Most of my visa application guides are for Philippine passport holders going to another country. This time, it’s the other way around. It’s a guide for Indian Nationals on getting a Philippine Tourist visa. This is another guest post from my friend eatsinbaguio. She recently got married to an Indian National. He would often visit here in the Philippines to see her. So, we’ll see some insights and perspective on how other nationalities fare on getting a Philippine tourist visa. :)

How To Get a Philippine Tourist Visa for Indian Nationals
(in Chennai, India)

Don’t. (Or avoid it like a plague)

But seriously now —  I do not understand why the Philippines grants visa free entry to 151 (++ 7 ,more according to THIS article) countries but NOT to Indian nationals.  On the basis of PPP – or Purchasing Power Parity – India ranks 4th. — meaning, as a country, they make and spend more money than the Philippines- like say – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan . In fact, India’s economy right now is like China’s in 2001 – meaning- it is explosive in growth- which means- Indians are making money, lots of it.

The Philippines has launched a tourist campaign- named More Fun in the Philippines. But for Indian nationals- there is some fine print to that catchy slogan- “More Fun in the Philippines – if you get your Tourist Visa.”

Just how “fun” is it to get a Philippine visa? Take it from this guy: http://mithunonthe.net/2013/09/10/chennai-consulate-philippines-visa-problem/

Even if you take out the grumpy old lady and replace her with a polite, young fella- still getting a tourist visa to the Philippines is one big pain in the ass.

You can find the requirements here:
http://newdelhipe.dfa.gov.ph/index.php/2014-04-14-03-10-05/78-consular-services/108-visa-application-requirements

Here are the BASIC REQUIREMENTS for ALL VISA TYPES:

  • Visa application form fully and legibly completed in English by the applicant
  • One passport size photograph taken no more than 6 months ago. Scanned photos are not acceptable.
  • Bank statements for the last six months stamped and signed by bank officer
  • Original passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the contemplated stay in the Philippines.
  • Photocopy of the data and amendment pages of the applicant’s passport.
  • Copy of e-ticket showing CONFIRMED flight details; For temporary visitor’s visa and transit visa holders: Your return or onward journey plane ticket must be presented to the Philippine immigration officer upon entry into the Philippines.
  • Processing fee in demand draft drawn from any bank in India with branch in New Delhi (or Chennai- whichever Embassy you’re applying from) payable to “Embassy of the Philippines”. Cash payments will not be accepted.
    For payment details, please refer to Schedule of Fees
  • Note: Depending on the initial evaluation of the visa processors, other documents may be required. Applicants are advised to submit their documents at least two weeks before scheduled departure to the Philippines.

Here are additional requirements for a Tourist Visa

  • Copy of Credit cards and/or travelers checks or foreign exchange endorsement of the passport
  • Letter from inviting party (if applicable) indicating complete address and telephone number
  • If employed, applicant’s Certificate of Current Employment from Employer to include employer’s full name, address and telephone number, applicant’s length of service and salary details
  • If self-employed, photocopy of latest Income Tax Return and copy of Personal Assessment Number (PAN) Card
  • If Student, applicant’s Certificate of Enrollment or Letter of Acceptance from School;
  • If minor, under 18 years of age traveling alone or to be accompanied by a person other than a parent or not joining a parent in the Philippines: Affidavit of Support and Consent to Travel. The affidavit must be executed by either or both parents indicating traveling companion of minor and address in the Philippines, duly notarized by a local Notary Public, attested by the MEA  and consular officer of the Philippine Embassy. This affidavit must be presented before immigration officials at the port of entry in the Philippines upon the minor’s arrival in the Philippines.
  • If Spouse of a Philippine Citizen: Name of Filipino spouse should be indicated in the visa applicant’s passport Copy of Report of Marriage issued by the Philippine Embassy or Philippine National Statistics office
  • If Unmarried Minor Child of a Filipino Parent: Copy of Birth Certificate and Copy of Parent’s valid passports

Plus pay some fees: The complete list of fees are here > http://newdelhipe.dfa.gov.ph/index.php/2014-04-14-03-10-05/78-consular-services/86-revised-consular-fees-w-e-f-01-september-2013

So that’s 2560 INR to get a Philippine Tourist Visa or about $40 US.

