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How to Avoid Getting Offloaded at Philippine Immigration?

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This article, ‘How to Avoid Getting Offloaded at Philippine Immigration?’, outlines the six essential measures to obtaining an immigration approval. 

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Introduction

Currently, Philippine passport holders can travel to thirty-eight countries and territories without a prior visa. However, travelers can’t assure entry to these foreign lands with only a passport and round-trip airline tickets. Before departure, you must undergo strict immigration procedures.

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For your Information: A visa is an official travel document, authorizing a passport holder to enter, stay, and leave a foreign country. It stands for Visitors International Stay Admission. 

Want worry-free online processing of your visa and other travel documents? Visit iVisa.com to know more.

Traveling abroad requires diligent preparation, especially for leisure purposes. Apart from the research work, it also involves documentation, spending for travel expenses, etc. What if you were offloaded and denied access to your destination on the day of your flight? Isn’t that upsetting, knowing the preparations you went through?

Offloading prevents a passenger from leaving a country because of insufficient documentation, inconsistent statements, or even safety threats. Getting offloaded might be the worst nightmare experience for some, but an initiative to combat illegal immigration and human trafficking.

For your Information: According to the Bureau of Immigration, offloading is not a policy but an outcome of the rules.   

As a first-time overseas traveler, I was worried when I traveled to Bangkok. Like many others, I went through an inevitable in-person interview with the immigration officer before being let on board. Facing an interrogating officer will put you in a nerve-racking situation.

Below are six essential steps to avoid getting offloaded at Philippine Immigration:

Table of Contents

Prepare all Documents

A passport, round-trip airline tickets, and a visa, if applicable, are the fundamental requirements when traveling oversea. Additionally, to validate the travel intention of the passenger, supporting documents are also requested. 

Hence, to avoid getting offloaded at Philippine Immigration for inadequate papers, gather all the necessary travel documents beforehand.

Primary Documents

Passport

The immigration officers are keen on passport appearance. Hence, the passport must be in good condition and free from visible damage. Also, it must have at least six remaining months before it expires and contain at least three blank pages. 

Here’s a tip: A travel history establishes a good impression for travelers. To create a good travel record, travel first to visa-free countries, such as Vietnam. Although not a main requirement, always bring your old passport.

Round-Trip Airline Ticket

Passengers are required to secure a round-trip airline ticket to ensure that they have the intent to return home.

Secondary Documents

Proofs of Travel Intent

Travelers must have copies of the following to prove that the very purpose of travel is solely for tourism:

  • Proof of confirmed accommodation, either a digital or printed copy of the reservation;
  • Digital or printed copies of booked tours, like attraction passes and vouchers.
  • Travel itinerary that includes the attractions to visit, the lodging facilities to stay in, and the transports to use.

Here’s a tip: Reserve an accommodation that have a free cancellation policy. If something unexpected happens, you can cancel it for free and redeem yourself from unwanted charges. Please read the article, ‘23 Excellent Tips to Save Money for Travel.’

Proofs of Financial Capacity

Unless on a sponsored trip, travelers must prove that they can afford the entire vacation. Proofs of financial capacity are in the form of:

  • Long-standing financial accounts reflected on bank certificates, statements or bankbooks;
  • Bank cards, such as debit, credit, and prepaid cards;
  • Credit card statement in the last six months. 

Proofs of Ties

Livelihood, assets, family, and community ties are strong evidence of connection to the home country. Thus, travelers have to keep a copy of these essential requirements.

  • The most latest annual income tax return and certificate of employment are the primary proofs of income for employed individuals. In addition, company IDs, salary slips, and the approved leave of absence serve as essential supporting travel documents. Self-employed individuals, on the other hand, have to secure their latest income tax return and business registrations. Also, independent contractors, such as freelancers, must keep a copy of their project contracts and payment receipts.
  • A certificate of title and a stock certificate are among the proofs of assets.
  • Proof of family ties, like birth and marriage certificates, denotes a strong connection in the home country. On the other hand, photos showing closeness and conversation history are proof of ties for non-relative individuals.

Proofs of Sponsorship

For sponsored trips, minors, students, seniors, and out-of-work spouses have to keep copies of the following documents:

  • Proof of relationship to the sponsor, such as a marriage contract, birth certificates, and other related documents;
  • Invitation letter, with the sponsor’s contact details, if the sponsor is not a relative;
  • Notarized Affidavit of Support, Guarantee, and Undertaking;
  • Proof of the sponsor’s financial capacity like bank certifications, statements, certificate of employment, income tax certificates, and permits;
  • Screengrabs of electronic mails and chats with the sponsor.

Guidance and Counseling Certificate

Filipinos citizens traveling overseas as fiancées, spouses, or relatives of a foreign citizen must secure a Guidance and Counseling Certificate. Before receiving a certificate, applicants must complete the guidance and counseling session at the Commission on Filipinos Overseas. 

DSWD Travel Clearance

The DSWD Travel Clearance is a documentation issued to Filipino minors traveling alone or with a non-relative adult. You may visit the DSWD site at www.dswd.gov.ph for more details. 

Travel Authority

Government personnel are required to obtain a travel authorization before leaving the country. Aside from the request form, an applicant must also attach an accomplished leave form and other pertinent documents.

