Philippine government applying stricter rules on issuing foreign work permits

The Philippine government has implemented tighter measures to ensure that Filipinos can secure employment amid the recent influx of foreign workers into the country.

On May 1, 2019, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced that the rules and procedures governing the issuance of work permits to foreign nationals have been amended. The revised guidelines are the result of the BI’s joint effort with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

A more recent statement made by the Malacañang Palace on June 11 included the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Natural Resources (DENR), Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) among the key agencies involved in drafting a Joint Memorandum Circular.

Defining clearer parameters on foreign work permissions

Previous regulations on the issuance of foreign work permits were limited. Special work permits (SWP), for example, only defined the duration when a foreign national to render services. They also do not bind foreign workers in an employer-employee arrangement.

Through the Joint Memorandum Circular, the government will require foreign nationals to secure the following before they can be allowed to work in the Philippines:

  • Working visa or 9(g) visaThe BI issues this visa to allow its holder to travel in and out of the country while working for a company duly registered under Philippine law. A foreign national can secure a Provisional Work permit if they need to work while the 9(g) visa is still in process.
  • Alien employment permitIssued by the DOLE, it allows foreign nationals to work in the Philippines for one (1) to five (5) years, depending on the duration of the contract. This permit is typically used in tandem with a 9(g) visa.To secure an AEP, a foreign national must be petitioned by the employer, with an express statement that no Filipino citizen is willing or capable of taking on the position.
  • Tax identification number This is an identification number issued by the BIR for tax reporting purposes.
What is behind the recent influx of foreign workers in the Philippines?

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente cited the rise of emerging industries like online gaming (e-casinos and sports betting businesses) as a major reason for the increase of foreign nationals working in the Philippines.

The BI granted 83,760 special work permits (SWP) in 2018, while the DOLE issued a total of 54,241 alien employment permits (AEP).

“We saw the need to tighten our regulations to ensure that jobs that can be done by Filipinos will not be given to foreigners,” Morente explained.

No discrimination against legitimate foreign workers and businesses

The BI assured the international community that the new measures are designed to monitor the presence of illegal foreign workers. The amended regulations and streamlined inter-agency procedures will improve, rather than compromise the ease of doing business in the country for legitimate and compliant individuals and entities.

“We have made it easier for foreign nationals to comply with our laws,” Morente clarified. “The procedures are simple and the process is now quicker, so there’s really no excuse for foreign nationals to not follow.”

To learn more about relevant Philippine laws and policies on immigration and employment in the Philippines, get in touch with Duran & Duran-Schulze Law. Call (+632) 478 5826 or email for inquiries.

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