Working Overseas Guide

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FILIPINOS with overseas employment contracts processed have almost doubled from 2009 to 2013 from 1,479,070 to 2,242,854. And there is no sign of this growth abating for both land-based or seafarer workers.

For the millions more intending to find employment abroad, this Guide is dedicated. And because the Internet is filled with enticing job offers, the websites that you can visit are also indicated. You can cut and paste or if the link is live when published, you can simply click it or in most cases, hold the “Control” key when you click the mouse or press the “Enter” key.

Overseas employer. Not just anybody can hire from overseas. Even if the job offer is from a relative, the employer must first be considered eligible to recruit under the laws of the country where the potential employer is domiciled, or registered, licensed or otherwise authorized to conduct business.

This potential employer must submit evidence of ability to conduct business to the appropriate Philippine Labor Attaché, also called Philippine Overseas Labor Officer or POLO.


Such document must include the number of foreign workers required, together with official evidence that the foreign employer will be paying the OFW the same – if not higher – wages that are being paid to a citizen or lawful resident of that country.

Correct, legal wages. The prevailing wages that the foreign employer must pay the OFW must be requested from and approved by the official agencies of the country where the employer is conducting business. Contract substitution is not allowed.

It is easier said than done and while the POEA is aware of this practice common in the Middle East and Asia, an OFW already deployed is normally not in a position to demand, or even negotiate, especially those who had been promised a job upon arrival. “Basta dumating ka lang dito, kami na ang bahala” is the usual come-on.

Wages or salary is a primary consideration for a leap of faith. For the aspiring OFW, here are the resources you should check first before you go.

Australia. The employer must first apply for accreditation. To be approved for accredited status, the employer must meet the standard sponsorship requirements at the time of application. The obligations of a sponsor and other relevant information to qualify for sponsorship (for a temporary foreign worker in Subclass 457) can be found here – http://www.immi.gov.au/Visas/Pages/457.aspx

Canada – Employers must get a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to support the work permit application. An LMIA enables the Canadian officer to determine whether the job offer is coming from a qualified employer and if hiring of the foreign worker is likely to have a positive or negative impact on the labour market in Canada. The LMIA is submitted to the specific Service Canada office with jurisdiction over the Canadian employer’s place of business. This the link – http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/cgi-bin/sc-srch.cgi?ln=eng

New Zealand – The employer must be accredited by the NZ Department of Labor. Processing of the work visa is done through the New Zealand Immigration Service. There are many types of work visas based on the need of the employer. For a clear overview of the New Zealand job market, this is the site – https://www.newzealandnow.govt.nz/work-in-nz/nz-jobs-industries

NZ employers must log on to if hiring a foreign worker is contemplated. This link explains the recruitment process from NZ – http://www.immigration.govt.nz/employers/find/recruitprocess/

United Kingdom – For UK employers intending to hire workers from overseas, the Home Office requires an employer to be included in the List of Sponsors. Foreign nationals seeking to work in the UK may be sponsored by an employer under the Tier 2 category (General). The web link for the different types of work visas to the UK under different Tiers can be found here – https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/work-visas. To find out if a UK employer is authorized to recruit foreign workers and is currently listed in the Registry of Sponsors, click here for the most current listing. Remember, the link may change without prior notice – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/402585/tiers_2_5_register_of_sponsors_2015_02_10.pdf

United States of America – There are two general types of work visas to the US: The H-1B (for jobs that require a bachelor’s degree) and the H-2B (the work does not need a degree or diploma). For the H-1B, employers must first obtain the prevailing wage in the county where the work is to be performed – http://www.flcdatacenter.com/ .

After getting the correct wages to pay the foreign worker, the US employer then must obtain the Labor Condition Application and obtain that LCA before filing the petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. The LCA form must be completed and submitted with the petition – http://www.doleta.gov/regions/reg05/Documents/eta-9035.pdf

The H-1B visa petition can be filed only on or after every April 1 of each year. There is a 65,000 quota for the H-1B. This quota is a visa lottery and the cap is filled in a few days. The forms and instructions can be found here – www.uscis.gov.

H-2B visa is a temporary work visa for foreign workers performing non-agricultural work. The US employer must first obtain a temporary labor certification from the Employment and Training Administration. The complete procedures and requirements can be found on this site – http://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/h-2b.cfm

POEA registration required for overseas employers and workers
Whether being hired direct (also called name-hire) or being deployed through a licensed recruitment agency, the foreign employer’s credential must be verified and authenticated by a POLO, or must be registered with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) if placement is being done through an appointed licensed agency.

To check if an agency is a licensed overseas recruiter in good standing, click here – www.poea.gov.ph. You can check not only if the agency is in good standing but also determine what the approved job orders are and whether the number of workers needed has already been filled.

For those simply wanting to know what types of overseas jobs are available through licensed agencies, the same site could be accessed – www.poea.govph. Click on the “Available Job Orders” box on the right hand side of the screen under the Online Services portion. You can select job orders by position or occupation; by country or by agency.

Since requirements may change, this is the official link of the POEA that overseas employers must comply with when hiring Filipino workers – http://www.poea.gov.ph/about/hiring.htm

Apply for the work visa
The OFW may then proceed to apply for the visa with the corresponding Embassy in the Philippines. The websites of the five Embassies with permanent migration programs in the Philippines are shown below. Requirements for specific work visas may be found on these sites.

• Australia – http://www.philippines.embassy.gov.au/mnla/Visas_and_Migration2.html

• Canada – http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/philippines/visas/index.aspx?lang=eng

• New Zealand – https://www.immigration.govt.nz/branch/manila/

• UK – https://www.gov.uk/government/world/organisations/british-embassy-manila

• USA – http://manila.usembassy.gov/

POEA seminars, pre-employment and pre-departure
Those who intend to work overseas may attend the POEA Pre-Employment Seminar. Info on this seminar can be accessed here – http://peos.poea.gov.ph/

e-Registration. Aspiring OFWs may register online to avail of additional services and information on working overseas – http://www.epoeaservices.poea.gov.ph/ereg/ereg.asp

Pre-departure Orientation Session (PDOS) required for OFWs are conducted either by accredited providers or at Overseas Workers Welfare Administration sites (OWWA). While the PDOS is free, the OWWA membership costs $25 or its equivalent. OWWA conducts PDOS three times a day on the 5th floor, OWWA Building, 7th St., F.B. Harrison, Pasay City. For more info including an updated list of PDOS providers, click here – http://www.owwa.gov.ph/

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