Last 2014, I decided to take the risk of going to the ever famous sandland-DUBAI. Personally, I don’t have any relatives in Dubai which made the sponsorship a little bit difficult and complicated. However, I was sponsored by my god-sister and was issued a Tourist visa from a registered agency in Dubai. My flight is booked April 14, 2014 at 20:05.
I long prepared all the necessary documents needed for the passport control or the immigration interview:
1. NSO Birth Certificate
2. Clearance (issued from DepEd Regional Office stating my filed Vacation Leave)
3. Certificate of Employment
4. BIR/TIN Certificate
6. Payslips (all)
8. Affidavit of Support
9. Invitation from the Travel Agency
10. Round-trip tickets
11. NSO Birth Certificate of my sponsor
12. OEC or Overseas Employment Certificate of my sponsor (needed but I wasn’t able to bring)
13. Show money of $1,200 (amount is my choice)
14. Proof of Income of my parents
15. PRC ID
16. DepEd ID or Company ID
17. GSIS ID
18. ID’s of my parents who are employed in DepEd also.
I arrived at Mactan Cebu International Airport at exactly five o’clock in the afternoon and went directly to check in my baggage. After checking in, I went to pay the terminal fees. Guests were just few thus I didn’t need to qeue for longer minutes. Everything went smooth until I finally set foot inside the immigration office. The immigration officers stayed inside a small cubicle. Setting was similar to banks. I imagined them to have individual offices but they were settled as one with office partitions.
It was a good thing that I arrived so early, queue was not long. I chose a younger male officer who, at first glance, looked so kind and calm. When I approached him, I said my greetings and handed him my visa and passport. Our conversation went this way:
IO (Immigration Officer)
Me: Good evening, Sir. (with eye contact and smile)
IO: Where is your destination?
Me: Dubai, Sir.
IO: What will you do in Dubai?
Me: I’ll have a tour, Sir.
IO: Tour? What is your work here?
Me: I am a SPED teacher, Sir.
IO: Which school?
Me: in Oroquieta City Central School, Sir.
IO: Can I have your Vacation Leave?
(I handed the vacation leave and IO read it intently.)
IO: How many years have you been working as a SPED teacher?
Me: It’s been a year, Sir.
IO: A year??! Your vacation will start on April 15 until May 14. How can it possibly happen when public school teachers whose service is below 12 months are only allowed for 15 days paid leave?
(I was starting to get nervous. I didn’t know about this.)
Me: Yes Sir. I am paid for 15 days and it’s okay with me not to have salary for the remaining days.
IO: Who is your sponsor?
Me: It’s ______. She’s my godsister, Sir.
IO: Why are you alone in this travel?
Me: Sir, my parents have no vacation since they are administrators and my sister is only 11 years old. They can’t be with me in this trip.
IO: Is this your first trip abroad?
Me: Certainly yes, Sir.
IO: Since this is your first time, I’d like you to fill this form up and wait on the other side.
The form was actually for passengers who are in danger of being offloaded. I just filled it up with basic information and reasons of travel.
Around two minutes later, I was called by a lady whose aura was so intimidating. She was wearing a suit different from all other officers. Her facial looks gave me impressions that she was a head and that she was not friendly. Indeed, my instincts proved me right. Here’s what we conversed:
IO: Where are you going to?
Me: I’m going to Dubai, Ma’am.
IO: Who’s there?
Me: My godsister, Ma’am.
IO: What is her job?
Me: She is a Phlebotomist, Ma’am.
IO: What is that?
Me: It’s someone who takes blood from patients for medical testing.
IO: When was the last time she came home?
(Oh my gosh! I was not briefed with this info.)
Me: She came home last October, Ma’am. (I still answered as if I was really sure of my response.)
She stood and went to check on her system on the other side of her table. I guess she was checking through POEA as OFW’s who are coming home need to get OEC or Overseas Employment Certificate from POEA.
IO: Again, when did she come home?
Me: October, Ma’am.
Me: Yes, Ma’am.
IO: Why’s the system telling it was June?
Me: I don’t know, Ma’am. She came home last October because it was our city fiesta. (I was really confident. Haha!)
IO: What’s your job here?
Me: I’m a SPED teacher, Ma’am.
IO: I know you’ll work there in Dubai and you will be AWOL later on.
Me: No, Ma’am. We are family of teachers. I have job here. I will come back.
IO: No, you won’t.
Me: I will come back, Ma’am. (I responded calm and smiled at her.)
She stood up and encoded my information in her system. She asked me to go back to the first IO and have my passport stamped.
I handed my passport to the first male IO.
IO: How much cash are you bringing?
Me: I have $1,200 here, Sir. Do you wish to see the cash?
IO: No. When is your returning date?
Me: May 14, Sir.
He stamped my passport and said, “Okay na.”
Me: Okay na, Sir? (My voice is still calm but I was shaking inside.)
I went straight to the waiting area and realized that I was able to pass through the Immigration. I almost jumped and crawl inside the wash room and called my father right away to tell the news.
The situation was hard because my sponsor was not a family member or a relative. The documents I have listed were prepared just in case of worst situations. I’d rather bring more of them than be offloaded because of one missing proof.
Here’s another conversation that I was told about that can also be of help:
IO: Show me your ticket.
Girl: Here, Sir.
IO: Show me your visa.
Girl: Here, Sir.
IO: Show me your TOR.
Girl: I am not bringing TOR, Sir. I will be on vacation and TOR is unnecessary.
IO: It is necessary. How can I know if you have graduated and capable of travel?
Girl: Sir, you can call my university right now and rest assured, they can validate my degree for your reference.
I was told that the IO smiled. He clearly tested the girl if she was bringing academic records with her.
1. COME EARLY. Be at the airport two hours before flight schedule. When I was already in the waiting area, those who came late queue longer. Note that other IO’s interviewed them long and they didn’t care of the time. Other passengers on queue were not able to board the plane because they were stuck with the IO’s.
2. PREPARE ALL DOCUMENTS. As I have mentioned, it is always better to have more documents than be offloaded because of one,single paper that you might fail to present. If your sponsor happens to be a sibling or a parent, prepare proofs of relation which should be certified by NSO. If your sponsor is a friend, it is advised to prepare some proofs that you are employed and that you are permitted and cleared to travel. (See sample clearance above.)
3. CONSIDER A CROSS-COUNTRY TRIP. For others who don’t have relatives here, you may ask a friend to get a visa for you. For instance, come here thru Thailand. Book a round-trip flight PH-Thailand and prepare some itinerary and hotel bookings. Upon reaching Thailand, you may board a flight direct to Dubai with your e-visa. Of course, this visa is never showed in PH immigration.
4. PREPARE FINANCIALLY. Going abroad is also costly. Unless you have a family member or someone willing to cover your expenses, then issue of money is not a big problem. Your sponsor will advise as to which visa you should take. It’s always case-to-case basis. Usually, men take 3-month visas because it’s commonly difficult for them to find jobs here. Also consider expenses when you get here in Dubai: the transportation, your food, your flat (which is really expensive), among others. Come here prepared. Someone might be willing to help you but we also mind of not giving them too much hassles on their part.
5. TAKE RISKS. Risks are taken and conquered by people who are really fully-decided of coming. Have a balanced notion that coming here is always 50/50. You might land a job in a very big company with great package. But, it is also possible to remain jobless until your visa expires.
6. PRAY! Your fate is not yours alone. Pray that God will reveal His plan and will in your life. Pray that He will bless your desire so that He will lead you on exact paths. If God wills you to be here, then no one can stop that.
God bless everyone!