With the influx of foreign nationals who would like to work in the country, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and Department of Justice (DOJ) reinforced its inter-agency regulations and policies in issuing work permit and/or work visa to foreign nationals engaged in local employment. Several supplemental guidelines were issued earlier this year governing the issuance of these permits such as the inclusion of Tax Identification (TIN) number for foreign employees and limitation on permissible areas of work for short term employment permit.
With these changes, the government still stands with its aim to promote the ease of doing business in the country by allowing the flow of foreign talents, transfer of knowledge, and global competencies that can be fostered through employment of foreign nationals.
The issuance of a valid work permit and/or visa to foreign employees are anchored in the following:
1. Existence of an employee employer relationship where a local fully registered company is willing to serve as the petitioner for the application of work permit and visa of the foreign talent;
2. No local talent shows interest or is able to do or perform the role offered to the foreign employee; and
3. The foreign employee is engaged in a lawful occupation and receives compensation for the work regardless if paid by the petitioner company or the parent company if there is any.
Valid work permit and visa options can be applied depending on the nature of work, duration of employment and the industry in which the petitioner’s business operation or registration belongs.
Short-term assignment or employment
Foreign employees engaged in a short-term assignment ranging from 3-6 months can apply for the Special Work Permit (SWP) at the BI head office or field offices. SWP is a temporary work permit allowing the foreign employee to work under a valid tourist visa status. It imperative to note, however, that only assignment or employment under the 14 permissible areas of work are allowed to apply for an SWP.
1. Professional athletes, coaches, trainers, and assistants;
2. International performers with exceptional abilities;
3. Artists, performers, and their staff;
4. Service suppliers coming primarily to perform temporary services;
5. Treasure hunters;
6. Movie and television crews;
7. Foreign journalists;
8. GOCC trainees;
9. Lecturers, researchers, and academic trainers;
10. Religious missionaries and trainers;
11. Commercial models and talents;
12. Culinary specialists/Chefs;
13. Certified technical Professionals; and
14. Consultants or Specialists.
The SWP is valid for an initial of three (3) months and can be renewed once for another three (3) months.
Long-term employment can be categorized as having an employment contract for no less than one (1) year and renewable depending on the assignment or function. There are different types of work visa applications available for foreign employees who will be assigned in the Philippines.
9g Pre-Arranged Employee Visa (Commercial)
The 9g visa or the Pre-arranged Employee Visa (Commercial) is the commonly acquired work visa with validity ranging from one (1) to three (3) years and renewable thereafter. The 9g visa is strictly company and position specific, that is, it is issued based on the application of a company doing business in the Philippines and for a particular role or position. This type of visa has multiple entry privileges and allows the visa holder to both work and stay in the country under a non-immigrant status. Applicable exit fees are imposed each time the foreign national departs from the country. With a 9g visa, the foreign national will be allowed to open local bank account or purchase properties such as condominium unit.
Only when the work visa is approved and implemented, can the foreign employee be allowed to go onboard and perform the duties and responsibilities of the role. If it is deemed necessary for the foreign employee to work immediately pending the issuance of the 9g visa, a Provisional Work Permit (PWP) can be filed that shall serve as the temporary permit while the work visa is in process.
47a2 Visa (PEZA entities)
A foreign national whose employment is under a Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) registered company can apply for a 47a2 visa. This visa is valid for one (1) year but can be renewed co-terminous with the duration of the foreign national’s employment with the petitioning company. However, only one foreign national for every 20 Filipino employees or 5% ratio can be granted with this type of visa. Like the 9g visa, the 47a2 visa is also strictly company and position specific. Unlike the 9g visa, however, holders of 47a2 visa are exempted from paying the exit fees each time they leave the country.
RHQ/ROHQ Visa (Special Non-Immigrant Visa under E.O. No. 226)
Executives of regional or area headquarters and regional operating headquarters or multinational companies are qualified to apply for a Special Non-Immigrant Visa under E.O. No. 226 or the so-called RHQ/ROHQ visa that can be valid for one (1) year, two (2) years or three (3) years. In addition to an executive position, applicants of this visa must also be earning an annual salary equivalent to at least US$12,000 or equivalent in other foreign currencies. Holders of ROHQ/RHQ visa are also exempted from paying the exit fees when they leave the Philippines.
From the foregoing, a company that wishes to hire a foreign talent has various options to choose from when it comes to the type of visa that is needed depending on the nature of business of the company, the duration of contract, and type of work that the foreign employee is hired for. Choosing the type of visa is simply one of the factors to consider in hiring a foreign talent. Navigating the complex system and processes of a work visa application may be stressful and not knowing the requirements and processes may inevitably result in the dismissal of an application. Having a trusted partner and reliable adviser who can provide a comprehensive and efficient approach is a key consideration in the successful lodgment of an application.