Philippine Center in New York | Photo Courtesy of FourSquare
NEW YORK – After nearly 6 weeks of re-opening its doors and implementing its Online Appointment System using Qless, the Philippine Consulate said the new system is working well.
“Applicants are now served more efficiently with average processing of 15 minutes from their time of entry until they exit the PCG [Philippine Consulate General],” Deputy Consul General Kerwin Tate told the Philippine Daily Mirror. “It is better than the previous 45- to 60 minutes average (wait).”
With the re-opening, the consulate had to phase-in their services in serving their clients. Under Phase 1, the services initially offered were for overseas registration, SSS, passports and travel documents. Legalization and passport pick-up were added in Phase 2.
The consulate has recently added dual citizenship and civil registry under Phase 3.
“When we launch Phase 4 in August, we will be operating from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. offering all consular services with the exception of visa issuances, which is still suspended,” Tate said.
Tate added that with the new appointment system, applicants are assured of a time slot so there is no need for them to come early and spend nearly half a day waiting for their turn.
“To ensure efficient service without sacrificing safety, the PCG designed the system that there will be four persons per hour per service,” Tate explained. “By August, the PCG will be servicing a minimum of 120 applicants per day.” This will be the time when a full complement of staff members will be on hand to work the whole day.
“In compliance with physical distance requirements, there will be no more than 10 people at the consular area per appointment slot period,” he added.
Tate also clarified that Filipinos who are green card holders can travel back to the Philippines anytime. However, “everyone who arrives in the Philippines needs to be tested and will have to stay in a quarantine facility until the test results are in, which is from 3- to 5 days.”
As far as spouses are concerned, “they have to be married to Filipino citizens, and must show proof of marriage, or be accompanied by their spouses,” when they travel.
“Before COVID-19, certain nationals of some countries could enter the Philippines visa-free. But that has been suspended, and except for Diplomats, all visa issuance has been temporarily suspended,” Tate added.
Meanwhile, Consul General Claro S. Cristobal will continue to serve until end of September when his replacement arrives. He was supposed to have retired had he left in April but COVIC-19 pandemic happened.