Let's go straight to the point: No, you are not required to show your yearbook to an immigration officer.
That was the dilemma of a Filipino traveler named Cham Tanteras. Baring her frustrations in a viral TikTok video, Tanteras recounted that she had a troublesome encounter with an immigration officer from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
There, she was incessantly questioned on whether she graduated or not, and if she did, she had to show proof through her yearbook or graduation picture. All of this led to her missing her flight to Israel, forcing her to book another one the very next day for P27,000.
In a statement, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said that it has immediately launched an investigation regarding the issue of Tanteras, but highlighted that the agency is merely trying to prevent cases of human trafficking and illegal recruitment.
According to them, there had been a total of 472 out of 32,404 Filipinos who were found to be victims of human trafficking or illegal recruitment back in 2022. There were also 873 who misrepresented themselves or presented fraudulent documents.
This has led them to urge their personnel to "conduct their inspections professionally and in an efficient manner to prevent similar incidents from occurring."
The incident since had Filipinos wondering whether a graduation yearbook or diploma is now necessary when traveling. The short answer is no.
Instead, here are the documents that you should keep handy at the airport according to BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval:
- Identification card- If there's one document that you shouldn't leave at home, it's your government-issued ID. This will be used to verify your personal details.
- Passport- Like the ID, your passport is your ticket to local and international travel, containing your country of citizenship and all of your other basic information such as your photo, name, birth date, and gender.
- Return ticket- a return ticket is important as it is proof that you will be returning to the country of origin.
- Travel itinerary- a travel itinerary is basically your to-do list in the destination you are heading to, containing all of your plans and details of your travel. It serves as proof to the immigration officer that you have specific plans and don't have any intentions to stay illegally elsewhere.
- Overseas employment certificate- this document is crucial for Filipinos who are working overseas as it certifies their regularity of recruitment and documentation.
To ensure that you don't encounter any more inconveniences, it is also good to bring extra valid IDs to show to the immigration officer, such as a postal ID, an NBl clearance, among others.
In a March 24 video, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno further detailed what tourists and OFWs should prepare for international travel.
Diokno said that tourists should be able to present a valid passport, visa (if applicable), and roundtrip or return ticket to the immigration officer. It would also help to prepare previous passports and visas, confirmed accommodations and travel itinerary, certificate of employment or registration, income tax return, and bank certificate. If you have a sponsor, make sure to bring an affidavit of support and undertaking containing information about your sponsor.
OFWs, meanwhile, should prepare a valid passport, original/valid visa (based on country-specific Philippine Overseas Employment Administration advisory), airline travel tickets, e-receipt, and overseas employment certificate from the POEA, added Diokno.
The lawyer stressed that inspection should last no more than 10 minutes, except for extraordinary circumstances.
“Kung may abuso ng autoridad o oppression, at ang ginawa ay act of cruelty, severity, domination, o excessive use of authority, pwedeng magreklamo sa Bureau of Immigration, Civil Service Commission, o Office of the Ombudsman. May parusang suspension o dismissal 'yan from public service," he said.
"Kung nagdulot ng pinsala at talagang may bad faith, gross negligence, o malisya, pwede ring kasuhan ang immigration officer para hingan ng danyos o damages," he added.