BI allows temporary visa holders to get EECs at international airports
MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced on Thursday it will now allow holders of temporary visitor visas who have stayed in the country for less than a year to get their Emigration Clearance Certificates (ECC) at international airports.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said this comes after Luzon was placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) which restricted more than 50 million people in their homes in a bid to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
An ECC is issued to temporary visitors who have stayed in the country for more than six months and to holders of residence, work, or student visas who wish to leave the Philippines for good.
Morente said the BI is also suspending the capturing of biometrics and fingerprinting, as well as the issuance of Special Security Registration Numbers as requirements for the processing of ECCs to ensure compliance with the national government’s directive on social distancing.
“We have put this temporary measure in place to prevent the influx of foreign nationals leaving the country who will be applying to process their ECCs, essentially minimizing physical contact with the traveling public,” Morente said in a statement.
He said the bureau will still check the ECC applications with their database to ensure that no foreigner will leave the country with a pending criminal case.
He then appealed to the public to bear with the current processes of the BI amid the crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that the bureau is also complying with the directive of Malacañang for its offices to operate with a skeleton staff.
“We have instructed our men to hasten the processing of immigration requirements and lessen person to person contact. All our offices remain open despite having a skeletal workforce, to provide essential immigration services,” Morente said.
To recall, the BI had earlier suspended several transactions in Luzon, including tourist visa extensions except for foreign nationals intending to depart the country. In this directive, foreigners whose visas will expire during the ECQ may file for an extension after the quarantine period ends without penalties.
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