Jail for Overstaying a Visa

Can you be Jailed for Overstaying a Visa?

Many visitors to the Philippines appear to be NOT too worried about maintaining a valid visa during their stay, after all, it isn’t that important is it? What can happen? You get a short ban from coming back?  That is normal in many countries.


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But, this is the Philippines, and there are fines involved too.

Some of these people say the fine is miniscule, and are not concerned about paying it.

But.. (yes, another BUT), some people actually do get jailed.

Most people say that only happens to criminals.  I wonder how true that it…

This news report in December 2019, shows how it can be more of a problem than they think…

Australian in jail (possibly) because he overstayed his visa by seven months

In this story, an Australian overstayed his visa by 7 months, with no valid reason, and ended up being detained at Zamboanga Airport, and jailed in the Philippines.

As at December 1st, he had been in jail for 5 weeks, and it is not a comfortable jail either.  No recreation time and no food, unless you buy it yourself.  He says that the prison conditions are horrific, with cells full of trash and no running showers.

  • He does say “I am detained for standing for truth and resisting extortion. I just want to go home.

Philippines officials have not confirmed to the Media what charges the Australian man is facing.

Is it ONLY for overstaying a visa, or was something else involved?

The advice from the Australian government is to keep your visa up to date or risk being detained.

This advice should be considered by ALL visitors to the Philippines.

Overstaying will cost you:

  • All Unpaid Visa fees.
  • Extra Penalty for each month overstayed.
  • Possible Jail time.

Jail time may be more common with people who cannot pay the outstanding visa fees and penalties.  It may also be related to other aspects of time in the Philippines, found when checks are done on applying for an ECC.

An ECC needs to be applied for after 6 months in the Philippines.

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