by: Robelyn M. Yambao
Hola mi amiga/amigo!
Thank you for viewing my site. Today, I'm going to share about my Immigration 'Hold' experience in the Philippines. This was my first experience ever in my entire traveling journey and it happened way back year 2014. So, let's get started.
Going to Costa Rica
I was not married yet when I tried to go to Costa Rica last 2014. My boyfriend and I were planning to have a vacation in the said country so, we did a little bit of research online about the transit visa that I need to pass through in coming to Costa Rica. We found out that the only Airline that has available routes without transit visa was the KLM airlines. I wrote an article about my trip with KLM, for more info about it just visit this LINK.
As a Filipino passport holder, I am allowed to travel to Costa Rica with the following documents:
* round trip ticket
* hotel booking (please book your hotel at my homepage)
To check my article on how to go to Costa Rica, just click HERE!
My 'Hold' experience
So, when I got my tickets through the KLM airline two days prior to my departure, I prepared everything I need to the said vacation trip. At the immigration section, the first documents that the officer will ask from you are your travel documents, the one I've mentioned above.
A month prior to my trip, we went to the Bureau of Immigration in Manila to inquire about the exact requirements that I should take with me to avoid wasting our effort, time and money in the said vacation trip since my ticket was expensive and non-refundable. We heard that officers at NAIA were trying their best to offload Filipino passengers if they don't bring the right travel documents they were asking from them.
My boyfriend and I also discussed about the information that I need to provide to the officer when I depart. That info should only be simple and we thought that mentioning him was not necessary anymore. So, we came up with the following answers to the possible questions:
* I am a freelance tutor and travel blog writer
* I wanna visit Costa Rica to have vacation and see the rain-forest for my blog
* I bought my roundtip tickets not sponsored
* I am traveling alone
During my interview, I was so confident in answering questions because I edited my travel website really good just in case the officer would visit it to prove that I'm telling the truth about my work status. I've been traveling to ASIA already, twice in Brunei and one time in China. The officers were trained to question travelers repeatedly with the same questions to catch them with another statement. So, the officer started to question my purpose of travel until he asked about my financial capacity and I didn't have other choice but to include my boyfriend in the scenario. That's the start of my 'Hold' at the immigration. The officer gave me a form to be filled out and he also requested me to proceed to another table for further interrogation with another officer.
After the form was filled out, the lady officer started to question me about my purpose of travel. I told her the same answer I gave to the first officer. She scrutinized all my passports including my old passport. She was suspecting me that I have agenda in finding work here in Costa Rica. I mentioned about my boyfriend to prove that I didn't have plan to work abroad. But, she started to question more about my trip because of that answer. She asked me proof of our relationship, invitation letter, affidavit of support, proof of my work. I showed her our pictures, my boyfriend's passport (xerox) and my travel blog website url. She opened my site and started scrolling but she was not happy about it and not convinced at all. She asked me to show my skype conversation with boyfriend when I gave to her she started invading my privacy and reading all our private messages. I couldn't provide affidavit of support that's why I called my boyfriend through skype to let him talk to the officer about it. The officer was not satisfied with all the papers and effort we put during my interview. When she started to tell me that she's going to offload me unless I can provide the papers she was asking me, I started to raise my voice telling her 'I have the right to travel'. If she gonna offload me then, I would sue her and make it sure to make her refund my ticket. She thought I bought my ticket through Cebu Pacific which is cheap in terms of price. So, I showed her the cost of my ticket worth $3000. She answered back to me that she won't pay it. I took a picture of her and wrote her name in my notebook. Few minutes later, she told me that she received the letter from my boyfriend in her email. My boyfriend sent her the affidavit of support through email. She then took all the western union receipts that I kept as proof of my boyfriend's financial support. She also asked me to tell my boyfriend to deposit some cash to my debit card. After she signed the paper stub that look like a promissory note, she finally released me. She instructed me to go back to the first officer who interviewed me so I can get the exit stamp for my passport.
That was my stressful 'hold' experience with the immigration officers. I hope you can get some lessons out of this experience. Thank you...
I made a video about this so, if you want to get more insight of what happened to me at the immigration section, just visit MY STORY TIME!!!
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A licensed teacher in the Philippines who shifted her career into another direction to follow her passion to be a blogger. Her blogs are related in traveling and simple living as an expat in a foreign land.