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Author Topic: Balikbayan Travel  (Read 230 times)

Offline Hestecrefter

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Balikbayan Travel
« on: May 28, 2020, 02:14:52 AM »
I have looked at various PI government websites, airline websites and so on, but I can't seem to find an answer to the question of whether a "balikbayan" is "Filipino" for the purpose of current C-19 travel restrictions. 

In general, it appears to be the case, depending upon point of origin, Filipinos can return home to the Phils with little restriction. But does this include balikbayans...those who have been living abroad and who have acquired other citizenship?

My wife was born and raised in the Phils and came to Canada on Filipino passport, but is now a Canadian citizen with a Canadian passport.  Can we enter the Phils from Canada or the US?  I am asking because we would like to go back to the Phils within the next year.  I harbor little hope for a vaccine (never done yet for a corona virus) or a cure.  So any kind of return to "normal" is but a pipe dream.  So I do not expect to ever see tourism permitted in the Phils (or anywhere else for that matter).  Our only hope for ever getting back there is using balikbayan status.  But even that door might be closed.  Anyone here have any info of that score? 

FWIW, I think this Brit living in the Phils has made some interesting observations/comments about the sea change that is underway:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Nr9MsHaI3U

Offline JoeLP

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Re: Balikbayan Travel
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2020, 11:25:08 PM »
Ok, well, first think I'd suggest is see if you can take her to the Philippines Embassy or Consulate in Canada.  There she can fill out some forms, stand in a line, read a card(take an oath) and she'll be given Philippines Citizenship again.  It's really that easy.  The cost is under $200.  I use to know the exact cost because my ex's sister did it.  But, I cannot remember any longer.

Then, per the Immigration Website you and her will be able to enter the Philippines.  Her with her Philippine Passport(have her get that while at the Embassy/consulate) and you as her husband(balikbayan). 

Oh, and I forgot to clear up a possible question.  When your wife takes that oath, it does not remove her Canadian citizenship.  She'll be a dual citizen.  Granted, there will be some restrictions on her Filipino citizenship.

https://www.facebook.com/officialbureauofimmigration/
« Last Edit: June 01, 2020, 09:25:55 PM by JoeLP »
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Offline Hestecrefter

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Re: Balikbayan Travel
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2020, 09:42:59 PM »
Thanks JoeLP,

I was aware there were some steps she could take to recover Philippine citizenship and up until now, we never much thought about it.  Similarly, I believe that our son, born in Canada, can go through a similar process and acquire Philippine citizenship.

We always had it in mind to take those steps for both my wife and my son "some day", but never got too motivated.  I think the present circumstances might just provide the necessary motive.

It might be the case the balikbayan travel is now, or soon will be, possible.  But maybe taking the steps to recover citizenship is the preferred course, since it seems uncertainty will otherwise prevail.  On that note, I called Philippine Airlines recently and asked about travel restrictions. Their website refers to "Filipinos" and their family members being allowed to travel.  By some definitions I read, Filipinos include balikbayans.  So I asked if balikbayans could fly into the country.  No one there seemed to know.  I spent some time on hold while they considered the matter and, in the end, they suggested I call the Philippine Embassy to get an answer. 

I would not want to get into a situation where Philippine Airlines sells us a ticket, we arrive in the Phils only to be told entry is not allowed.  Might just be safer to recover my wife's Philippine citizenship, get her a PI passport, and travel that way.

Thanks again for your useful input.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2020, 09:51:24 PM by Hestecrefter »

Offline JoeLP

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Re: Balikbayan Travel
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2020, 10:50:58 PM »
There is an American living near me who is here now and only arrived about a month ago.  If you read that immigration website I linked above you'll see where they also make it clear that Filipinos can travel back to the Philippines as well as their balikbayan spouse. 

Now, I understand your concerns and I would have it printed out.  Hell, if you go to the consulate/embassy with your wife, have them give you a letter or something to also back up your travels to the Philippines.  Just a suggestion if you take this route.
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Offline Gray Wolf

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Re: Balikbayan Travel
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2020, 03:08:26 AM »
Over the last 10 years of travel back and forth to the Philippines Gloria and I both have been recipients of the "Balikbayan Privilege", although it is my understanding that it is a privilege that can be denied at any time, with or without reason. I know there are rules, laws, restrictions and privileges, but it all comes down to the Immigration Officer at your Port of Entry. I personally have never had the privilege denied, but that is most likely due to my Ace in the Hole Gloria. She has a way with the locals. I simply stand straight, look them in the eyes and smile... and say "Maraming Salamat Po".

Probably the best source for info and links will be found here:

RA 9225, Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003
https://www.livinginthephilippines.com/forum/index.php?board=61.0
Louisville, KY USA - Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, PH

Offline MotorSarge

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Re: Balikbayan Travel
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2020, 06:49:45 AM »
Over the last 10 years of travel back and forth to the Philippines Gloria and I both have been recipients of the "Balikbayan Privilege", although it is my understanding that it is a privilege that can be denied at any time, with or without reason. I know there are rules, laws, restrictions and privileges, but it all comes down to the Immigration Officer at your Port of Entry. I personally have never had the privilege denied, but that is most likely due to my Ace in the Hole Gloria. She has a way with the locals. I simply stand straight, look them in the eyes and smile... and say "Maraming Salamat Po".

Probably the best source for info and links will be found here:

RA 9225, Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003
https://www.livinginthephilippines.com/forum/index.php?board=61.0
8) Can't find the Thumbs Up but thank you and the other contributors to the info log
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Offline bigrod

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Re: Balikbayan Travel
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2020, 08:11:09 AM »
A lot of us who reside here with our Philippine spouse seem to get the Balikbayan Privilege when we are not really entitled.  According to the BI page concerning the privilege the citizen must be out of the country for a year to avail of the privilege.  I have used the privilege while being out of the country for a week and others for a day or two.  We should not be surprised if a BI official denied us the privilege upon entry.

http://immigration.gov.ph/faqs/visa-inquiry/balikbayan-privilege

Chuck
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Offline Hestecrefter

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Re: Balikbayan Travel
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2020, 12:08:42 AM »
bigrod,

I respectfully disagree with your conclusion that "the citizen must be out of the country for a year to avail of the privilege".  You stopped reading too soon.  The info at the link you provided reads thus:

1. Who are eligible under Balikbayan Program?


a. A Balikbayan, who may be either one of the following:

i.   A Filipino citizen who has been continuously out of the Philippines for a period of at least one (1) year;

ii.  A Filipino overseas worker;

iii. A former Filipino citizen and his family who had been naturalized in a foreign country and comes or returns to the Philippines. (emphasis added)

b. Immediate family members (spouse and children) of the Balikbayan, who are nationals of countries falling under EO 408, travelling together with the Balikbayan.

I think most of us foreigners and Filipino spouses fall within category iii, above.  In our case, my wife was naturalized and became a citizen of Canada.  We have received BB stamps on our passports more than once when returning in less than a year.  All it takes to pass through the gate under category iii is to be a former Filipino, naturalized elsewhere, returning to the Phils.  I can see no requirement that the return be made after an absence of greater than one year.

I will agree that the regulation is not felicitously worded.  Not a model of the draftsman's art. 

The opening language would be clearer if worded as follows:

1. Who is eligible under the Balikbayan Program?


a. A Balikbayan may be any of the following:

...
« Last Edit: June 03, 2020, 12:15:58 AM by Hestecrefter »

Offline bigrod

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Re: Balikbayan Travel
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2020, 07:07:37 AM »
bigrod,

I respectfully disagree with your conclusion that "the citizen must be out of the country for a year to avail of the privilege".  You stopped reading too soon.  The info at the link you provided reads thus:

1. Who are eligible under Balikbayan Program?


a. A Balikbayan, who may be either one of the following:

i.   A Filipino citizen who has been continuously out of the Philippines for a period of at least one (1) year;

ii.  A Filipino overseas worker;

iii. A former Filipino citizen and his family who had been naturalized in a foreign country and comes or returns to the Philippines. (emphasis added)

b. Immediate family members (spouse and children) of the Balikbayan, who are nationals of countries falling under EO 408, travelling together with the Balikbayan.

