The Bureau of Immigration (BI) mentioned in its Facebook page “Immigration Helpline PH” that it may offer the option for foreign nationals to apply for Philippine working visa abroad.The BI, along with the other government agencies such as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), is said to lay down the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) regarding this should this option push through.

Background

Currently, almost all working visa applications are filed before certain offices of the Bureau of Immigration and requires that the foreign applicant is in the Philippines at the time of application. The only time that a working visa may be applied without the foreign application here in the Philippines is for working visas that will go through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) wherein it will be the DFA who will transmit the approved working visa application to the Philippine Embassy/Consulate where the applicant it. The latter option is seldom practiced as the additional steps means longer processing time and fees.

Possible Impact

  • Decrease in the load of application with the BI

Based on our office’s experience with filing working visa application every day, the usual processing time around 30 business days from the time we filed the application to its resolution. If other petitioner companies would opt to file abroad, this could possible reduce the BI’s load and shorten the processing time of working visa applications.

  • Additional steps and expenses may be involved for foreign agencies to accept Philippine documents

If the requirements for Philippine working visas applied abroad would be similar to the current set of requirements for working visas filed here, this means that all documents of the petitioner companies executed here in the Philippines should be apostillized or “authenticated” in order to be recognized in another country, depending if the country of destination is a member of the Apostille Convention or not.2As per the BI’s current checklist of requirements for working visa, there are at least seven (7) company documents executed here in the Philippines which may need to be apostillized or “authenticated” for use abroad.3

As of this writing, the DFA’s Office of Consular Affairs charges Php 100 per document for its authentication with a processing time of 4 working days.4

  • Availability of Philippine Diplomatic/Consular Office abroad may be an issue

Not all countries have a Philippine diplomatic/consular office, hence applying in such countries may pose challenges in those jurisdictions.

  • Delay of deployment of the foreign employee

Should the working visa application is applied abroad, the application should wait for the resolution his visa application before he can enter the Philippines and work with the petitioner company. Whereas in the current practice, the foreign national can come to the Philippines and apply for a Provisional Work Permit (PWP) which as acts as a bridge and enable him to work for the petitioner company pending resolution of the working visa application. Based on our office’s experience, we are usually able to secure PWP within 5 to 7 business days from filing date.

  • Burden of the application lies on the applicant and/or the home company and not on the petitioner company

In the current practice, it is the Petitioner company or its Immigration Service Provider (such as Fernando Lagman & Avenida Law Offices) who submits the application and liaise with the BI since it is the Petitioner company who will benefit from the services to be rendered by the hired foreign employee. Since the Petitioner Company is based in the Philippines and the working visa application will be filed abroad, the burden of liaising with whichever foreign agency where the application would be applied will fall on the applicant or his home company (if applicable).

Future Updates on the Issue

This is a developing news. Fernando Lagman & Avenida Law Offices is closely monitoring the developments of this issue. We will post updates on our website as soon as possible.

Sources:

1 – Immigration Helpline PH. “The BI said that foreign workers may soon have the option to apply for their working visas abroad before arriving in the Philippines. READ: https://bit.ly/2G79Cow” Facebook, 12 July 2019, www.facebook.com/immigration.helpline.ph/posts/896779960676920.

2 –“Public Advisory: Apostille Convention on Authentication of Documents Takes Effect in PH on May 14, 2019.” GOV.PH, https://dfa.gov.ph/dfa-news/statements-and-advisoriesupdate/22114-public-advisory-apostille-convention-on-authentication-of-documents-takes-effect-in-ph-on-14-may-2019. Accessed 22 May 2019.

3 – “Checklist of Documentary Requirements For Conversion To Pre-Arranged Employee Visa (Commercial)” http://immigration.gov.ph/images/FORMS/June2015/BI%20FORM%20V-NI-007-Rev%201.pdf . Accessed 17 July 2019.

4 – “Procedure for Authentication” https://consular.dfa.gov.ph/individually-filed-documents. Accessed 17 July 2019.

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