FALSE: U.S. embassy 'suspends' tourist visas due to virus, VFA scrapping

Claim: The United States embassy in the Philippines "suspended" all tourist visas due to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)

In a screenshot supposedly from its website, the embassy "issued" a "Visa Application Advisory" on Monday, February 10, entitled "Suspension of All Tourist Visas (Single/Multiple Entries)." 

The claim said the US Department of State has "issued an order to the US Embassy in Manila, Philippines to cancel/revoke all current and existing B1 & B2 tourist visas," citing the "security threat of the 2019-nCoV that may enter the United States from foreign individuals."

It also cited President Rodrigo Duterte's plan to terminate the VFA with the US as a reason to "suspend all B1/B2 visas indefinitely."

The claim said that the suspension will be "effective [on] February 15, 2020."

A reader who received the screenshot through Viber emailed it to Rappler for verification.

Rating: FALSE

The facts: The US embassy in the Philippines denied issuing such an advisory.

As reported by Rappler on Monday, the embassy released a statement saying claims like these are not true.

"Please note that US visa policy in the Philippines has not changed. Impostors spread misinformation by claiming to be an official US source," it added.

The website screenshot that was spread also contains spelling errors, like "Febuary 10, 2020" and "Fen. 15, 2020."

The US embassy advised the public to refer only to its official website and social media accounts for announcements and accurate information. The public may also report visa and passport fraud by emailing FPMManila@state.gov. – Michael Bueza/Rappler.com

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