Visas for Americans, Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, etc.

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CRISPIN R. ARANDA

CRISPIN R. ARANDA

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)
migrant20161031Non-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.

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13 Comments

  1. Amonymous American on

    good story but however it is flawed. I am an American here in the Philippines. Where it is flawed at is on the PH side of things. PH has a lot of side things that contribute to the price of the actual visa. But first of all I want to let you know the waver is only good for 1 month. After that anyone staying has to migrate over to a visa.

    The next flaw is definitely in the pricing. My last visa cost me 12k php. Why is this when every they state that it is only 500 php? The answer is quite simple. 1.5 extra for processing 500 php for express lane 500 php for black list check. so on so fourth. There are a lot of extra hidden fees tacked on.

    USA does not charge for these extra fees at all unless they find something. Other than the express lane fee you have the visa fee.

  2. Not good for the tourism industry. BOI should monitor those tourist that are overstaying in the country. they should be required a verifiable address, that can be easily traced.

    • Amonymous American on

      You already have to do the address thing. You have to apply for an ACR card after the first month. In which you must have a valid address.
      A person that over stays must pay a penalty fee and fines. Possibly get deported depending on reason for overstay.
      I do agree though that it can hurt tourism. But not near as bad as the proposed visa’s will. They think the Americans will keep coming and pay a premium price to be in a 3rd world country. I will tell you now that they won’t. Now when we can go to Hong Kong or Singapore visa free and stay 3 months.
      Main reason Americans do come here is because they have Filipino families. This proposal will destroy a lot of families it will also destroy the Philippines economically. As businesses will start pulling out of the country. This is already starting to happen as is. And guess what over 1/2 the big businesses here are American. So think hard on how that will effect the economy and tourism.

  3. Dont say any bad words from the beginning of your article. It is not the professional way of a true journalist. How can you say that words?!

  4. 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.”

    This is a very irresponsible and biased statement. Where do you get the logic of solving poverty in just more than a 100 days. On the contrary, President Duterte have just scored big successes like $25 Million worth of Investments from China and another million dollars worth of investment from Japan. That in just more than 100 days. Did Aquino able to do that? In your dreams!

  5. The real reason there was a 21 day free visa then a just approved 30 day free visa was to increase tourism in the Philippines. Almost a million Americans visit the Philippines every year and we spend a lot of money on those vacations. Money that helps your economy. That’s why your Government allowed Americans a free entry.

    On the other hand the Filipinos coming to America are not coming as tourist. Most are coming to visit family and are not impacting tourism economics for America. However the 270,000 overstays (TNT) drain money from the federal government and take jobs from Americans and other Filipinos who came legally to work.

    So lets make it even. Lets have a free 30 day visa for all Filipinos. Tomorrow the provinces will start to empty and everybody will try to go to America. The overstay rate will be unmanageable in the USA.

    So until the situation economically changes in the Philippines you will have to get a visa first before you come. Let Duterte have his way. Americans will not come to the Philippines in as many numbers. Some will go elsewhere. Tourism economics will slow for the Philippines and only the Filipino trying hard to make a living in the tourist industry will suffer.

  6. Most foreigners can enter the Philippines visa free for 30 days. They get a 30 day visa waiver stamp on entry at immigration.

    It makes a quick trip for tourists to the Philippines very easy and no doubt increases tourism.
    Not everyone wants to apply for a visa, and if Thailand has a no visa entry policy, but Philippines needs a Visa application in advance, I would do Thailand next time.

    Few western countries do this, as so many people would abuse the system so much more than already do. The logic of systems must be looked at, rather than pure equality.

    • As a US citizen who frequents the Phils, I’m ok if I am charged a reasonable visa fee.. Where I would have problems and alter my travel is if was not reasonable or it was a hassle to get. Make it expensive or difficult to obtain and I’ll go to Thailand for the beaches.. Filipinos who are now Americans will find this the most difficult and will most likely start staying home or reduce their travels. It will be a net zero gain and more likely a loss to impose restrictions. I do understand that du30 was rejected for a US visa years ago… I am very sorry about that, so was my wife…. but truly “let it go” I would encourage a class in economics… standing on “they should pay” will only lead to a reduction in tourist dollars and that is not healthy.

  7. Silverio Cabellon Jr on

    The difference is that for a Filipino he/she has to pay an application fee of $250 to get a tourist visa to the United States. The issuance by the US Embassy of the visa is free if approved.
    An American tourist does not have to pay an application fee for a visa to be allowed entrance to the Philippine as he does not need a visa if he does not stay for more than 30 days.

    • The US make it hard for most countries to get a tourist visa. They don’t need tourists.

      The Philippines should do the same if they also do not need or want Tourists.