.
However, such issuances allow certain exemptions, which are listed below.
1. Dual citizens
As a general rule, only citizens of the Philippines are allowed entry into the Philippines at this time, pursuant to DFA’s Foreign Service Circular (FSC) No. 29-2020.
This means that the visa-free privileges of former Filipinos under the Balikbayan Program, as well as the visa-free privileges of most foreign nationals, including Australians, are indefinitely suspended.
Former Filipino citizens are not allowed to travel to the Philippines at this time unless they are dual citizens. Individuals under this category are encouraged to apply for dual citizenship under Republic Act 9225 if they have an urgent need to visit the Philippines.
2. 9a (Temporary Visitor) visa holders
Under the same Circular, the following foreign nationals may travel to the Philippines if they possess, or are subsequently issued, 9a (Temporary Visitor) visas:
- Foreign spouses of Filipino nationals;
- Foreign minor children of Filipino nationals or children with special needs of Filipino nationals, of whatever age; and
- Foreign parents of minor Filipino children or Filipino children with special needs, regardless of age (DFA FSC No. 36-2020).
People in the above category must present proof of their filiation or relationship with the Filipino national. The proof may be birth/marriage certificates issued by the Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA), or apostilled/authenticated certificates, in the case of those born or married abroad.
Foreign partners of pregnant Filipino nationals
On humanitarian grounds, requests for issuance of 9a visas may be made on behalf of the foreign partners of pregnant Filipino nationals, provided the following documents, aside from the regular visa requirements, are presented:
- Medical certificate on the pregnancy of the partner Filipino national;
- A duly-notarised affidavit executed by the foreign partner (father of the unborn child) stating that they have been in a relationship even before the COVID-19 pandemic; and
- Other documentary proof establishing such a relationship; and
- Documentary proof of the citizenship of the pregnant Filipino partner (DFA CIR-1568-OUCSCC-2020).
Requests for exemption may be submitted to the concerned offices of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila.
3. Valid visa holders in these categories
In addition to the above, holders of valid visas in the following categories are now allowed entry as of July 20, 2020 (under BI Memorandum of the same date):
- 9c (Seaman’s Visa);
- Immigrant Visas (Section 13) under the following subcategories: 13 Quota; 13a (Immigrant Visa by Marriage); 13b (Child of alien parents born during a visit abroad of a permanent resident mother, if a child is accompanying or coming to join a parent); 13c (Child born subsequent to the issuance of Immigrant Visa of the accompanying parent); 13d (Filipino woman who lost her citizenship by marriage and her unmarried child under twenty-one years of age, if accompanying or following to join her); and 13e (Returning Resident);
- R.A. 7919 (Social Integration Program of the Philippines) visas;
- E.O. 324 (Foreign nationals who are beneficiaries of the passport waiver law)
- Native-born Visa (Foreign nationals born in the Philippines whose parents, either or both, are lawful permanent residents).
4. SIRV and SRRV holders may apply for exemption
Finally, holders of valid Special Invester’s Resident Visas (SIRVs) and Special Retiree Resident Visas (SRRVs), though not exempted from the ban, may submit requests to enter the country to the concerned Philippine embassies or consulates. If found meritorious, the requests will be submitted to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in the case of SIRVs, or the Department of Tourism, in the case of SRRVs (Foreign Service Circular No, 36-2020).
Requirements for entry to the Philippines
For all of the above who are allowed entry to the Philippines, the IATF-EID requires the following:
- Pre-booked accredited quarantine facility;
- Pre-booked COVID-19 testing provider; and
- Compliance with limits on the number of inbound passengers.
The Philippine Consulate General in Melbourne welcomes questions or requests for clarification.
While the Philippine Consulate General office in Melbourne is temporarily closed, ConGen Anthony Mandap may be contacted on +61 426 561 217, via email email@example.com or via Facebook.
READ MORE: Dual citizenship: all ‘pros’ and no ‘cons’
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