Philippine immigration restrictions

Philippine immigration restrictions

Overview

The Philippine government has decided to tighten security regarding entry of certain nationalities into the Philippines.

According to the Philippine Ship Agents’ Association (PSAA) the current situation may be outlined as follows, following a meeting between the PSAA and the Bureau of Immigration:

  1. Visaed crew list requirement remain in force in line with security concerns of the recent crisis in Marawi
  2. List of restricted 13 nationals was provided per DFA Foreign Service Circular 22-10:

    • Afghanistan 
    • Algeria
    • Egypt
    • Iran
    • Iraq
    • Jordan
    • Lebanon
    • Libya
    • Pakistan
    • Palestine
    • Sudan
    • Syria
    • Yemen
    • Stateless persons
  3. It was clarified that denying entry into the country is not only confined to the island of Mindanao which is under Martial Law, per Immigration AO JHM2017 006, above nationals will also be restricted to:

    • Areas of conflict - this is where Mindanao is currently classified under being under martial law
    • Areas of international assembly - example: ASEAN, these nationals are denied entry into Manila during the ASEAN
    • Places where the President and or other key officials of government are present - example: during visit of the President and PM Abe of Japan, entry into Davao was not allowed
    • Other areas that may be identified by the commissioner or his authorized representative

    It was explained further that the AO has no time frame. Restriction will apply anytime when any of the 4 conditions is present. For the Mindanao Martial Law, this is envisaged to end on 31 December 2017. 

  4. Two points were then raised, what will be the procedure if a vessel is:

    • Ships coming from outside Philippine territory and is already steaming to Mindanao
    • Already at a port in Luzon or Visayas then bound for Mindanao.

    No definite procedure was given, however it can be that either vessel is requested to drift outside or if allowed, to anchor while waiting for the immigration approval. 

  5. If a vessel has restricted nationals on board, the initial inclination per policy is to deny entry. But in consideration of not inhibiting trade immigration may consider entry, but, the agent must:

    • make an appeal to the immigration office and explain the legitimate purpose of the vessel's call. One suggestion from the authorities is to request owners to prove that the nationals in question do not have any record. It was suggested that documents from other foreign parties may help, such as a letter from the embassy/embassies of the particular individuals certifying their identity etc.
  6. The bureau has no set implementing guidelines yet on how they will manage a vessel with restricted crew that is granted entry. It is possible that they may put additional guards and or refuse issuance of shore passes.
  7. Having a visaed crewlist or visa does not guarantee entry. According to the Bureau, the DFA can issue a visa, but the final approval for entry will still be up to the immigration's enforcement of policy. For example: The applicant may obtain visa but if the person arrives at the airport or seaport and displays a behavior that shows reasonable cause to deny entry, it will be immigration's decision to deny entry/deportation. 

 

Merete Lund Greisen
in Copenhagen, DK

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