Mar 132015

NEW DELHI, India – The Philippine government is mulling special visa arrangements for Indian nationals, particularly students and retirees, to encourage them to live and invest in the country.

A delegate of the Philippines to the Delhi Dialogue VII here said there are ongoing joint consultations between Philippine and Indian officials for visa facilitation schemes and other issues.

Julito Vitriolo, executive director of the Commission on Higher Education (Ched), said the approach is meant to attract more Indian nationals to study in the country.

“We can relax some of the stringent rules as long as we don’t sacrifice quality. It will be good for the Philippines,” Vitriolo said in an interview.

The Ched official was the country’s representative to the Delhi Dialogue VII, where he discussed strengthening cultural linkages and people to people contacts between India and the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

The Delhi Dialogue is an annual meeting of stakeholders to explore new ways to enhance cooperation, not just in trade but in connectivity, etc. between the regional bloc and India.

Asean consists of the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia.

During his speech, Vitriolo spoke of the joint consular talks between India and the Philippine government on proposed visa facilitation schemes for students, businessmen, professionals, investors and retirees from India.

He noted that there are now more than 2,000 Indian students enrolled in health-related and medicine programs in schools in the Philippines, an increase from a ball park figure of 300 five years ago.

The Ched official attributed this to the cheaper cost of education in the country, not to mention that the education in medical and health schools are patterned after those in the United States.

He explained that under the current set-up, the Bureau of Immigration requires the renewal of students’ visas every semester, which poses a hassle to Indian students studying in the Philippines.

“They are moving towards facilitative regime wherein visa issuance will be simplified and won’t have to be renewed as frequently. India has adopted visas on arrival type, we don’t have that. So that is also under discussion as well,” Vitriolo said on the sidelines of the Delhi Dialogue VII.

He said the government hopes to reduce the number of days needed in applying for a student visa without sacrificing the quality.

Vitriolo said the Philippines is also working on the mutual recognition of degrees and qualifications. in countries like India, where there are 12 years of basic education as compared to the current 10-year set up in the Philippines.

This will be addressed when the K to 12 system will be implemented by next year.

“Hopefully, while not yet implementing the K to 12 program, we can have an arrangement for example where they can recognize our degrees because our college education is also longer, and there are other experiences and qualifications of our students,” Vitriolo said.

The Philippines, on the other hand, recognizes the extra two years of education of Indian students coming to the Philippines, which means that students attend college in a shorter time.

Aside from students, the Philippines is also hoping to attract Indian nationals to retire in the Philippines in the hopes that they will be investing their money in businesses here.

Vitriolo explained that there will be a “multiply effect” if Indian nationals relocate and retire in the country, since they will be using their money here to invest, and spend on the education of their children here.

“They will stay there, they will use their money, invest… There is an economic impact which is positive for the country,” he pointed out.

A similar visa facilitation scheme is being eyed for investors from India, Vitriolo added.


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