BI tightens rules on work permits to protect Filipino workers
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced they will be tightening rules on the issuance of permits to foreign nationals working in the Philippines.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente made the announcement on Wednesday, 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.
This shift in policy was implemented following concerns in the rising number of foreign nationals working in the Philippines.
“We saw a rise in the number of foreign nationals in the previous years due to emerging industries such as the online gaming industry,” said Morente.
“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,” he added.
According to Morente, the previous regulation in the issuance of special work permits (SWP) did not have any restrictions, apart from the duration.
“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,” he stated.
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 1 to 3 years.
“A permit would allow a foreigner extended business activities here up to 6 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,” Morente clarified.
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.
Morente stressed “they are in constant talks with DOLE to craft policies that will ensure the protection of the Filipino worker”. However, he assured the foreign community that the new guidelines will not compromise the ease of doing business.
“We have made it easier for foreign nationals to comply with our laws,” said Morente. “The procedures are simple, the process is now quicker, so there’s really no excuse for foreign nationals to not follow,” he added. Morente likewise vowed to “rid of all illegal aliens who disregard immigration laws”.
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 their taxes.
“It’s really about government agencies working together to harmonize rules and procedures,” said Morente. “It’s high time we put our heads together to ensure that the government gets what it is due,” he added. DMS