VIMS: Visa Issuance Made Easy
by Vishnu Hathiramani
tourists and Businessmen will be one of the top arrivals
in the country with the introduction of this scheme, starting
early next year. Log on to www.rpindia.info for more.
Commissioner Marcelino Chicano Libanan of the Bureau of Immigration
has made drastic but meaningful changes at this Philippines
He issued an order dated September 28 [MCL-07-003] lifting
Indian nationals from the list of “High risk / Restricted”
category and reclassifying them as “Visaed/Visa required”
categories. This is the next step to get a visa free classification.
Prior to that under circular MCL-07-001 dated August 1st,
his first since he assumed the bureau in May 2007, he introduced
the Pro-Investor Visa upon Arrival scheme. Under this scheme,
an approval to enter the Philippines could be secured right
here in the Philippines. There would be no need to go to any
Philippine Embassy or consulate. The applicants would be granted
visa on arrival BUT IT HAS TO BE PREAPPROVED.
Costing Pesos 5000 and another Pesos 500 as express lane fee,
an approved applicant could enter the Philippines for a period
of 30 days. A 90 day visa is granted to high-ranking officials
of Multinational companies. Furthermore, the applicant would
be granted at the same time, a 3 year unlimited multiple entries
to come to the Philippines. Each visit entitles the applicant
to a 30 or 90 days visa stamp, which could be extended upto
16 months. Visa conversion is allowed to a list as authorized
by this bureau.
So how does one avail of this visa? The top 1000 corporations
of the Philippines, Philippine Chamber of commerce or other
Philippine based foreign chambers of commerce, or those approved
by the office of the commissioner could avail of it. The Immigration
issues an order, within less than a week upon application
in the Philippines, and the airline is informed to allow the
passenger to board the flight.
This privilege would be extended also to athletes and delegates
to sports competitions, conventions or exhibitions; delegates,
resource speakers, organizers, sponsors and participants to
international conferences, symposia and conventions.
Since this visa has been introduced, less than 5 months ago,
more than 100 such visas have been approved. A passenger could
fly from any part of the world, since the Immigration bureau
informs the airline, which in turn would then let the passenger
board, the flight. A copy of approval is provided to the local
sponsors, who then forwards it or email it to the applicant.
To expand this scheme, Commissioner Libanan has now amended
the features of the PI-VUA.
Under MCL-07-004 released only this month, but dated November
8 Tour operators, duly registered and accredited by the Department
of Tourism would now be allowed to apply on behalf of their
clients and just help the government tap and bring in more
tourists and businessmen in the country.
VIMS is a combination of all these memos. It is making visa
issuance easier. Commissioner Libanan understands that Immigration
plays a very important role in the life of each and every
Filipino, and that Immigration is not only for foreigners.
More tourists, businessmen and investors mean more income
for the Philippines.
Take note though this visa is only for those countries that
require visas to enter the Philippines, such as China and
India. Multinational Corporations and companies would find
this very useful if they wish to apply for their Indian, Chinese
or those requiring visa suppliers, customers, associates and
others doing business with them. Recently a forum was organized
and the detail that was explained to the attendees by Lawyer
Norman Tansingco, Chief of staff of BI and was a super success.
Manuel Ferdinand Arbas who heads Libanan’s technical
staff, disclosed that this project will feature an internal
review group and another complaints & audit division,
where in any one dealing with the bureau and not satisfied
could air their concerns.
It is also interesting to note that the issue of reciprocity
of visa free entry is always a matter of concern. Hence, those
who believe that Indians should get visa free entry to the
country must consider the fact that India grants visa free
entries to only two countries in the world, which is Nepal
and Bhutan. Hence, the issue of reciprocity is always raised.
But travel experts believe that to have a big growth in Indian
tourism in the Philippines, they must consider the example
of many countries who are granted visa free entry to the Philippines
but Filipinos need visa to enter the same countries. Notably
are the USA, Canada, Australia and the most European countries.
On the other hand, India require visas from nationals of Singapore,
Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, yet Indians can enter these
countries without visa or could get visa on arrival.
To President Arroyo, Commissioner Libanan and others involved
in these developments, the foreign community salutes you all.
Namaste from the Indian community.