A visa is a very special authorization granted by the government of a country to allow a foreign national to enter its borders and remain there for a given period of time. Thanks to diplomacy and to an extent, globalization, visa requirements are waived for certain foreigners. But not everyone can be accorded that privilege, and Filipinos are among those who happen to fall unto that group. Making it even more challenging is to get a visa and there is a likelihood only a few Filipinos will be able to get it while most will be denied. At this point, you have to wonder why it is hard for Filipinos to get a visa.
First of all, it is important to understand where the Philippines stands vis-à-vis the rest of the world when it comes to the strength of the passport issued to its citizens. The stronger the passport, the more countries the bearer can visit without a visa. According to Henley and Partners, a citizenship and planning firm, German passports are currently ranked #1. That means German nationals can enter many countries (177 to be exact) without a visa. At the other end is Afghanistan which is the weakest; bearers of Afghan passports can only visit 26 countries visa-free. As for the Philippines, we are ranked #67 and its citizens can enter 60 countries without a visa.
Related Link: Global Passport Power. The higher the rank, the more countries a citizen can visit visa-free.
There are several factors that determine the strength of a passport – First and foremost is the socio-economic situation and political stability of the country. Next is diplomatic relationship between the countries concerned. The latter part helps in easing visa restrictions though it is not guaranteed. In the case of the Philippines, it can be seen that cooperation with its ASEAN neighbors helped in removing visa requirements between these countries.
It is a different story when traveling to countries in North America, Europe, Australia and even Asian countries like Japan and South Korea. The Philippines is still classified as a Third World country. This means our political and economic climate is far from stable. From their perspective, there is a likelihood Filipinos might stay illegally or go TNT (Tago ng Tago). It is for this reason Filipinos must get visas when going to these countries.
What makes getting a visa hard? Consular officials will look into your socio-economic background. You must prove you are established or gainfully employed (or self-employed). Having no job is already a warning sign for them you might become a TNT, even if you intend to visit as a tourist. More often than not, this is why many Filipinos are denied.
All in all, race is not the issue. It is all about the economic stability of a country that determines if its citizens require a visa or not. We cannot invoke “utang na loob” at the US (for one) and demand they waive visa requirements for Filipinos. It is as simple as that. They might be callous or unfair but this is necessary since they are protecting their citizens.
It is also hoped that the current and succeeding administrations will do what it must to improve the economy which in turn will help Filipinos in terms of job opportunities and in time, Filipinos can travel to First World countries without a visa (because we have become First World as well).
Featured Image Source: China Daily