Tighter work permits for foreigners bared

AMID concerns in the rising number of foreign nationals working in the Philippines, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced that it will be tightening rules on the issuance of permits to foreign nationals working in the country.

The announcement came yesterday, Labor Day, after the BI signed the joint guidelines on the issuance of work and employment permits to foreign nationals.  Parties to this agreement are the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and BI.

The shift in policy was implemented following a reported rise in the number of foreign nationals in the previous years due to emerging industries such as the online gaming industry.

‘The issues and challenges only appear now.  This has never been a problem in the past because of the relatively smaller number of foreign nationals working in the Philippines then,’ the BI said.

It was learned that the previous regulation in the issuance of special work permits (SWP) did not have any restrictions, apart from the duration.

An SWP allows a foreign national with a tourist status to render service for a maximum period of six months and does not bind a foreigner in an employer-employee arrangement.  In contrast, a 9(g) visa is a working visa for aliens employed in the country, with contracts usually lasting for one to three years. A permit would allow a foreigner extended business activities here up to six months—say for example transfer technologies or perform in concerts or shows in the Philippines, while a visa binds a foreigner as an employee by a company in the country.

‘The old system was prone to abuse, hence we saw the need to tighten our regulations to ensure that jobs that can be done by Filipinos will not be given to foreigners,” the BI added.

In 2018, the BI issued a total of 83,760 SWPs, while the DOLE reported issuing a total of 54,241 Alien Employment Permits, which is the primary requirement for securing the 9(g) visa.

Apart from the updated rules on work permits, the BI also announced that it will include in the requirements for visas and permits proof that the alien applicant has paid taxes.