BI denies extension of Australian nun's missionary visa

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 16) — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) denied the request of an Australian nun to extend her missionary visa to the country.

In a statement released Sunday, the BI said an order was signed Thursday denying Sister Patricia Fox's petition, citing the deportation order issued in July.

"The BI already saw that Sister Fox violated the conditions of her stay and is considered undesirable, hence a deportation order was previously issued against her," said BI Spokesperson Dana Krizia Sandoval.

"Our legal team saw that approving the extension of her missionary visa will be inconsistent with the findings cited in her deportation order," she added.

Fox's camp has not yet given a response to the BI's decision.

Fox was arrested on April 16, for "attending protest rallies and engaging in political activities," said the BI.

In a statement released after her arrest, the agency said Fox's participation in the activities "violated the conditions of her stay."

She was released a day later.

The BI also said, under its agreement with the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines, foreign missionaries were allowed to stay in the country only for 10 years. Fox has been in the Philippines for 27 years.

Sandoval said Fox is required to apply for the downgrading of her visa---from missionary to temporary visitor--15 days after receiving the denial order.

"Downgrading will revert her status to a temporary visitor's visa, with a 59-day validity, starting from the date of the expiry of her missionary visa," she added.

In statement Sunday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he did not think the BI's decision was appealable.

"Sister Fox's missionary visa has been downgraded to a  temporary visitor's visa. I think this is not appealable, because it is purely discretionary on the part of the sovereign state whether to grant a visa or not to an alien, more so if said person is the subject of a deportation order (which is on appeal with the DOJ). The deportation issue is entirely distinct from the renewal of visa issue, as the latter is based on other considerations," he said.

In June, the Department of Justice (DOJ) revoked the BI's order canceling her missionary visa, allowing the nun to stay in the country. The DOJ said she could appeal the order.

In the same month, Fox's camp petitioned the DOJ to reinstate her missionary visa.