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I've been pinging the consulate in San Francisco (as well as some of the helpful people in this forum) with the intent of getting things together to get in my 13 A visa application in the next month or so.  One reason to keep checking with them is to keep up with the status of the general lock down in California - but as of June 16 they re-opened.  And then, lately, California has been backsliding and lock down rules seem in a state of flux (for those that don't know, the Frisco Consulate is the main option for us that live on the US west coast - so if you have have to travel from, say, Seattle area  - like me - to go there, you want to be sure they are going to talk to you, and you have everything you need with you to support the trip).

Anyway...per a email I finally got a response to - not happy news. This is the complete email response I just got:

"Thank you for reaching out to the Philippine Consulate General.

 We apologize for the delayed response. The Consulate is operating on a limited capacity as of this time.

We regret to inform you that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in the Philippines issued a temporary suspension of Visa Issuance and Visa-Free Privilege (including balikbayan) effective 22 March 2020 until further notice.

 In this regard, the Philippine Consulate is not accepting visa applications as of this time.

We hope this answer helps. "

The suspension of the Balikbayan especially surprised me.  I thought I'd been hearing of people still entering the country with that, and it was my fall back plan if I didn't get the 13A in place for some reason.  As with everything else Philippine government connected, I'm never 100% sure that I'm hearing the "official" government rules or the local consulate's interpretation of the rules.  Any insights from the general collective on this one?

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Everything I have read to this point says that Philippine citizens AND their spouse and children are can enter the Philippines.   Below is the DFA announcement they reference?  It is quite clear that balikbayan to include spouse and children are still allowed entry.  

https://dfa.gov.ph/dfa-news/statements-and-advisoriesupdate/26385-public-advisory-on-the-temporary-suspension-of-visa-issuance-and-visa-free-privilege#:~:text=The temporary suspension of visa issuance will deem all previously,country starting 22 March 2020.

 

Spoiler

 

 
 
 

Public Advisory: On the Temporary Suspension of Visa Issuance and Visa-free Privilege

19 March 2020 – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) informs the public that it is temporarily suspending visa issuance in all its Foreign Service Posts effective immediately and will be valid and effective until further notice.

The temporary suspension of visa issuance is in light of Proclamation No. 922, dated 08 March 2020, declaring a "State of Public Health Emergency" throughout the Philippines; and Proclamation No. 929, dated 16 March 2020, declaring a "State of Calamity" throughout the Philippines due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

With the temporary suspension, all visa-free privileges including those based on Visa Waiver Agreements, those under Executive Order 408, s.1960, and for holders of Hong Kong and Macau SAR passports, Macau-Portuguese passports, and British National Overseas passports, are likewise temporarily suspended, effective 22 March 2020.

It is to be noted, however, that foreign spouses and children of Filipino nationals are exempted from this temporary suspension.

The temporary suspension of visa issuance will deem all previously issued visas canceled, and foreigners with visas issued by Philippine Foreign Service Posts (primarily 9a Temporary Visitor/Tourist visas) will not be allowed entry into the country starting 22 March 2020.

However, visas previously issued to accredited Foreign Government and International Organization officials and their dependents will remain valid and will be honored when entering the country even after said date. The same is true for previously issued visas to foreign spouses and children of Filipino nationals.

This temporary suspension has no impact on foreign nationals that are already in the country or on holders of visas issued by other government agencies. END

 

 

 

 

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Yeah...I'm seeing this posted, too:

"Inbound Filipino citizens, including their foreign spouses and children, holders of Permanent Resident Visas and 9(e) Diplomat Visas issued by the Philippine government shall be allowed entry, subject to applicable quarantine procedures"

I'm going to call the Consulate (which can be a trippy experience sometimes).  I have noted that they completely took down their VIsa application link off their website, and they may not be working 13A visas at all right now.  But my fall back has always been the "Filipino citizens, including their foreign spouses" phrase.  That certainly implies to me that Balikbayan stamps are still being issued (though there might be some other kind of immigration status being used temporarily).  I have just noticed over the years that you can get different answers from government officials, sometimes even from those working in the same office.  So I have to see what I get if I bypass the "Information Officer" who sent the email, with the possibility he's working off a canned script of some kind rather than from the perspective of one of their actual immigration officers.  

I'll pass along what I find out.  This might be a topic more specific to this Philippine Consulate, and those of us dependent on it, than to the general forum...but I do know at least one couple up in Bellingham is tracking this topic as it applies to their plans.  

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Dave... if you've determined that the 13A option out for now and relying on using  Balikbayan status... maybe just call the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC as well... rather than just stick wit the SF consulate.  

I'd like to think the airlines can answer your question as well (wrt to Balikbayan)... if someone is not allowed in the country... I can't imagine they would let you on the plane.  

