Ongoing probe reveals 459 visa applications from fake firms — BI

Ongoing probe reveals 459 visa applications from fake firms — BI

THE BUREAU of Immigration (BI) on Thursday said that 459 applications that had issued visas were petitioned by fake corporations amid its investigation of four employees allegedly involved in the issuing fake companies employment visas.

“A total of 459 applications for visas were found with fake petitioners, which meant [they came from] nonexistent companies, offices or operations,” Immigration Spokesperson Dana Krizia M. Sandoval told DzBB radio.

The BI also found last month 116 fake employers from the applications, Ms. Sandoval noted.

She said the BI has taken decisive action by dismissing four lawyers in one of its departments, responding to concerns raised by Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla about vulnerabilities in the country’s visa issuance system.

These lawyers are now being investigated for alleged links to the issuances of the visas to fake petitioners.

“They were relieved from their positions in issuing visas while they are undergoing investigations,” Ms. Sandoval said.

Senator Mary Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares said the issuance of visas from fake firms pose security threats in the country’s peace and order.

“The DoJ (Department of Justice) must get to the bottom of this illegal scheme, and punish erring immigration personnel and other individuals who made the entry of the foreigners possible,” Ms. Poe-Llamanzares said in a statement.

Earlier Mr. Remulla said illicit channels created by lawyers and travel agencies to illegally bring individuals into the country were uncovered.

While he said the investigation primarily focused on Chinese nationals, Ms. Sandoval said the scheme appears to involve various nationalities.

In a recent meeting between Mr. Remulla and Immigration Commissioner Norman G. Tansingco, it was discussed to expand the probe beyond the initial 2023 report.

The decision was made to audit all visas issued in the past five years, aiming to identify any additional agencies or individuals involved in such visa irregularities.

Possible sanctions for implicated agencies include revocation or suspension of accreditation, with forfeiture of their bonds. This move aligns with efforts to address potential misuse of visas for illicit activities or for jobs intended for Filipino workers, such as in the retail sector. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz