The Bureau of Immigration has relaxed its rules for returning Filipinos or balikbayans by giving them a one-year visa-free stay in the country, Commissioner Marcelino Libanan has said. Libanan said they decided to ease the bureaus rule after being swamped with queries and complaints from returning Filipinos who claimed that they were confused by some immigration officers who would give them a 21-day stay instead of one year on the pretext that they have been to the country more than once over a 12-month period.
We will be doing our balikbayans a disservice if such mistakes by some of our immigration officers are not addressed and rectified, especially in light of our governments thrust to encourage our countrymen abroad to visit the land of their birth and even settle and have business here, Libanan said.
Under immigration rules, a balikbayan shall declare before a Philippine immigration officer at the port of entry that he or she is availing of the balikbayan privilege and shall present his or her valid passport in addition to other supporting documents such as the passengers cancelled Philippine passport, birth certificate, naturalization papers to show former Philippine citizenship or certification from the adopted country. Libanan said the balikbayan privilege was extended to foreign spouses as well as minor, unmarried children provided they were traveling together.