The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has temporarily postponed several transactions in its Luzon offices, except for outbound passengers, as long as they are following the government’s order to strictly observe social distancing measures under the enhanced community quarantine to curb the spread of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) disease.

“We are temporarily suspending several transactions in Luzon and are downgrading our workforce to the barest minimum to ensure compliance to stringent social distancing measures,” Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente stated.

Suspended transactions by the bureau are as follows: filing and hearing of applications for extension or conversion to non-immigrant or immigrant visa, dual citizenship, the downgrading of visa status, special work permit or provisional work permit, renewal of Alien Certificate of Registration Identity Cards or ACR I-CARD, and implementation of approved visa applications for extension or conversion.

“This would likewise allow foreign nationals who are unable to go out of their residences to file their applications at a later time due to the quarantine,” he further explained.

Meanwhile, foreigners whose visas are set to expire during the enhanced community quarantine period will be given a chance to file for an extension without penalties, as long as they successfully file the applications within 30 days from the lifting of the lockdown.

“This is similar to the action we took after Typhoon Yolanda. These are special times, hence we had to adjust our procedures to ease the burden of those affected,” Morente said.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Luzon under enhanced community quarantine to help alleviate the uncontrollable spread of the COVID-19 disease. Under the said declaration, no public mass transportation is allowed.

The quarantine period will last until midnight on April 13.  (RJ Espartinez)