Bureau of Immigration to provide indefinite visa to foreign investors

Published by rudy Date posted on March 23, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has started implementing a program that provides indefinite visa to foreign investors and businessmen who employ at least 10 Filipino workers as part of the government’s job-generation strategy.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan said the BI is now accepting petitions for the issuance of a Special Visa for Employment Generation (SVEG) to qualified foreigners as the rules and regulations for the implementation of the scheme took effect last March 9.

Libanan said a “one-stop shop” has been created in the bureau to receive, screen and process all applications for SVEG before these are forwarded to the Board of Commissioners for approval.

SVEG allows its foreign holder, who is engaged in a viable and commercial enterprise, to stay in the Philippines indefinitely so long as he or she employs 10 or more Filipinos, the immigration bureau said.

Qualified foreigners, who are granted the SVEG, shall be considered special non-immigrants with multiple entry privileges and conditional extended stay, without need of prior departure from the Philippines.

Earlier, Libanan issued a memorandum circular prescribing the rules for issuing the SVEG which was launched pursuant to Executive Order 758 signed by President Arroyo on Nov. 17 last year.

The privilege of the EO may extend to the qualified foreigner’s spouse and dependent unmarried children below 18 years of age whether legitimate, illegitimate or adopted.

BI legal officer Cris Villalobos, who was named head of the one-stop shop, said a qualified SVEG applicant shall initially be issued a probationary one-year visa before he could be given an indefinite visa.

Villalobos said an applicant shall pay an application fee of P3,520 and P6,000 upon implementation of the visa.

He added that the visa holder shall also be required to secure an “I-Card” for which he shall be charged $50 and express lane fee of P500.

The rules provide that the SVEG shall be issued to a foreigner with controlling interest in a company or entity engaged in a business activity, enterprise or industry that employs at least 10 full-time and regular Filipino workers on a long-term basis in the Philippines.

The Filipino workers must be employed either for managerial, executive, professional, technical, skilled, or unskilled positions.

The BI said an applicant shall submit a notarized letter-request; copy of passport with updated stay; the company’s articles of incorporation, general information sheet; proof of the applicant’s investment; and clearances from the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and BI.

When necessary, the applicant shall submit an alien employment permit (AEP) from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) which shall issue a certification that the foreigner employs at least 10 Filipinos.

Moreover, the applicant shall certify that he or she maintains a lawful immigration status in the Philippines; engaged in a viable and sustainable business; exercises managerial acts with authority to employ, promote and dismiss employees; and evinces a genuine intention to indefinitely remain in the country.

Proofs must also be attached to the application showing that Filipinos employed by the applicant have been given benefits under the labor code such as social security, Philhealth and Pag-Ibig Fund coverage.

The SVEG holder must “continually” meet all requirements to enjoy an indefinite visa, which will be monitored by the Immigration Commissioner.

Grounds for SVEG revocation include the holder’s failure to comply with any of the requirements; if the SVEG was obtained through fraud or willful misrepresentation of material facts; criminal conviction; and findings by a “competent authority” that the holder poses a risk to national security.

Under EO 758, foreigners with revoked SVEGs due to reasons other than criminal conviction, will be deported through summary proceedings; those with criminal convictions will be deported after they have served their sentence. –Helen Flores, Philippine Star

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