I think most of us foreigners and Filipino spouses fall within category iii, above.  In our case, my wife was naturalized and became a citizen of Canada.  We have received BB stamps on our passports more than once when returning in less than a year.  All it takes to pass through the gate under category iii is to be a former Filipino, naturalized elsewhere, returning to the Phils.  I can see no requirement that the return be made after an absence of greater than one year.

I will agree that the regulation is not felicitously worded.  Not a model of the draftsman's art. 

The opening language would be clearer if worded as follows:

1. Who is eligible under the Balikbayan Program?


a. A Balikbayan may be any of the following:

...


My statement was directed at those of us who reside here with a Philippine citizen spouse not those with a former Philippine spouse that fall under iii.  Now the other question is those that have reacquired their Philippine citizenship(dual citizens) do they fall under i or iii?

Chuck
Life is  to short not to live it right the first time

Offline Hestecrefter

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Re: Balikbayan Travel
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2020, 08:31:08 AM »
Chuck,

I humbly withdraw my disagreement.  I am the one guilty of misreading.  Your post refers to those residing in the Phils with Filipino spouse, which is a different situation from those of us who live away from the Phils with our Filipino spouses who have acquired citizenship elsewhere.

You pose a good question concerning those who have re-acquired Filipino citizenship.  Where do they fit in?  I would think an argument can be made for either category (i) or (iii).  But I see (i) as the best fit.  It would seem those types are Filipino citizens once again, not "former" citizens.  So for them, in some ways they might be doing themselves - or at least their foreign spouses - a disservice in some cases by reacquiring citizenship.  They would then have to be away for a year to get the coveted BB stamp for the foreign spouse.  For those types, I suppose if the one-year absence test is not met, maybe better to enter on their foreign passport and to claim the BB privilege. 

Offline medic3500

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Re: Balikbayan Travel
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2020, 09:19:46 AM »
Not sure what category we're in but I have received the BB privileged traveling out of the country with the wife and returning with her two years in a row now.

Offline bigrod

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Re: Balikbayan Travel
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2020, 12:22:01 PM »
Not sure what category we're in but I have received the BB privileged traveling out of the country with the wife and returning with her two years in a row now.

If your spouse only has a Philippine passport as does mine. I think they are Cat i.  I have used the BB too while only being out of country for a week or less.  My point is it states 1 year.  Seems BI does not enforce that but they could.  JMHO
 
Chuck                 
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Offline JoeLP

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Re: Balikbayan Travel
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2020, 03:56:15 PM »
So I was at the immigration office today.  My brother is now set to retire here.  He wants to use the tourist visa for a while at first to get things "situated" before looking into something more permanent.

So, my wife, a friend and I were there and we were talking just about what is planned, as of now, for the steps to take for getting back to allowing foreign tourists  back into the USA.  That was pretty much what I asked almost word for word.  They guy went right into what IS allowed right now.  He made it clear that any native, as well as their family, including balikbayan spouse, is allowed in.
 
He also went into the "very general" scope of what's been discussed for opening back up the foreign tourists.  He first explained that there is a LOT of pressure coming from the resorts industry as well as the hotel industry and tourist spots locations.  And because of that, local flights are gaining ground every week.  He said each week more and more local lines are returning and they are working for a near fully restored local air travel schedule by end of year. 

As for the international tourist flights coming in, he said it's really not going to happen until the government is comfortable with the setups.  And even then, they'll only open it for a some countries and then continue to open up to more and more as setups become more common, or a vaccine is found. 

The wife asked what "setups" he was talking about.  He was talking about stuff like is already in place(temp testing, quarantining, health checks before departure, and the such.  But, he also said that from a few that he's talked to, blood tests are something that is becoming more and more a possibility down the road if a vaccine is not found.  Basically, your country might be required to do a blood test and see if your blood has the anti-bodies or something else before you can come. 

He was quick to tell us this is just stuff he gets from his contacts and none of it is official. 

In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.