PH immigration clarifies travel restrictions for balikbayans, foreign spouses, children

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FOREIGN spouses and children of Filipino citizens are only allowed to enter the Philippines if the Filipino citizen or balikbayan is traveling with them, the Philippine Bureau of Immigration clarified on Tuesday, December 1.

“The intent of the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) resolution was to enable foreigners to reunite with their families in the Philippines,” Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said.

He added, “Thus, such intention is not served if the alien comes here when his wife or children are not in the country.”

The BI commissioner issued the statement after the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) sent the bureau a clarification explaining the rationale behind the IATF’s newest resolution that lifts restrictions on traveling foreigners who are immediate family members of Filipinos.

Morente warned that arriving dependents may be denied entry in the Philippines if they are not travelling with the Filipino citizen or former Filipino citizen, or if their Filipino family is not in the country.

“The intent of the relaxed restriction for balikbayans is to allow families to reunite this holiday season. Apart from those exempted by the IATF, others who will be entering under a tourist status will still not be allowed,” he said.

On November 27, the BI announced tourists under the Balikbayan Program will be allowed to enter the Philippines visa-free starting December 7.

Their spouses and children, regardless of age, traveling with them are permitted entry into the country without a visa requirement as well under Executive Order No. 408.

The policy requires inbound balikbayan tourists to come from visa-free countries. They must also have a pre-booked quarantine facility, as well as a pre-booked COVID-19 testing at a laboratory operating at the airport.

According to Morente, dependents, including minors, of Filipino citizens who are not traveling with the principal may still enter the Philippines if they are joining the Filipino citizen in the country.

“The Balikbayan privilege is specifically for spouses and children of a Filipino or a Former Filipino only, who is traveling with him,” said Morente.

However, they must secure an entry visa from a Philippine Embassy or Consulate abroad.
“If they are not traveling with the Filipino or former Filipino spouse, and are just joining him in the Philippines, then they may be allowed to enter if they secure an entry visa, but with a limited stay in the country,” Morente added.

The country’s Balikbayan Program was launched by the national government in 1989 under Republic Act 6768, amended by Republic Act 9174. The program aims to attract and encourage overseas Filipinos to come and visit the Philippines.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

1 Comment
  1. Are Filipinos who are naturaluzed U.S. citizens allowed to visit the Phils carrying only their U.S. passports?

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