U.S. embassy in PH denies suspending visa applications

MANILA, Philippines – The United States embassy in the Philippines denied reports it was supposedly suspending visa applications due to the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus and President Rodrigo Duterte's threats to terminate the two countries' Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

"The US Embassy in the Philippines is aware of a fraudulent advisory alleging the cancellation/revocation of tourist visas and the suspension of visa applications. These claims are not true," the embassy said in a statement on Monday, February 10.

"Please note that US visa policy in the Philippines has not changed," it added.

The US embassy was responding to posts circulating online which claimed the US government ordered its post in Manila to "cancel/revoke all current and existing B1 and B2 visas" starting February 15.

The post, which was shared by a fake US embassy in the Philippines account, said the suspension and revocation of visas was due to the threat of the coronavirus and Duterte's decision to abrogate the VFA – the Philippines' long-standing military pact with the US.

The US embassy advised the public to refer only to its official website and social media accounts as the best sources of accurate information. It encouraged the public to report visa and passport fraud via email to the following: FPMManila@state.gov.

The U.S. Embassy in the Philippines is aware of a fraudulent advisory alleging the cancellation/revocation of tourist visas and the suspension of visa applications. These claims are not true. https://t.co/3xBsDZsvsD pic.twitter.com/D6ePR8kz89 — U.S. Embassy in the Philippines (@USEmbassyPH) February 10, 2020

As of Monday morning, February 10, the novel coronavirus has killed 908 people and infected over 40,000 people across 26 countries.

The World Health Organization declared a global health emergency over the outbreak, which has prompted countries such as the Philippines and the United States to impose strict travel restrictions. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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