Alien student visas drop 75 percent—BI

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) reported an all-time low of 75-percent drop in aliens who applied for or renewed their student visas and permits in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente disclosed that only 1,254 foreigners applied for student visas last year, compared to the 4,785 in 2019.

Morente also said that foreign students who renewed their visas also dropped to 7,170, which is 31-percent less than the 10,433 who extended their visas in 2019. 

A student visa is issued by the BI to a foreigner enrolled in college at a school accredited or authorized by the bureau to admit aliens.

“Restrictions on the entry of foreigners and suspension of face-to-face classes due to the pandemic naturally caused a decline in the number of alien enrollees in Philippine schools,” Morente said. “Many of those who intended to come here and study had no choice but to forego their plans.”

The BI student visa section also reported a 74-percent drop in the number of foreign pupils in the elementary and high school levels who applied for special study permits (SSP).

It said there were only 1,962 aliens who applied for SSPs during the year, compared to the 7,428 who applied for said permits in 2019.

Aside from aliens enrolled in elementary and high school, the SSP is also issued to aliens taking up short-term courses in the country.

BI student visa section chief Anthony Cabrera said that because of the decline in foreign student statistics, the bureau’s collections from student visa fees also decreased.

Cabrera said revenues generated from foreign students in 2020 amounted to only P151 million, which is 28-percent lower than the P209 million collected in 2020.

He said that many of the foreign students were repatriated to their home countries amid concerns by their parents on the spread of Covid-19. Also, due to the decreased economic activity worldwide, many parents faced economic problems which forced the students to return home to their families.

Morente expressed his hope for better figures for 2021.

“We hope that renewed confidence in international travel, as well as the roll out of vaccines, would entice international students back to the country,” he said.

Pre-pandemic, the country has been a top destination for international students wanting to take English language courses, as well as study in the field of medicine. 

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