What is the change? The Philippines has announced a visa-on-arrival program for Chinese nationals.

What does the change mean? Once the program is implemented, Chinese nationals will be able to obtain visas on arrival by applying for them at least 10 business days before their travel. The program will be open to business travelers who are invited by recognized business organizations or government agencies, tourists traveling as part of a government-accredited tour group, athletes, and delegates to exhibitions or conventions. The visas will be valid for an initial stay of up to 30 days and can be extended for a maximum total stay of six months.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing. The program will be implemented once the Bureau of Immigration issues the necessary implementation rules.
  • Visas/Permits affected: Visas for Temporary Visitors Upon Arrival (TU-VUA).
  • Who is affected: Chinese nationals traveling to the Philippines for any of the purposes listed above.
  • Impact on processing times: The change will save time in the visa process because applying for visas on arrival will be significantly easier than applying though an embassy or consulate.
  • Next steps: The program will be implemented once the regulations are issued. Similar to current practice, tourist applications will be submitted by tour operators that are accredited by the Department of Tourism. It remains unclear, for now, how the process will work for business travelers.

Background: Filipino officials hope the change will boost Chinese tourism and investment in the Philippines. Applicants must hold a valid Chinese passport, be traveling for one of the purposes listed above, and cannot appear on the Bureau of Immigration’s black list or be subject to an Interpol red notice (i.e., a notice indicating that the applicant is wanted for a crime in one country or another). Applicants will be charged a US$25 visa fee plus a legal research fee of 10 Philippine pesos (about 20 US cents). After applicants receive notice that their application has been accepted, they may then pick up their visa upon arriving in the Philippines.

BAL Analysis: The visa-on-arrival program will ease travel procedures for Chinese business travelers and tourists. Travelers should note that work activities are not permitted on a visa on arrival, however, and still require work authorization.