What is your legal remedy if your name is included in the immigration blacklist?


When i think of the word “Blacklist”, the images that come to mind are the images of the American Crime drama series on NBC “The Blacklist” or my favourite first person shooter game on Xbox 360 – Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell also titled “The Blacklist”.

But in immigration parlance, this is no Xbox 360 or Ps3 games or something you watch on NBC. This is an episode in the life of a foreign national which is something traumatic, if not, life changing to some people – for having been barred from entering Philippines forever. The Bureau of Immigration and Deportation has various grounds for the inclusion of a foreign nationals’ name in the immigration blacklist. The common reasons why foreign nationals are blacklisted by immigration are overstaying, public charge or undesirable aliens.

If you are a foreign national whose name is included in the immigration blacklist, your legal remedy is to write a letter request in order to lift your name in the blacklist. This should be addressed to the Commissioner of Immigration at the Main Office in Intramuros, Manila. Attached to your letter request are documents showing that the ground for your inclusion in the immigration blacklist no longer exist. All documents obtained abroad should be authenticated by the Philippine Embassy. More often than not, a simple letter request goes to the shredder. I mean, the procedure for lifting the blacklist seemed very easy (writing a letter request) but it is more uphill than you think. Writing a letter, though is not a guarantee that your request will be granted.

Under the latest Issuance by the Bureau of Immigration, there are periods when to timely file your Letter Request in order to lift your name in the blacklist. For instance, those foreign nationals who have been blacklisted for overstaying in the Philippines can only file the Request or Petition Six (6) months after your blacklist. You can see the actual date of your blacklist in the Blacklist Order. But if the overstaying is more than one year, you can only file the Request or Petition 12 months after your Blacklist Order. Your Request or Petition will be dismissed outright if you file it prematurely. It is important to find out the actual date of your Blacklist Order (BLO) in order to avoid outright dismissal of your Request or Petition.

There are foreign nationals, by reason of the gravity of their cases, are not qualified for lifting of their blacklist at the level of the Bureau of Immigration Commissioner. These are foreign nationals who have been blacklisted by reason of their involvement in subversive activities; conviction of a crime involving prohibited drugs and those who are Registered Sex Offenders. These cases require special approval by the Secretary of Justice to lift their names in the blacklist.

There are also fees that you have to pay to the Bureau of Immigration when you file your Request or Petition. Of course, you have to pay the minimal filing fees. If your request is granted, you will also pay a lifting penalty of Php55,000.00. You can see this in the Lifting Order issued by the Bureau of Immigration. You also have to pay the unpaid overstaying fees, if any, plus penalties when you have been blacklisted for overstaying. You have to settle all these fees as soon as possible, otherwise the Lifting Order will not be implemented and your Blacklist Order will remain in the immigration database.

If you have questions about this Article, please email me alexacain@gtalawphil.com or SMS me +63 917 5002878 or viber me +63 917 5002878.

Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgement of Divorce

Recognition of Divorce
You had a falling out with your spouse who is a foreigner and next time you know,  he divorced you and a Decree of Divorce was issued, subsequently. You wanted to remarry after the Divorce but you cannot obtain a Certificate of No Marital Record (CENOMAR) because your ex marriage is still recorded in the NSO. What should you do? Same case, you are a former Filipino citizen and now living in the United States. Many years back, you migrated to the United States to escape your battered life and troubled relationship with your Filipino spouse . You wasted no time divorcing your spouse right after you became naturalized american. Now that your love life gets exciting, you wanted to take it to the next level by marrying your Filipino soulmate. But just the same, you cannot marry him because your ex marriage is still recorded in the NSO. What should you do?

You may have been advised that the legal remedy is to file a Nullity of Marriage Petition or in layman’s commonly abused term – Annulment. Though Annulment is not completely an improbable legal remedy here, the process can be tedious or cumbersome and the results are not always certain that the Court will grant your Petition. My good friend Atty. Godwin Manginsay may declare me persona non grata in Cebu if I were to approve the legal remedy of Annulment.

