How To Be An OFW
Contrary to what you may think, securing employment overseas and being lucky enough to get an employment visa is just the beginning. The road to becoming a legit Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) and be accounted for your contribution to the country’s economic activity will require some paperwork to accomplish ahead!
Due to the country’s interest in protecting Filipinos from abusive or undercompensating employers, policies around employers overseas are quite stringent. They’ll have to tick certain criteria’s set by the government to prove that they’re good and competent employers for OFWs.
Overseas employment is categorized into two by the Philippine government – direct hiring and agencies. Each path has its own pros and cons and may be more suited for one profession over the others. Either way, if you’re planning to work overseas, it pays to be familiar with the entire process.
If you are planning to go down this path, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it!
As the name suggests, it is employment given to you directly by an employer overseas. The registration process will be more hands-on when no employment agency will be involved, you’ll be running the employer’s papers by yourself. While the overseas employer will process your employment visa, papers officiating your departure from the country as a worker not will have to be accomplished in the Philippines.
Most direct hires are skilled professionals, and employment usually subjected to this process doesn’t have a massive base of Filipino workers. Majority of OFWs who go through a direct hire process are skilled professionals that aren’t hired in volumes overseas.
How to get a direct hire employment overseas?
Referrals from your friends and family overseas and online job applications are the most common way to find a job overseas. While it is possible to find direct employment overseas by personally applying for a job in your destination country, it is highly discouraged by the government and can be considered as an illegal process.
The job hunting process is all on you, there is no need to meet certain deadlines or personally attend interviews set by overseas employment agencies, which are common on industries looking to mass hire professionals in the country.
Unlike agencies, you don’t have to worry about placement fees anymore and you can proceed with less financial resources than you are usually required to have when dealing with agencies.
Direct hire opportunities are for people who are willing to wait for the right opportunity to come and are willing to do the whole registration process themselves.
The direct hire process is as follows:
- Visa stamping
If you’ve found an employer, the first step is to comply with the visa requirements of the country of work destination. Once your work visa is approved, head to the nearest embassy of the country of employment for the visa stamping of your passport. The process will take 3 to 5 business days and will come with certain requirements and fees. Before proceeding, make sure to call the embassy and ask for the requirements.
- Accomplish and submit the following documents to POEA (phase 1)
For starters, download the checklist from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) website. The checklist is split into two parts: phase 1 and phase 2. To proceed to phase two, compile the following documents and submit them to POEA.
- Passport with validity period of not less than six (6) months.
- Valid Work Visa, Entry/Work Permit (whichever is applicable per country).
- If visa assurance or guarantee is issued by employer, the same should be noted/acknowledged by the Government or Immigration Office in the jobsite.
- Employment Contract:
- Original copy of Employment Contract or Offer of Employment.
- Verified by the Philippines Overseas Labor Office (POLO) Authenticated by the Philippine Embassy/Consulate for countries with no POLO.
- Company Profile, Business license/commercial registration of the employer .
- POLO Endorsement Letter addressed to the Administrator seeking exemption from the ban on direct-hiring.
Additional country-specific requirements:
- Canada – Labor Market Opinion (LMO), Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) for and Canadian Letter and Employer’s Certificate of Registration from ECON (Province of Saskatchewan Executive Council) or Saskatchewan Immigration Nominee Program (SINP) approval are required from workers to Saskatchewan in lieu of LMO
- USA – Labor Condition Application and Notice of Action
- Middle East and African countries – Contingency plan issued by the employer
Additional documents to support job application:
- Certificate of employment or Business Permit (if self-employed)
- Diploma and Transcript of Records (TOR)
- Curriculum Vitae/Resume
- Proof of certificate of insurance coverage covering at least the benefits provided.
Once the documents above are submitted to POEA, the verification process will take 3 to 5 business days. Once all the documents are fully verified, you will be allowed to proceed with phase 2.
