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SF consulate holds first ‘Talakayan’on issues affecting Filipino nationals

/ 06:50 PM February 28, 2014
  • Topics range from passport application to legal immigration issues
  • To be held monthly at SF Consulate waiting area

Roela Vazquez and Caroline Ocampo of the Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

SAN FRANCISCO, California — To bring important information and services closer to constituents, the Philippine Consulate launched “Talakayan sa Konsulado,” a monthly public forum held at the Consulate’s waiting area to discuss issues relevant to the Filipino-American community in the Bay Area.

Topics range from passport application, when to renew and or extend passport validity, emergencies and information on the new e-passport to name a few.

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Acting Head of Post, Deputy Consul General Jaime Ascalon opened the forum on Feb.14 before a captive audience of people waiting for various documents. Featured guest speaker Roela Vazquez of Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services discussed “Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Its Potential Immigration Benefits for Filipinos.”

Vazquez, who was joined by Caroline Ocampo, chief of communications and public affairs for the Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, explained that currently, the United States is still deliberating whether to grant “Temporary Protected Status” to the Philippines after it was struck by Typhoon Haiyan last November. She emphasized, however, that if TPS is granted, it may allow qualifying persons to legalize their stay in the United States and obtain the necessary documents to legally work and live here.

Citing the examples of Haiti and El Salvador, which were granted TPS due to grave conditions that affected the capacity of their nationals abroad to return to their home countries, Vazquez noted that the grant of TPS had been greatly beneficial to nationals of these countries who had previously been staying in the United States without the appropriate visa. Under the conditions of TPS, qualified nationals of Haiti and El Salvador were able to regularize their stay and obtain the necessary legal documents for themselves and their families.

“(If granted), TPS will be a gift from the United States government to the Filipino community here,” Vazquez stressed.  “Since it is a gift, it is our responsibility now to take advantage of the opportunities TPS offers us”.

During the open forum that followed, Lorna Dietz, Regional Chair for the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NAFFAA) Region 8, Northern California urged the community to rally their friends, family, and other concerned persons to call the Department of State at (202) 647 6575, ext. 8, to register their strong support for TPS. Without community support, TPS might not be granted to Filipinos.

For more information on TPS, or to inquire about the services of the Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, visit www.CatholicCharitiesSCC.org.

Ascalon on the other hand explained the importance of having a valid Philippine passport at all times–it is a necessary document for immigration procedures such as TPS. He emphasized that the Consulate does not require persons to present a valid US visa in order to renew their passport, only proof of current Philippine citizenship such as a valid Philippine passport or a Philippine birth certificate.

“Since passport renewal now requires the personal appearance of all applicants, the Consulate has stepped up its Consulate-on-Wheels/Wings (COW) program, which dispatches consular teams to areas under our jurisdiction,” Ascalon announced.

“We understand that not everybody will be able to visit our office in San Francisco for passport renewal, so we will be traveling to various cities and states under our jurisdiction to bring our services closer to our clients,” he added.

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The San Francisco Consulate covers states in the Pacific North West namely Alaska, Montana, Colorado, California, Utah, Washington and Reno, Nevada.

For more information on upcoming Consulate-on-Wheels outreaches, or to search for a COW coming to your area, visit http://www.philippinessanfrancisco.org/philippines-sf/consular-outreach-sf/ or follow the Consulate’s Facebook page on http://www.facebook.com/PCGSF.

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TAGS: Catholic Charities, Consular services, Deputy Consul Jaime Ascalon, legal documents, passort, San Francisco Philippine Consulate
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