How to Apply for a Turkey Visa Online

 Turkey is another country like Taiwan that offers a quick and easy way to apply for tourist visas online.

Especially for Filipinos who hold valid visa for US, Japan and other OECD countries. I was ecstatic that I have a US and Japan visa because I’ve always wanted to visit Turkey.

Even if you’re not Filipino, this post can still be pretty helpful to you in applying for your Turkey visa. Most nationalities (including USA, Australia, Canada, Portugal, etc) need to apply online. To know if you need to apply, click on this official Turkey government page: Who is eligible for an E-visa?

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Immigration Tips for Filipinos: A Guide to Philippine Immigration

Philippine immigration photo

I wrote this guide in response to many questions in my blog about answering the questions in Philippine immigration. This guide is about how to handle Philippine immigration as a tourist and not as an OFW.

The first time I heard the word “offloaded” was in my blog. ‘Offloading’ is a Filipino English word that means you are denied entry to another country a.k.a. cannot leave the Philippines because you were unable to pass the Filipino immigration inspection.

If you want to minimize the risk of being offloaded as a Filipino, here are some tips:

Past travel experience is a must.

When I quit my job in China and returned to the Philippines jobless, I was a little scared to travel because I was unemployed. It didn’t become a problem because the immigration officer saw many stamps in my passport and let me through.

The more you travel, the less likely the immigration officer will ask you questions. I know many Filipinos travel with copies of their company ID, bank certificates, income tax return (ITR), etc. I don’t. I was unemployed and single. I just bring and show my return ticket. I think these are important for first time travelers but not for those who are frequent travelers. I have already been to more than 20 countries. I have not worked illegally and my stamps can prove I have always returned to my country. Of course, this is not the same for all cases. This is just my experience.

Even if you’ve been to only one or two countries, as long as he’s seen you’ve got past travel experience and have returned, he will less likely ask you many questions.

Always show a return ticket

Filipinos who have left me questions in my blog are often scared of the immigration officer (IO). They don’t know there’s another gate they have to go through first before the IO and sometimes they can be tougher than the officer.

The airline check-in.

cebupacific

That’s right. These people make sure you have all the proper documentation before you leave, especially the staff at our friendly budget airline, Cebu Pacific. They won’t let you go through immigration if you don’t have the right documents. They will usually ask for the return ticket to ensure a.) you’re coming back b.) you’re complying with the travel regulations of the country you’re traveling to. E.g. Malaysia law requires travelers to have a return ticket when they travel to Malaysia.

When you go to the immigration officer, always show your boarding pass and your return ticket.

I have forgotten to show my boarding pass and return ticket a couple of times because I’m struggling to organize the paperwork I accumulate during the check-in process (terminal fee, travel tax receipts and copies, Cebu Pacific itinerary, etc). Luckily the IOs are often nice about it and gently remind me. Whoops! They’re people too.

The main reason people get offloaded (from what I’ve read in the blogs) is that they weren’t able to show the return ticket. Even if you’re someone who’s traveled to several countries, if you won’t show your return ticket  (again, this depends on the country you’re traveling t0) they won’t let you through.

Be confident. Don’t be nervous.

IOs are taught to profile people. Any signs of nervousness are cause for them to make you more nervous by asking you more questions. If you’re nervous, it means you’ve got something to hide. Further interrogation is a scare tactic used by many immigration officers around the world. The theory behind it is by making you nervous, you’ll slip up and reveal your true intentions. You might say, “But I’ve got nothing to hide. They’re making it worse by making me nervous.” It doesn’t matter. Immigration officers think they are cops and they will bully the answers out of you. So stand your guard, smile and answer confidently with a heart ala Ms Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach.

If you have all your documents in order, what reason do they have to detain you? Unless they are looking for a bribe, of course.

Only answer what IOs ask you but do not elaborate.

There is really no need to give them further reason to ask more questions. Just answer as simply as possible.

IO: What’s your job?

Me: I work as an assistant manager in my family business.

