US envoy says no plans yet to reopen consulate in Cebu

CEBU CITY – The reopening of a United States (US) consulate in Cebu is not possible in the near future because of budget constraints, US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson said.


CARLSON (center). (US Embassy Manila FB)

Carlson said the reopening of a US consulate in the province “is an important priority” but there are hindrances to achieve it.

“That requires a lot of funding and the security upgrades that are needed, that’s a lot of money to open a consulate,” said Carlson, who graced a media roundtable during her visit in Cebu on Friday, May 19.

Carlson said there are "no immediate plans" yet to reopen a consulate office in Cebu as their government is currently focusing on the establishment and reestablishment of diplomatic relations with other Pacific island-nations.

“Let me just say that if I personally had the budget and if it were up to me? We never would have left and we certainly be right back,” Carlson said.

“No immediate plans but it’s on the radar. Again, that separation of powers, and (US) Congress holding the budget. Will be lobbying for that,” Carlson added.

Having a US consulate in Cebu will make the processing of visas and other consulate services more convenient for those coming from the Visayas and Mindanao.

Carlson said they have streamlined the process to lessen the burden of those who need to travel to Manila for visa processing.

“It’s challenging because of the extra cost to go to Manila. We extended the timeline to renew without appearing in person if you are applying for the same type of visa,” said Carlson.

Carlson added that the US Embassy in Manila will have extended office hours so that more people, especially those coming from outside the National Capital Region will be attended to.

“We are almost fully staffed again. We processed more visas this year than in any time in the last five years and our productivity levels are exceeding now what they were before the pandemic even though we still have fewer people doing the process,” Carlson said.