October 19, 2022 | 3:10 p.m
MANILA, Philippines — As travel limits are relaxed even amid the pandemic, many Filipinos planning a trip abroad have had to go through the arduous process of applying for visas at destinations where it is required.
Some of these countries are USA, Australia, UK and other European countries as well as Canada, China and Japan.
Countries may require foreigners to obtain a visa, an entry document needed to ensure one is even eligible to enter the destination country. Different types of nonimmigrant visas are also issued depending on the purpose of travel.
Visa application requirements often include proof of employment, bank statements and other evidence of financial resources, a detailed itinerary including proof of accommodation, and an interview with an embassy or consulate official.
This is on top of a visa application fee that can reach thousands of pesos.
The Philippine passport was ranked 80th in the Henley Passport Index for the third quarter of 2022, which ranks 199 passports according to their mobility in 227 destinations. The ranking is based on data from the International Air Transport Association.
Japan tops the list, with passport holders being able to visit 193 countries visa-free. In second place are Singapore and South Korea, whose passport holders have access to 192 countries.
The five most powerful passport holders also include Germany, Spain, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden.
The Philippines ranks only 80th, with 160 countries requiring a visa to travel.
Filipino passport holders can only visit 67 countries visa-free as the country sometimes has visa policies and agreements with other nations.
For example, ASEAN countries have signed a visa waiver agreement, allowing their passport holders to travel freely within the region.
Although some Filipinos were successful in obtaining visas, some would stay longer rather than return home. In 2019, the US suspended the issuance of temporary H-2A/H-2B work visas after the US Department of Homeland Security raised issues of human trafficking and overstaying.
Gap in “freedom to travel”
dr Jürg Steffen, CEO of Henley & Partners, notes that there is a “growing travel freedom gap” between countries, with the highest-ranked and lowest-ranked passports split by 166 destinations.
There is also a strong correlation between a country’s passport power and its “peace readiness”.
Stephen Klimczuk-Massion, Quondam Fellow at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and member of the Andan Foundation Advisory Committee, noted that a person’s passport affects how they are treated in destination countries.
“The relative strength or weakness of a particular national passport directly impacts the passport holder’s quality of life and can even be a matter of life and death,” said Klimczuk-Massion.