P_@#%&!nyo lahat kayo! –apply for Philippine visas!
Top elected government officials, namely President Rodrigo Duterte and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, smarting from criticisms from the United States (US) and its official visa policy set in stone, not based on the padrino system, want Americans visiting the Philippines to apply for visas.
Alvarez was quoted in a news report saying “there should be reciprocity between the two governments” apparently in so far as visa issuance is concerned.
The House Speaker also “wondered why the Philippines allow Americans to freely come to the country while Filipinos have to line up in wee hours of the morning just to secure a visa.”
“We,” meaning the Philippine government, “have to put them in the right place.”
Reciprocity on visa issuance
Contrary to what Alvarez claims, there already exists reciprocity in visa issuance policies between the Philippine and US governments.
For space considerations, I am providing the link to the reciprocity regulation of the Department of State regarding visa issuance to Philippine applicants – https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/fees/reciprocity-by-country/RP.html
To find out how much a Filipino applicant has to pay for a specific US visa to be issued, click on the “Select a Visa Classification” field, then select “All.”
President Duterte and House Speaker Alvarez might be surprised by the fact that there is no visa issuance fee. There is however, a visa application fee, and Americans have to pay for the application fee in Philippine consulates in the US. Issuance of specific Philippine visas, however – including the tourist or visitor visas – is free.
Americans, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans still have to pay the application fee. In this regard, reciprocity can be seen in visa issuance regulations.
The Philippine Embassy website contains the country’s official regulation on visa issuance, confirming the existence of reciprocity in visa application and fees.
Visa application fee vs. visa issuance fee
In both countries, tourist or visitors are not charged for the issuance of visas after visa applications are approved. Hence, there is no visa issuance fee.
However, the Philippine and US governments both charge for processing visa applications.
Visitors to the Philippines are likewise considered as “Non-immigrants,” the categories of which are:
• 9(A) Temporary Visitor’s visa
• 9(B) Transit
• 9(C) Seaman
• 9(D) Treaty Traders
• 9(E) Foreign Government Official
• 9(F) Student
• 9(G) Pre-Arranged Employees
For citizens of countries with visa agreements with the Philippines who intend to visit the country, the visa application fees are as follows:
• Single entry valid for three (3) months US$ 30.00
• Multiple entry valid for six (6) months US$ 60.00
• Multiple-entry valid for twelve (12) months US$ 90.00
US nonimmigrant visa fees in US$ and Philippine peso equivalent
(Please refer to table 1)
Non-immigrant admissions in the US
In 2014, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported a total of 74,930,606 non-immigrants admitted to the US including 363,269 visa holders from the Philippines. Please note that issuance of a valid and current US visa does not mean automatic admission or entry into the United States. The same is true for the Philippines.
From the 74 million plus non-immigrants admitted to the US only 223,253 were considered “inadmissibles” or not allowed entry. From those who were allowed entry (with valid US visas) a significant number overstayed, whose status lapsed into legal limbo (TNTs for Filipinos).
As of 2011, the USCIS reported that approximately 270,000 Filipino TNTs were in the US. The Bureau of Immigration (BOI) has not provided figures pertaining to the number of Americans, Japanese, and Koreans, who overstay in the Philippines. In fact, the BOI can hardly keep up with the number of Chinese who have entered the Philippines illegally.
Why do foreigners visit and/or overstay in the US?
It’s because of the available opportunities and improved quality of life. Can the same be true in the Philippines? Could Americans easily find jobs in the country and work illegally? There may be some cases, but not as a general rule. On the other hand, more than a thousand Filipinos apply for non-immigrant US visas every day at the US Embassy.
These visa applicants are the ones House Speaker Alvarez sympathize with: Filipinos who want better paying jobs and better opportunities instead of suffering from government apathy and neglect.
If only President Duterte and House Speaker Alvarez would be as furious and dedicated in fighting graft and corruption and poverty, Filipinos would not have to “line up in the wee hours of the morning just to secure a U.S. visa.”
Immigration laws, US and the Philippines
The Philippines’ immigration laws have not changed since 1940. The US enacted its first general immigration statute in 1882.
By the end of World War I, the US had enacted restrictive immigration laws, setting numerical limits in the form of a national quota system and laws that remained in effect until 1952. The bible of immigration laws, the Immigration and Nationality Act, was enacted on June 27, 1952, legislation that codified both the 1917 and 1924 Acts.
Until 1965, when the national origins quota system was abolished (replaced by one that is based primarily on family reunification and skills-based) the major source of immigrants in the US was Europe then shift to Latin America and Asia.
Heeding the clamor of businesses and migrants, the US Congress passed the Illegal Immigration and Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. This 1986 law offered general amnesty for illegal, undocumented aliens in the US and served as a pathway to legal residency and US citizenship.
On November 29, 1990, President Bush signed the Immigration Act of 1990 which led to major changes in US immigration laws, increased the total number of immigrants allowed into the United States, simplified the family-sponsored categories, and increased the rate of issuance of employment-based visas.
Since then, the US has been admitting an average of a million permanent residents or immigrants yearly.
US consular officers, meanwhile, use the Foreign Affairs Manual (regularly updated) on how US visas are to be issued.
Meanwhile, the Philippine immigration law, passed in 1940, remain the same. It is now a 76-year old statute that seriously needs updating to be globally responsive and relevant. In the meantime, visa issuance, monitoring, and enforcement are not done by the book, but by booking selected aliens, targeted either for mulcting or deportation, or both.
Maybe Alvarez does not have a US visa nor did he ever apply for one. Perhaps he, as well as other relatives, never wanted a US visa.
Otherwise, the Speaker should check out the facts before speaking.