EXPLAINER: PH’s recent ban on the entry of foreigners, non-OFWs
MANILA, Philippines — Due to the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in the country, the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 announced that the government will temporarily bar the entry of foreigners and returning Filipinos who are not overseas workers.
In a memorandum circular released on Tuesday night, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who chairs the NTF, said the ban would start at 12:01 a.m. on March 20, a Saturday, and end on April 19.
The country will also limit the number of inbound passengers on its borders to only 1,500 per day before the suspension takes effect.
Who will be exempted?
As stated in the Memorandum Circular No. 5 or the “Temporary Suspension of Travel into the Philippines of Foreigners and Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) who are Non-Overseas Filipino Workers (Non-OFWs),” the following will be allowed to enter the country despite the implementation of the travel ban:
- Holders of 9(e) visas
- Those under medical repatriation and their escorts as endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs – Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) or the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)
- Distressed returning OFWs as endorsed by the DFA-OUMWA
- Emergency, humanitarian, and other analogous cases approved by the NTF COVID-19
What is the 9(e) visa and who can get it?
According to the Bureau of Immigration’s website, the 9(e) visa is a type of non-immigrant visa for “any accredited official of a foreign government recognized by the government of the Philippines.”
This type of visa can also be offered to the accredited foreign official’s family, attendants, servants, and employees.
Foreign government officials and representatives of international organizations may apply for 9(e) visas at the BI’s main office.
Among the requirements for this visa include:
- Endorsement from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and copy of Note Verbale;
- Photocopy of bio-page of applicant’s passport and latest admission;
- Photocopy of Birth Certificate of the native-born dependent of a FGO; and
- Latest visa issued by the DFA, if applicable.
Are returning Filipinos allowed?
Based on the memorandum inked by Lorenzana, returning Filipinos should be an OFW or at least among those who are exempted by the NTF.
This means that non-OFWs and those who are not included in the list of exemptions will be barred from entering the country until the ban is lifted.
On January 15, Malacañang announced that the government will extend the travel restriction on countries with known cases of the UK COVID-19 variant until January 31.
The travel ban was no longer implemented in February.
As of Tuesday, the Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday reported 4,437 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total active coronavirus cases in the country to 57,736.
Of the sum, 560,736 patients survived while 12,848 succumbed to the disease.
The country’s total COVID-19 caseload is now at 631,320.
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