FOREIGN spouses and children of Filipino citizens were advised by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) not to travel to the Philippines if the Filipino or former Filipino is not traveling with them or is not in the Philippines, lest they be turned back upon their arrival at the airport.
The advisory came after the bureau received a clarification from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), explaining the rationale behind the recent decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to lift the restrictions on the entry of foreigners who are immediate family members of Filipinos.
“The intent of the IATF resolution was to enable foreigners to reunite with their families in the Philippines. Thus, such intention is not served if the alien comes here when his wife or children are not in the country,” the BI said, adding that arriving dependents of Filipinos or former Filipinos may be denied entry if the immigration officer finds that said Filipino or former Filipino is not traveling with them or is not in the country.
It was learned that the BI also received queries from foreigners who complained they were not allowed by the airlines to board their flights to Manila because their Filipino spouses are not in the Philippines.
Apart from those exempted by the IATF, others who will be entering under a tourist status will still not be allowed.
On Saturday, the BI announced that they will be resuming granting visa-free entry privileges to tourists falling under the Balikbayan Program starting December 7. Balikbayans are former Filipinos and spouse and children of Filipinos or former Filipinos who are allowed visa-free entry under Executive Order No. 408, series of 1960. They are eligible for a one-year stay in the country, without the need to apply for an entry visa but must be traveling with the Filipino or former Filipino principal.
Inbound Balikbayans are required to: be from visa-free countries under Executive Order No. 408, s.1960; have a pre-booked quarantine facility; have a pre-booked COVID-19 testing at a laboratory operating at the airport and be subject to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers at the port and date of entry.
If the dependents are not traveling with the principal but are joining him in the country, they may still enter if the principal is still a Filipino citizen, and if the dependent child is a minor, but will have to secure an entry visa from the Philippine post abroad.
The BI said that the Balikbayan privilege is specifically for spouse and children of a Filipino or a Former Filipino only, who is traveling with him, adding that if they are not traveling with the Filipino or former Filipino spouse and are just joining him in the Philippines, then they may be allowed to enter if they secure an entry visa, but with a limited stay in the country.”
Foreign parents of minor Filipinos are also eligible for entry, but are also required an entry visa and the Balikbayan privilege may not be extended to other members of the family, the BI said.