The Bureau of Immigration (BI) issued two (2) Notes with Recommendation (NWR) dated 15 May 2020 and 18 May 2020 regarding the resumption of Special Work Permit (SWP) and Provisional Work Permit (PWP) applications during the implementation of the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ), as well as the resumption of Visa Processing in areas under MECQ, General Community Quarantine (GCQ), and Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), respectively.
ON THE RESUMPTION OF SWP AND PWP APPLICATIONS
The Commissioner of BI approved the NWR dated 15 May 2020 and outlined the following guidelines for SWP and/or PWP applications:
- FOR SECTORS ALLOWED UNDER MECQ – The BI resumed acceptance of SWP and PWP applications for sectors allowed under MECQ.
- FOR PHILIPPINE OFFSHORE GAMING OPERATORS (POGO) – In addition to the documentary requirements for PWP applications, petitioners are now also required to submit a copy of:
- Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Certificate – (BIR clearance for partial resumption in compliance with PAGCOR and IATF recommendation); and
- PAGCOR Authorization (authorizing the resumption/re-opening of operation of the POGO entity).
- FOR TOURIST/TEMPORARY VISITORS – The Tourist Visa Section and subport offices accept applications for updating and/or extension of authorized stay of tourist/temporary visitors who will apply for SWP/PWP.
ON THE RESUMPTION OF VISA PROCESSING
Likewise, the Commissioner of BI approved the NWR dated 18 May 2020 and outlined the following guidelines for Visa Processing at the Legal Division to be enforced only during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- ACCEPTANCE OF VISA APPLICATIONS – BI offices all over the country may begin to accept visa applications for conversion, inclusion, extension/renewal, and amendment to non-immigrant/special non-immigrant or immigrant visa on 1 June 2020.
- VISA INTERVIEWS/HEARINGS – To properly observe social distancing, visa interviews/hearings will be temporarily waived for all immigrant, temporary resident, non-immigrant, and special non-immigrant visa applications, among others (e.g. 9 series, SVEG, EO226/RA8756, 13 series, special visa, etc.)
- OBSERVATION OF SOCIAL DISTANCING – In view of the waiver of visa interviews/hearings, all concerned visa applications shall have attached with it the following:
- Guarantee Letter under oath/notarized – Guaranteeing that all documents submitted are genuine with no intention to defraud the government or other party/ies;
- Photocopy of all passport pages, including previous/cancelled passports, of the applicant and petitioner foreign parent/spouse for proper examination of documents;
- Duly filled out Q&A Form with 2×2 or passport-sized color photo with white background of the visa applicant and signed by both the applicant and the petitioner (for applications for conversion to any of the 13 series visa, TRV, or other related immigrant or permanent resident visas); and
- Signature of Hearing Officer at the bottom of the Q&A Form upon evaluation of the documents.
- VISA EXPIRED BEFORE/DURING THE QUARANTINE PERIOD – The BI allows the filing of visa applications for renewal/extension/amendment within thirty (30) days from lifting of the MECQ for visas which expired immediately before or during the lockdown/quarantine period which started on 15 March 2020.
- STRICT ENFORCEMENT OF “NO WORK VISA/PERMIT, NO WORK POLICY” – The “No Work Visa/Permit, No Work Policy” shall remain strictly enforced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 50% SKELETAL WORKFORCE – The BI’s Legal Division shall allow only 50% skeletal workforce per office to properly observe physical distancing.
- BUS/SHUTTLE SERVICE FOR STAFF – The BI shall provide bus/shuttle service to the Legal Division staff in need of transportation service, upon prior arrangement, in reporting for work and in going home.
- FACE MASKS – All BI employees and the transacting public are required to wear face masks.
- BIOMETRICS EXTENSION – Biometrics shall be extended from three (3) to five (5) working days from date of payment of visa application fees.
- BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS MEETINGS – The Board of Commissioners (BOC) will resume to hold regular meetings or special agenda re visa applications whenever necessary.
by: Emem Flores