In a memorandum made public on Monday, Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan said tourists may extend their stay in the country every two months up to 16 months. After 16 months, a tourist must submit an application to the bureau’s immigration regulation division (IRD) if he wants to stay up to 24 months.
Beyond 24 months, a tourist would need the approval of the commissioner, the memorandum said.
According to Libanan, he decided to ease the bureau’s policy on visa extensions after learning that the number of tourists who extended their stay during the first semester of the year rose by 21 percent compared to 2006.
He said the BI visa extension office approved from January to June 2007 a total of 196,172 applications for extension of stay, compared to 161,984 in the same period in 2006.
“These statistics indicate that our country is fast emerging as one of Asia’s most favored tourist destinations,” Libanan said in a statement. He said a total of 468,281 foreigners arrived from January to June, compared to 439,526 in the same period in 2006.
Lawyer Gary Mendoza, IRD chief, said the new policy would apply to all foreign tourists regardless of nationality.