The Philippines Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) re-introduced a new work visa for foreigners sponsored to work in the Philippines by companies registered with PEZA.
The PEZA Visa (PV) is also relevant if you are a foreigner employed by industries invested in the public interest and/or engaged in oil exploration, power generation, and infrastructure.
The change is in line with the government’s goal of streamlining work visa processes, following the rule introduced in August 2021, which, for the first time, allowed work visas to be filed while foreign nationals are abroad.
Under Sec. 47(a)(2) of the Philippine Immigration Act, a PEZA Visa (PV) can be issued to foreign investors by the Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ) based on public interest or public policy considerations. The PV requirement may also apply to foreign nationals (FNs) and/or non-resident aliens gainfully employed by ecozone enterprises inside PEZA-registered ecozones and their qualified dependents.
Significant Changes to the 47(a)(2) Visa
The new PEZA visa (PV) replaces the previous 47(a)(2) Special Non-Immigrant Visas. Introduced in November 2021, the PEZA visa is usually given to foreign employees of Regional Headquarters, Regional Operating Headquarters, or those working for special projects in economic zones.
Holders of a valid 47(a)(2) visa who are sponsored by a PEZA-registered company can continue to use their 47(a)(2) visas until they expire, after which they must now apply for a PEZA visa, provided they are still eligible to work in the Philippines.
For IT companies and medical tourism companies located in Metro Manila, the applications must be submitted to the Manager of the PEZA zone office, located in the PEZA head office.
Requirements, Fees & Coordinating Agencies to Obtain a PEZA Visa
Prerequisites and processing fees for a PEZA visa tend to vary depending on whether one is:
A foreign national employed by a PEZA-registered company or;
A dependent(s) of the foreign employee
The PEZA applications are processed within ten (10) business days, down from the previous time of 1 month. The PEZA visa is valid for up to two years, with the option of a one-time renewal, 30 days before the expiration date, for another two years – for a maximum validity period of four years. This is an improvement from the previous maximum validity of a one-year visa with the 47(a)(2) visa.
The PEZA and the BI (Bureau of Immigration) have reduced the three-step evaluation process (which previously involved a review by the Department of Justice (DOJ)) to only two steps. After the PEZA makes a decision either approving or denying the application, the BI will then issue an order granting or denying the application.
Bureau of Immigration authorities will then issue a PEZA Visa (PV) Card for successful applications where it was previously not available for the 47(a)(2) work visa.
All pending 47(a)(2) work visa applications with the DOJ will be transferred and processed by the PEZA Foreign National Unit. If approved, these pending applications will be issued as 47(a)(2) visas.
Dependent applicants for the PEZA visa must submit authenticated/apostille marriage certificates and birth certificates, which were not required under the 47(a)(2) work visa.
The PEZA head office will approve or deny the application within five working days. If the application is denied, the PEZA will cite the reasons for the denial. If an individual is approved by PEZA, it will take 5 business days for the Bureau of Immigration to release the PEZA visa.
PEZA, attached to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), is among the 19 Philippine Investment Promotion Agencies (IPA) tasked with assisting foreign investors in facilitating their investments in the Philippines. Each IPA offers its own fiscal & non-fiscal incentives ranging from income tax holidays to exemption of value-added tax to special visa privileges for foreign workers, among many others.
PEZA’s objective, among other things, is to:
- establish the legal framework and mechanisms for the integration, coordination, planning, and monitoring of special economic zones, industrial estates/parks, export processing zones, and other economic zones;
- transform selected areas in the country into highly developed agro-industrial, industrial, commercial, tourist, banking, investment, and financial centers, where highly trained workers and efficient services will be available to commercial enterprises;
- promote the flow of investors, both foreign and local, into special economic zones, which would generate employment opportunities and establish backward and forward linkages among industries in and around the economic zones;
- stimulate the repatriation of Filipino capital by providing an attractive climate and incentives for business activity;
- promote financial and industrial cooperation between the Philippines and industrialized countries through technology-intensive industries that will modernize the country’s industrial sector and improve productivity levels by utilizing new technological and managerial know-how; and
- vest the special economic zones on certain areas thereof with the status of a separate customs territory within the framework of the Constitution and the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines.
What Can Foreign Nationals (FNs) Expect / Where to Get Help
Philippine Investment Promotion Agencies (IPA) will likely continue introducing rules that streamline applications to reduce the number of government institutions involved in the immigration process.
It is fair to expect some Initial delays with processing times and implementation while the Philippine authorities roll out these new changes. It remains to be seen if the streamlined application process involving fewer government offices will result in a faster processing time.
Triple i Consulting Inc. understands and supports initiatives to streamline processing applications. Our consulting team can help applicants and eligible foreign national investors and non-resident foreign national employees of PEZA-registered ecozone businesses and their dependents.
Are you interested in obtaining a PEZA Visa? Call us at +63 (02) 8540-9623, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or Contact Us here (or use the form below) to book an initial consultation with one of our PEZA Visa experts.