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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Visa Rules on Foreign Students Tightens by Immigration Bureau

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has tightened its rules on the screening of applications for foreign student visas and permits following reports of “fake” foreign students in the country. In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. on Wednesday said he has issued new guidelines on the issuance of student visas and special study permits (SSP) to foreigners enrolled in various schools of the country. Under a new memorandum, the school’s designated liaison officer or representative, who must be an employee of the school, should represent or assist the foreign student in applying for a Philippine Visa. The commissioner said the new rule was imposed after reports reached him that unscrupulous travel agents have been conniving with foreigners in submitting fake or fraudulent transcripts of school records for student visa applications. “We have to make sure that only foreigners actually studying in the Philippines are given these visas.  This anomaly should be stopped because these fake foreign students are blatantly violating our laws,” the BI chief said.
David said he has already instructed Lawyers Ma. Antonette Bucasas-Mangrobang, BI acting intelligence chief, and Anna Katrina Sy-Gil, BI student desk head, to investigate and identify the “fake” alien students so their visas can be canceled and they can be arrested and deported. The new rules also state that only schools accredited by the BI, Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and Federation of Accrediting Agencies are authorized to accept foreign students.
A student visa is issued to a foreigner, at least 18 years old, who will be taking up a course at a university, seminary, college, or school duly authorized to admit foreign students. On the other hand, an SSP is issued to a foreign student below 18, who will be studying in the elementary, secondary or special tertiary course of less than one year. Schools are now required to establish a foreign student unit and submit to the BI a periodic report on foreigners enrolled in their school. Each school will designate its representative who will deal with the BI for the issuance or renewal of study visas or SSPs of foreign students. BI alien control officers in the areas where the schools are situated were also required to submit to the bureau’s main office a monthly report on study visas and permits processed by their respective offices.

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