Connecticut, US

Mar 12 2019

Work Authorization Rule Changes Ahead

Republic of the Philippines

The situation

Meetings are being held by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Bureau of Immigration (BI), Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and other concerned agencies to revise the rules and procedures regarding short- and long-term work authorization for foreign nationals in the Philippines.

A closer look

In the most recent interagency meeting, the DOLE Secretary proposed a new procedure whereby foreign nationals would need to obtain a work visa from their country of origin before they could be issued a Special Working Permit (SWP) or Alien Employment Permit (AEP) in the Philippines. This and other proposals from the other concerned agencies will be discussed further in the next interagency meetings.

Potential impact

If the proposed process is implemented, all foreign nationals seeking to work in the Philippines would need to initiate their work visa process from a Philippine consular post in their home country before travelling to the Philippines. This would be a different work visa process from the existing immigration system, where foreign nationals can first enter the Philippines and then file their work visa application. However, because details about this process are not available, and this proposal is only in the discussion phase, there is currently no impact on foreign nationals.


  • Purpose of proposal. These efforts are pursuant to the government's aim to protect local workers and to better regulate the entry of foreign workers following the recent influx of Chinese workers without proper work authorization. Upon further investigation, the DOLE found that the current immigration system allows foreign nationals intending to work in the Philippines to enter using tourist or business visa, without a system in place to ensure that they will apply for appropriate work authorization upon arrival.
  • Current rule. Currently, only visa nationals are required to apply for an entry visa from a Philippines consular post before entering the Philippines, while visa-exempt nationals are not subject to such a process. This proposed process would impose the requirement on all nationals, both those who are exempt from a visa and those who are not.


Looking ahead

A joint memorandum, which will contain implementation details of the changes, is expected to be issued soon.

Fragomen is closely monitoring this discussion 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