IO: Family business? What do you sell?

Me: Plastic. Pots and pans. Brooms. Lots of household items.

IO: (stamp stamp)

Common questions Filipinos IOs ask you:

  • Where do you work? Follow up questions were what was position in the company? What did we sell?
  • Where will you be staying?

Have a rough idea of your itinerary/what you will do in the country. Just in case the officer ask you, just be ready with a short list.

IO: What will you do in India?

Me: Sightseeing. See Taj Mahal, the Pink City, Hindu temples. Shopping.

Philippine-Passport-e1408437251795

WHAT IFs SCENARIOS

The following answers are collected from other sites or what I would do if I was in that situation. I have by no means encountered them personally so it’s not 100% reliable and you will still need to do your own research. IMPORTANT: No immigration officer is the same. One would let you travel and the other might take you aside for second questioning.

1.) I haven’t traveled before.

You’re a first time traveler. This is probably the most nerve wracking because you’ll be more under scrutiny by the immigration officer. You’ll be less likely to be asked questions if you mention you’re traveling with someone who’s traveled before or if you’re in a tour group/package tour.

I have not done the following below because I was only 6 years old when I first started traveling internationally.

Here are documents you need to prepare:

  • Return ticket (a must)

The following are what I got from other Filipino traveler websites. For more information I’ve included their links at the bottom of this article.

  • Company ID
  • Certificate of employment or if you’re a student, a student ID
  • Original or photocopy of your passbook or bank certificate
  • ITR (income tax return- just in case)
  • The addresses and numbers of the places you’re staying

Proof of financial funds

  • I have never encountered this in the 20 countries I’ve traveled to. My friend who visited the US wanted to prove he had sufficient funds by “show money” when the US immigration officer stopped him. “You should never show your money,” he warned.

I personally think “show money” is a Filipino or developing country thing. Proof of sufficient funds for other countries usually means a bank certificate or a copy of your passbook to show how much income you have.

2.) I’m a housewife.

I don’t think it’s really a problem if you can show you have sufficient funds in your bank account even if it’s a joint one. You can also show your husband’s employment certificate to prove he is still employed.

3.) I was employed when applied for a US/Schengen/whatever country’s visa and now I’m unemployed. My current plans do not match the one in my visa application form.

Let me tell you something.

The immigration officer on both sides don’t care.

Government bureaucracy is so bloated that I don’t think consulates share your information to the immigration officer unless requested. As long as you’re returning to your native country and you’re not planning to do anything illegal, they’ll let you in.

My current itinerary certainly did not match the one in my Schengen visa application. Plans change. I didn’t get in trouble for that.

In case the officer ask you your occupation, just tell them your old job.

4.) I’m unemployed.

As long as you’re not applying for a visa, it should be easy if you’re going to countries Filipinos can enter visa free (Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, etc).

Prepare the following documents:

  • Proof of sufficient funds (even if it’s a joint account)
  • Your spouse or partner’s certificate of employment
  • Less of a problem if you’ve traveled before or traveling with your husband or with a tour group. Just mention that to the officer.
  • See documents for #1 I’m haven’t traveled before.

5.) I’m a freelancer.

I’m afraid I do not have experience with this or what documents you need to provide. Click on the link below for more detailed instructions on freelancers.

FIRST TIME ABROAD: Tips and Frequently Asked Questions

6.) I’m traveling abroad on a brand new passport. I’ve had a pretty good travel history but it’s all in my old passport. Do I show my old passport too with my new one to the officer?

 Yes.

7.) I’m sponsored by my relative/boyfriend/fiancé.

This is probably the hardest especially if you’re unemployed, single, traveling alone and it’s your first time traveling. If your friend/family member is with you and also single and unemployed, you can share the requirements. He/she must have the same copies or you can go to the IO box together.