Accomplish the eTravel Card

All departing and arriving passengers in the Philippines must fill out the electronic travel card, or ‘eTravel’ card. International passengers must use the online platform for immigration and health declarations.

Log in and register at www.etravel.gov.ph. The registration period is up to 72 hours and no later than 3 hours from the scheduled departure and arrival. 

Here’s a reminder: Travel tax is due for Filipino nationals and those with taxable foreign passports. Non-immigrant foreign passport holders who have been in the country for over a year are also required to pay the travel tax.

While economy and business passage cost PHP 1,260.00, or USD 22.53, first-class transit costs PHP 2,700.00, or USD 48.28. In addition to taking an online payment through the TIEZA portal, NAIA TIEZA counters also facilitate payment transactions. Select banks, convenience shops, pawnshops, and shopping malls also accept travel tax payments. 

Dress Properly

When traveling for tourism, dress and act like a tourist. Do observe proper grooming and wear clothing appropriate to the climate and customs of the destination.

You may wear short dresses and sunhats if the trip is during the summer in Hong Kong. While in Osaka, wear overcoats and jackets during the winter. 

Arrive Early at the Airport

Passengers must be at the airport 3 to 4 hours before departure to give way for the interview and secondary inspection if necessary.

Prepare for the Interview

The hardest part of the process comes last: the interview. Overseas travelers must undergo an immigration interview concerning the integrity of the passenger’s travel intention. Be firm and convey coherent statements to avoid getting offloaded at Philippine Immigration.

Be Confident

All immigration officers are intimidating, which stirs up a tensive atmosphere. Hence, remain assertive so as not to affect your focus during the interview.

Remain Truthful

Immigration officers are well-trained to read people. They can recognize pretentious people through their exposure to profiling techniques. Be true to your intent, and give them consistent statements and bona fide documents.

Answer What Is Only Asked

Avoid giving excessive and inessential details for question that might lead to further inquiry. Thence, answer the questions straightforwardly and briefly.

Inconsistency in your statements may subject you to secondary inspection or, in the worst-case scenario, refusal to leave the country. Here are some of the usual questions you might encounter during an immigration interview:

What is the purpose of your travel? vacation

If traveling for vacation, prepare your day-to-day activities. The immigration officer will ask for more details about your travel intent.

Is this your first time traveling overseas? yes

First-time travelers, especially the solo female travelers, are subject to stricter scrutiny since women are more at risk of human trafficking. Thus, traveling overseas with family members and immediate relatives is advised.

How many days will you spend on your trip? four days and three nights

Filipino travelers are allowed to stay for tourism in Singapore for 30 days. If visiting for days or weeks, familiarize yourself with your itinerary, as the officer will probably ask about your planned activities. 

Where will you be staying? Galaxy Pods

Although proof of reserved accommodation is not a travel requirement, the immigration officer will ask about your accommodation to stay in. Hence, prepare a copy of your hotel booking.

What is your job? Financial Consultant

Employment is proof of strong economic ties in your home country. A stable income source is an evidence of being able to afford your travel and having the intent to return home. Prepare valid employment documents to support your economic ties.

Are you traveling alone or with a companion? I am traveling with a companion.

If traveling with a companion, have a copy of their certificates of birth and marriage, photos, and screenshots of conversations.

When will you return? Thursday, June 29, 2023

Having your scheduled return flight means that you have informed the immigration officer that you will be returning home. Thus, make sure to book your round-trip flight.

Stay Respectful

The immigration officers are humans too, and they deserve our courtesy. Do not be resentful, and be considerate. These front-liners are only doing their duties to protect outbound travelers from illegal immigration and human trafficking.

Here’s a tip: Keep in mind to greet the immigration officer before and after your interview.

Prepare for Second Inspection

Passengers found misrepresenting their travel purpose are subject to secondary inspection. If required to undergo a follow-up inspection, stay polite and remain composed. 

Following the strict guidelines of the Bureau of Immigration, below are mandated to undergo a secondary inspection:

  • Unaccompanied minors or minors traveling with a non-relative adult without travel clearance from the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development;
  • Travelers without a stable source of income and a non-relative foreigner escort;
  • Partners of foreign citizens with the intent of meeting abroad without guidance and a counseling certificate from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas;
  • Repatriated irregular workers, in which case travel may not be allowed without clearance from the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT);
  • All passengers traveling to countries with existing deployment bans, alert levels, and travel advisories and those in possession of visas to the said countries;
  • Those who stayed abroad for more than one year during a previous departure from the country as a tourist or temporary visitor, intending to depart for a second or subsequent time.

The author of this article, ‘How to Avoid Getting Offloaded at Philippine Immigration?’ is not an immigration expert nor has exposure in the field of immigration laws. All the information in this blog post is entirely derived from research and first-hand knowledge.

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About the Author

J. Sac is the author of ‘How to Avoid Getting Offloaded at Philippine Immigration?’ He is also the founder of Traveledictorian – a travel blog that publishes well-crafted travel content.

His passion for writing, photography, and travel fueled him to explore Asia and the rest of the world. He also plans to undertake humanitarian work in his travels. Read his inspiring story and follow him on social media!

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