By: Alexander Llanes Acain, Jr.
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 favorite first-person shooter game on Xbox One – Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell also titled “The Blacklist”.
But in immigration parlance, this is no Xbox One or Ps4 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 the 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.
Letter Request
If you are a foreign national whose name is included in the Philippine immigration blacklist, your legal remedy is to write a letter request for the lifting of 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 exists. 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.
Periods for filing a request to lift the blacklist
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.
Sex Offenders
There are foreign nationals, by reason of the gravity of their cases, are not qualified for the lifting of their names in the 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.
Letter of Apology
For those foreigners whose names are included in the blacklist by reason of discourtesy to an immigration officer,  one of the basic requirements is a letter of apology (1) furnished to the immigration officer concerned; (2) duly noted by the Supervisor that the letter is sincere; and (3) copy furnished to the immigration commissioner. The “found to be sincere” is always the tricky part of this process.
Lifting penalty
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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alexander Llanes Acain, Jr. is an immigration lawyer with more than 20 years of experience in immigration law practice. You are invited to call us to discuss your Philippine Immigration Law concerns For further information please contact Alex Llanes Acain Jr., Managing Partner, on Mobile +63917 500 2878 or (02) 4033478 or email alexacain@gtalawphil.com.