The Bureau of Immigration (BI) advised foreign spouses and children of Filipino citizens not to travel to the Philippines if the Filipino or former Filipino is not traveling with them.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente warned they would be turned back upon arrival at the airport.
The BI chief issued the advisory after the bureau received a clarification from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) explaining the rationale behind the recent decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to lift the restrictions on the entry of foreigners who are immediate family members of Filipinos.
“The intent of the IATF resolution was to enable foreigners to reunite with their families in the Philippines. Thus, such intention is not served if the alien comes here when his wife or children are not in the country,” Morente said.
As a consequence, Morente stressed that arriving dependents of Filipinos or former Filipinos may be denied entry if the immigration officer finds that said Filipino or former Filipino is not traveling with them or is not in the country.
The BI chief said that they received queries from foreigners who complained they were not allowed to board their flights to Manila because their Filipino spouses are not in the Philippines.
“The intent of the relaxed restriction for balikbayans is to allow families to reunite this holiday season. Apart from those exempted by the IATF, others who will be entering under a tourist status will still not be allowed,” he clarified.
On Nov. 28, the BI announced that they will resume granting visa-free entry privileges to tourists falling under the Balikbayan Program starting Dec. 7.
Balikbayans are former Filipinos, and spouses and children of Filipinos or former Filipinos who are allowed visa-free entry under Executive Order No. 408. They are eligible for a 1-year stay in the country, without the need to apply for an entry visa.
Morente clarified that if the dependents are not traveling with the principal but are joining him in the country, they may still enter if the principal is still a Filipino citizen, and if the dependent child is a minor, but will have to secure an entry visa from the Philippine post abroad.