Filipino workers who have worked and lived in Palau for decades and are now receiving their Social Security benefits are being refused resident visas based on what they say are arbitrary, subjective, and discriminatory processes that are not transparent and ripe for abuse. The same complaint is also raised by families with dependent children here.
The retired Filipinos living in Palau applying for resident visas, which is allowed by law, said there are no clear criteria that they know to follow. They are told to bring all the documents such as bank accounts, check stubs, and their expenses. After they do, some say they wait for months and when they finally get the answer, they are just told they are denied because they do not have the financial means.
One person collecting $380 a month with $5k in the bank was denied. A retired couple that has lived and worked here for 30 years was also denied and told that the $400 SS monthly benefits they each receive are not enough.
There is no set amount by law that residents have to have to be approved for a resident visa. This is up to the discretion of the Director of Immigration.
“What type of financial requirements does the applicant have to meet will depend on the supporting documents they submit, the evidence they provide, and the amount of funds that they will show. Applicants who have been living in Palau will have to show how much income they have compared to their expenses and living costs. Immigration will verify or check their income against the expenses that they report,” explained Director of Immigration John Tarkong on the requirements applicants have to meet.
“Implicitly the amount of financial means, or means of subsistence, is regulated on an individual or case-by-case basis.,” added Tarkong.
The current Immigration regulation § 309. Resident Visa states the following:
§ 309. Resident Visa. A Resident Visa may be issued to Aliens at the discretion of the Director. In granting the Visa, the Director shall consider:
(1) the purpose of the presence of the Alien in the Republic;
(2) whether or not the Alien has Dependents who may lawfully stay in the Republic;
(3) the ability of the Alien to provide support for the Alien; and
(4) other factors relating to the best interests of the Republic.
The regulations language is unclear and leaves a lot to the discretion of the Director of Immigration.
According to an attorney assisting some Filipino retirees, there is “zero guidance for this determination of financial ability.”
The attorney said that many of the applicants have been told they need $10k in their accounts to qualify. One client even borrowed $10k to make the amount but was told, “nope, not your money so denied.”
“Nobody can know what they need to make or to have to meet this arbitrary and subjective determination,” expressed the attorney, saying it’s “so rife with abuse.”
Director Tarkong told this publication that no law or regulation mandates that an applicant has $10k in their account.
But the complainants said that they were told by Immigration that they need to have $10k in their account.
‘10K which, while not in the law IS being required of many, perhaps not all, which begs more questions of course about the arbitrariness of the whole thing,” stated the attorney on the arbitrariness of the whole matter. “That decision is totally and completely arbitrary, capricious and subjective, and cannot continue.”