-- August 2014 ~ Travel and Immigration 101

Friday, August 29, 2014

Cebu Pacific Named Official PH Carrier to Canada and New Zealand

Cebu Pacific has been designated as an official Philippine carrier to New Zealand, Myanmar and Canada, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said.
CAB said the decision was made in its recent board meeting, which also granted Cebu Pacific additional entitlements for 5 international routes from Manila to Singapore, Myanmar, New Zealand and Macau; and from Cebu to Hong Kong.

The Gokongwei-led budget airline was granted seven flights weekly from Manila to New Zealand and 1,260 entitlements from Manila to Singapore.

The additional entitlement also allowed Cebu Pacific to upgrade its current daily Airbus A320 service to an Airbus A330 service.

CAB also granted Cebu Pacific’s opposition to the extension of the code share agreement between Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Emirates on the Manila-Dubai route, which is set to expire in October this year.

“We commend the CAB air panel for their wisdom in rendering decisions that allow Philippine carriers to expand services in international routes. This ultimately benefits the travelling public, as Cebu Pacific continues offering the lowest fares, and driving international arrivals aligned with the country’s tourism goals,” said Cebu Pacific Air vice president Atty. Jorenz TaƱada.

Cebu Pacific is set to launch thrice weekly flights from Manila to Kuwait on September 2, 2014 and four times weekly flights from Manila to Sydney on September 9, 2014.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

DOLE to Provide Jobs for Pinoy DHs in Hong Kong

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will open up more jobs to allow Filipinos working abroad to go home and practice their profession.
Based on the records of Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), 160,000 Filipino domestic workers left the country to work abroad in 2013.

The most popular destination for domestic workers are Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Singapore and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In an interview on radio DZMM, DOLE director Nicon Fameronag said the move is part of the government's goal to prevent professionals like teachers and others from leaving the country to work as domestic helpers.

"Kukuha sila ng exam at ang tangi lamang kondisyon ng DepEd is that kung tatlo o hanggang limang taon silang hindi na nakakapagturo, magte-take lang sila ng refresher course," Fameronag said.

The director added that the Department of Education (DepEd) will prioritize teachers who are working as domestic helpers in Hong Kong for the 39,000 teaching positions that will be available next year because of the K-12 program.

Fameronag also said the POEA and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) have already identified jobs available for Filipino domestic helpers.

"Ilalatag 'yung mga training options sa ating mga domestic workers at doon pipili sila," added POEA administrator Hans Cacdac.

The DOLE and POEA will first implement this "career pathing" program for workers in Hong Kong, which will also be implemented for workers in UAE.

Jobs will also be available for other professionals.

"Pupunta ang TESDA, ipo-profile ang mga household service worker kung ano 'yung kanilang educational attainment, skills," Fameronag explained.

Despite the difference in the amount of salary that will be given for workers who will be willing to go back to the country, Fameronag believes these workers will choose to go back for their families.

"Sumusweldo ka ng P30,000 sa abroad tapos ang sweldo mo dito sa Pilipinas ay P15,000. I-assign mo 'yung P15,000 na balanse sa pagiging kapiling ng iyong anak, magagabayan mo ang paglaki, kasama mo ang asawa mo tapos nandito ka sa bansa. 'Yung money equivalent nun, sapat na," he said.

He added that they are also in talks with foreign governments to ensure the safety of Filipino domestic helpers.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Countries With Visa-Free Access for Philippine Passport Holders

To Filipinos traveling overseas, getting a visa can be a time-consuming, if not resource-draining exercise. Consulates and embassies often require plenty of documentation to justify them granting visas: financial statements and proof of employment are among them. And that’s if the destination country has its consular presence in the Philippines. Given such challenges faced by a legitimate tourist, another alternative is to visit countries that don’t require Philippine passport holders to apply for visas.

ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)
Brunei Darussalam – 14 days
Cambodia – 21 days
Indonesia – 30 days
Laos – 30 days
Malaysia – 30 days
Myanmar – 14 days
Singapore – 30 days
Thailand – 30 days
Vietnam – 21 days

Azerbaijan – 30 days visa issued upon arrival
Taiwan – 30 days if holding a valid visa for Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Schengen countries, United Kingdom or United States. Check at https://nas.immigration.gov.tw/nase/ to meet the requirements.
Georgia – 90 days visa issued upon arrival, 360 days visa free to those who have temporary residence of Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait
Hong Kong – 14 days
India – 30 days visa issued upon arrival
Iran – 15 days visa issued upon arrival if holding an e-visa pre-approval code obtained via email from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at www.mfa.gov.ir
Israel – 90 days (3 months)
South Korea (if arriving at Jeju Island only) – 30 days
Macau – 30 days
Maldives – 30 days visa issued upon arrival, extension of maximum 90 days is possible by paying MVR 750
Mongolia – 21 days
Nepal – 15/30/90 days visa issued upon arrival for around US$25/40/100
Sri Lanka – 30 days visa obtain upon arrival if holding Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA). You can get this prior to arrival at www.eta.gov.lk
Timor-Leste – 30 days single entry visa issued upon arrival for around US$30, extension is possible up to 90 days

Kosovo – 90 days

Cook Islands – 31 days
Fiji – 120 days Visitor’s Permit issued upon arrival and can be extended
Marshall Islands – 30 days visa issued upon arrival and can be extended
Micronesia – 30 days
Niue – 30 days
Palau – 30 days visa issued upon arrival, additional USD 50 for extension
Samoa – 60 days Visitor’s Permit issued upon arrival
Tuvalu – 30 days visa issued upon arrival
Vanuatu – 30 days

North America
Bermuda – 31 days before but since May, they now require visas for Philippine passport holders
Costa Rica – 30 days Visitor’s Permit issued upon arrival
Dominica – 21 days
Haiti – 90 days
Nicaragua – 90 days visa issued upon arrival
Saint Lucia – 6 weeks Visitor’s Permit issued upon arrival
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – 30 days visa issued upon arrival
Turks and Caicos Islands – 30 days

South America
Bolivia – 90 days
Brazil – 90 days
Colombia – 90 days
Ecuador – 90 days
Peru – 183 days
Suriname – 90 days

Burundi – 1 month visa issued upon arrival
Cape VerdeIslands – visa issued upon arrival around £ 25
Comoros – visa issued upon arrival
Djibouti – 1 month visa issued upon arrival
Gambia – visa issued upon arrival
Kenya – 90 days visa issued upon arrival for US$50
Madagascar – 90 days visa issued upon arrival for MGA140,000
Morocco – 90 days
Mozambique – 30 days visa issued upon arrival. Extension of 30 days is possible around USD 66
Saint Helena – visa issued upon arrival
Seychelles – 1 month Visitor’s Permit issued upon arrival if holding return ticket, sufficient funds (minimum USD150 per day of stay, and proof of accommodation)
Tanzania – visa issued upon arrival for around USD50 to USD200
Togo – 7 days visa issued upon arrival if with return ticket, 3 passport photos, and yellow fever vaccination certificate
Uganda – visa issued upon arrival for US$50
Zambia – 90 days visa issued upon arrival for USD 50/80/160 single/double/multiple entry


**Information is intended for tourist visit purpose only
**Details may change anytime after the update due to new laws so double-check the immigration rules of the country you’re planning to visit
**Transit visa may be required when you’re not on a direct flight
**Sources: International Air Transport Association (IATA), Qantas, Wiki, Visalink, VisaHq.ph

Monday, August 18, 2014

British Embassy Makes It Easier For Filipinos To Apply For A Visa

After having approved over 90 percent of visa applications from the Philippines, the British Embassy announced on Monday a number of "enhancements" to its visa processing procedures in the country.
The British embassy said that these included an improved application center in Manila and a new one in Cebu City.

In a news release, the embassy said the improvements, meant "to cater [to] the growing demand" for UK visa services, also included a new international visa enquiry center, an optional priority visa service that returns visa decisions within three to five working days, and a Prime Time service for those who couldn't attend appointments within the usual office hours.

More than 49,000 tourist and business visit visas were issued to Filipinos from March 2013 to March 2014, the embassy said.  It said this "[dispelled] misconceptions that it [was] difficult for Filipino travellers to get a UK visa."

