Tuesday, November 22, 2022

How to Avoid Offloading at NAIA

More OFW Updates

Offloading is an occurrence at Philippine airports that cause fear and anger among Filipino travelers going abroad.

Offloading is the process of barring a traveler — tourist, overseas Filipino worker, or a person with held departure order — from leaving the Philippines. The cause of offloading may vary from insufficient documentation to security risk at the intended destination. Considering the amount of effort, time, and money involved up to that face-to-face encounter with the immigration officer, it is not a surprise how frustrating an offloading incident can be to every traveler, noting that reports of corruption in the ranks of the Bureau of Immigration and other inefficiencies at Philippine airports are well-documented.

For every traveler fearful of getting the boot, the question remains: how to avoid getting offloaded at the airport?

1. Provide sufficient documentation.
This means you have every single supporting paper ready. Your passport is at least 6 months before expiration. You have a valid visa to your intended destination if needed.

  • If you are traveling as a tourist, provide proof that you are financially capable of supporting the trip such as hotel booking, financial statements, employment contract stating your salary, or credit cards. You also need a return ticket back to the Philippines, indicating the date not exceeding your allowed period of stay in your intended destination. Define your itinerary clearly.
  • For OFWs, you have your work contract handy or proof of attending required seminars such as PDOS or more proof as an overseas worker (OEC, work visa, OWWA membership). Not that these documents are asked all the time, but having them ready bolsters the legitimacy of your travel and, hence, your pit stop at the immigration should be a breeze.
  • For travelers who depend on another group or individual sponsoring the trip, provide an affidavit of support and guarantee (for example, for family members in Dubai or Hong Kong), including invitation letters authenticated by the Philippine consulate or embassy in your destination country.
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2. Provide consistent answers to Bureau of Immigration officers
Our guess is that more travelers are more likely offloaded with inconsistent statements than lack of proper documentation (e.g., travelers may be asked about these documents before reaching the immigration counter and failure to show them meant no further entry). Answer in a straightforward manner and provide only information that is being asked. For instance, if a tourist visa is stamped on a passport, yet the traveler talks about finding a job to help the family as the reason of travel.

Or if you are going to Dubai or Abu Dhabi with a tourist visa without a sufficient answers to questions like “why do you have to go this far as a first-time tourist when Hong Kong and Singapore are just nearby and offer visa-free access?” or “what attractions are you planning to visit?” If your destination is a place far from the Philippines and well-chronicled as a transit point for drug couriers, be prepared to show enough evidence your travel is legitimate. Otherwise, you’ll be shown the exit door instead of the way to your departure gate. The keyword is confidence. If your travel is valid, then you should have no problem answering every question.

3. Dress appropriately.
The dress code may largely be under the discretion of the traveler, but it could also show hints of how valid is your intended travel. Going to a country during the winter season, you are expected to bring a jacket or wear a sweater.

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When traveling to a place with a strict dress code like many countries in the Middle East, females are expected to dress appropriately. When you’re a tourist, dress and act like a tourist; a camera in tow or traveling with accompanying family members may help support your cause.

4. If possible travel with companions, especially for females.
We do not mean you’ll automatically get offloaded if you’re a solo female traveler. But chances are, one slight mistake could easily trigger a disapproval stamp from the officer. With due respect to solo female travelers (backpacker travelers, returning to work abroad, etc), their being on their own could initially raise a red flag: concerns about security and safety come to mind.

Once this traveler is consistent with items 1 – 3 above, there’s no reason to fear. However, any small inconsistency could prove fatal. For example, showing too much skin may bring an impression of a sex worker, which immigration officers are often ordered to keep a close eye on, citing possible human trafficking schemes in play. We need to be aware that profiling is a standard among immigration counters worldwide.

5. Be firm with the purpose of the trip and be confident during interviews.
We cannot overstate this advice. Confidence brings assurance that the traveler knows about the destination and follows all legal means to travel. This is not possible if one is involved in illegal activity like becoming a drug courier, a would-be victim of human trafficking, or one who’ll end up as an undocumented Filipino worker.

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Immigration officers may ask a few questions, and if these questions do not prove whether your travel is valid or not, he or they may look at your gestures and confidence in answering questions. Appearing nervous in front of an officer is a no-no.

6. Have your financial details ready.
Filipinos working abroad may face less scrutiny when it comes to money since their travel is for work and not for leisure. But tourist travelers may be asked for financial proof to verify their travel is justified. However, we think this is not enough for travelers who are currently unemployed as they may need additional support such as bringing letters from family members abroad indicating they will shoulder their expenses abroad.

Presenting the right document is vital. Showing your bank statement and credit cards is much better than showing wads of paper bills. Those ostentatiously showing cash may either be subject to prevailing laws against money laundering. It may also insult an officer (at least the law-abiding one) or tempt him/her into extortion.

7. Know your sponsor, if you have one, very well.
Those traveling with invitations from abroad (a university offering scholarship, a boyfriend/girlfriend, business partner, friend, or close family member) needs to know clear details about their contacts. Failure to answer clearly where they live, what’s their job, how long will you stay there, and why are going there could mean offloading. An affidavit of support or letter of invitation will be helpful to support the answers.

