Eight overstaying Chinese nationals have been banned from re-entering the Philippines after staying in the country under the government’s visa-upon-arrival (VUA) for Chinese tourists, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced Monday.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente placed an order putting the eight Chinese nationals in the immigration blacklist. They were forced to leave the country after settling various fines and penalties for overstaying.

“They did not leave before the lapse of their authorized stay without any valid reason or justification. And it took them several months after they arrived before they manifested their intent to depart and return to their country,” Morente said. 

The eight Chinese nationals arrived in the country in two batches between November 2019 and January 2020. Each of them was allowed in the country for a non-extendable period of 30 days under the VUA program. 

Meanwhile, other 21 Chinese VUA recipients were also placed in the blacklist and were forced to leave for overstaying last month.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) formulated the VUA, under its guidelines prohibiting grantees of the VUA privilege to apply for extension of their stay, thus they have to leave the country before the lapse of their 30-day visa.

The VUA was a government scheme that was launched three years ago to attract more Chinese visitors in the country as well as boosting the tourism industry.

A VUA grantee has the privilege to enter and stay in the country for 30 days even without a visa from a Philippine consulate in China. 

But the scheme was processed via tour operators accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT) where VUA recipients filed their applications.

Processing VUA applications has been suspended since late January due to the coronavirus outbreak in China. (RJ Espartinez)