Asif Ahmad, British ambassador to the Philippines, said the embassy "[wanted] to welcome even more Filipino visitors in the coming 12 months."

For frequent visitors to the UK, the British embassy announced that it was also offering long-term visit visas, which would be valid for one to 10 years. 

The embassy said such a long-term visa runs under "the same conditions as a regular six months visit visa," but may be more convenient for those travelling in and out of the UK since "you will only need to make one application and provide biometrics once for the entire duration of the visa."

Ahmad said the embassy was encouraging those who wish to apply for a tourist or business visit visa "to apply early and have with you all the necessary documents when you go for your appointment."

Applicants should also "be clear about the purpose" of their visit, he added.

The growth in the number of visitors may be attributed to "a wider range of flight options" between London and Manila, the news release said.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) began its five-times-a-week flights to London in late 2013.

Friday, August 1, 2014

More Foreign Nurses May Qualify for H-1B Visas

More foreign nurses may be able to come and work in the US sooner than usual, following the release of a recent memo by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) describing how they can be sponsored for the H-1B temporary work visa.
The H-1B visa is available to foreign workers who fill specialty occupation jobs in the US, such as physical therapists, accountants, engineers, graphic designers, finance or IT professionals, or teachers.

The term “specialty occupation” is generally described as jobs that require highly specialized knowledge or at least a bachelor’s degree for an entry-level position.

The critical factor for H-1B sponsorship is the job requirement and not whether the foreign worker has a bachelor’s degree.

The recent USCIS policy memorandum, dated July 11, potentially expands and formalizes which nursing positions in the US may be considered for H-1B sponsorship. It could open the door tomore foreign registered nurses (RNs) who already possess at least a bachelor’s degree in the field of nursing.

Since entry-level nursing jobs in the US do not normally require a bachelor’s degree, prior USCIS policy did not consider nursing as an H-1B specialty occupation, except in limited cases. As a result, very few foreign nurses qualify for H-1B visas, and eventually obtain their green card while working in the US.

Most of them come to the US on immigrant work visas after waiting for three to five years.  For instance, nurses from the Philippines – one of the largest sources of foreign RNs – are currently stuck in a four-year wait.

Under the recent seven-page memo, foreign registered nurses can skip the long wait for immigrant visas and instead enter the US as H-1B temporary workers and pursue their green card applications while in the US.

Three general groups of nursing jobs in the US may now be H-1B-caliber positions:

Nursing positions at healthcare organizations, under the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program. An H1B sponsor with ANCC Magnet status indicates that its nursing workforce has attained high standards of nursing practice and possesses at least a bachelor’s degree.
Nurses performing specialized and complex duties usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s degree, such as: addiction nurses, cardiovascular nurses, critical care nurses; emergency room nurses; genetics nurses; neonatology nurses; nephrology nurses;oncology nurses; pediatric nurses; peri-operative nurses; or rehabilitation nurses.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) is considered a specialty occupation “due to the advanced level of education and training required for certification.” Some APRN positions include the Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM); the Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS); Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP); and the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).

All nurses in the US must possess a nursing license. To be licensed, the nurse must complete an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).  Other specific requirements to practice the nursing profession vary from state-to-state.

At present, there is no state that requires a bachelor’s degree in nursing for licensure. However, state licensure requirements may change. In case a bachelor’s degree will be required for a nursing job in a particular state, a foreign RN may obtain an H-1B work visa for that particular job.

The U.S. government has projected a faster than average growth in the demand for nurses until 2022. Many factors lead to the growing need for nurses and other healthcare professionals in the U.S., including: the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (also referred to as “Obamacare”); the emphasis in preventative care; high rates of chronic conditions; and the increasing demand for healthcare from the baby boomer population.

H-1B workers are allowed to work for a maximum of six years in the U.S. This six-year maximum may be extended, provided a green-card case is on track for the H-1B worker. Their spouse and children under 21 years old may obtain H-4 visas and accompany them in the U.S.  

At present, an H-4 spouse is not allowed to work while in the US. The USCIS, however, is studying the possibility of granting H-4 spouses work authorization.

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