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Marcos supports streamlining of visa applications for foreign students

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has expressed support to the recommendation to streamline visa applications for tourists and international students.

This was after Marcos met with the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) Tourism Sector Group on Thursday where he also suggested the adoption of online platforms to make the country more attractive to foreign tourists.

Among the group's recommendations are the standardization of information application procedure and information on student visa requirements, as well as the accreditation of clinics for medical clearance and certificate requirements for foreign students.

“So, I think the easiest… is to align ourselves … We can choose to remove it altogether, the requirement for medical certificate, or if we will continue to require medical certificate, as long as it’s a recognized clinic, and it comes out in the actual list of hospitals or something like that. I’m sure there’s a way,” Marcos said in a news release issued Friday.

Another recommendation is allowing the online submission of student visa applications.

A Joint Memorandum Order No. 01, s. 2017 said that foreign students can enter the Philippines by applying for a student visa at a Foreign Service Post (FSP), and also by securing temporary visa with the intention to convert to a student admission status.

The applicant must appear in person for an interview and comply with additional consular requirements before securing the student visa.

In the meeting, the officials told Marcos that they could forego in-person interview to fast-track the process, noting that applicants may be required to appear in person if government intelligence agencies make a recommendation to do so for security reasons.

According to PSAC lead convenor and Aboitiz Group President and CEO Sabin Aboitiz, this concerted effort will help reinforce the Philippines' position as a leading educational tourism hub.

"It involves a multifaceted approach, including partnerships, cultural promotion, and improved education quality, to attract and retain international students, scholars, and travelers seeking enriching experiences in the country," Aboitiz said in a separate news release.

"Ultimately, we aim to establish the Philippines as the preferred choice for academic excellence and a unique cultural experience," he added.

The PSAC noted that the Philippines has been attracting foreign students due to the affordability of tuition and living costs, as well as the fact that English is the primary language of instruction and commerce.

As of August 14 this year, the Presidential Communications Office said that the country has welcomed 3.4 million foreign visitors, which is 71.4% of the 4.8 million baseline industry target for 2023. —Anna Felicia Bajo/KBK, GMA Integrated News