No one can really say if there is a definite means to avoid getting questioned at your point of entry when travelling as a tourist. We did a research on the types of documents that are often asked of Filipino travelers and some basic reminders to avoid being detained unnecessarily at Immigration points. We hope this article helps in shedding light to your questions about getting through Immigration and points of entry.
- Passport issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)
- Not expired
- Must be valid for six (6) months from the date of departure.
- If required at the tourist’s destination
- Must not be expired
- Return ticket
- Backpackers (or tourists who will be hopping from one country to another) still need to present a return ticket as this will also be asked of them upon arrival at the different countries they will be traveling to.
- It serves as proof that the tourist does not intend to stay in that country illegally or any longer than his visa permits him.
- If tourist fails to show a return ticket, he may be denied entry to his destination country.
Prepare to be asked for additional documents at your point of entry.
When my mom travelled to the US as a tourist for the first time, she was questioned at the Immigration by an officer because of a letter found in her handbag. Apparently, one of her co-workers asked her to hand-carry an envelope to a relative who lives in the same city where my mom will be staying. One of the immigration officers asked to unseal the letter and read it. The co-worker mentioned in her letter that my mom will be staying in the U.S. to work and tour.
My mom had a return ticket, her passport was updated, and she had a 1-year multiple entry visa to the U.S. Still, she was held for questioning because of the letter that she agreed to deliver as a favor for a friend.
Good thing my mom was carrying the same set of documents she presented at the U.S. Embassy when she was interviewed for her tourist visa. These and her firm statement that she does not intend to work in the U.S. at all somehow convinced the Immigration officers that she is telling the truth. She stressed that she had been working for 25 years straight and it’s time she gave herself a break. She said that she does not know what her co-worker’s intentions were and that the letter was sealed when it was handed to her, she accepted it based only on trust and confidence. They let her go after two hours of more questions and several calls to my mom’s office in the Philippines.
Of course, not all travelers are as lucky as my mom and not all Immigration officers are as trusting as the one assigned to her. So just to be on the safe side, consider the following tips when traveling as a tourist:
- Be familiar with your itinerary and study the places you will be visiting by heart. Some travelers get in trouble at their point of entry when they fail to mention even one attraction they intend to visit.
- Never ever attempt to show a fake I.D.
- Immigration officers also consider the following details when assessing the traveler, as a means to arrest instances of human trafficking, smuggling, and illegal recruitment:
- Traveler’s age and health condition
- Educational attainment
- Financial capacity to travel
- Travel history (if any)
- Final destination
Again, these are reminders and tips gathered from frequent travelers and should not be taken as the standard list of requirements to avoid being held by an Immigration officer. As travelers, it is our responsibility to prepare all necessary documents that will attest to the purpose of our trip and our sincere intention to come back to our country. When preparing your file, keep in mind the following pointers:
Immigration officers will want to make sure of three things:
- That you can afford your trip;
- That you are traveling only for your stated purpose (tourism); and
- That you are coming back to the Philippines.
Based on my mom’s experience, it is best to have the following documents handy when you are lined up at the Immigration center of your destination:
- Your old passports to show that you have traveled before and you came back to the Philippines.
- Round-trip ticket with receipt or any other proof that the ticket is fully paid.
- Hotel reservations, with receipt and other proof that your accommodations are fully paid.
- Bank statements and bank certifications, if available. Again, the amount of money you have in your account does not guarantee a seamless encounter with your Immigration Officer. You may need to justify how much you intend to spend on the trip and if you would still have enough left in your account when you come home.
- Proof of ownership of assets.
- Certificate of employment and approved leave of absence, photocopies of your company ID and the IDs of the people who signed your employment certificates.
- Income Tax Return
- Tour itinerary.
- Marriage certificate and birth certificates of your children.
Visit us again for more articles about passports, visas, and traveling abroad.