Phase 2 procedure:
- E-Registration Account
- Compliance Form (if necessary)
- Valid Medical Certificate from DOH-accredited medical clinic authorized to conduct medical exam for OFWs
- Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar Certificate (PEOS)
- Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) Certificate issued by OWWA
- POEA Clearance (for employers under Section 124d of the POEA Revised Rules & Regulations)
After the verification of your phase 1 documents, you can now register for an account in https://eservices.poea.gov.ph/. This website will also allow you to access the next step.
- Pre overseas-employment Seminar (PEOS)
This seminar will grant you a certificate once you’re able to go through all the module and pass the tests in every last chapter of each module. The entire process can be done straight from the comfort of your home where there is internet access.
Once you’ve passed the online seminar, a certificate will be sent to your email address which you can print and later submit to POEA.
You can take the PEOS here: http://www.peos.poea.gov.ph/professionals/
- Medical certificate
Obtain a Medical Certificate from DOH-accredited medical clinic authorized to conduct medical exam for OFWs. POEA will advise on which clinic is accredited in your region.
- POEA documents verification
Proceed to POEA again and submit your PEOS and medical certificate together, then choose a schedule for your pre-departure overseas seminar.
- Pre-departure overseas seminar (PDOS)
This is a 1-day peer counseling session conducted at every POEA regional office. It is a Country-specific seminar conducted to Filipino emigrants to address their adjustment concerns in their destination countries. In these seminars, various topics are discussed such as travel regulations, immigration procedures, cultural differences, settlement concerns, employment and social security concerns and rights and obligations of Filipino migrants.
A certificate will be given to OFWs who complete PDOS.
PDOS can be scheduled right after your phase 1 documents are verified
After completing PDOS and obtaining your certificate, produce at least 1 photocopy of the PDOS certificate before proceeding to the re-verification of your documents.
- Overseas employment certificate (OEC)
This is the last step of the process and prepare a good sum of money because there will be some fees involved.
- 100 USD for POEA Processing
- 25 USD for OWWA Membership
- ₱1,200.00 for Medicare
- ₱100.00 for Pag-IBIG Fund
After paying for the above items, your OEC receipt will be released to you right then and there. 3 copies will be given to you, all of which you will be to provide at the immigration in any airport in the Philippines to grant you legal exit as an OFW.
If you’re hired through an agency, there will be less paperwork for you to run because it takes away the need to authenticate your employer’s papers – it’s handled by the agency. However, the job application will be challenging as you will have to go through hoops to outmatch other candidates for the employment that you’re vying for. Since agencies do massive hirings, expect to go through a lengthy and more tedious process to secure that employment overseas.
The tedious process is the recruitment because you’ll have to go through a series of scheduled interviews. Some may take just a few days, but others will take a few weeks to months. So, not only is it nerve-wracking because of the number of people that you have to outwit, but also because of how dragging it can get.
You will only submit the following documents and the rest will either be accomplished by the agency or assist you in complying the needed documents.
- Passport (6 months validity or more)
- Certificate of employment from previous employers
- Diploma and Transcript of Records (TOR)
- Curriculum Vitae/Resume
- Board certificates
- Training certificates
- Additional certificates related to the line of work may be required by other countries or employers.
- 2×2 picture
Agencies are known to make the process a lot easier for aspiring OFWs, however, not all may have your interest in mind. Before you pursue a job offer from an employment agency, make sure that you verify their legitimacy first beforehand.
Expect placement fees and other related charges when dealing with agencies. Some agencies may also include airfare and accommodation in the fees, as you’re less likely able to bargain about these things with the employer when you’re hired through one.
You can search for an employment agency’s name in POEA’s website.
The government also collaborate with legitimate agencies to extend overseas employment opportunities to Filipinos who aspire to work abroad. You can visit the classified page of POEA’s website to check the current job openings overseas for Filipinos.
While the verification process of the documents in POEA, medical exam, PEOS, PDOS, and etc will be accomplished per individual, some agencies might submit them by batch. Each agency has their own recruitment process and it’s best to talk about it with them.