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Bureau of Immigration (Philippines)

The Bureau of Immigration (Filipino: Kawanihan ng Pandarayuhan), also known between 1972 and 1987 as the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, is the immigration regulatory and control body of the Philippines. It was established by the Philippine Immigration Act in 1940, although a predecessor agency had existed as part of the Bureau of Customs since 1899.

Bureau of Immigration
Kawanihan ng Pandarayuhan
Bureau of Immigration Building, Intramuros.JPG
Bureau of Immigration Building in Plaza de Mexico, Intramuros, Manila
Department overview
FormedJanuary 22, 1940 (1940-01-22)
HeadquartersBureau of Immigration Head Office, Magallanes Dr, Intramuros, Manila, Metro Manila
MottoPatriotism, Integrity, Professionalism
Department executive
  • Police Dir. Jaime H. Morente (Ret.), CEO VI, Commissioner
Parent DepartmentDepartment of Justice


The Bureau of Immigration started as a division of the Bureau of Customs during the American regime in 1899.[1] It was appropriate because ship travel and ship cargo were interlinked and hence, the office was at the Bureau of Customs. It seems that the government then, gave more importance on the entry of goods than monitoring of foreign nationals coming into the country. The government was more interested in generating customs duties from these goods than in the control and regulation of the arrival and stay of foreigners. The functions of immigration remained under the said bureau until 1937 when it was transferred as a division of the Bureau of Labor.

The functions of Immigration were transferred in 1937 as a division under the Bureau of Labor. This was mainly to respond to the arrival of Chinese nationals who owned and operated trade houses stores and restaurants in the country.

On January 22, 1940, the Second National Assembly of the Philippine Commonwealth enacted the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 (Commonwealth Act No. 613). It was signed into law by the President of the United States of America on September 3, 1940, creating the Bureau of Immigration under the administrative supervision of the Office of the President.

A year or so later, it became an attached agency of the Department of Justice. Later, its administrative control was returned to the Office of the President.

When the Pacific war broke out in December 1941, the bureau, then under the Department of Justice, moved to the Bilibid Prison on Azcarraga Street (now Claro M. Recto Avenue).

Immediately after the war, the bureau was transferred near the Gate 1 of the South Harbor in Manila, then moved to Building No. 5 at the Customs Bureau at Gate 4. In 1945, in line with the reorganization plan of the government, the bureau was put under the supervision and control of the Department of Labor.

In 1948, the Bureau was reverted to the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice where it has remained up to the present time.

On September 21, 1972, then President Ferdinand E. Marcos proclaimed Martial Law,[2] ordered and decreed the adoption and implementation of the Integrated Reorganization Plan.

Hence, the Commission on Reorganization issued Letter of Implementation No. 20, dated December 31, 1972 which embodies the plan, including among other things, the change of name of the office from the Bureau of Immigration to Commission on Immigration and Deportation. This became a collegial body and performing both administrative and quasi-judicial functions. It is composed of the commissioner and his two associate commissioners. Letter of Implementation No. 20 also abolished the Deportation Board and transferred its functions to the Board of Commissioners who gave them power to undertake deportation cases.

The bureau was given the sole authority to enforce and administer immigration and foreign nationals registration laws including the admission, registration, exclusion and deportation and repatriation of foreign nationals. It also supervises the immigration from the Philippines of foreign nationals.

On July 25, 1987, President Corazon C. Aquino signed Executive order No. 292, also known as the Administrative Code of 1987. Said order renamed the office, “Bureau of Immigration.” It continues, however, to perform all the powers and functions it had while still a commission, and its head of office still remains to be called commissioner as provided under DOJ.


View of the Bureau of Immigration Building from Binondo across the Pasig River.

General functionsEdit

  • Acts as the primary enforcement arm of the Department of Justice and the President of the Philippines in ensuring that all foreigners within its territorial jurisdiction comply with existing laws;[3]
  • Assists local and international law enforcement agencies in securing the tranquility of the state against foreigners whose presence or stay may be deemed threats to national security, public safety, public morals and public health and;
  • Acts as chief repository of all immigration records pertaining to entry, temporary sojourn, admission, residence and departure of all foreigners in the country.

Specific functionsEdit

In the discharge of its broad functions, the Bureau through its Board of Commissioners, exercises administrative and quasi-judicial powers over the:

  • Regulation of the entry (arrival), stay (sojourn), and exit (departure) of foreign nationals in the country;
  • Monitoring of the entry and exit of Filipino citizens in compliance with Philippine laws and other legal procedures;
  • Issuance of immigration documents and identification certifications on non-immigrant, immigrant and special non-immigrant visas;
  • Issuance of special permits in relation to the enforcement of immigration laws (e.g. Special Work Permit (SWP), Provisional Permit to Work (PPW), Special Study Permit (SSP), re-entry permits, clearances, etc.);
  • Extension of stay of temporary visitors and implementation of changes of status as provided by law;
  • Administrative determination of citizenship and related status;
  • Investigation, hearing, decision and execution of orders pertaining to exclusion, deportation, and repatriation of foreign nationals;
  • Implementation of Hold Departure Orders, Blacklist, Watchlist, Immigration Lookout Bulletin Orders and Alert List Orders;
  • Cancellation of immigration documents upon violation of immigration laws and procedures;
  • Investigation, arrests and detention of foreigners in violation of immigration regulation and other Philippine laws;
  • Accreditation of schools and learning institutions that can officially accept and enroll foreign students; and
  • Accreditation of law firms, liaison officers, travel agencies and other individuals and organizations transacting with the Bureau of Immigration

As of February 8, 2019, a new ranking classification for the Philippine National Police was adopted, eliminating confusion of Bureau Of Immigration ranks. The enabling law for the ranking is Republic Act 11200 which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, amending the section of the Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990 that refers to the ranking classification of the Philippine National Police To Bureau Of Immigration ranks For Immigration Police Personnel.

However, the usage of this classification internally by the PNP was put on hold in March 2019 while the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the rank classification is being created which how each rank would be officially be abbreviated.

Full set of ranks: Per the current (2019) rank system, the National Police has no rank holders of Second Lieutenant, Technical Sergeant, Sergeant and Patrolman First Class. As of February 21, 2019, the following ranks are set to be implemented:

Official rank:

  • Commissioner (General)
  • Deputy Commissioner (Lieutenant General)
  • Director (Major General)
  • Chief Superintendent (Brigadier General)
  • Senior Superintendent (Colonel)
  • Supertintendent (Lieutenant Colonel)
  • Chief Inspector (Major)
  • Senior Inspector (Captain)
  • Inspector (Lieutenant)

Non-official rank

  • Senior Immigration Officer IV (SIO4) Executive Master Sergeant
  • Senior Immigration Officer III (SIO3) Chief Master Sergeant
  • Senior Immigration Officer II (SIO2) Senior Master Sergeant
  • Senior Immigration Officer I (SIO1) Master Sergeant
  • Immigration Officer III (IO3) Staff Sergeant
  • Immigration Officer II (IO2) Corporal
  • Immigration Officer I (IO1) Airman First Class


  1. ^ Act No. 702 (Philippine Constitution)
  2. ^ General Order No. 1
  3. ^ Ledesma, An Outline of the Philippine Immigration and Citizenship Laws, 2006 Rv., p.12

External linksEdit