Immigration bureau to public: Travel restrictions still in place

(Eagle News) — The Bureau of Immigration on Wednesday, Oct. 7, reminded the public travel restrictions remain in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that while the bureau acknowledges the #Loveisnottourism movement calling on the government to allow foreign fiancés of Filipinos to enter the country, and  understand “how difficult it must be” to be separated loved ones, this was “a temporary measure.”

“We trust the wisdom of the (Inter-Agency Task Force), and we are ready to implement immediately, should there be any changes in travel restrictions,” Morente said.

On Tuesday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said that the country was not ready to be opened to foreigners, as it needs to iron out some issues and set up protocols first.

“Generally speaking, only Filipinos, their spouse and minor children are allowed to enter the country holding tourist visas,” Morente said.

So far, foreign children with special needs of Filipinos, foreign parents of minor Filipinos, and foreign parents of Filipino children with special needs are allowed to enter the country.

Morente said that those who are eligible to enter are required to secure an entry visa from Philippine embassies or consulates, prior to their arrival.

“We have encountered instances when spouses of Filipinos who previously enjoyed visa-free privileges try to enter the country under the same manner,” said Morente.

In March, the Department of Foreign Affairs temporarily suspended visa-free privileges, which meant a total of 157 countries are now required to secure entry visas from foreign posts.

Apart from these categories, accredited foreign government and international organization officials and their dependents, foreign airline crew members, foreign seafarers with 9(c) visas, and foreigners with long-term visas are allowed.

As for those seeking to travel abroad, Morente said there were still restrictions set by the IATF.

The bureau said only foreign nationals, overseas Filipino workers, permanent visa holders, students enrolled abroad and participants accepted in exchange visitor programs, and those traveling for essential reasons are allowed to leave the country.

Essential travel, Morente said, means it is for immediate business, a medical emergency, and other humanitarian reasons.

“Visiting relatives abroad for a vacation is still not considered under essential travel,” Morente said.

“These restrictions were set by the IATF to protect everyone from the threat of Covid-19. If your travel is non-essential, it is best to defer it when the pandemic has subsided,” he added.