8. Secure clearance for government workers.
Government workers (public school teachers, barangay councilors, etc) may be required to show clearance from their supervisors authorizing them to travel. Declaring yourself as a government employee but failing to show travel clearance could jeopardize your travel plans.

For employees of private companies, showing your contract or any proof that you are currently working in the Philippines helps establish your strong links to the country and indicates that you are returning back for work after your overseas trip.

9. Be aware of your travel history
When travelers have been visiting a country too frequently, it raises curiosity among immigration officers. Note that computer systems allow them to trace your previous trips so be prepared to answer questions related to this. You may be working there and often going out for business trips. If you have past history of being offloaded, learn why you got denied and address that concern this time. Officers may refuse your exit if you fail to explain your travel purpose properly.

The duty of immigration officers is to help ensure that travelers are legitimate and not add up to future victims of scams or lists of undocumented Filipinos. They are there to help travelers be properly documented and avoid getting barred from entering their destination countries. Why travel far if you only find yourself denied entry upon your arrival because you have insufficient documentation or funds? It is their role to help us stay away from trouble. Offloading isn’t necessarily meant to randomly deny someone their right to travel; it is safeguarding travelers from staying away from trouble.

The Bureau of Immigration is tainted with a bad reputation, with allegations of officers asking for money before a traveler is granted safe passage. Administrators should exercise their roles to protect travelers from becoming victims of rogue immigration officers. Complaints with sufficient support should be heard and investigated. Those proven guilty should be removed from their post to protect officers who perform their jobs religiously. The Bureau of Immigration must provide clear guidelines to passengers to avoid offloading, and not based on arbitrary and inconsistent decisions in every case.

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  1. My son experienced offloading twice. With complete documents to show (invitation letter from the company where he will train staff for 1 month, valid passport, visitor’s visa, round trip ticket and pocket money, they still offloaded. Ang masakit bawa’t re-scheduling ng flight you have to shell out lot of money, first offloading cost me U$400 and the same amount for the 2nd, aside from travel expenses from and to, staying in Manila hotel and food. I have to go home from abroad to accompany him personally and see how it goes in the NAIA. Need pa help ng kaibigan para makaalis na tuluyan. After 2 months bumalik na rin ang anak ko sa Pinas pagkatapos ng pag train sa mga company staff. Tanong: iri refund ba nila ung sobrang gastos sa pagkaka offload niya? Siyempre hindi… kc kaya lang naman nila pinapahirap ang paglabas ng bansa ng isang tao ay para magkapera sa amount na gusto nia.

  2. Review nyo nga ang Immigration Rules nyo? kurakot lang talaga mga lintek na linta na yan sa immigration at sa airline counters, dahil wala silang karapatang pigilan ang sinuman na may kumpleto return ticket yun lang kailangan sa mga South East Asian countries and even asia pero kahit may invitaitons, tourist visa, ino-offload pa rin.. I spent 2 return ticket to my cousin per si Reddy Mano ng immigration sa Terminal 3 NAIA oras ng trabaho lumayas s pwesto para di masita tapos yung mga lintek na officers na naiwan sa counter ayaw na asikasuhin ng pinsan ko, sabwatan yang mga yan, Php20K daw para makaalis ang babayaran. Samantalang sa Brunei papunta, may return ticket, invitation for just short visit, abay di talaga pinaalis. at twice pa siya na offload, ang Cebu PAcific walang nirefund sa pera nya na ako ang gumastos dahil ako nag sponsor, under employment visa ako sa Brunei. Pero wlang nangyari sa kaso, ayun sana nasisante na mga timawang yan sa immigration, kakapal ng sikmura lumamon ng ninanakaw sa taong bayan. Mga timawa, nakakahiya kayo!,

  3. Marami ring na ooffload papuntang Thailand..(even it is an open country, no need for a visa.. just a passport)… Ung friend ko last year, na offload even without a reason, she has a complete documents, I was with her and my Thai friend was also our companion.. Sayang yung binili nyang ticket.. MAbuti sana if I refund ng mga officers ang mga nagastos ng turista..,

  4. i was once offloaded because of insufficient documents. i was supposed to travel using business visa for a meeting with my supposed employer then be back in the philippines to attend to my unfinished transactions here before going back to the country where i am supposed to work. legally, the IOs were right in barring me from travelling…i recognized this as a failure on my part. anyways, i am now working on my travel documents as an OFW. i just hope that i will not experience the same situation next time after completing all the necessary documents as an OFW. i may have wasted some money on my first attempt, but my being offloaded is done in a legal manner and i see no point of condemning these people just because they performed their duties. just hoping that they should be consistent in what they’re doing and that their actions should not stray in a direction that will cast dishonor to their entity and to the country as a whole. and for us travelers, let’s abide the law and be vigilant all the time!

