MANILA, Philippines–The number of foreign students in the country increased from 41,443 in 2011 to 47,478 in 2012, the Bureau of Immigration said Thursday.
Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. said the figure was based on the number of processed and approved student visa and special study permit (SSP) by the bureau’s student desk.
Lawyer Cris Villalobos, BI student desk head, said 31,000 SSP holders, mostly based in the provinces, account for the bulk of the foreign students while 16,478 others were issued student visa.
The SSP is issued to a foreigner below 18 years old who will study in the elementary, secondary, and tertiary levels or in special courses of less than one year.
A student visa, on the other hand, is issued to foreigner aged 18 years and above, who will take up a course higher than high school at a university, seminary, college, or school duly authorized by the BI to admit foreign students.
Villalobos said that of the 16,478 student visa holders, 3,302 are new enrollees while 12,949 were old students who re-enrolled and extended their visa.
He added that 25,890 aliens secured their SSP from the different BI field offices in the provinces, while 5,100 got their study permits in Manila.
Since March last year, the bureau has tightened the screening student visa and SSP applications amid reports of a proliferation of fake foreign students in the country.
Existing rules require schools to designate their liaison officer who shall exclusively represent or assist their foreign enrollees in applying for a visa or SSP with the BI.
Only schools accredited by the BI, Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and Federation of Accrediting Agencies are authorized to accept foreign students.