“It has been said that a pretty face is a passport. But it’s not, it’s a visa, and it runs out fast.” — Julie Burchill
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — Contrary to what was trumpeted by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Office of Consular Affairs, not all Philippine embassies and consulates are willing to immediately extend the validity of expiring Philippine e-Passports upon the applicant’s first request.
I found this out on September 9, 2015 when I went to the Philippine Consulate General on corner 46th Street and 5th Avenue here to file an extension of validity of my Philippine e-Passport, which will expire next month.
I also intended to apply for renewal thereafter. My current e-Passport was processed by the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles five years ago.
I emphasized during interview at Window 3 that I came to apply for extension of validity of my e-Passport.
The male officer asked why. I wanted to avail of the policy or program being offered by the DFA for holders of expiring e-Passports based abroad.
I thought that an application for revalidation/extension was a wise move before applying for renewal, which will take some time to process.
In Los Angeles in 2010, the Philippine Consulate General collected my old passport while my new e-Passport was under process, thus I wasn’t able to fly back to Vancouver until my new e-Passport was released three months later.
A “revalidated” and “extended” e-Passport can be used for travel within six months to one year pending the processing of the new e-Passport, or so I thought.
I cited the DFA’s press statement released last month that “the Office of Consular Affairs in DFA-ASEANA, all Philippine Embassies and Consulates, Regional Consular Offices, and Mall-based Satellite offices are now authorized to revalidate expired e-Passports and extend the validity of expiring e-Passports for a period of not less than one year, but not more than two years upon the request of the applicant, free of charge.”
I submitted my e-Passport.
The officer on Window 3 asked me to proceed to the adjacent “interview room” where a lady officer told me that instead of extension, I should apply for renewal.
“Can I apply for revalidation/extension while at the same time apply for a new passport?” I inquired.
The lady officer retorted that I should apply for renewal first.
After the processing, I was told that my new e-Passport would be released by December 15, 2015 or after three months.
Since they didn’t cancel my old passport, I was made to believe that I could still use it when I travel to Germany on November 2015.
The DFA press release last month added: “Moreover, those who already applied for new passports may request for the revalidation or extension of their passports at no additional cost.”
“The revalidation/extension requests of applicants whose passport releases are overdue will be prioritized,” the DFA press statement stressed.