Prepare the following:

  • Invitation letter and say he/she is supporting your travels
  • Proof of sufficient funds from your sponsor or the person paying for the trip (copy of passbook or bank certificate)
  • If you have enough money in your bank account, prepare a copy of your passbook or bank certificate
  • A photocopy of his/her credit card, if possible
  • Return ticket (a must)

You’re less suspicious if you travel with someone or are in a package tour.

I have an invitation letter but I can support myself and am planning to pay for my own trip.

Unless they ask where you’ll be staying, there’s no need to show the invitation letter. Just show your proof of sufficient funds.

8.) My boyfriend/friend/sister is traveling with me. Should I ask my sponsor to include them in the invitation letter?

Yes. In the letter, describe your relationship together and you’re traveling with your sister/friend/boyfriend.

9.) I have been offloaded before. Would this affect my chances?

It might but it will not prevent them from keeping you if you have all proper documentation. Show all the necessary paperwork and answer the questions confidently and you might be able to board your flight. This isn’t 100% foolproof because it will depend on your circumstance and your immigration officer.

This has been a comprehensive list. I hope this article has been helpful to my fellow Filipinos. Again, this isn’t 100% fool proof. It is more of a guide to help you.

The most important thing is all will still depend on the immigration officer who interviews you. 

If you haven’t found the answer to your specific immigration dilemma in this guide, check out the resources links below or call the Philippine Bureau of Immigration customer service hotline. They would be your best best bet in addressing your concerns.

Due to my new busy schedule, I found I couldn’t answer the comments in a timely manner. It wouldn’t be fair to the readers so I’ve decided to disable the comments section. If you have a question that can’t be answered in this post, you might find your answer in the comment section. Good luck!

Bureau of Immigration contact number

Bureau of Immigration main office

Good luck and happy traveling!

Read my related post on immigration.

What to Expect at the Border: A Guide to Immigration Interview Questions

Resources Links:

FIRST TIME ABROAD: Tips and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to Avoid Getting Offloaded

For OFWs: 9 Tips To Avoid Being Offloaded at NAIA

Photo credit:

Immigration booth

Philippine passport

Cebu Pacific

What to Expect at the Border: A Guide to Immigration Interview Questions

We are watching you!

We have the power!

For Filipinos looking for more comprehensive tips designed for Philippine Immigration, check out my post Immigration Tips for Filipinos: A Guide to Philippine Immigration. 

As someone who has been to 20 countries, lived in China where I frequently get my passport stamped in Hong Kong and Macau  and crossed borders more than I count my own hair, immigration still strikes fear in me.  Think of it – immigration is nothing more than people standing behind a box that stands between you and your travel adventures.

As a Filipino even leaving my own country drives me into an anxiety filled spiral.  Since so many of us work illegally around the world, my country makes it a point to make life difficult for us to leave the country if we don’t have a return ticket and an exit permit/travel tax exit. We are grilled when we leave our home shores and grilled again as soon as we arrive in our destination.

I also encounter many different probing/inquiring tactics at different borders and customs. Some, I’ve answered well and some I didn’t prompting close calls with the risk being detained.

Here are my experiences and tips when handling immigration:

  • Know the officer’s intent

The immigration’s officer’s job is to ascertain which passenger would likely cause trouble to the country, commit a crime or reside illegally. Your task is to make sure their suspicions aren’t aroused. For them everybody is guilty till proven innocent.

Sometimes immigration officers might just want to fill their quotas of suspicious people interrogated questioned (hint: post 9/11 USA). If you’re lucky enough to be randomly chosen for a second screening, do not take it too personally – you’re just a number to them after all. Do not look too nervous and just answer their questions. Looking nervous would just arouse their suspicion. When you’ve reached that point, the immigration’s officer’s intent now is to harass you to submission so they can finally pat themselves in the back for catching a criminal or they just want a break from their monotony of stamping passport all days and surprise! you’re there to provide them the entertainment their day needs. Think of all cop movies you saw in the interrogation room – playing good cop/bad cop. The immigration officer want to feel like those cops.

In some immigration like the US, the person is actually stripped bare of their rights and treated like a criminal because technically in the customs area, they haven’t arrived in US soil yet. They would harass you, search your belongings and if they find one shred of evidence that you are guilty, they would detain you and wouldn’t even allow you to make a single phone call to your family or friends who might be waiting for you. It’s that bad. When they think they’ve proven you’re guilty, they would sometimes force  you to sign papers (do not sign any papers, you at least have the right to do so). It’s like the immigration officers want to turn US immigration into Guantanamo Bay. I can’t even imagine how many people they “tortured” and deposited into their cells and tower over them feeling like dictators. I read a story they put a poor 64 year old woman into a cell when all she wanted was to attend her daughter’s wedding.

My cousin Lloyd was selected for random screening at the Fort Lauderdale airport in Florida. He was detained for 2 hours in a room because they found he brought his work documents with him because he wanted to apply for a Japanese visa in the States. Only when he insisted on his torturer’s ID badge number and to speak to his supervisor was he let go.

My friend Shirley was also interrogated as soon as she reached Australia customs. For no apparent reason that she is brown and looks like an immigrant (yes, immigration officers love profiling.) Never mind she’s traveled to 30 countries. She was horrified at being treated like she was less of a human being. After the horrific experience, she later realized there was a reality show in Australia called Border Security where immigration officers catch passengers who planned on staying in Australia illegally or were sneaking drugs in. These officers were probably harassing her hoping for their lucky break on that show.

  • Know how to answer questions. Be detailed but not too detailed

Immigration officers would sometimes ask you queries to determine your intent in coming to their country. Immigration officers in developed countries (USA, Canada, France,etc. ) would often ask these questions:

–          Why are you here?

–          Where will you be staying?

–           Who will you be visiting?

–           How long will you be staying?

–           How much money are you bringing?

 

It was Alice’s first time to visit Hong Kong from the Philippines. As a first time traveler she was very naïve and answered all questioned truthfully. When asked by the Philippine immigration officer before departing, “Why are you going to HK?” She answered enthusiastically, “To see my boyfriend in HK!”

She wasn’t allowed to leave. The immigration officer in the Philippines thought she was going to stay there illegally. Also, one must never answer seeing a boyfriend when it’s your first time traveling.

When I first arrived in LAX airport, I was jet lagged and hurting from a 14 hour flight from Japan where I barely slept on the plane. When asked the customary question, “Why are you here?”

I answered, “To see my family and friends.”

When he asked, “Why is your visa issued in China?”

I said, “I used to work there.”

The immigration officer’s expression remained nonchalant.

Which baffled me that I was given second screening by that officer. That had never happened to me before in the US. I was getting nervous. The officer in charge of searching my luggage was a huge bouncer looking guy. He looked at my things and then my I-94 customs form.

“You’re visiting family and friends right?”

“Yes.”

“You’re supposed to give them gifts. Why did you write $0 for the value of their gifts?”

Because sometimes we don’t give friends gifts when visiting! Use your common sense! I bit my lip. Now was not the time to be a wise guy. So I wrote $20 in the value. He looked at it and typed something in his computer and let me go.

I realized perhaps I was too vague in my answers which prompted the officer to give me a second screening. Instead of answering “visiting friends and family” maybe I should’ve said, “I’m visiting my Uncle Willo in LA and then visiting my friend Brett in Chicago and do a road trip up north to check out the great lakes in Minnesota. Then fly to NYC to see the Statue of Liberty.” Instead of “I used to work in China.” I should’ve added my current work status to dispel any suspicion I was going to look for work in the US. “I used to work in China but now I’m the marketing manager of my family’s plastic and retail business in the Philippines.”

But who knows anyway how immigration officers conduct their screening? It could also be random or any kind of unfair racial profiling. In China, immigration officers stop any black person they see and open their luggage. Whenever I used to cross the sea borders in China, the officers search my luggage when they see I hold a foreigner passport.

  • Be careful of questions that trap you

Sometimes officers in developing countries probe you to look for loopholes they can use in their power to keep you from entering or departing the country. Their reason is so you can offer them a bribe. They just want money.

I noticed this immigration officer in the Philippines was looking for red flags in my answers.

“What type of business does your family operate?”

“What do you sell?”

“What are your responsibilities?”

“What type of plastic do you sell?”

Questions which are awfully detailed and probing for my job. Luckily I do work in my family business and was able to answer.  I offered simple and concise answers that didn’t prompt him to ask for follow up.

“Plastic retail and distribution.”

“Plastic and household supplies.”

“I supervise and liaise between the sales staff and management.”

“Canada plastic bags.”

The guy seemed kind of bummed when I left.

My friend Joe was legally employed by a school in Hanoi but because he had was asked to pay an exorbitant amount to get unnecessary translation for his documents to Vietnamese, he decided that getting a 3 month business visa and exiting Vietnam was cheaper than the fee. He spent most of the year exiting Vietnam and coming back.   He went back to the Philippines for the summer break. Upon departing the Philippines to return to Vietnam, the immigration officer questioned him, “Why did you exit and enter Vietnam many times in a year?”

Joe said, “Sir, I was on vacation and wanted to explore Vietnam.”

“Don’t kid me! For a year? You were obviously working there illegally. I noticed you have a previous work visa in Vietnam.”

Joe tried to explain his translation situation but the officer would hear none of it. In desperation, Joe fished out a P1,000 (USD23) bill. The officer’s eyes lit up and stamped his passport.

  • Do not bring unnecessary merchandise that might implicate you

Traveling with all your documents (birth certificate, security clearance, bank statements, etc.) can be tricky because if found in your luggage, the officers will use these to lay charges on you especially in Australia and the US that you are going to look for work in their country.

My couin Lloyd brought documents with him so he can apply for a Japanese tourist visa in the Japan consul in the States. Unfortunately, the officers found them and questioned him about it.

By sheer naiveté, I bought some Kim Il-Sung pins in China and brought them with me when I crossed the border to North Korea not knowing that these pins weren’t supposed to be sold. A little background, Kim Il-Sung was the maniacal dictator of North Korea and they were worship him there after his death. To show their loyalty, North Koreans pin a picture of him on their clothes.

You are also cautioned in bringing too many gadgets into North Korea because well, simply they would think it was a spying device. Unfortunately, I had brought my laptop, my mp3 player and my banking USB stick with me and a DVD copy of (wait for it) Captain America (swear total coincidence).

Customs took a lot longer in examining my suitcase and trying out all the gadgets (fortunately, Captain America was laid aside). When they got to my Kim Il Sung pins, they questioned me aside and grilled me on where I had found them (you can find the complete story here) to the point I got scared and thought they were going to detain me.

When I promised I had no idea that the dear Leader shouldn’t be bought as souvenirs and threw them away, I was finally allowed entry into North Korea.

  • Show your return plane ticket, if necessary

Immigration officers often want you to show proof you will be exiting the country. In fact most countries won’t let you in unless you have an outgoing flight.

If prompted, you can show the ticket to prove you will be leaving the country soon. That would increase the chances of the officer being more at ease with letting you in.

Other interesting questions Immigration had asked me:

Sometimes immigration officers ask peculiar questions I’ve never heard of, especially in developing countries.

When entering Vietnam, the officer asked me, “Can you say ‘I love you’ in Vietnamese?”

When entering China, “Were you shooting a film in Macau?”

When entering India, “Are you single?”

The important thing is to keep calm and answer the questions that would satisfy the immigration interviewer and allow you into the country. 🙂

Update: Due to the volume of comments I have received in this post, I’ve decided to disable the comments section. 

I have decided to compile all the common comments/questions I have received and answered them in this post:   Immigration Tips for Filipinos: A Guide to Philippine Immigration. 

If you are a Filipino with a question, then it’s most likely answered in that article. Head over there now!

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