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Philippines to implement eVisas for foreigners starting 3rd quarter this year

The Philippines will be implementing electronic visas for foreign visitors starting in the third quarter of this year to make visa application and processing faster and more efficient, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Jesus Domingo said the country’s e-Visa system will allow foreign nationals to apply for appropriate Philippine visas remotely through personal computers, laptops, and mobile devices.

"This would make the visa application process faster, more efficient, and more convenient for foreign nationals who wish to visit the Philippines for touristic and business purposes," Domingo said in a press conference.

An e-Visa prototype was presented by Office of Consular Affairs Assistant Secretary Henry Bensurto, Jr., during a meeting at the Home Office in Manila of Philippine heads of diplomatic posts and consulates in China this week.

The meeting was jointly chaired by Domingo, who heads the DFA Office of Civilian Security and Consular Affairs, and Bensurto.

It was attended by Philippine Ambassador to China Jaime Florcruz, Consul General Dinno Oblena (Philippine Embassy in Beijing), Consul General Josel Ignacio (Philippine Consulate General in Shanghai), Consul General Marshall Louis Alferez (Philippine Consulate General in Guangzhou), Consul General Flerida Anne Camille Mayo (Philippine Consulate General in Chongqing), Consul General Porfirio Mayo, Jr. (Philippine Consulate General in Macau), Consul General Raly Tejada (Philippine Consulate General in Hongkong), and Consul General Maria Antonina Mendoza-Oblena (Philippine Consulate General in Xiamen).

Currently being developed by the DFA in partnership with the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Philippine e-Visa aims "to make use of technology to facilitate the entry of legitimate visitors to the country."

It’s scheduled to be launched within the third quarter of 2023, Domingo said.

"The launch of the e-Visas is part of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s policy to significantly enhance and transform the Philippine tourism industry with the view of increasing tourist arrivals in 2023 and beyond." 

Domingo and Bensurto said visitors from China, one of the top sources of foreign tourists in the country, would greatly benefit from the new e-Visa system.

Currently, Chinese tourists need to apply for a visa in person at the embassy or consulate across China.

Since the resumption of outbound tourism for Chinese nationals in February, Philippine diplomatic posts in China "have been operating beyond their full capacity to process and issue visas to Chinese nationals in accordance with existing Philippine visa regulations and policies," Domingo said.

The Department of Tourism is eyeing 1.7 million Chinese tourist arrivals this year.

According to Domingo, the heads of posts in China emphasized that there is no backlog in their consular work of processing visa applications of Chinese nationals, both for Chinese tour groups and Chinese individuals.

Domingo and Bensurto hope that with the new e-Visa system, more Chinese tourists and businessmen will visit the country.

They said that the Philippine government is imposing additional safety nets to ensure that Chinese nationals entering the Philippines through tourist visas are legitimate tourists or business travelers amid reports that they work illegally in Chinese offshore gaming offices in the country.

"It is in our interest to generate income through more tourist arrivals into the country as part of our economic policy, but on the other hand, we are aware that we also have to be mindful of the possible security implications," Bensurto said. —VBL, GMA Integrated News