The Philippines announced Thursday it would temporarily suspend visa issuance to all foreign nationals, including visa-free privileges, to prevent the spread of pandemic COVID-19 in the country.
“Starting today, all our embassies and consulates will temporarily suspend visa issuance to all foreign nationals, as well as visa-free entry privileges to all foreign nationals,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. posted on his official Twitter account.
All previously issued Philippines visas to foreign nationals are deemed canceled while visas issued to foreign spouses and children of Filipino nationals remain valid, he added.
Locsin also said halting visas on arrival for foreigners depend on the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
“What I just signed is stopping the issuance of visas in all our foreign posts and here, and no visas upon arrival above all, but that’s BI,” he wrote.
Philippines suspends visa issuance to all foreign nationals
The foreign affairs chief earlier said he would have to consult the Department of Tourism (DOT) on suspending visa issuance.
“Before @DFAPHL even begins to consider suspending the issuance of visas in all or some of our foreign posts, I will ask Tourism Secretary Berna (Romulo-Puyat) first what she thinks of it because it is her sector that keeps taking a beating so she should always be consulted first,” Locsin wrote.
Foreigners from more than 100 countries are allowed to enter the Philippines visa-free for 30 days or less.
Holders of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) passports and the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) passports are allowed to travel to the Philippines without a visa for a stay not exceeding 14 days.
As of March 19, the Philippines recorded a total of 217 confirmed cases of pandemic COVID-19 with 17 fatalities.