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Online Visa Extension for Short-term Visitors in the Philippines

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is set to launch an online visa waiver project this month and tourists who are in the country for a short period can extend their stay through online application filing.

“Online application for visa extensions, the target is to be launched before the year ends. Tourists who come here visa-free and wish to extend their 30-day visa may do so online,” said BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval.

The Philippines Bureau of Immigration (BI) is looking to modernise and automate immigration-related transactions at their international airports early next year. To improve passenger service, the bureau intends to modernise and automate all immigration-related transactions by January 2023, including tourist visa extensions, online visa waiver applications and e-payments.

The strategy was finalised over three days in Manila by the bureau. In addition, the heads of the various divisions presented the status and evaluation of their current programmes, activities, and projects (PAPs). Finally, they proposed PAPs for the next three years during the event.

The BI chief emphasised his administration’s critical focus: anti-corruption, digital transformation, national security, rightsizing and employee empowerment. He also sees a need to strengthen the role of immigration on national security, follow the president’s direction in maximising the personnel complement of the bureau, and improve the employee’s welfare.

To discuss the numerous plans and other projects lined up for the improvement of the bureau, BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco led the week-long year-end interaction of the agency in early December this year. The event included gift-giving for employees’ children, including those in the janitorial and security services, and an outreach programme for underprivileged families in the area.

Themed “Pasasalamat mula sa Bureau of Immigration”, the gathering was an opportunity for BI employees to highlight and celebrate the agency’s achievements. Despite the many issues and challenges of the past, the bureau looks forward to a brighter future. The agency’s direction in the following years will be driven by anticipation of what is needed, innovation to improve its services and a motivation to be the best public servants.

The introduction of electronic transactions and payments for immigration applications and the eTravel system, a joint project of various border management agencies, was also highlighted as a significant achievement of the year.

Earlier, the Philippines introduced eTravel, a contact tracking platform that replaces the One Health Pass and e-Arrival card. For inbound travellers, the platform aims to collect arrival information and a health declaration checklist.

The new system is straightforward; arriving travellers can register by providing personal information, travel information, and health declarations. The user will be given a personalised QR code after completing this step. This service is free, but visitors must sign up at least three days before their trip.

The new service combines the interconnection, data-sharing, and synergy of all the previously divided departments into silos into a single system. Meanwhile, the DICT’s Office of the Undersecretary for E-Government (OUEG) and partner government entities signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote a unified government approach to E-Governance.

Through its efforts to digitally transform government processes and agencies, the DICT hopes to improve data standards and governance by allowing data harmonisation and coordination across the government. Among the initiatives are developing, deploying, and integrating systems for Department flagship programmes such as ELGU, E-Government Applications (EGovApp), E-Govpay, E-Travel, and E-Cloud.

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