Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Immigration cites continuing influx of foreign students

Original report at the Manila Bulletin

The Philippines is fast emerging as the newest educational hub in the Asia-Pacific as a result of the continuing influx of foreign students studying in various schools of the country, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said yesterday.

BI Commissioner Marcelino Libanan disclosed that last year alone, more than 30,000 foreigners had secured special study permits and student visas from the bureau.

Libanan said Koreans account for about 95 percent of the foreign students and that most of them are minors and teenagers enrolled in various private schools and learning centers throughout the country.

A special study permit (SSP) is issued to a foreigner studying in elementary and high school and other non-degree courses while a student visa is given to one pursuing a college degree.

Libanan said he intends to institute new policy guidelines that will expedite and cut red tape in the processing and issuance of study visas and permits by the BI.

He bared that recently, the BI extended from one month to six months the length of visa extensions that the bureau gives to SSP holders.

Libanan added that he would arrange a meeting with officials of the Department of Education (DepEd) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to discuss programs that would boost the country’s reputation as a haven for foreign students.

However, the BI chief warned that any foreigner who study here without obtaining a permit or visa will be sanctioned for immigration law violations.

He cautioned school registrars not to admit foreigners who do not have study permits or visas or the BI will withdraw their authority to accept foreign students.

Teodulo Estrada, head of the BI student desk, bared that aside from Metro Manila, there is also a high concentration of foreign students in the cities of Baguio and Cebu.

Estrada said that from January to May this year, some 10,000 foreigners, mostly Koreans, have applied for study permits and visas.

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