Foreign nationals seeking to work, do business and/or invest in the Philippines may apply for work authorization and or the appropriate visa provided for under the Philippine Immigration Act, as amended (Commonwealth Act No. 603) or some other special law.
A. Applicable Visas Provided under the Philippine Immigration Act (PIA)
- Temporary Visitor or Tourist Visa
Generally, a foreign tourist comes to the Philippines for business, pleasure, or health. The business a tourist may engage in should be isolated and not continuing or regular; otherwise, he violates Philippine immigration law for working or engaging in business without proper authorization.
- Working and employment visa The PIA provides for three types of work authorization:(a) Pre-Arranged Employment Visa An alien who will be occupying an executive, technical, managerial or highly confidential position in a company for at least one year, but not to exceed five years, may apply for a pre-arranged employment visa under Sec. 9(g) of the Philippine Immigration Act.
- Letter request from the petitioner/organization
- General Application Form duly accomplished and notarized (BI Form MCL-07-01 )
- Alien Employment Permit (AEP) from the Department of Labor and Employment
- True copy of the applicant’s passport showing admission status and updated stay
- Bureau of Immigration Clearance Certificate
- Other supporting documents which will aid in the evaluation of the application
- If the applicant is accompanied by the spouse and/or minor unmarried children under twenty-one years of age, the originals or certified true copies of the Marriage Contract, Birth Certificate(s) and/or Family Register (duly authenticated if issued abroad).
- True copies of passport, showing updated stay, of the spouse and minor, unmarried children
- The petitioning company must sufficiently establish, by obtaining an AEP from the DOLE, that no person can be found in the Philippines willing and competent to perform the labor and service for which the alien is hired and that the admission of the alien will be beneficial to the public interest. The BI shall not approve the 9g visa until such permit has been secured.
- Pending the approval of the application for a 9(g) visa, the proposed employee may apply for a Special Work Permit (SWP) which is normally valid for a period of three months from the date of issuance.
- The entire process of obtaining a 9(g) visa takes about two to eight weeks. Applications of proposed employees of BOI– and PEZA-registered companies as well as those working the Top 1,000 corporations are given priority.
- 9(g) visas are valid for the duration of the AEP or the employment contract, whichever is shorter.
- 9(g) visas issued to dependents are co-terminus with the duration of the visa of the principal.
An alien investor is entitled to enter the Philippines as a treaty trader pursuant to Sec. 9(d) of the Philippine Immigration Act, only if he is a national of a country with which the Philippines has concluded a reciprocal agreement for the admission of treaty traders or investors. At present, only nationals of the United States, Japan and Germany are entitled to treaty trader visas. The term “treaty trader” includes a treaty investor or an alien employed by a treaty investor in a supervisory or executive capacity. The alien employee must be of the same nationality as the majority shareholder of the sponsoring firm. The alien must prove that: he or his employer intends to carry on “substantial trade” between the Philippines and the country in which the alien is a national; or he intends to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which he or his employer has invested, or is in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital.
Under the regulations, “substantial trade” refers to a non-nationalized business in which an investment of at leastUS$120,000.00 has been made. The amount of investment is merely one of the factors to consider in determining what is deemed “substantial trade”. An equally important factor is the volume of business conducted.
Requirements and Procedure
Similar as those for applications for pre-arranged employment visa. An alien who enters the Philippines on a tourist visa and intends to engage in a professional or commercial undertaking not considered purely local employment, may apply for a special work permit (SWP). SWPs are normally issued, but limited to, (1)professional athletes competing only for a limited period; (2) foreign nationals engaged to perform emergency or exceptional temporary services, but having no contract of pre-arranged employment; and (3) artists and other performers;
- Letter request from the Petitioner Company
- Photocopy of applicant’s passport with valid visa
- Affidavit of Support of the petitioner company
- Certified true copy of contract specifying exact compensation to be earned.
Under Sec. 47(a)(2) of the Philippine Immigration Act This visa is issued upon approval of the Secretary of Justice (formerly the President) on public interest or public policy considerations. Examples of industries invested with public interest are companies engaged in oil exploration, power generation, and infrastructure, and those registered with the PEZA and BOI.
