No need to bring yearbook photo to airport, Immigration tells PH travelers

Manila, Philippines – Bureau of Immigration (BI) spokeperson said Friday (March 17) that there is no need to bring a yearbook photo to prove your educational attainment when traveling abroad.

This, after a TikTok video went viral after a Filipino traveler Cham Tanteras missed her flight after being asked several “irrelevant” questions by an immigration officer. The BI has since apologized to the passenger and fellow Filipino passengers for the “inconvenience.”

In an interview with ANC, BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval said asking for a yearbook photo is not part of the questions asked by Philippine immigration officers.

She added that the immigration officer who questioned traveler Tanteras about her educational background denied asking for her yearbook photo.

“He denied asking for a yearbook photo but perhaps he was interested in knowing the background of the person who went viral,” she said.

The subject immigration officer has been removed from the frontline and reassigned to a backend office.

“While the procedure of asking secondary questions is really part of the immigration officer’s duty, asking such questions that might not really be helpful in knowing the background of the person is cause for concern,” she said.

Tanteras has already submitted a complaint about the incident. In her Facebook post Friday, she is also displeased with the immigration bureau’s “denying part,” pertaining to the officer saying he did not ask her to present a yearbook.

She also clarified that she wasn’t asked of irrelevant questions at the immigration counter. Rather, the officer asked for the yearbook on her second interview inside the BI office.

“If you have a cctv, it will show that I showed my phone to Officer Abdullah my wacky grad pic after being asked of my yearbook. It will also show how he grabbed my phone to check my emails to make sure I was the one who booked my flight despite having a printed copy of my booking confirmation,” the vlogger said in her latest rant.

Meanwhile, Sandoval said travelers going overseas need only present at the immigration counter at the airport their ticket, passport and supporting documents to the immigration office. Likewise, lack of a return ticket is considered a red flag, she said. The BI however did not specify what the said “supporting documents” are.

“Red flag din kung walang return ticket. Maraming kaso na peke ang ipiniprisintang return ticket,” the immigration spokesperson said.

The immigration bureau is intent on curbing human trafficking following a rise in trafficking cases involved in crypto scams, she added.

BI statistics said 32,404 Filipino passengers were defered departure in 2022, where 1.46% or 472 of which were found to be victims of human trafficking or illegal recruitment, while 873 misrepresented themselves or presented fraudulent documents. Ten were found underaged or minors attempting to depart to work overseas.