Virginia, US

Aug 21 2019

Provisional Work Permit Replaces Special Work Permit for Work Visa Applicants

Republic of the Philippines

At a Glance

  • In the Philippines, applicants for the 47(a)(2) Special Non-Immigrant Visa seeking to start work during the processing of their long-term work visa must now apply for a Provisional Work Permit (PWP) instead of a Special Work Permit (SWP).
  • Because of this restriction, 47(a)(2) visa applicants will no longer be allowed to obtain an SWP.
  • Since both categories have similar processing times and validity periods, there is no apparent impact on timeframes or stay rules; the only differences are the sequence in which the applications are filed and documentary requirement variances between the two categories.

The situation

In the Philippines, applicants for the 47(a)(2) Special Non-Immigrant Visa seeking to start work during the processing of their long-term work visa must now apply for a Provisional Work Permit (PWP) instead of a Special Work Permit (SWP), according to a new regulation published by the Bureau of Immigration.

A closer look

  • Eligibility for PWP. Only 9(g) Pre-arranged Employment Visa applicants and 47(a)(2) visa applicants are eligible to obtain a PWP. They must first apply for an Alien Employment Permit (AEP) prior to applying for the PWP.
  • Processing time. A typical PWP application takes approximately two to three weeks to process from the filing date (as does the SWP).
  • Limitation on the SWP. With this restriction, 47(a)(2) visa applicants can no longer obtain SWPs.

 

Impact

  • Little impact on processing time. Both PWP and SWP temporary or interim work authorizations that allow the applicant to start working while their long-term work visa is being processed. There is no apparent impact on timeframes or stay rules, since both categories have similar processing times and validity periods.
  • Filing sequence and documentary requirements may vary. The order of filing steps and documentary requirements may differ between the PWP and SWP processes.  The PWP, unlike the SWP, is filed after the AEP is lodged with the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE).  Affected applicants should contact their Fragomen professional to clarify and plan for these changes in their specific circumstances.

 

Background

  • PWP details. The PWP is issued by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) for an initial three months, renewable once for another three months, and allows the holder to work during its validity period. No extensions are allowed after six months.
  • Long-awaited clarification. 
    • With the implementation of the Joint Guidelines in July 2019 and the stricter rules on SWP eligibility, questions were raised as to whether the SWP would continue to be available to 47(a)(2) visa applicants in practice. The BI has now clarified the policy. 
    • The Guidelines were created to restrict the issuance of work authorization to address concerns from various labour, political and economic stakeholders in the Philippines in reaction to reports of undocumented/unauthorized foreign workers, the loss of government revenue from unpaid income taxes, and the spiralling of property prices, among other concerns. 

 

Looking ahead

Further changes in the rules are expected as authorities seek to clarify the system in light of the recent major changes in July. The adjustments may continue until the policies issued in the Joint Guidelines are fully adopted in the local processes of the government agencies involved.

It is uncertain if the interagency group will continue its effort to further streamline the immigration process after the issuance of the Joint Guidelines. Negative public opinion and perception of foreign workers is likely to bring restrictions dealing with policies on foreign nationals.

Fragomen is closely monitoring the situation and will report on relevant developments.

We worked closely with our Philippine affiliates in Manila to prepare this alert. It is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to APCCInitiations@fragomen.com.