Requirements of BOI:
- BOI Application Form
- Duly Signed undertaking
- Understudy Information Sheet. Designation of Understudy and Understudy Training Program
- Passport with visa (photocopies)
- Secretary’s Certificate (for elective officers)
- Affidavit of Support(if dependent(s) is/ are joining
- Organizational Chart
- Bio-data of the expatriate
Requirements of the PEZA
- Company’s Letter of Request to PEZA
- Photocopy of Passport of Applicant
- Secretary’s Certificate/Certificate of Employment or Employment
- Service Contract
- Bio-data of the Applicant
Requirements of DOJ
- DOJ application form
- BOI/PEZA Certificate of Registration, and its terms and conditions
- Passport (photocopies)
- Secretary’s Certificate (for elective officers) or Contract of Employment (for non-elective)
- Original affidavit of support (if dependent(s) is/ are joining
- Marriage Contract if (spouse) is joining
- Birth certificate(s) if child(ren) is/are joining
- The proposed employer applies with the appropriate government agency (e.g. BOI, PEZA, Department of Agriculture) for authority to employ the alien;
- The concerned government agency endorses the application to the Department of Justice (DOJ);
- The DOJ approves the application and endorses the same to the BI for implementation.
This visa is generally valid for an initial period of one year and is renewable from year to year.
B. Applicable visas under special laws
- Foreign personnel of off-shore banking unit and regional headquarters or regional operating headquartersSpecial multiple entry visas may be issued to foreign personnel of offshore banking units of foreign banks duly licensed by the Central Bank of the Philippines to operate as such pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1034. The same visas may be issued to foreign personnel of regional or regional operating headquarters of multinational companies officially recognized by the Philippine Government pursuant to Republic Act No. 8756. The above executives, together with their dependent spouses and/or minor unmarried children under 21 years of age, if any, are exempt from alien registration.
- For Foreign Personnel of Offshore Banking Units of Foreign Banks
- Letter request of the foreign bank or OBU
- General application form duly accomplished and notarized
- Copy of the passport and visa
- SEC Certificate of Registration
- Certified true copy of Certificate of Authority issued to the foreign bank by the Central Bank to operate OBUs
- Certified true copy of the contract of employment stating exact salary and duration of employment or assignment
- Certificate under oath by a responsible officer of the foreign bank that:
(a) expatriate is an employee of the bank and will work exclusively for the OBU in the Philippines and
(b) he will be paid by the foreign bank in the Philippines and the compensation is in foreign currency
For Foreign Personnel of Regional Headquarters or Regional Operating Headquarters Of Multinational Companies
- Original letter-application of petitioner-company
- General application form duly accomplished and notarized
- Copy of the passport and visa
- Certified true copy of the contract of employment stating exact salary and duration of employment and assignment
- Income Tax Return of applicant and proof of payment
- SEC Certification of inward remittance of at least US$50,000 or its equivalent during the past year
- Sworn certification that :
-the license to operate remains valid and subsisting -the employee has been paid from date of original admission the amount of at least US$12,000.00 or its equivalent. Processing time for securing visas under these two categories is three (3) days.
Special Subic Working Visa
Special multiple entry visas are also given to foreign nationals employed by the Subic Bay Freeport Locators. This visa is co-terminus with the employment contract, and is normally extend-able.
Special Clark Working Visa
Special multiple entry visas are likewise given to foreign nationals employed by the Clark Special Economic Zone Locators. This visa is normally valid for two (2) years and may be periodically renewed.
CEZA Working Visa
The CWV is a temporary working and residency visa issued by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority through Bureau of Immigration of the Republic of the Philippines . It is a Multiple Entry Privilege into the country without the necessity of obtaining appropriate Alien Certificates of Registration, Re-Entry Visa, Special Return Certificate (SRC), Immigration Clearance Certificate (ICC). This is also valid for entry in all Philippine Ports of Entry.
The CWV shall be valid for two (2) years for the new and first-time renewal and one (1) year for the succeeding renewals.
