The Bureau of Immigration (BI) detained three Nepalese students on Tuesday for allegedly entering the Philippines illegally.
The students, who were supposed to enroll in a university in Cebu, had no arrival stamps on their passports, the agency said.
Lawyer Joseph Estrada, legal counsel of the detained students, said that they arrived with tourist visas on April 7, and then temporarily enrolled on April 10.
The university registrar, however, found out that they did not have arrival stamps.
The students were then instructed to get an entry visa from the Bureau of Immigration Satellite Office in Cebu but they were directed to go to the agency’s main office in Manila. They went to BI office in Manila on May 21 and were arrested on the same day.
The investigation found that there was connivance between the university and the students.
However, the university denied the allegations, explaining that foreigners who plan to study in the country arrive with tourist visas and enroll to have them converted to student visas.
“It appears that this is a type of modus operandi of recruiting foreign students—accepting tourist visas and admitting the students in the university, concurrent the processing of a student visa,” the document indicated.
According to BI spokesperson lawyer Antonette Mangrobang, the students, albeit coming to the country in good faith, are still liable to the law because they do not have the proper documents.
“[They should answer] why they failed, or [why]they don’t have any records of presence and arrival in the country. Worse, they have been enrolled in the university,” the BI spokesperson added.
Meanwhile, the students claimed that they were unaware of the travel procedures, and that it was an “honest mistake.”
The students also pointed out no one from PAL or the immigration office assisted them.