I’ve just made a petition via Change.org on one of my biggest travel frustrations: visas.
Please find below the petition for your review. If you’re with me, please sign the petition here. Don’t worry, you have the option of remaining anonymous as you do so.
“Travellers from Developing Countries Should Not Be Caged By Visa Restrictions”
I was born and raised in the Philippines, but see the world as my home. At 26, I’ve travelled to 30 countries but the numbers do not reflect how much of a hassle it takes me to get on a plane.
Before I can travel to any of the EU, US, UK and Oceanic countries, I would have to apply for a visa which entails all of the following: 1) Signed visa application form with photo (photo specifications are different depending on the country I’m applying to); 2) Photocopy of valid and former visas, pages of the passport with immigration stamps and previous refusal stamps if any; 3) Cover letter explaining the purpose of the trip and proposed day-to-day itinerary; 4) Proof of accommodation for the ENTIRE STAY in the country/ies of destination; 5) Roundtrip airline reservation; 6) Certificate of employment with monthly salary and leave of absence approved by employer, or if self-employed, official business registration for current and previous year; 7) Latest personal income tax return; 8) Recent (issued within the last month) personal bank certification; 9) Photocopy of the last three months’ statement of account of the same bank account; 10) For minors and/or students: proof of economic means of parent/legal guardian, copy of passport of parents/legal guardian and affidavit of support and consent, proof of enrolment and certificate of leave of absence; 11) Photocopy of birth certificate; 12) International travel insurance covering the entire period of stay; 13) Visa fee. And all these documentation requirements: in two copies.
The list does not end here though. I live 80 kms. away from Makati City which is where I can only apply for my visa, and it is not just the driving that gets to me, but more so the day I have to get off work as it takes forever to get to Makati City as anyone knows. I have to pay for toll fees, gas, meals, visa fee (which is not cheap by the way), printing and photocopying expenses for all documents, and all the resources involved with having to complete all documentation.
All these, without the assurance of having my visa approved. I’ve lost a full scholarship to study for my masters in the UK because of my student visa rejected. When the embassy finally approved after my appeal, it was too late and my scholarship was revoked. My boyfriend and I have had plans to travel through Europe for our anniversary, but that came to an end when I was given a single entry to the EU given that it was my fifth trip to Europe at that point.
I sometimes travel with my boyfriend who is an Australian citizen and to say the reality for this petition’s purposes, I have more savings than he does. Nevertheless, he does not have to go through all this process because of his citizenship.
Countries should seriously rethink the way they see us, legitimate travellers from developing countries. It is as if immigration officials always see us as threats to their country’s safety; as people who would want to stay and work illegally.
Why make it so hard for us to travel? Like many others, I work so hard for my savings. I can never “wing it” like people my age in developed countries who can receive allowances as students and as they look for work. Here in the Philippines, every Filipino has to cover for every single thing. You can only imagine the work, study and savings ethic instilled on us growing up.
If these countries see us as threats, why shouldn’t they look within and see for themselves why they go through all the economic and social downturns no matter how strict they try to be for “outsiders”?
No one in this entire world has the right to dictate where, when and who can travel. This is an act of injustice and it should stop right now.
This petition will be delivered to:
- Secretary-General of the United Nations
Ban Ki-moon (Secretary-General of the United Nations)
- Association of Southeast Asian Nations
- Council of the European Union
- Human Rights Campaign
If you have the same sentiment, please sign the petition here. It can be a very small step in the bigger scheme of things but hopefully, somehow, it gets the right authorities’ attention.