The Philippines Launches Visas on Arrival Program for Chinese Nationals

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By: Dezan Shira & Associates

The Philippines Bureau of Immigration (BI) has launched a Visa Upon Arrival (VUA) program for Chinese nationals. As part of the program, the BI will issue “landing visas” to Chinese travelers upon their arrival at the airport of their destination. The program will be implemented in the capital Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as well as Clark International Airport, Mactan-Cebu International Airport and at Kalibo International Airport. The VUA scheme will also be extended to Chinese travelers arriving at the Manila, Puerto Princesa, Subic, Laoag, and Caticlan seaports.

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Eligibility criteria

The new VUA program is open to Chinese nationals who are members of tour groups organized by tour operators accredited to the Philippines Department of Tourism (DOT), businessmen endorsed by local and foreign chambers of commerce and other government agencies, athletes, and delegates to conventions and exhibitions. Applicants cannot appear on the BI’s black list or be subject to an Interpol red notice. According to the new rules, interested Chinese nationals may, through their tour operator, apply for their landing visas at the BI for an initial authorized stay of 30 days with the provision for an extension up to a maximum period of six months.

How to apply

DOT-accredited travel agencies may collect information such as the name of the applicant, passport number, and itinerary, among other relevant information for online processing by the BI. Applicants have been advised by the BI to submit their applications at least 10 business days prior to their arrival in the Philippines. Upon approval, the BI will issue an order approving the VUA. The order may be presented to immigration officers upon arrival in the country following which a landing visa will be issued. Each visa will cost P1284 (US$25) and an additional P10 (US$0.2) as legal research fee.

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Bid to boost tourism and investment

The move to grant visas upon arrival to Chinese nationals comes as part of the government’s bid to boost tourism and investment in the Philippines. Some 7 million foreign tourists are expected to arrive in the Philippines in 2017. According to the DOT, tourist arrivals from China increased by 33.4 percent to 454,962 in the first half of 2017. Chinese tourist arrivals accounted for some 13.6 percent of the total foreign tourist arrivals in the country. The DOT is planning to extend the VUA scheme to Indian nationals as well. The department expects 100,000 Indian tourists to visit the Philippines in 2017.

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