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I am a British citizen currently in Tuguegarao (northern Philippines) with no way of getting back to Manila to catch my return flight to UK on 21st March (all domestic flights from Tuguegarao, buses and other road transport are cancelled until mid April). The international flights are still ok, and you can enter Manila with a valid international departure booking, but I can't get to Manila.

We took a 12 hour bus to get here yesterday, and new quarantine rules were announced during our journey. If we had known we would have travelled to Clark instead which offers international flights, whereas Tuguegarao doesn't.

The British Embassy in Manila phoneline says it's closed even during opening hours, the airline (PAL) phone lines are unavailable and the foreign office in the UK are also not answering after holding. As a result it's likely/realistic I'll be here for a few more weeks. In principle that's fine - I have a safe place to stay and should be ok financially. I can also work remotely.

However, the stamp in my passport (as a tourist) has an exit date of 8th April, which is before the earliest date I will be able to travel back to Manila unless the current situation changes (which is possible). I know there are relatively harsh penalties for staying in the country after the visa exit date has passed, but also these are exceptional circumstances. Who can I contact regarding extending the exit date? Or should I just wait until I eventually take a return flight and see what they say at the airport? I can't risk being banned from returning as I have family here.

Thanks

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    Have you contacted a local authority informing them that your arrived there at date X and could not continue on to Manila due to the ban? If they could certify that, it may be of assistance when you eventually arrive at Manila and want to leave. In this way you show that you have attempted to conform to their regulations, but due to force majeure could not conform fully (i. e. leave on time). – Mark Johnson Mar 17 at 11:11
  • Good idea - I will see if there are any local offices open tomorrow that I can visit. Thank you. – Lyall Mar 17 at 11:14
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The British Embassy or UK Foreign Office can't help you here, this is an internal matter in the Philippines. Fortunately, Tuguegarao is the capital of the province of Cagayan, so it has a Bureau of Immigration office (map). Given the circumstances, they should be able to arrange a visa extension or at least provide advice on what to do.

IMHO your best bet is indeed likely to hunker down and wait for the lockdown to end. This is currently supposed to happen on April 14th, but obviously this may change.

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    Thank you, will see if I can go there tomorrow! Although a relative tried to contact them today and they were closed... – Lyall Mar 17 at 11:17
  • If all else fails, hopefully there are police around you could contact - get someone official to note your problem. – simon at rcl Mar 17 at 16:07
  • @Lyall Good luck, please report back on how it went! – lambshaanxy Mar 18 at 3:15
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    @lambshaanxy we went to the immigration office and it's closed until further notice. There's also nothing on the news about how visas will be affected... – Lyall Mar 18 at 11:14
  • @Lyall Sigh. Was there any guidance on what to do/who to contact while it's closed? Have you tried the national DOI numbers? – lambshaanxy Mar 18 at 12:23
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The Bureau of Immigration has now released the below statement. After speaking with them, they have confirmed that once the restrictions (Enhanced Community Quarantine) are lifted and the offices are open as normal again, the visa can be extended with no additional charge. That is, provided the request to extend it is received within 30 days of the restrictions being lifted.

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Thanks to @lambshaanxy for pointing me in the right direction

Update 19th May 2020

Well, I'm still here. The most recent update is that the relevant paperwork will be issued at the airport when leaving, with no need to go to a government office to obtain the relevant extension/clearance before departing. I intend to get hold of someone somewhere to confirm the process and that this is the case, but at the moment that's all the information I have.

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  • When you are able, go ahead and select your own answer here as accepted. Excellent job! Good luck. – CGCampbell Mar 20 at 12:57

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