Philippines

‘Balikbayan’ visa only for visiting ex-Pinoys, kin: BI

‘Balikbayan’ visa only for visiting ex-Pinoys, kin: BI

By Ferdinand Patinio 

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MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Friday reminded the public of the bounds of the “Balikbayan Program” intended for former Filipinos visiting the country.

“Under Republic Act No. 6768, the one-year Balikbayan visa privilege is exclusively given to former Filipinos naturalized abroad, and their spouse and children who are travelling with them,” Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement.

The BI chief issued the statement after an actor, who the agency refused to name, reportedly made a scene at the immigration area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 on Thursday.

The celebrity, who is a holder of an American passport, reportedly “shouted and cursed” at immigration officials after he was only given a 30-day stay in the country.

In a separate statement, BI spokesperson Dana Krizia Sandoval noted that those who have Philippine lineage do not necessarily qualify for the privilege.

“The privilege is for former Filipinos, and their immediate family members who are traveling with them only. If these family members are not traveling with the Filipino or former Filipino, they are not qualified for the one-year visa free privilege,” the BI official added.

Sandoval explained that those who are admitted as Balikbayans are given an initial stay of 12 months, which they may extend for another one to six months.

Those who do not qualify, but are on the list of 157 countries eligible for visa-free entry pursuant to Executive Order No. 408, get an automatic 30-day visa upon their arrival.

Sandoval, meanwhile, warned foreigners who disrespect immigration officers.

“While our immigration officers have been instructed to observe maximum tolerance, it is against the law to disrespect immigration authorities, and violating aliens may be excluded and blacklisted from the Philippines,” Sandoval said.

“Showing disrespect to symbols of authority is essentially showing disrespect to the country,” she added. (PNA)

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