BI assures quick immigration processing for Filipinos Haj pilgrims

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has assured Filipino Muslims planning to embark on the Haj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia next month that their immigration processing will be swift and hassle-free during their departure.

Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco said there is already a streamlined processing for departing Haj pilgrims as part of the agency's recognition of the religious activity.

over 7,000 Filipino Moslems are expected to leave the country for Saudi Arabia.

"This initiative aims to extend support and courtesy to Muslim brothers undertaking one of Islam's most sacred and significant religious events," said Tansingco.

The newly-issued BI circular includes various directives, one of which mandates airport terminal heads to assign focal persons responsible for coordinating with officials from the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).

These focal persons will obtain an advanced passenger list of individuals traveling to Mecca for the pilgrimage.

The BI will then conduct pre-screening checks on passengers in the list to ensure none of them are subject to hold departure or watchlist orders.

To expedite the immigration process, a dedicated lane will be designated for Haj pilgrims at different airports, ensuring quick processing by immigration officers prior to their departure.

BI focal persons have also been instructed to establish communication channels with their counterparts from the NCMF to address any problems or difficulties that pilgrims may encounter during their travel.

Members of the BI's border control and intelligence unit (BCIU), on the other hand, have been assigned to assist the pilgrims in queuing at the immigration departure counters before their flights.