Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra revealed over the weekend that the government specifically the Bureau of Immigration will implement stricter rules on the visa upon arrival policy (VUA).
Guevarra made the statement in light of growing public uproar over the influx of Chinese in the past months.
“We intend to limit the maximum permissible period to 30 days, blacklist overstaying aliens, ensure non-convertibility to work visas, and impose sanctions on travel agencies breaking the rules,” Guevarra said.
He disclosed that the BI, an attached agency of the Department of Justice, will tighten up rules on the issuance of VUA.
Under current rules, the VUA is good for 30 days but may be extended up to 6 months.
However, Guevarra noted that VUA was previously “non-convertible ever since.”
“But if it’s a regular tourist visa issued by our consular offices abroad, it may be converted to a work visa upon compliance with all legal requirements,” he said.
The VUA program allows Chinese tourists to apply for visa upon arrival in the country, instead of applying beforehand at the Philippine Embassy and consulates in China.
First implemented during the time of former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II in 2017, the move was initiated by the tourism department to lure more Chinese tourists and investors.
Aside from Chinese tourists, other nationals may also avail themselves of the program if they are foreign investors endorsed by relevant organizations, delegates to sports competitions and international conventions and officials of the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other development partners.