An experience that almost ended like one of those horror immigration stories in the Philippines. Yeap! I almost got offloaded from my Singapore flight too and I’ll share with you what I did that somehow did a magic trick.
What you need to know about the Immigration
First things first, Philippine passport holders doesn’t need visa to go to Singapore. That’s right, Singapore is one of those visa-free countries if you’re a Filipino passport holder. As of April 2023, there are 38 countries we are free to visit, check them out here: List of Visa-Free Countries for Filipino Passport Holders.
Nevertheless, Singapore remains to be one of those countries that you’ll have difficulty entering because of high records of undocumented Filipino immigrant, that is to say. Sadly, this infamous deed of some Filipinos affects most of us.
If you’ve been to a few countries before and will be visiting Singapore soon, you’ll have nothing to worry about. But if it’s your first time traveling abroad or you are going alone, continue reading.
Story of how I almost got offloaded
So this is exactly what happened to me, Singapore was my first international travel and I was going alone. How bad does that look like from an Immigration officer’s view? REALLY BAD.
You see, my background tells them I’m going to overstay in Singapore and look for a job there. Or what we like to refer to as the famous colloquial word TNT which means “tago ng tago” in Filipino. To avoid that, the immigration officers have to do a thorough background check and conduct an interview at the airport if necessary.
So after submitting my passport and boarding pass to the immigration officer, they pointed me to the direction where they asked me to stay and wait for my name to be called. At first I wondered why because they let the other passengers before and after me enter the boarding gate.
Prepare all necessary requirements
That was my first international trip so you can guess how nervous I was. I mean I did my research and I just know that I don’t need visa to enter Singapore. I also had all my requirements prepared just in case the immigration looks for it.
For instance a (1) return ticket, (2) proof of booked hotels and activities, (3) sample itinerary, (4) proof of income and an employee ID with recent ITR record to support my claim that I have a job in the Philippines. This will leave a remarkable testament to the immigration officers that you are just going for a visit and that you will not overstay.
Immigration interview for first time and solo international travel
Despite all the requirements I prepared, the immigration officer laid out a thick skeptical face on me. I’ll list down below all the questions they asked me.
- Why do you want to go to Singapore?
- Where are you planning to stay?
- Why did you bring a laptop with you?
- What’s your job?
- How much pocket money did you bring?
- Why are you traveling alone?
A good rule of the thumb is to answer everything truthfully. Do not attempt to fabricate your story this will just increase the tension.
So after I answered all their questions, still they were not convinced. I even showed them my ticket was a piso fare I booked almost a year ago with Cebu Pacific.
It was only a matter of time my flight is taking off and they are still holding me inside the room. So I asked the immigration officer if they still have questions because I told them my flight is almost taking off. I just knew then that that was wrong for me to ask because the officer glared at me, lol.
The reason that made me pass the immigration interview
So while I was contemplating, I know that the immigration officers are holding me in the room because they needed more proof and the laptop I brought with me was very questionable to them.
I finally told them that I’m traveling to Singapore because I am a travel blogger and traveling solo is my branding. And poof! There I was accepting my fate of getting offloaded then suddenly I told them I’m a travel blogger and it worked like magic!
They asked for my platforms, I showed them my website, Facebook page and Youtube as proof of traveling solo. And I also told them I brought my laptop with me because I needed to publish a travel guide for a client.
So when they allowed me to enter the boarding gate, I heard the ground attendant of Cebu Pacific doing last roll call of my name. I was about to miss that flight! Luckily I got in time.
Tips from Joan’s Footprints
- Prepare all necessary requirements (1) return ticket, (2) proof of booked hotels and activities, (3) sample itinerary, (4) proof of income and an employee ID with recent ITR record to support my claim that I have a job in the Philippines.
- Answer the questions truthfully.
- If you have business in the Philippines, might as well bring proof like BIR and/or proof of income.
- Do not bring laptop, it will raise doubts of your supposed vacation.
- Do not overpack too, this will raise the same doubts.
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