The Philippines’ Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) revealed this week that it would require foreign employees to secure a working visa before being allowed to work in the country.

DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that this decision seeks to reduce the number of foreigners employed in the Philippines illegally.

The labor secretary stated that in order to work in the Philippines, foreign nationals must acquire the necessary working visa from the Philippine consulate or the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) before they can come to the country.

Currently, “anybody can come here as a tourist and then apply for a special working permit (SWP). We will already prohibit that,” Bello said as reported by The Philippine Star on Thursday, March 7.

He added that “When you come here, you must come here to work. And for that purpose, you must have a working visa from your place of origin. For example, if you are a Chinese, you get from our Consular Office a working visa. If you are Japanese, you also get from our Consular Office in Japan.”

Foreigners who will work in the Philippines for a long period would have to apply for alien employment permit (AEP) from the DOLE with the working visa while foreigners who will work for a short period or less than six months would still need to apply for a special working permit (SWP) with working visa.

Bello explained that this is the first time for the department will issue this policy, which has been agreed upon by representatives from the Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Immigration (BI), Department of Finance (DOF) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

“We need to be certain that the work they will do here cannot be done by a Filipino. This way, we can already control the entry of foreign workers,” the labor secretary said.

He also revealed that part of the memorandum would require issuing a list of occupations that are open for employees with foreign nationalities.

Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) Director Dominique Tutay emphasized that the “no work visa, no permit” system is part of the government’s long-term solution to address concerns with its immigration policies.

“It is considered long-term since it may take some time before the Philippine consulates develop the necessary capacity to process the work visa applications,” Tutay said as reported by BusinessMirror.

The labor secretary said that the joint memorandum imposing the working visa requirement on foreign workers is expected to be out within the month.

Bello added that they are set to meet again on March 15 with representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), DOF, BI and BIR.

Last week, the Senate resumed its investigation into the influx of Chinese workers. According to DOLE data, nearly 169,000 AEPs were issued from 2015 to 2018, with 85,496 given to Chinese workers.

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