  5. i was once offloaded because of insufficient documents. i was supposed to travel using business visa for a meeting with my supposed employer then be back in the philippines to attend to my unfinished transactions here before going back to the country where i am supposed to work. legally, the IOs were right in barring me from travelling…i recognized this as a failure on my part. anyways, i am now working on my travel documents as an OFW. i just hope that i will not experience the same situation next time after completing all the necessary documents as an OFW. i may have wasted some money on my first attempt, but my being offloaded is done in a legal manner and i see no point of condemning these people just because they performed their duties. just hoping that they should be consistent in what they’re doing and that their actions should not stray in a direction that will cast dishonor to their entity and to the country as a whole. and for us travelers, let’s abide the law and be vigilant all the time!

  6. 1987 Philippines Constitution

    Article III Section 6:

    Hindi dapat bawalan ang kalayaan sa paninirahan at ang pagbabago ng tirahan sa saklaw ng mga katakdaang itinatadhana ng batas maliban sa legal na utos ng hukuman. Ni hindi dapat bawalan ang karapatan sa paglalakbay maliban kun gpara sa kapakanan ng kapanatagan ng bansa, kaligtasang pambayan, o kalusugang pambayan ayon sa maaaring itadhana ng batas.

  7. 1987 Philippines Constitution

    Article III Section 6:

    Hindi dapat bawalan ang kalayaan sa paninirahan at ang pagbabago ng tirahan sa saklaw ng mga katakdaang itinatadhana ng batas maliban sa legal na utos ng hukuman. Ni hindi dapat bawalan ang karapatan sa paglalakbay maliban kun gpara sa kapakanan ng kapanatagan ng bansa, kaligtasang pambayan, o kalusugang pambayan ayon sa maaaring itadhana ng batas.

  8. yes… my cousin also….. completo documents, pinabili pa din sya sa immgration officer na hotel accomodation kahit may aunti sya sa thailand…..grabi talaga ang immgration… naka expensed sya more than 50 thous,..pesos… ang napaksakit kasi..inutang pa yong pera..at ngayon nagbayad sya sa hiniram nya pera na hindi namn nya na tikman……..

  9. yes… my cousin also….. completo documents, pinabili pa din sya sa immgration officer na hotel accomodation kahit may aunti sya sa thailand…..grabi talaga ang immgration… naka expensed sya more than 50 thous,..pesos… ang napaksakit kasi..inutang pa yong pera..at ngayon nagbayad sya sa hiniram nya pera na hindi namn nya na tikman……..

  10. Hi pinay abroad..i just need some help..i am a filipina..i was offloaded two times already in naia because i dont have poea clearance kc nakita nila na nagwork ako ng macau but resigned na ako so wala ako mapapakita sa kanila na clearance kc hnd na ako working..but anyway now i manage our family business..my brother,his fiancee and i are planning to go in hong kong for 3days only and we have now a plane ticket round trip and hotel accomodation..i also have our business permit and bank cert to prove that i have money to have a good life here in philippines..im just afraid kc may record na ako sa knila na two times na ako na offload..baka maoffload na naman ako ulit..but this time i have the requirements as a tourist..my question is,enough na po ba requirements ko para makalusot sa immigration or my kulang pa?at kung meron man plz tell me..napagastos na naman kc ako at my brother also..please reply..thank you

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  12. tama, ako ngbayad ng 20k para lng mklusot…. yes, meron ako visa sa lugar na ppuntahan ko pero wala akong show money pero dahil my escort nga. lusot…. mainam na kesa pa ma offload ng ilang beses. pinapila lng ako sa counter ng kasabwat nung escort ko. walang madming tanong. stamp stamp lng, go na agad… mga walang konsensha….

  13. Oh my God, this is preposterous and pathetic. As a tourist why does one need a letter of invitation? What if you don’t know anyone in that country and what if you just want to go there as a tourist. Asking for a letter of invitation is like asking What’s the real purpose of the travel. In the first place people who tour here are not asked the same questions becoz there’s actually No basis for that. And 2nd if you will go to another country as a tourist why does immigration have to ask how much money are you bringing or why would they require you to have a certain amount before you leave? Anyone in their right mind will not even think of leaving if theyre not financially capable. I believe those questions are more like profiling each person who leaves the country for whatever reason it is not clear. But they way I see it is that because the lack of trust to your fellowmen, and the hypocritical face of Filipinos being a nation of jolly and hospitable people. Immigration officers are government employees aren’t they? Meaning their salary come from the people’s taxes. So why do they treat each passenger like a criminal. This is crap,seriously I’ll society being fed with lies.

  14. most of the time wala sa lugar at parang naghahanap ng butas parang nanggigipit pa, yung anak ko noong march 3 pabalikk ng hong kong pinahirapan ng husto 30 minutes, US passport holder pero hk resident siya, pinakita nya HKID niya pero ang dami hinahanap pa kesyo kailangan daw meron siyang return ticket to USA, Pati recognition paper as recognized filipino citizen hinanap – meron naman pero nang-asar pa rin, ang daming tanong na personal – inabot ng halos masaran na ng gate bago pinayagan .. ano ba yan..kabulukan ng sistema kaya nakakatamad ng tumira sa pilipinas kasi ganyan – minsan ka lang dumalaw sa sariling bayan pero – maiinis ka lang

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