Bureau of Immigration reminds public of Balikbayan privilege

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DAVAO CITY (January 8) — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is reminding the public on the scope of the Balikbayan Program intended for former Filipinos visiting the Philippines.

Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente in a press statement emphasized “Under Republic Act No. 6768, the 1-year Balikbayan visa privilege is exclusively given to former Filipinos naturalized abroad, and their spouse and children who are travelling with them.”

The reminder from the Immigration came after an unnamed budding local celebrity, was reported to have had an outburst in the immigration area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 last January 3,  2019.

The celebrity, whose identity is kept,  is a holder of American passport,  who reportedly shouted expletives when he was only given a 30-day stay. He was allegedly furious at immigration for “giving him a hard time,
despite him being a celebrity, with people wanting to take pictures with him”.

Immigration Spokesperson Dana Krizia Sandoval clarified that those who have Philippine lineage do not necessarily qualify for the Balikbayan Privilege.

“The privilege is for former Filipinos, and their immediate family members who are traveling with them only,” clarified Sandoval. “If these family members are not traveling with the Filipino or former Filipino, they are not
qualified for the one year visa free privilege,” she added.

She further explained that those who are admitted as Balikbayans are given an initial stay of one year, which they may extend for another one, two, or six months.

Those who do not qualify, but are within the list of 157 countries
eligible for visa free entry pursuant to Executive Order No. 408, get an automatic 30-day visa upon their arrival.

Sandoval likewise issued a warning against foreign nationals who disrespect immigration officers. “While our immigration officers have been instructed to observe maximum tolerance, it is against the law to disrespect
immigration authorities, and violating aliens may be excluded and blacklisted from the Philippines,” she said.

She emphasized “Showing disrespect to symbols of authority is essentially showing disrespect to the country.”-Editha Z. Caduaya/NewsLine.ph

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