Preemptive Deportation

How many times can I tell this story? Once more, this time written down.

The shortest version is that many missionaries in the Philippines carry a pre-arranged worker visa called a 9(g). That visa used to have a renewal limit of 10 years. What we know is that something angry happen with someone else, the visas were reviewed and the limit was lowered to 5 years.

At the end of the visa you have one of two options: pay fees to downgrade and start again OR leave the country, return on a visitor visa and start again. More often than not we opt to take a cheap flight to Hong Kong or Taiwan, visit friends, and then come back. It’s usually of a similar (or cheaper) price and you get an adventure out of it, so why not? Well, a pandemic and closed borders to foreign nationals regardless of the visa they hold, that’s why not.

Additionally, whatever happened with whomever (as mentioned above) also included a crackdown on downgrades of anyone already past 5 years, replacing them instead with an order to leave the country.

So, you can probably now see where this is going…

I am reaching the end of 10 years and knew I was going to be ordered to leave well before any of the pandemic nonsense began. Little by little people around me were dealing with leaving and coming back, some after great hassle and expense. Since my visa was to expire in the middle of a VERY bad time of year for school life, I had already contacted my visa office about the best way to get around it. My visa office said there was no way around it. Rawr.

Back in March I thought about how lucky I was to not have to deal with visa issues during the quarantine… certainly this would all be over by then. School was announced to be online through December and I thought, “Yay! No more issues with school and having to leave and come back in.” Just ahead of me the HS principal and his family were appealing to stay given the circumstances and I thought “if they get to stay then I should be able to also!” They were ordered to leave.

The writing was on the wall. I was going to be ordered to leave.

So my options were again one of two (albeit not the two I had planned on): wait 2 more months and get ordered to leave OR leave now and spend some of fall and holidays in America.

So here I am with frozen fingers in a pandemic laden election season unsure if the choice I made was the right one. But here I’ll be until I can get into country on a Faith Academy exemption or the borders open to foreigners, whichever comes first.

Follow up answers:

Yes, although my responsibilities have temporarily shifted, I’m still working/teaching for Faith Academy on a 12 soon to be 13 hour time difference. Our classes are mostly asynchronous but there are still plenty of live meetings. A large chunk of my regular job is currently “non-essential.” For those of us whose lives and livelihoods depend on live production, the struggle is real. Please keep finding ways to support.

I am still dependent on my missionary financial support. I understand times are hard for many people, so if you are unable to keep giving, please just let me know. If you have already stopped but may be able to come back later, I would greatly appreciate it. If you are able to increase your gift, I have actually never been fully supported, so that would also be very helpful.

Since I will be in the US longer, I would love to see you if your current situation allows it (and if I can find a vehicle to borrow for a few months).

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