FOREIGN workers may now apply for the necessary permit or certificate for long-term employment in the country even when they are still abroad, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
The DOLE issued the new policy in preparation for the entry of more foreign workers the department believes will help in economic recovery.
Last Tuesday, Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III issued Labor Advisory 16, which allowed “essential” foreign workers to have their Alien Employment Permit (AEP) as well as Certificate of Exemption/Exclusion (COE) processed by their Philippine-based employers at DOLE’s regional offices.
Once the AEP or COE is granted, he said it could be used by foreigners to apply for an appropriate work visa with the Bureau of Immigration or other visa-issuing agencies, according to the latest advisory.
“Under the new guidelines, issuance of the work visa may be done at the Philippine Consulate General at the foreign national’s place of origin and will no longer require an entry stamp from the Department of Foreign Affairs,” Bello said in a statement issued last Sunday.
LABOR Assistant Secretary Dominique R. Tutay told the BusinessMirror the measure, however, will not apply to all foreign workers.
“LA 16-21 is intended for FNs entering the country under allowable circumstances, as it relates to the travel ban. Only those employment-, business- and investment-related travel are allowed,” Tutay said.
The exempted FNs are those who will be employed long-term (over six months) with a Philippine-based employer and those involved in foreign-funded government projects.
The government imposed travel restrictions for inbound travelers to minimize the entry of new novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in the country.
SINCE the implementation of the travel restrictions, DOLE observed a significant decline in the number of foreign workers who are applying for AEPs in the country.
Tutay noted from January to June, only 39,251 foreign nationals have applied for AEPs.
To provide context, she noted this was less than half of the 106,609 AEPs they issued last year.
DOLE has yet to determine if the decline could be attributed to the pandemic or pending legislation, which will tax Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO). The DOLE considers the POGO sector employing the most number of foreign nationals in the country.
Tutay said they expect some local industries will require additional foreign workers in the coming months as the government relaxes its quarantine restrictions.
“[AEP application] could be lower than [the] previous year,” Tutay said. “But there are construction and communications-related projects that would require the presence of foreign workers and we need to facilitate that.”