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Commissioner Libanan introduces
VIMS: Visa Issuance Made Easy

by Vishnu Hathiramani


Indian 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 Bureau.

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.


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