Following weeks of waiting, the LBC Express has finally delivered her passport with the UK visa vignette which is the ultimate proof that the application was approved and that FINALLY she will be visiting her family, partner or friends living in the UK.
But wait!!! There is one more hurdle which she must take into consideration. The dreaded DOJ Memorandum Circular 036!
Filipinos planning to visit the UK should be aware of this feared MC-036 which has been hounding pinoy tourists planning to take a vacation abroad, including the UK.
According to the provisions of this rule, it aims to, “…ELIMINATE TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS ESPECIALLY WOMEN AND CHILDREN, ESTABLISHING THE NECESSARY INSTITUTIONAL MECHANISMS FOR THE PROTECTION AND SUPPORT OF TRAFFICKED PERSONS…”
The law, therefore, was issued with the benefit and protection of the Filipino people in mind.
In a press statement, the BI stressed that, “Tourists must prove their financial capability for the trip, present proof of work or support in the Philippines, or submit an affidavit of support if they are visiting relatives overseas, to prevent being offloaded from flights.”
On the other hand, for OFW’s “Filipinos with legal work visas and overseas employment certificates are required to present these documents when leaving the country.”
Following several reactions that several Filipino travelers or bakasyonistas get offloaded for no apparent reason in international airports, the BI reacted by saying they were just following the provisions set forth in the DOJ memo.
“Offloading is not a policy but a consequence of the implementation of the Guidelines” the BI stressed.
They warned against a common practice of leaving the country in the guise of a tourist and essentially working for an employer upon reaching the country of destination and stressed that these undocumented Filipinos are more prone to abuse in other countries.
“Since they already invested so much for their trip, they will not go home empty handed, making them more susceptible to trafficking,” former BI Commissioner Mison said.
According to the provisions of MC36, all Filipino tourists leaving the country shall be subjected to a “Primary Inspection.” The following shall be the documents required during this initial examination:
- Valid passport
- Visa, whenever applicable or required
- Round trip or return ticket
A former client of ECO Immigration Consultancy, however, said that she was stopped at the NAIA by immigration officers (IO) even when she presented proof that she was legitimately visiting her British boyfriend. “It was a harrowing experience. I did not look like a doubtful traveler. In fact I was very confident that I would not be stopped as I was a legitimate traveler to visit the UK with every intention of going back to the Philippines.”
She added that the IOs at the NAIA were stricter, harsher and more cruel than the British embassy. “Nabigyan nga ako ng UK embassy ng visit visa! So ibig sabihin noon ay naniniwala sila na babalik ako ng Pilipinas. Mas mahigpit pa itong IO dahil hindi sila naniwalang babalik ako ng bansa natin!” a very displeased ECO client said.
According to the BI, most of the doubtful passengers are usually bound for Dubai, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Bangkok, which are considered transit points accounting for high incidents of human trafficking. “Hindi naman ako papunta ng mga bansa na ‘yan! Sa UK ang punta ko at bibisitahin ko lang naman ung partner ko para ayusin namin ang mga requirements para sa future wedding namin!” the disgruntled traveler exclaimed.
Thus, in order to avoid being stopped at the NAIA, here are some useful tips to remember to evade the inquisitive eyes of the BI immigration officers:
- Avoid acting suspicious - Be comfortable and confident in dealing with the immigration officers
- Bring all travel documents
- Valid passport
- Medical certificates
- Income tax returns
- If you will be visiting a boyfriend or spouse, bring proof of your relationship
- Arrive early
- Present proof of adequate funds
The most important thing the traveler must always remember is to always keep cool and be prepared for the questions and never lose your patience. If the immigration officer senses that you have something to hide, you may be subjected to a “Secondary Inspection.”
You do not want to be subjected to a “Secondary Inspection” because this would be a prelude to you being offloaded, which will be the subject of our next article. (See you next time)