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PIA Press Release

RP proposes common visa for ASEAN countries

Manila (17 November) -- If all goes well according to plan, there will come a time when visitors to Southeast Asia may only need a single via to travel to all ASEAN member countries.

The Philippines would push for the adoption of common visa among citizens of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in a bid to boost investments, particularly in the tourism sector, in the region.

It would be recalled that President Gloria Macapagal) Arroyo bared the initiative to visiting Thai Premier Samak Sundaravej during their discussion on the promotion of tourism among the ten Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members. The report said the Philippines and Thailand would jointly push for the adoption of a common visa in ASEAN region when Thailand assumes the ASEAN chairmanship in July of 2008.

Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan said his agency will actively campaign for the plenary approval of a common visa during the 13th ASEAN Directors-General of Immigration Department and Heads of Consular Division of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs (DGICM) and 5th ASEAN Immigration Intelligence Forum (AIIF), which opened on November 16 at the New World Hotel in Makati City.

The Philippines, through the Bureau of Immigration, is hosting the annual meeting of ASEAN immigration chiefs and consuls from the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Brunei Darussalam and officials of the Australian immigration and citizenship office.

"This common ASEAN visa is comparable to the Schengen visa being given by European countries where the holders can travel within European Schengen states," Commissioner Libanan said in a statement.

Commissioner Libanan stressed that the adoption of a common ASEAN visa would bring huge benefits to its member-countries, particularly in the fields of trade, investments and tourism.

Under the proposal, he explained that foreigners holding an ASEAN common visa can travel freely to any ASEAN member-country without the need to secure an entry visa.

The Schengen Visa has made traveling between its 15 European member countries much easier and less bureaucratic. Traveling on a Schengen Visa means that the visa holder can travel to any (or all) member countries using one single visa, thus avoiding the hassle and expense of obtaining individual visas for each country. This is particularly beneficial for persons who wish to visit several European countries on the same trip.

The Schengen visa is a "visitor visa". It is issued to citizens of countries who are required to obtain a visa before entering Europe. The purpose of the visit must be leisure, tourism, or business. Upon the issuance of the visa, the visa holder is allowed to enter all member countries and travel freely throughout the Schengen area. A Schengen visa allows the holder to travel freely within the Schengen countries for a maximum stay of up to 90 days in a 6 month period. (PIA 8) [top]

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