Virginia, US

Feb 15 2019

Special Work Permits and Provisional Work Permit Restrictions Implemented

Republic of the Philippines

At a Glance

  • The Bureau of Immigration in the Philippines has published additional guidelines imposing new requirements and restrictions related to the issuance of Special Work Permits (SWP) and Provisional Work Permits (PWP).
  • The guidelines practically mean that foreign nationals will be strictly monitored to ensure compliance with the maximum validity period of six months in a 12-month period, manual workers are no longer eligible for SWPs or PWPs, and regulated professionals are subject to more administrative steps in the work authorization process.

The situation

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has published supplemental guidelines that require employers to submit additional documents and restrict the issuance of Special Work Permits (SWPs) and Provisional Work Permits (PWPs) to fewer foreign nationals.

A closer look

  • Stricter monitoring of maximum work authorization period. The BI has implemented special procedures to track the issuance and renewal of each SWP and PWP and will issue detailed monthly reports for the Commissioner of Immigration’s review. This measure is meant to prevent overstays under SWPs and PWPs.
    • Impact. Due to this additional compliance check, employers must be vigilant in tracking their workers’ work authorization validity periods to prevent noncompliance. As a reminder, an SWP or PWP is granted for three months initially, extendable only once for three months.
  • Employer certification. New and renewal SWP and PWP applicants’ employers must now submit a notarized certification with their work authorization application stating: a) whether the application is the foreign national’s first or an extension of their current SWP/PWP; and b) that the foreign national will work only for the position applied for with the indicated employer. Fragomen will assist with this certification.
    • Impact. This certification requirement is a further measure to ensure compliance with the maximum validity period of six months in a 12-month period. It ensures that foreign nationals extending their short-term work assignment beyond the maximum validity period in the Philippines file a long-term work visa application.
  • Ineligibility for manual workers. SWPs and PWPs will no longer be granted to foreign nationals conducting manual (non-technical) work such as, but not limited to the following professions: construction, cashier, waiter, janitor, household worker, carpenter, garbage collector, security guard, warehouse caretaker, etc.
    • Impact. This restriction closes off the SWP/PWP route for many workers but does not affect most foreign nationals in the Philippines, who typically work in more highly-skilled professions.
  • Special Temporary Permit required for regulated professions. Foreign nationals with job titles classified as a regulated profession by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) must secure a Special Temporary Permit from the PRC authorizing them to practice the profession in the Philippines before they can apply for SWPs and PWPs.
    • Impact. Affected foreign nationals are now subject to an extra administrative step which is likely to delay the process by approximately three months.


The sudden and substantial increase of SWP and PWP applications prompted the BI to implement the additional requirements and restrictions as safeguards in order to protect local workers and ensure that their stay duration is limited.

Looking ahead

Considering the above guidelines, it appears that the state of immigration policy in the Philippines is moving toward a more restrictive and protectionist practice. Fragomen does not expect the BI to issue further guidelines on this topic but will monitor the issue and report on relevant developments.

We worked closely with Follosco, Morallos & Herce 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 [email protected].