Visa scam spurs new restriction on Chinese nationals

26 Feb 14

PHILIPPINES

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? A Department of Justice investigation that uncovered the fraudulent use of documents by 70 Chinese nationals has prompted the Bureau of Immigration to create a new rule for Chinese tourists.

What does the change mean? Chinese nationals on sponsored tours will not be allowed to change their admission status (such as changing to a work visa), nor allowed to extend their visa without consent of the tour operator.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: 9(a) Temporary Visitor visas.
  • Who is affected: Chinese nationals who enter the Philippines on the sponsorship of an accredited tour operator.
  • Impact on processing times: None.
  • Business impact: Companies bringing prospective Chinese national employees into the Philippines should sponsor their 9(a) visas directly to be sure they are eligible to apply for the necessary work visa in-country.

Background: Following an investigation, the Department of Justice uncovered a scam in which a company used fraudulent documents to obtain 47(a)(2) Special Non-immigrant visas for 70 Chinese nationals. Their entry was sponsored by travel agencies accredited with the Department of Tourism.

In addition to deporting the 70 Chinese nationals, the Bureau of Immigration issued Operations Order No. SBM-2014-009, indicating it will strictly prohibit Chinese nationals sponsored by accredited tour operators from (1) obtaining visa waivers or extensions, unless they have consent of their sponsoring accredited travel operators, or (2) changing their admission status from a tourist to any other visa status while in the Philippines.

BAL Analysis: The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is cracking down on the abuse of 47(a)(2) Special Non-immigrant visas. In addition to this new rule targeting Chinese nationals, the BI last week announced a related policy change requiring foreign nationals to leave the country if their 47(a)(2) visas lapse.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in Singapore. For additional information, please contact singapore@balglobal.com.

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