(BI logo)

(BI logo)

MANILA   (Mabuhay) — After the recent introduction of new arrival and departure stamps for international travelers to put an end to counterfeit stamps, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) will launch next week the six-month, long-stay tourist visa for foreigners intending to stay longer in the country.

These twin moves aimed at boosting tourism are in keeping with the policy reforms reached by the BI after a series of meetings with the Departments of Tourism and Foreign Affairs.

BI Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. said the Long Stay Visitor Visa Extension (LSVVE) was launched to spur tourist arrivals in the country by giving foreigners the privilege to prolong their stay here without the need to frequent the BI office.

The current practice is to grant foreign tourists a maximum stay of two months every time they apply for visa extension.

“Through this long stay visa,” David said, “we expect lesser crowding in our offices due to the decreased volume of visa extension applicants.”

With its security and tracking features that cannot be copied, the new visa sticker will prevent the proliferation of fake visa extension stamps resulting in victimizing many foreigners as well as revenue shortfall for the government.

David reported applications for tourist visa extension rose by six percent, representing a 16-percent increase in income from visa extension fees collected from international travelers during the first five months of the year.

This translates to a five-month collection of P342.8 million, which is P47.4 million higher than last year’s take of P295.4 million – a combined collection posted only by the bureau’s main building in Manila and its extension offices in Makati and Pasay.

It was also gathered that since David assumed the BI top post in March 2011, visa applications and revenues have risen by 48 percent and, subsequently, the BI was cited by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) for cutting bureaucratic red tape. (MNS)