Bureau of Immigration

Over 1,500 Chinese secured student visas in Cagayan in 2023 – BI 

Jairo Bolledo

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Over 1,500 Chinese secured student visas in Cagayan in 2023 – BI 

IMMIGRATION CHIEF. In this photo, Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco attends the Senate investigation of human trafficking involving immigration officers, on November 29, 2022.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

Immigration chief Norman Tansingco says the influx may be attributed to 'post-pandemic rebound' and to the 'aggressive marketing of schools and government agencies to boost the country’s educational tourism'

MANILA, Philippines – Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Norman Tansingco said that a total of 1,516 Chinese were granted student visas in Cagayan, north of the Philippines, in 2023.

The BI chief said on Friday, April 19, that all the Chinese were endorsed by a major Philippine university. Tansingco, however, said they received reports that only 400 Chinese are onsite, because the school is said to be implementing distance learning. 

Earlier, senators urged the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to investigate the “degree for sale” scheme in Cagayan. Under the scheme, Chinese students allegedly paid up to P2 million in exchange for a degree. University of the Philippines professor Chester Cabalza first exposed the alleged scheme, saying that Chinese students are not attending classes but still get their diplomas. 

Tansingco said the rise in the number of foreign students may be attributed to “post-pandemic rebound” and to the “aggressive marketing of schools and government agencies to boost the country’s educational tourism.” 

But amid this influx, Tansingco said these foreigners may be subjected to the government’s intelligence probe if they will be found involved in illegal activities. He added that Philippine laws allow the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to check on these foreigners’ activities that “appear to be inimical to the security of the State.”

Tansingco explained that their basis is Executive Order (EO) No. 285, series of 2000. The EO established an interagency committee on foreign students composed of the CHED, BI, NICA, NBI, Department of Foreign Affairs, and Department of Education. 

The immigration chief also said that the BI may only issue student visas to foreigners who secured endorsements from a legitimate school and CHED. Aside from that, all schools that will accept foreigners are required to submit a regular report to the BI for monitoring. 

The BI will then monitor the foreigners’ visa compliance. The CHED will ensure that all education-related policies will be followed, while the NICA will probe suspicious activities. 

Tansingco added that the actions of foreign students “is worth looking at by government intelligence agencies” because this is part of the intelligence bodies’ mandate to ensure national security. 

“We hope that these concerns do not scare away legitimate students whose stay in the country could greatly help re-boost our economy,” Tansingco said. – Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.