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Repatriation Remedy for Destitute U.S. Citizens

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For many foreigners who come to the Philippines seeking a change, a new life and a dream, that dream can often become a living nightmare when all of their savings and security is wiped out due to unforeseen circumstances. Whether it’s a sudden illness in which the individual has no health insurance, a business deal gone terribly wrong, a scam, or simply living beyond their means for too long, foreigners ion the Philippines are forced to fend for themselves and are up “chocolate’s creek without a popsicle stick.” With no social security safety net available to them in the country  and no support, these lost souls who came to the country with enormous dreams now dream if they will even make it through the week.

However, there is a remedy available to certain nationalities, particularly Americans, known as “repatriation”. Repatriation, defined as the process of returning a person back to one’s place of origin or citizenship, comes in the form of a loan in which the U.S. Embassy in Manila will finance an American citizen’s trip home and provide them with living expenses (which of course must be paid back) provided that the American national can show the following requirements: (1) U.S. citizenship established by clear documentary evidence such as a passport or birth certificate; (2) Destitute and would experience hardship if not returned to the U.S., (3) Without relatives or friends in the U.S. or abroad who will provide assistance and/or (4) involved in, or the cause of, a situation which may damage the prestige of the U.S. Government or which may provide some other compelling reason to effect the applicant’s prompt repatriation. American citizens who have access to this program are usually traveling or living abroad independently and are not under any agency or corporate auspices. Military personnel and persons with financial means or relatives and friend who can assist them are not eligible for this program.

It should be duly noted that a showing of destitution must be established by the American national. Specifically, Consular officers strictly follow a checklist consisting of the following criteria as prerequisite to repatriation: (1) Has little or no visible means of support or liquid assets, (no job; no cash; no benefits or retirement check pending; no savings; no return ticket, no credit cards, etc.); (2) Has no family, friends, neighbours, employers, charitable groups, etc. willing and able to provide adequate financial assistance; (3) Has inadequate food or shelter; and; (4) Has no funds available to him or her to pay for the cost of repatriation. In addition, the applying applicant must provide Embassy officials with a minimum of three sources in which the interviewing officer is required to contact and determine if they can provide any support. Thus, a repatriation loan will only be considered after these contacts have denied support. Individuals with significant support, strong mental and general health are not eligible for repatriation even if they are in a temporary crisis. Example questions showing destitution may include, but not limited to the following:

  • Do you have a return ticket?
  • Did you purchase traveler’s insurance?
  • Do you have access to funds in the United States? Can you contact your financial institution to obtain a replacement ATM, credit  card, debit card, arrange a wire transfer or ask for an emergency increase in your credit card?
  • Have you contacted family members, friends or your employer?
  • Is there someone else with whom you can stay in this country temporarily?

As noted, there is hope for American citizens who for one reason or another, has fallen through the cracks of society. However, it should also be emphasized that this remedy is only available to those who have truly become destitute and are without any means of support locally or abroad.

 

 

 

Kindly contributed by Ryan Barshop 

*This article was also published in the March 4-17, 2012 issue of Expat Newspaper

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