PLANS are afoot for the Bureau of Immigration to extend the restamping of visas of foreign nationals who want to maintain the privileges of the amnesty program under Republic Act No. 7919, after only less than 2,000 of the more than 15,000 foreigners living the country availed of the program.
The restamping program expired on June 15, 2016, and only 1,080 foreign nationals tapped the restamping or the alien integration act visa.
Alien Registration Division chief Danilo Almeda said he will recommend to the Board of Commissioners, Commissioner Ronaldo Geron and Associate Commissioner Abdullah Mangotara, an extension of the program by another three months.
Almeda said the extension is necessary so that affected foreigners can travel out of the country and comply with their annual report requirement.
“I will forward my recommendations to board this week,” Almeda said.
Based on BI records from March 7, 2016 to June 17, 2016, 683 foreigners from Asian countries and another 397, mostly Indian nationals availed restamping.
Almeda said, that a final extension of another three months or until September 2016 to allow the additional filing of restamping applications would be enough to give ample time for foreigners to avail the program or face deportation.
“We are also thinking of imposing a higher penalties, aside from the P3,010 stamping fees,” he added.
Almeda stressed that the affected aliens were also unable to take part in the recent annual reporting of BI-registered aliens as they did not have valid ACR I-Cards.
Geron said he was also planning to rid the bureau of other unnecessary policies and regulations that inconvenience foreigners as it will not help the government achieve its goal of attracting more foreign tourists and businessmen into the country.
He said the BI should liberalize its rules towards RA 7919 visa holders as they have been permanent residents of the country for two decades and have thus assimilated or integrated themselves into the mainstream of Philippine society.
Republic Act 7919 seeks to grant legal status to foreign nationals and their dependents illegally staying and who have entered the country prior to June 30, 1992.
Those granted permanent resident statuses are given certification of their registration as an alien living in the Philippines.
Foreign nationals with permanent resident statuses are allowed to stay indefinitely in the country and enjoy the privileges of any Filipino citizen which includes securing employment. Permanent residents, however, are not allowed to vote and own land.