The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) launched on Friday the Online Visa Application System (OVAS) at the Office of Consular Affairs (OCA) ASEANA.
OVAS will be rolled out globally to DFA’s Foreign Service Posts (FSPs) for visa issuance to foreign nationals who are exempted under current Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) rules from the country’s entry ban.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Affairs Brigido J. Dulay, together with Foreign Affairs Officer-in-Charge for OCA Senen T. Mangalile, spearheaded the launching of the OVAS.
Dulay said OVAS will allow greater convenience and added safety for visa applicants, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic where mobility has become more limited.
“The public, both local and foreign, depend on us to improve our systems so that they may be able to reunite with their families, continue their medical treatment and studies, or participate in the government’s various ‘Build, Build, Build’ programs,” Dulay said.
“The Department is ready to roll-out OVAS to an initial list of twenty-five FSPs including China, Singapore, Dubai, Oman, London, Paris, among others, and will roll out the system in North America and the rest of Europe later in the year. However, the system will only be available for foreign nationals who have been granted entry exemption at this time,” noted Mangalile.
Meanwhile, the DFA advised foreign nationals requesting exemption from the current suspension of visa issuance that it does not collect any fees from entry exemption documents (EED) applicants, except the visa fee which is paid to the issuing Philippine Embassy or Consulate abroad.
An EED is free of charge to all qualified applicants duly endorsed by national government agencies.
Foreign nationals and their sponsoring entities in the Philippines are advised to be wary of individuals, groups, establishments or companies that offer facilitation services or sponsorship letters for a fee for the issuance of EEDs, the DFA said.
The DFA disavows any connection with such entities and encourages those who have been approached or victimized by these scammers to report them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The DFA said all requests for entry exemptions are vetted and endorsed by national government agencies and offices based on their assessment and evaluation of the urgency and necessity of travel to the Philippines prior to the issuance of an EED.
It added that it does not issue sponsorship or invitation letters.
The EED mechanism is an extraordinary measure to allow the entry of essential travelers pursuant to the visa issuance policy laid out by IATF.