Well, the easiest way out is to file a Petition for the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgment of Divorce. In the first case, the Filipino spouse who has been divorced by the foreign husband may file a Petition on basis of the Divorce which was initiated by the foreign spouse. This will entitle her to remarry pursuant to Article 26 of the Family Code. The foreign husband, if he wishes to do so, may also file a Petition for Recognition of Divorce on the basis of the Rules of Court on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments and Cancellation of Record in the Local Civil Registrar. In the second case, the former Filipino spouse may only file a Petition for Recognition of Foreign Judgment of Divorce based on the provisions of the Rules of Court allowing recognition of foreign judgments and cancellation of record in the Local Civil Registrar.

As you may have observed, the grounds for Recognition of Divorce by the foreign husband and former filipino spouse are the same. Whereas, the ground in the Petition by the divorced Filipino spouse is Article 26 of the Family Code allowing her to remarry only when the Divorced was initiated by the foreign spouse.

In Japan, the most common Divorced entered into by a Japanese national and a Filipino spouse is Divorced by mutual consent.  If we strictly follow Article 26 of the Family Code, the Filipino spouse cannot remarry because the Japanese national did not initiate the Divorce. The Divorce was not initiated by anyone but by both parties. My two cents is that this type of Japanese Divorce could not be recognised in the Philippines if the basis for its Recognition is Article 26 of the Family Code. All hopes not lost because this Japanese Divorce could still be recognised in our jurisdiction if the ground would be the Rules of Court allowing Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgements (Section 48 Rule 49)  and Cancellation of Record in the Local Civil Registrar (Rule 108) – so long as the Divorce absolutely allows the parties to remarry – the Divorce can be recognised in the Philippines.

If you have some questions about filing a Petition for Recognition of Divorce in Philippines, please contact us.

Alex Acain, Esquire (+63 9175002878)

Viber (+63 9175002878)

Immigration Blacklist: Interpol Green Notice

Many foreigners, mostly Americans, are wondering why they were sent back to their country of origin upon their arrival in the Philippines, when they have been travelling in and out of the country for so many years prior without any problems. In immigration parlance, we call this scenario A to A (airport to airport). They were complaining of not able to pass through immigration and immediately put on the next flight back home due to a “Green Notice” in their names that shows up in the immigration database, to the “shock and awe” of their Filipino love ones who are eagerly waiting for their return. Your name in the immigration blacklist is the natural consequence if you are tagging a green notice in your name.

But what is this Green Notice? A Green Notice is issued by the International Police Organisation (Interpol) to provide warnings and criminal intelligence about persons who have committed criminal offences and are likely to repeat these crimes in other countries. According to the Interpol, it is an effective way to share key police intelligence on a global scale and to prevent offenders from crossing borders. The target of this Green Notice are known sex offenders who have a criminal record of conviction abroad. The Interpol has seen in recent years of an increase in the numbers of travelling sex offenders, that is, individuals who travel to foreign countries in order to abuse children. The Green Notice is the main tool of the Interpol in dealing with travelling sex offenders so that the perpetuation of crime and abuse of children in other countries will be prevented. It was only in the later part of 2013 when the Green Notice database was shared to the Philippine Bureau of Immigration. This explains why foreigners who are known to be sex offenders were able to travel in out of the Philippines in the past, unhampered.

But as I have seen, not all foreigners who are included in the green notice have serious case of pedophilia. Some have been labelled as sex offenders for having engaged in a consensual sex with a fellow minor, a sixteen year old girl, at that time he was 17. Both parties were adolescents during that time and the incident happened 30 or 40 years ago.   

The latest Issuance of the Bureau of Immigration no longer allows registered sex offenders to request or Petition to lift their names in the blacklist. The Bureau of Immigration is a government agency under the Department of Justice. All Issuances of Decisions of the Bureau of Immigration can be brought to the Department of Justice for Review. In exceptional circumstances, the Department of Justice may reverse Decisions of the Bureau of Immigration and allow lifting of the persons name in the blacklist.

If you want to seek legal advice on how to remove your name in the immigration blacklist, please contact us.

Alex Acain, Esquire (Mobile: +63 9175002878)

Viber: +63 9175002878