If you want same day release / expedited: Add 3200 INR or about $52 US.

Therefore, if you want a visa to be released the same day you applied, you will pay $92 US.

If you go through the visa requirements- it’s all straight to the point, clear and simple.

What makes it an experience is the human factor. That is- when you have to interact with a human being. Here is my husband’s (then boyfriend’s) experience – we shall call him Regalo.

Regalo walked into the Chennai Office of the Philippine Embassy with all the requirements. The officers (visible) at the Chennai Office of the Philippine Embassy were Indian locals. An Indian local visa officer received his documents and asked him a few questions about his: purpose of visit, work, family and the inviting party’s details (I was inviting him for Christmas – I produced a letter and an Employment Certificate).

His first time experience was relatively- a breeze. But after obtaining a US visa a few months after that, we both realized how much paper work and waiting the Philippine Embassy requires for Tourist Visa applicants.

And what do they give you? A sticker with your name hand-written on it- then later sealed with clear tape. CLEAR TAPE. HAND WRITTEN. CLEAR TAPE. HAND WRITTEN. For 2560 INR! How high-tech and secure and tamper free! WOW! Which of course, despite its ugliness and cheaplooking design- will allow you entry to the funnest country on earth. (Burma issues muuuch better visas. BURMA!)

His first visit was in December 2013.

His second visit was in June 2014. He already had a US Visa this time. The night before he went to apply for a second Philippine visa, we did some research and found out that Indian residents who have a US Visa on their passport are allowed to enter the Philippines and stay for a maximum of 21 days (14 days initial + extendable to 21 days but you have to go to Bureau of Immigration and pay 3000 PHP for an extension – if you decide to prolong your stay when you’re already in the Philippines).

(We got the info from here and it’s not an official Philippine Embassy announcement or from the Bureau of Immigration  so we weren’t 100% sure: http://itsmorefuninthephilippines.com/philippines-visa-and-entry-information/)

So, just to be sure, he still went ahead to the Chennai Office of the Philippine Embassy AND ASKED- YES REGALO ASKED the visa officer if his US Visa would suffice. The Visa Officer was not sure- his answer was something to this effect:  “I think so, but not sure, maybe at Manila Immigration officer’s discretion.

The Indian local at the Chennai office of the Philippine Embassy WAS NOT SURE. He does not know the answer. HE DID NOT VERIFY with anyone. One call. That’s all it would’ve taken to verify information. See how human intervention can mess things up? Because UNVERIFIED ANSWERS are not a wise thing to follow, Regalo proceeded with the application and paid 2560 INR.

After doing more research while waiting for the release of the visa, we realized that a US Visa is enough to gain entry and stay for 14 days in the Philippines.
We found official information here (sorry link is dead- but you get my point. It’s official info – but the link is dead. DEAD): http://www.newdelhipe.com/omnibus-announcement.pdf

Upset, Regalo went back to the officer and asked if he could withdraw his application and get a refund. Of course, he did it more as a protest to the officer’s incompetence, more than anything. Once paid, the visa fees are non-refundable regardless of the turnout of your visa application.

Upset, I wrote to the Philippine Embassy in New Delhi- as this is where the Ambassador is. I would’ve spoken to him directly if I could.

Regalo actually discouraged me from writing to them as this may affect his application. But I was a woman scorned.

I wrote to them anyway.

Here’s what I said:

Dear Philippine Embassy, 

A friend of mine has previously been to the Philippines on a tourist visa in December 2013. He is applying again for a tourist visa. But in February 2014, he was able to obtain a US visa – and I understand, he would not need to get another tourist visa to visit the Philippines if he has a US visa as stated on this announcement.
http://www.newdelhipe.com/omnibus-announcement.pdf

(update- the link is dead)

He was not made aware of this until recently. He had already submitted his documents and a bank draft to obtain a Philippine visa a few days ago. My question is-  upon inspection of his passport and upon seeing the US visa- shouldn’t the consular officer advise the applicant that he does not need to apply for a Philippine visa anymore? This way, it saves your office time – and at the same time, the applicant- from paying his Visa fee. 

