BI: Foreign students may be subjected to intel probe

By Ferdinand Patinio

April 19, 2024, 5:01 pm

<p>BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco <em>(File photo)</em></p>

BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco (File photo)

MANILA – Foreign nationals in the Philippines holding student visas may be subjected to intelligence investigation by authorities if found involved in illicit acts, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Friday.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco said under Executive Order (EO) 285, s. 2000, foreign nationals who acquire their student visas may be subjected to checks by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for activities “which appear to be inimical to the security of the State”.

The EO established an inter-agency committee on foreign students, which is headed by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), together with NBI, NICA, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Department of Education (DepEd), and the BI.

He said this allows the bureau to only issue student visas to foreign nationals endorsed by legitimate schools and by CHED.

Tansingco, meanwhile, said the rise in students may be attributed to post-pandemic rebound, as well as the aggressive marketing of schools and government agencies to boost the country’s educational tourism.

“The national government has actively promoted the country as an education hub in Asia. We hope that these concerns do not scare away legitimate students whose stay in the country could greatly help re-boost our economy,” he added.

Valid visa holders

In a Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon briefing, BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval said some 1,516 Chinese nationals were granted student visas in Cagayan province last year, all endorsed by a major university which she did not identify.

However, she noted that based on the reports received by the BI, only more than 400 Chinese nationals are attending in-person classes, as the school is said to be implementing distance learning.

“More on distance learning, balik sila sa bansa kung may mga requirements na kailangan nilang isubmit (They return to the country if they have requirements to submit," she said at the Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon forum.

Sandoval, meanwhile, maintained that they issue student visas to foreigners "as endorsed by legitimate schools through CHED”. (PNA)