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BI chief says there are no anomalies in issuance of student visas

Norman Tansingco
Tansincgo says rise in numbers of foreign students due to successful government campaign. (JERRY S., TAN)

There are no ‘anomalies’ in the issuance of student visas.

Thus said Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Norman Tansingco, as he stressed that “everything is aboveboard” and that “these students have been issued visas after being vetted and were endorsed by legitimate schools.”

These pronouncements were made by Tansingco at the recent hearing of the Committee on Justice at the House of Representatives, where he said that foreign students who were issued visas were able to acquire said visas after being endorsed by a legitimate Higher Education Institution (HEI), as accredited or recognized by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

“The rise in foreign students in the country is a product of the Philippines’ aggressive marketing to promote the country as an educational hub in Asia, and not because of any ‘anomaly’. For the past years, the Philippine government has been promoting the country as a regional and global education hub,” he said.

The BI chief stated that foreign nationals who acquire their student visas may be subjected to checks by the NICA and the NBI as part of their role in the IACFS, for activities “which appear to be inimical to the security of the State”.

“Actions of foreign students is, however, worth looking into by government intelligence agencies given that it is well within their mandate and is necessary in ensuring national security,” said Tansingco.

All HEIs that accept foreign nationals as students are required to submit their regular reports to the DFA, which in turn shall perform initial vetting; BI that will monitor their visa compliance; CHED which shall ensure compliance with school-related policies and the NICA and NBI that shall conduct investigations on suspicious activities.

“The rise in the number of foreign nationals studying in our local schools is not a result of anomalies or abuse in governance at the BI. Their numbers rise because the government is succeeding in getting foreigners to trust our educational system,” Tansingco added.

In 2023, the BI issued a total of 24,191 visas to foreign nationals in the Philippines.

CHED, during the hearing, shared that under Executive Order No. 285, the Interagency Committee on Foreign Students (IACFS) is mandated to promote the Philippines as a center for education in the Asia Pacific Region by encouraging students to study in the country.

The BI is part of the inter-agency, headed by CHED, together with National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of Education (DepEd).

Itchie G. Cabayan
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