- Special Investor’s Resident VisaThe Special Investor Resident Visa (SIRV) entitles the holder to indefinitely stay in the Philippines, with multiple entry privileges, so long as his investments subsist. The SIRV is issued by the Bureau of Immigration upon endorsement of the Board of Investments pursuant to Book V of Executive Order No. 226.The SIRV program requires investors to remit at least US$75,000 into the country and invest subject capital in viable economic activities. The SIRV holder can bring with him, without any additional deposit, his spouse and unmarried children below 21 years old, if any. If dependents are joining the applicant, originals or certified copies (duly authenticated) of their Marriage and/or Birth Certificates or Household Register shall be presented.Allowable Forms Of Investment For purposes of securing the SIRV, the proposed investor must invest in any of the following: (1) Publicly-listed corporations; (2) Companies engaged in areas listed in the Investment Priorities Plan (IPP); and/or (3) Companies engaged in the manufacturing and service sectors
- Application form duly accomplished and notarized;
- Police Clearance from applicant’s country of origin and/or National Bureau of Investigation(NBI) Clearance, indicating that the applicant has not been convicted by final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude;
- The National Intelligence Coordination Agency (NICA). Said clearances shall be valid within six (6) months from the date of filing of the application. Any derogatory record may be the basis for the revocation of theSIRV.
- Certification under oath from duly authorized officer(s) of any accredited depository bank in the Philippines as to the amount of foreign exchange inwardly remitted by the applicant and its conversion to pesos through the said bank, in the prescribed form. Should the inward remittance be sent through non-accredited correspondent banks, the total amount of remitted money should be immediately transferred to the accredited banks;
- Per regulations, the BOI has so far accredited only the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines;
- All inward remittances shall be made within one (1) year from date of filing of the application.
- Certified true copy of the certificate of peso time deposit with a maturity period at least 30 days;
- The original copy of certificate of time deposit shall remain with the depository bank for safekeeping;
- Marriage Contract, Birth Certificate(s), and or Family Register (duly authenticated) of the dependents, if any.
Procedure For Application Filed With Philippine Embassy/Consulate
- Applicant submits application form and other documents to Philippine Embassy/Consulate.
- Embassy/Consulate endorses application/documents to the Board of Investments(BOI) for evaluation
- BOI reviews documents. If complete, the documents are re-endorsed to the Philippine Embassy/ Consulate
concerned through the DFA consular office for issuance of a probationary, multiple entry visa, valid for six (6) months.
Procedure For Application Filed With The Board Of Investments
- Applicant submits application form and other documents including the original passport to the Board of Investments.
- BOI evaluates submitted documents
- If complete, BOI endorses application/documents to the Bureau of Immigration for the grant of a provisional, multiple entry visa valid for six (6) months
- Amendment of visa (from provisional to indefinite) shall be made upon submission of proof that the inward remittance have been actually invested.
- Special Investor Resident Visa for investors in tourist–related projects and tourist establishments
A variation of the SIRV discussed above is the visa issued to investors in tourist-related projects and tourist establishments pursuant to Executive Order No. 63. A foreigner who invests at least US$50,000.00 in a qualified tourist–related project or tourism establishment as determined by the Department of Tourism (DOT) shall be entitled to an SIRV.
Special Subic Investor’s Visa
Any investor who has made, and continues to maintain an investment of not less than US$250,000.00 within the Subic Bay Freeport (SBF) may reside in the Philippines under this visa for as long as his investment subsists.
Special Clark Investor’s Visa
Any investor who has made, and continues to maintain an investment of not less than US$250,000.00 within the Clark Special Economic Zone may apply for the said visa which remains valid as long as the investment subsists.
The SRRV is a visa issued by the Bureau of Immigration upon endorsement of the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) pursuant to Executive Order No. 1934. It entitles the holder to multiple-entry privileges with the right to reside permanently in the Philippines as long as his dollar deposit subsists. The SRRV may likewise issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs through the Philippine Embassy/Consulate but the same is only for single entry. The holder must enter the Philippines within one(1) year from the date of the issuance of visa and go to the PRA office to comply with other requirements and pay the required fees. Upon the submission of the documentary requirements, the Authority endorses to the Bureau of Immigration the conversion of the single entry SRRV to multiple indefinite-entry visa. All foreign nationals aged 50 years and older are required to make a dollar deposit (or equivalent) of at least US$20,000.00.
Those aged 35 to 49 years old are required to deposit least US$50,000.00. Retirees 50 years and older with pension are required to deposit at least US$10,000.00; while certain categories (former Filipinos, employees of international organizations like the United Nations, its affiliate agencies, or the Asian Development Bank, for instance; and former members of the foreign diplomatic corps who have served in the country) are required to deposit at least US$1,500.00. A resident retiree my include as dependent(s) his spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old, provided that he makes an additional dollar deposit of USD15,000.00 for each dependent in EXCESS of two. Additional deposits shall be subject to the same terms and conditions as the principal deposit. The additional dollar deposit requirement does not apply to former Filipinos.