With this, can he still be able to withdraw his application and get back his bank draft as payment for the visa fee?

Thank you so much for your help.

This was their reply: my added annotations are marked in **

Hi,

We have been announcing repeatedly in our website (**update: THAT LINK IS DEAD..DEAD! So much for the “repeated announcement”** ) and through certain events of the visa-free policy but certain Indian nationals still wish to have the Philippine visa stamped on their passports.  Please note that in the claim stub given to the applicant, there is a stamp there stating that visa fees are non-refundable once payment has been made.

Regards,

New Delhi PE

 

No empathy. Just blame. Good job, Philippine Embassy- New Delhi.

Here was my reply to the 0% Empathy, 100% blame email from the Philippine Embassy.

Thank you for your reply and I understand that the visa fee is non-refundable. But had the consul who received his application advised him that a visa stamped on the passport isn’t necessary, he would not have pursued his application.

He would not continue the application if he was told by staff that he does not need to because he already has a US Visa. He merely followed the same process he went through on his first visit in the Philippines. (This was before he got a US visa) . He , nor anyone, wouldn’t really want to spend for something that’s unnecessary- especially if this visa free option had been made clear by the embassy staff.

So my request is, as a Filipino citizen,  is that the staff, specifically in the Chennai office, be made more aware of the visa free policies and advise Indian applicants better.

This way, it saves everyone’s time and would encourage Indian nationals to visit the Philippines. Surely, no one wants to go through so much paperwork just to visit the country. And surely, none of your staff want more paper on their desk.

I understand you announced it on your website, but I think, it is incorrect to assume that all applicants check your website regularly. When visiting the embassy, an applicant would naturally rely on what the staff tells them.

Again, thank you for your time. I trust that you will take this feedback positively.

Not the tone of a woman scorned. I teach business writing. I make sure I include the benefits of following my suggestion. Hehe.

To summarize, I advise you to AVOID getting a Philippine tourist visa for the following reasons:

  • It’s costly. 2560 INR for a 14 day stay. (2 weeks. 14 days- we have 7000+ islands and the Philippine government only gives you 14 days to stay and spend your money in our lovely country J )
  • It takes so much paper work. (A CONFIRMED TICKET!!! You don’t even have a visa!!!)
  • If you’re not from any of the places where the Philippine Embassy has an office- you need to travel.
  • They make you wait for 5-7 days.
  • It’s stressful

Instead, get one of these visas below IFFFFFFFFFFF YOUR PERSONAL SITUATION ALLOWS IT: (Of course, when you apply for these visas, your purpose should not state that you’re getting it only to go to the Philippines. ) If you already have one of these visas – hooooray for you – what are you waiting for- fly now!!!

  • US – I find this the best and easiest option as long as you can show you have reason to return to your home country. Once granted a US Tourist Visa- it is valid for 10 years with multiple entry to the US (and Philippines). Pay 10600 INR – and you will know if you’re accepted or rejected on the same date of your interview vs 5650 INR for same date processing for 14 DAY visa, SINGLE ENTRY to the Philippines.
  • Japanese
  • Australian
  • Canadian
  • Schengen
  • Singapore – lots of paperwork too but only $30 Sing + 300 INR (less than 2560 INR) and only 1 day processing.
    Read more here: http://www.mfa.gov.sg/content/mfa/overseasmission/chennai/visa_information/overview.html
  • UK

You can read more about Visa Free entry to the Philippines for Indian nationals here:
http://www.philippine-embassy.org.sg/bulletin-board/2012/05/visa-free-entry-of-indian-nationals-with-ajacssuk-visa/

And good news- Indian nationals can now enter the Philippines via Clark Airport!

No kidding- check it out here:  http://www.immigration.gov.ph/images/MemorandumCircular/MemorandumCircularNo.%20SBM%202014-005.pdf

So there you have it – come and experience the fun in the Philippines- but there is NO FUN in trying to obtain a Philippine tourist visa. It’s not impossible to get one- but the amount of work you do for it is just not worth the hard work and money compared to the work you do for other visas that will allow you to enter the Philippines.

 

 

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