(PNA file photo) 

MANILA – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Thursday said it is ready for the possible influx of foreign students returning to the country.

Commissioner Jaime Morente assured that the process of converting to student visas for foreign nationals will remain smooth and seamless.

“I have instructed our personnel to coordinate with our other stakeholders to ensure the smooth processing of returning foreign students,” he said in a statement.

“This would be the Bureau’s share in helping the recovery of the education sector that was also badly hit by the pandemic,” the BI chief added.

During the onset of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, the majority of foreign students were repatriated to their home nations following nationwide closures and lockdowns by the government.

Meanwhile, Anthony Cabrera, head of the BI’s student visa section, said they are expecting the return of foreign students by the third quarter of the year, the start of the school year.

He added that some schools have announced that they will hold limited face-to-face classes.

“We are encouraging these foreign students to come back and continue their courses, which have been disrupted by the pandemic,” Cabrera said.

He said he had several meetings with school officials and groups who have expressed their desire to resume accepting foreign students.

Earlier, the Department of Tourism said it is marketing the Philippines as a destination for learners, particularly targeting those who wish to study the English language.

Prior to the pandemic, the BI reported that there were more than 35,000 foreign students studying different courses in the country, many of whom are in the medical field. (PNA)