Going through Philippine Immigration can feel like going through a job interview.
And some say it's a matter of luck because there are some super strict Immigration Officials and some who won't even ask a single question.
It can be stressful when you do not know what to expect but it doesn't have to be if you're prepared and clear with your travel purpose.
Until the issue of human trafficking and TNT (tago na tago - Filipinos illegally looking for a job abroad) exist, we had to prepare more than other nationalities do before our flight.
And more so if you're flying during the pandemic.
The questions are in Taglish so don't worry about speaking in English. I suggest you answer in the language you're most comfortable with - In my case, I answer in Taglish.
*** Questions marked with these are only relevant during the pandemic.
Below are some possible questions depending on purpose. Their follow up questions will depend on your answer.
Solo traveling especially as a female is a red flag due to cases of human trafficking. So make sure you are clear with your itinerary and purpose. Show that you are confident to travel alone abroad.
- What is the purpose of your travel? Anong gagawin mo doon?
- Where will you stay?
- What's your job?
- Is this your first time traveling abroad?
- When will you return? Kelan ka babalik?
- May I see your return ticket?
- Do you have relatives there?
- Who are you traveling with?
- If traveling alone... Why are you traveling alone?
- If you have a renewed passport... May I see your old passport?
- In extreme cases, they can ask for your proof of subsistence or how you can afford traveling. You can show your debit card or credit card in this case.
- Do you have travel insurance? ***
They started asking about travel insurance since the pandemic but it's something a traveler must have whether it is required or not required. I personally use and recommend SafetyWing as it is affordable, easy to sign up to and reliable. I have successfully made a claim and reimbursed over a thousand baht while in Bangkok for a medical check.
MEETING A FOREIGN PARTNER (UNMARRIED)
Meeting a foreign partner is a red flag due to the cases of human trafficking. It is recommended you bring extra documents that will show that you are in a real relationship - such as photos together, chat conversations.
- What is the purpose of your travel?
- How did you meet?
- How long have you known each other?
- What's your partner's citizenship?
- How many times have you met? Ilang beses na kayong nagkita?
- Has he been to the Philippines? Nakapunta na sya ng Pilipinas?
- How long will you stay there?
- When will you return? Can I see you return ticket?
- Why aren't you married yet? Bakit hindi pa kayo kasal?
- Do you have marriage plans?
- Do you have travel insurance? Me travel insurance ka?***
- What's your job?
- If you are unemployed... Who will pay for your trip?
- If you are sponsored... May I see your Affidavit of Support?
- Do you plan to settle in [destination country]?
- Have you travelled abroad? Is this your first time traveling abroad?
Tips in Answering Immigration Questions
✔️ Be direct to the point
'Wag paligoy ligoy. Do not provide additional information if not asked, even if you think it is helpful. They will ask for more if they need an explanation or additional information.
✔️ Be calm and confident
Or at least pretend to look confident. I understand that it can be nerve wracking but worrying will not help and a jittery behavior might just make you look suspicious (in they eye of Immigration Officials who are constantly on the look out for illegal activities).
I believe looking confident (but not arrogant) is important because it shows that you can take care of yourself abroad and you will not get victimized easily (as some human trafficking victims are not even aware that they are being trafficked).
Speak in the language you are most comfortable with so confidence comes naturally. It can be Tagalog, English, Taglish or the dialect/ language commonly used in that airport.
Still Nervous? Take long breaths before the interview. Breathwork calms the mind. Try box breathing: breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds and hold for 4 seconds. Repeat until you feel calm.
Try your best to be polite and respectful even if the Immigration Official appears to be rude. Answering back rudely would just worsen it.
Be nice but confident. Not nice and intimidated. There's a difference.
Immigration Officials have interviewed thousands before you so they are trained to catch dishonest and inconsistent answers. You might also get in trouble if they ask for supporting documents and you don't have one.
✔️ Organize your documents beforehand
You really don't know what the Immigration Officer will ask or if they will ask for any document at all.
The interview time is limited so organize your documents in a way where you know where each documents are. Try putting page markers such as a Post-it Page marker or have your documents in an organizer.
Some Immigration Officers are nice but some are outright rude and arrogant and these arrogant officials would easily lose temper if you make them wait.
✔️ Arrive in the airport early
It's better to be the first one in the airline check-in counter so you can proceed to the immigration queue right away. Interviews should only take a few minutes but have you heard about the girl who was left by her flight because the officer took hours to interview her? I have heard of other people experiencing the same so better be early.
Stay close to the airport if you don't live in Metro Manila
As a full-time nomad, I really find it unfair that we have to go through such a strict process when traveling is a basic human right. However, I understand that our Immigration Officers are just doing their job to protect us.
Until Filipinos stop trying to work illegally abroad and until human trafficking is no longer a threat to Filipinos, we would have to be prepared before every trip abroad.
For people reading this whose purpose is to find work illegally, know that your actions have long lasting impact to an entire nation.
Feel free to comment if you would like to add questions you've been asked during your PH Immigration Interview. This will help our fellow Filipino travelers go through the process.
If you prefer watching or listening, you can check out the vlog version of this post: