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BI extends stay of foreign tourists can now stay 16 months without prior approval of the commissioner, 24 months with approval or they have to leave for one day every 16 months.
06 August 2007
Buoyed by reports that more and more foreign tourists are entering the Philippines, Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Marcelino Libanan extended yesterday up to two years the period within which foreign visitors may remain or stay in the country.
In a memorandum order, Libanan ruled that, henceforth, foreigners with temporary visitor's visas may extend their stay in the country every two months and up to 16 months without prior approval from the commissioner or any BI official. However, a foreigner may still extend his stay after 16 months and up to 24 months if his application is approved by the chief of the bureau's immigration regulation division (IRD).
"Extensions of stay after 24 months need the approval of the commissioner," the memorandum also states.
Libanan instructed the BI visa extension office to immediately implement his order and expedite the processing of all applications for extension of stay.
According to the BI chief, he decided to ease further the bureau's policy on visa extensions after he learned that the number of tourists who extended their stay during the first semester rose by 21-percent compared to those who stayed longer a year ago.
He cited statistics which show that the BI visa extension office approved from January to June this year a total of 196,172 applications for extension of stay, compared to the 161,984 it approved in the same period last year.
"These statistics indicate that our country is fast emerging as one of Asia's most favored tourist destinations," said Libanan, who added that a total of 468,281 foreigners arrived from January to June, compared to the 439,526 who came a year ago.
Atty. Gary Mendoza, BI immigration regulation chief, said the new policy on visa extensions applies to all foreign tourists regardless of their nationality.
Mendoza disclosed that previously, foreigners, such as Indians or Chinese, who must secure entry visas to the Philippines, were allowed to extend their stay every month up to a total of six months only.
"Now, any foreigner, regardless of whether he is a visa-required national or not, may extend his stay every two months up to a total of 16 months without getting prior approval from the bureau's management," he explained. (BI-News)