- PRA application form
- Valid passport, including photocopy showing passport details and current visa
- Department of Foreign Affairs(DFA) Medical Examination Form #11 accomplished by a licensed physician abroad duly authenticated by the Philippine Embassy/ Consulate or PRA Medical Certificate (RRSC FormA#002) accomplished by a licensed physician in the Philippines. This applies to all members of the family if joining the Program.
- Certification by the accredited bank of the inward remittance of the dollar deposit.
- Police Clearance (duly authenticated) from the country of origin and/or National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Clearance
- Marriage Contract, Birth Certificate(s), and/or Family Register (duly authenticated if issued abroad)
Procedure The SRRV may be secured:
- Through the Bureau of Immigration (BI) via the change of admission status in which case the applicant must come to Manila for the processing of visa. Upon arrival in Manila and upon completion of all documentary requirements and payment of the fees, the Authority shall have the SRRV stamped in his passport within five (5) working days.
- Through the Philippine Embassies/Consular Offices, all documentary requirements shall be transmitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in the Philippines which will in turn transmit the same to the PRA. The latter shall evaluate said documents and returns the same to the DFA which in turn authorizes the Philippine Embassy/Consulate to issue a single entry SRRV to the applicant. The latter must enter the country within one (1) year from date of issuance of visa. Upon arrival in Manila, PRA shall recommend to BI the conversion of single-entry SRRV to indefinite, multiple–entry stay.
Alien Employment Permit (Department of Labor and Employment)
A document issued by the Department of Labor and Employment authorizing a foreign national to work in the Philippines. Foreign nationals required to apply for an AEP
a. Foreign nationals seeking employment in the Philippines whether they are non-residents or refugees;
b. Foreign professionals who are allowed to practice their profession in the Philippines under reciprocity and other international agreements and in consultancy services pursuant to Section 7(j) of the PRC Modernization Act of 2000.
c. Holders of Special Investors Resident Visa (SIRV), Special Retirees Resident Visa (SRRV), Treaty Traders Visa (9d) or Special Non-Immigrant Visa (47(a)2) for as long as they occupy any executive, advisory, supervisory, or technical position in any establishment.
Exempted from securing an AEP
a. Resident Foreign Nationals employed or seeking employment in the Philippines (DO 41-03)
b. Members of the diplomatic services and foreign government officials accredited by the Philippine government;
c. Officers and staff of international organizations of which the Philippine government is a cooperating member, and their legitimate spouses desiring to work in the Philippines;
d. Foreign nationals elected as members of the Governing Board who do not occupy any other position, but have only voting rights in the corporation;
e. All foreign nationals granted exemption by special laws and all other laws that may be promulgated by the Congress;
f. Foreign nationals who come to the Philippines to teach, present and/or conduct research studies in universities and colleges as visiting, exchange or adjunct professors under formal agreements between universities or colleges in the Philippines and foreign universities or colleges; or between the Philippine government and foreign government; provided that the exemption is on a reciprocal basis (DO 41-03)
g. Owners and representatives of foreign principals, whose companies are accredited by the Philippine Overseas Administration (POEA), who come to the Philippines for a limited period solely for the purpose of interviewing Filipino applicants for employment abroad.
For non-resident Foreign Nationals
For elective position:
a. Letter request
b. Application Form duly accomplished and notarized
c. Board Secretary’s Certificate on Election of Foreign national
d. Photocopy of Passport with Visa
e. Photocopy of Mayor’s Permit
f. Photocopy of current AEP (If for renewal)
For non-elective positions:
a. Letter request
b. Application Form duly accomplished
c. Duly authenticated Contract of Employment/Letter of Appointment
d. Photocopy of passport with Visa e. Photocopy of Mayor’s Permit f. Photocopy of current AEP (If for renewal For holders of SIRV, SRRV, 9(d) and 47(a)2 Visa:
- Submit duly filled-out AEP application form together with all required documents to the DOLE Regional Office that has jurisdiction over the intended place of work of the foreign national.
- In case of foreign nationals to be assigned in subsidiaries, branch offices and joint ventures, and those assigned in the headquarters with oversight functions in any of the branch offices, operations or projects in the country, they may file their application in any of the DOLE Regional Offices nearest their place of work.
- Pay the corresponding fees.
- Claim the AEP card at the DOLE Regional Office within 10 working days or lodge an appeal addressed to the Secretary of Labor and Employment if application was denied.