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I'm pinging the consulate for now - but switching to the DC Embassy might be a better option.  Sometimes good to send in the same info both places and see who responds.  San Francisco has an additional hassle with all the COVID-19 closures and edicts floating around California.  They're running like half staff and half hours right now.

Don't rely on the airlines to be squared away.  Here's a little tale: when we went to PI last March, my wife was scheduled through Hong Kong to Manila.  Then the Philippines stopped all air traffic from all Chinese airports, including Hong Kong.  Cathay Pacific (a Chinese Airlines), subsequently cancelled my wife's flight, and she changed it to connect through South Korea (we snuck through there just as South Korea was ramping up, but it was never shut down as a connection route to Manila).  On that trip, my brother and his daughter also went through South Korea.  His son, however, was working in Australia.  He had booked a flight from Australia through Hong Kong into Manila.  The stupid airline let him get on the plane to Hong Kong, although the Hong Kong-Manila connection closure was by then over a month old.  He arrives in Hong Kong and gets told he can't go to Manila.  So he then flies back to Australia, and the next day gets a flight from Brisbane direct to Manila.  He finally caught up with us about 24 hours after we got to Boracay.  Damned if I know why the airlines did that to him.  It was almost criminal.  

I'm pretty flexible - if I gotta bounce around, I gotta bounce around.  But I'm sure gonna do my best to pre-arm myself with anything and everything I can personally control.  Just a LOT of crazy, ever changing factors laying over everything right now.  Still have my fingers crossed that it will die down to a more stable solution set by end of summer - but I have a suspicion some kinds of changes and confusion are just going to stay in place well into next year.  We're gonna roll with it best we can, because we have our minds made up to go.  Hard headed - with knots on head to prove it.

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On 7/6/2020 at 9:15 AM, DaveB said:

I'll pass along what I find out.  This might be a topic more specific to this Philippine Consulate, and those of us dependent on it, than to the general forum...but I do know at least one couple up in Bellingham is tracking this topic as it applies to their plans.  

THANKS DaveB!  Yeah, we are looking daily to see about any updates to the process while "hunkered down" in B'ham.  If Inslee does not open schools, we may do a exploratory trip this winter for a few months and  scout out areas we think we want to live, etc, covid restrictions allowing of course.  I just hope won't still have to quarantine any length of time upon arrival.  Thnx again. 

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Good luck...if you come up with some proven info on how spouses are accompanying Philippine citizens, be it balikbayan, some kind of visa, or smuggling in on a fishing boat , I'd love to hear it.  We're sitting tight for the immediate future hoping the travel restrictions die down.  I'm still hoping to do a "where to live" visit to Subic before end of year.  Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines is offering employees a buy out, which might mean (if she accepts it) my wife might be retired six months sooner than we had planned.  As of today, it's a 2 week quarantine if you do get through immigration.  If we're both retired, we don't care.  But I have a queasy reaction to the thought of arriving at the end of a long airplane ride, only to be told I can't enter due to travel restrictions for non-citizens.  Maybe being over cautious, but I'd sure like to hear a firm answer to how to pull that off.  The Consulate and Embassy visa officers simply won't commit to a firm answer - so they make me nervous. 

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The problem would be that even if someone was able to get in, there is no guarantee that exactly the same set of circumstances would have the same result at a different time and in a different airport. So much here is down to local and even individual interpretation.

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Yeah...what you're describing is endemic to governing, Philippine style.  You'd think going through immigration at Clark Field would incur the same standard processing steps as going through it at Manila - but it's a little naive to believe that's always the case.  All the more reason to show up armed with something from some other (higher?) authority that you can pull out and show to whatever gate keeper you're dealing with.  Right now I have a statement from the Embassy in DC that says I can enter, accompanied by my wife, without a visa, for up to 30 days, and then apply for the 13A while in the Philippines.  That's not a happy situation...don't want to be floating around the Philippines for 30 days with no official status while hoping my 13A gets approved - especially if half that time I'm stuck in quarantine.  But if someone at Clark were to say I can't enter, I'd pull it out and poke them in the eye with it and hopefully at least get in.  But I'd sure like to have something in hand that's a little harder to argue with: like a 13A or 9A visa. So got my fingers crossed I can get one of those by around October or November.  The way California in general is currently going (and the whole USA for that matter), I don't see the San Francisco Consulate opening any time soon, even if they suddenly decided to start processing visas again.  It was closed up tight for a couple months the first time the state went into lock down - so it's a double whammy at this end, at least for now....so still sitting tight hoping for the best.  

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was in Dumaguete last March, and happened to go up to Manila 36 hours before Manila went into complete quarantine - and all domestic flights were halted into the airport.  Now I'm wishing I'd stayed put and got stranded in Dumaguete.  There's more opportunities to fix status from within the country than to gain status from outside.  Ok....I'll quit whining now.

 

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3 hours ago, DaveB said:

Ok....I'll quit whining now.

No reason to quit whining.  It is good practice for when you finally arrive. :hystery:

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