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Gov’t orders 3,000 overstaying Chinese nationals to leave

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Chinese nationals queue outside the Bureau of Immigration in Manila on June 13. -- REUTERS

THE BUREAU of Immigration (BI) ordered almost 3,000 Chinese to leave the country after their 30-day visas given to tourists upon arrival lapsed.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime H. Morente said 2,736 Chinese were granted visas upon arrival but failed to leave the country on their scheduled departure. More than half of them had been blacklisted, he added.

Some had valid reasons for failing to leave the Philippines on time, including canceled flights amid a coronavirus pandemic, he said “Those who stayed without sufficient basis were included in our blacklist.”

The Tourism and Justice departments agreed to allow Chinese nationals to get their Philippine visas upon arrival at the airport three years ago to attract tourists and tour groups.

Tourists with this type of visa may not extend their stay beyond 30 days, Mr. Morente said. Only 5% of Chinese arrivals in the country fall under this category, he added.

The Philippines suspended visas upon arrival in January after a Senate investigation found that tens of thousands of Chinese nationals had been given the privileges. It remains suspended amid the pandemic.

The government started scrutinizing special visas given to Chinese nationals due to concerns about national security and illegal employment in online casinos. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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