News Release

PBBM supports PSAC’s recommendation for easier visa processing for foreign students

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. backs the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) recommendation to streamline visa applications for tourists and international students as well as the adoption of online platforms to make the Philippines attractive to foreign tourists.

The President met with the PSAC Tourism Sector Group on Thursday in its 4th meeting at the Malacañan Palace, where the advisory council presented updates on previous recommendations and new proposals regarding the tourism industry.

Among the PSAC’s new recommendations are the standardization of information application procedure and information on student visa requirements and accreditation of clinics for medical clearance and certificate requirements for foreign students.

Also part of the recommendations is allowing online submission of student visa applications.

The trade department said that the documentary requirements may be reviewed to simplify and reduce the number of requirements. It also recommended the automatic accreditation of at least Level 3 hospitals nationwide for tourists’ medical clearances.

“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,” the President said, when asked about the medical requirements.

The DFA also cited Joint Memorandum Order (JMO) No. 01, s. 2017, which was promulgated to streamline regulations on the entry of foreign students to support government policy to promote the Philippines as a center of education in the Asia-Pacific region.

Based on the JMO, 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.

Upon receipt of the authorization, the foreign national applying for a student visa at the issuing foreign service post will appear in person for an interview and comply with additional consular requirements before securing the student visa.

But officials told the President that they could forego in-person interview to fast track the process, and will only require applicants to appear in person if government intelligence agencies make a recommendation to do so for security reasons.

Student visas processing takes about two months in the Philippines, the longest processing period among its Southeast Asian peers.

The opportunity is large for this segment of tourism, according to Rene Limcaoco of Hertz Philippines. He said that prior to the pandemic, there were five million foreign students who applied and after the pandemic, this is expected to grow to 10 million by 2030.

“And, predominantly, they go to English-speaking countries. There’s a large demand to learn and at the same time to learn English. For the Philippines, it’s a unique opportunity. We are an inexpensive place to get educated,” he said.

“So, the Philippines has this unique opportunity in this segment if we can get easier visa rules,” Limcaoco added.

As of August 14 this year, the country welcomed 3.4 million foreign visitors, which is 71.4 percent of the 4.8 million baseline industry target for this year.

The Philippines targets to earn P2.24 billion this year, as well as employ 5.3 million Filipinos in the tourism sector.

It eyes 4.8 million foreign visitors and 85.1 million domestic travellers this year. PND