The truth about fake visa news

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CRISPIN R. ARANDA

A WEB story ran recently (brought to my attention by a friend who was asked by his friend to have the information verified):

“President Donald Trump signed an executive order allowing all Asian nationals to travel to the United States without a visa. “

The web “report” does not have any date as to when it was published. However, the reports said Trump signed the order on “Monday.”

The alleged maximum stay is for 180 days. Any travel over that period would require a visa, the report continued.


In addition, the report said a “source at the White House” has hinted that Trump may revoke Australia’s visa-free travel to the US after “canceling all trade deals with the country.” It was not clear if it was the US or Australia that cancelled the “trade deals.”

The source to be wary of, avoid and report as purveyor of fake news is shown below.

Donald Trump signs a visa-free travel policy for Asia

Another online site http://usa-television.com/donald-trump-signs-a-visa-free-travel-policy-for-pakistan/ spun an article after President Trump signed an executive order banning the entry to the US of citizens from seven Muslim-dominant countries.

A website – http://www.snopes.com/trump-visa-free-travel-policy/- exposed the falsehood explaining that “the web site USA Television capitalized on that controversy by pumping out a series of nearly identical fake news articles, each holding that President Trump had “signed a visa-free travel policy” for residents of a given country, ostensibly to “strengthen trade” with that country.

Another website posing as affiliated with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) ran a report that Trump had signed an executive order allowing Filipinos to travel to the US without a visa if the travel is “only for 30 days”.

The website – http://tv-bbc.com/ky-philippines-favored-in-trumps-immigration-war-as-he-approves-30-days-visa-free-travel-policy/ – has been exposed as a sham by www.memebuster.net.

What to watch out for to determine fake news
In this case and in any other web reports that come out, always:
1) Look for the official source of the story. In the “visa-free travel for all Asians” by http://news.states-tv.com no source had been cited

2) Check the date of the alleged event. Again the news-states-tv.com report does not have a date.

3) Verify the claim by going to the official source of the supposed “breaking news”. For visa-free travel, the official source is the US Department of State under the topic or subject of visa-free waiver countries. The US Embassy in Manila – https://ph.usembassy.gov/visas/visa-waiver-program/ – a consular post under the State Department has this official data for the “visa free” called “Visa Waiver Program.”

4) Countries included in the Visa Waiver Program. “The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables nationals of 38 participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. VWP eligible travelers may apply for a visa, if they prefer to do so.

5) Even within the program “nationals of VWP countries must meet eligibility requirements to travel without a visa on VWP, and therefore, some travelers from VWP countries are not eligible to use the program. VWP travelers are required to have a valid authorization through the electronic system for travel authorization (ESTA) prior to travel.”

6) Inclusion in the list of countries eligible for the Visa Waiver Program must meet and maintain certain eligibility requirements:

a) enhanced law enforcement and security-related data sharing with the United States;

b) issuing e-Passports;

c) having a visitor (B) visa refusal rate of less than three percent;

d) timely reporting of both blank and issued lost and stolen passports; and

e) maintenance of high counter-terrorism, law enforcement, border control, and document security standards.

It must be mentioned that a country may be designated as a VWP country at the discretion of the US government. However, “meeting the objective requirements of the VWP does not guarantee a country* will receive VWP designation.

The Philippines is not among the countries listed by the State Department as eligible to participate in the Visa Waiver Program.
On September 18, 2011, then Consul General Michael R. Schimmel told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that seven out of 10 tourist or visa applications get their visas which he said, was “pretty good”.

But 30 percent refusal is pretty bad. That hat results in the exclusion of the Philippines from eligibility in the lVisa Waiver Program since the ratio of visa refusal must be “less than three percent.”

The average number of Filipinos applying for nonimmigrant visas – mostly tourist and business class – is 1,000 a day. Since the US Embassy entertains applicants seven days a week, there should be 7,000 applicants a week, or 28,000 a month – roughly 336,000 a year.

There is no published figure on the “Overcomes” at the US Embassy in Manila, hence it would be difficult to get the exact number.

What is clear, however, is that the Philippines has a 30 percent refusal rate which disqualifies it from being included in the list of visa-free countries.

That is coming from a verifiable, official source.

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