Friday, October 20, 2017

Invitation Letter


The Bureau of Immigration in the Philippines inspects all international-bound passengers, in line with the Bureau’s mandate under the Anti-Human Trafficking Law of 2003 (R.A. 9233) and the Amended Migrant Workers’ Act of 2004 (R.A. 10022), to stop human trafficking and illegal recruitment. At  the airport’s immigration counter, therefore, a Filipino tourist bound for Singapore may be asked by the Immigration Officer to produce an “invitation letter”, a document made by a Filipino based in Singapore that invites a Filipino relative (the passenger) to Singapore for a visit.

The Bureau of Immigration requires that this document, in the form of an affidavit of support or guarantee, be authenticated at the Philippine Embassy in Singapore.

In other words, the concern of the tourist about being able to leave the Philippines is decided upon exclusively by the Philippine Bureau of Immigration, and not by the Embassy. The role of the Embassy is simply to authenticate the document, as this is commonly the only form that is accepted by the Bureau of  Immigration. The so-called “invitation letter” is just another affidavit issued by an Embassy.

Please be guided by the following most frequently asked questions (FAQs) on this matter.

FAQs

Q: Do I really need an invitation letter for a relative whom I want to come over to Singapore?

A: Per immigration guidelines, the inviting Filipino and the invited Filipino should be relatives up the fourth degree of consanguinity (his/her immediate relatives, up to first cousins) or affinity (which is by marriage, up to the first cousins of the spouse).

However, the Embassy is not the agency that determines whether a Filipino national requires an “invitation letter” or not. It is the Bureau of Immigration that decides on this matter. The role of the Embassy is simply to authenticate the affidavit of support/guarantee, similar to other documents that need authentication.

Q: By holding an invitation letter, is it guaranteed that my relative will not be offloaded at the airport?

A: Your relative may still be offloaded, based on the assessment of the Immigration Officer. The invitation letter is not the only requirement that may be asked by the Immigration Officer, who assesses the personal circumstances of the traveler, especially financial capacity to support his or her stay in Singapore.

However, please note that there have been cases where the “invitation letter” was not asked by the Bureau of Immigration at the departure counter. Consider the invitation letter, therefore, as just one of the requirements that may be asked by the Bureau of Immigration.

Q: Despite having an invitation letter, my relative was offloaded. Where I can file my complaint?

A: Since of the role of the Embassy is just to authenticate the affidavit, please address  your complaint to the Bureau of Immigration, and not to the Embassy. It might help if the circumstances of the disapproval by the Immigration Officer is noted down, such as the name of the Immigration Officer and the specific documents that were required other than the invitation letter. During the application for the “invitation letter” at the Embassy, we always mention at the counter that this document is not a guarantee that the invited party will not be offloaded.

Q: Is there a way to ensure that my relative will not be offloaded?

A: For more information about requirements for passengers, contact the Bureau of Immigration, using its numbers or its email address posted on its website.

Q: How do I apply for the invitation letter in the Embassy?

A: If you have determined that your relative requires an invitation letter, please come to the Embassy during office hours (Monday to Friday, 9am to 430pm; there are no lunch breaks; no need for an appointment), and inform the reception area that you are applying for the authentication of an “invitation letter”. At Windows 9/10, you will be given forms to fill up. Processing takes two working days, as any other authentication.

Q: I would like to invite several relatives all at the same time. Can I use just one invitation letter?

A: Yes, several travelers may be mentioned in one affidavit.  The Embassy has not received any feedback about the Bureau of Immigration offloading a group of passengers mentioned in just one affidavit.

Q: I am a Singaporean (or a foreign national) and I want to invite my Filipino friends to come over and visit me in Singapore. Can I also apply for an invitation letter?

A: Yes, Singaporeans or Non-Filipino nationals may also apply for the invitation letter directly at the embassy.

The Bureau of Immigration may require other documents from the Filipino being invited, such as his/her bank statements and other proof of financial capability to support his/her stay in Singapore.

Q: I am a household service worker (HSW) working here in Singapore. I would like to invite my relative to come over and visit me in Singapore. How do I go about it?

A: Filipino household service workers (HSWs) applying for the notarization of invitation letters should also attach a letter of support, signed by her employer, which states that the employer allows the visit and will be extending accommodation to the invitees.

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