By Joel R. San Juan, May 2 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to ABS-CBN News

THE Bureau of Immigration (BI) has vowed to tighten the rules on the issuance of permits to foreign nationals working in the Philippines.

BI Commissioner Jaime H. Morente made the announcement after Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra led the signing on Wednesday of the Joint Guidelines on the issuance of work permits to foreign nationals. Other signatories to the guidelines were Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III and Revenue Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay and Morente.

The Joint Guidelines regulate the issuance of special work permits (SWP), provisional work permits (PWP) and alien employment permits (AEP).

It clarifies that the BI may only issue an SWP to an alien who intends to work in the country outside of an employment arrangement.

Meanwhile, an alien intending to work pursuant to an employment arrangement is required to obtain an AEP from the Department of Labor and Employment.

An AEP will be issued only if no Filipino is available to perform the work which the foreign applicant seeks to undertake.

Pending issuance of such AEP, the alien may work in the country only if he or she has secured from the BI a PWP which has a maximum effectivity of six months only.

Applicants for work and employment permits will also be required to obtain Tax Identification Numbers from the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

This shift in policy was implemented following concerns in the rising number of foreign nationals working in the Philippines.

“We saw a rise in the number of foreign nationals in the previous years due to emerging industries such as the online gaming industry,” said Morente.

“Issues and challenges only appear now. This has never been a problem in the past because of the relatively smaller number of foreign nationals working in the Philippines then,” he added.

Morente explained that the previous regulation in the issuance of SWP did not have any restrictions, apart from the duration.

“The old system was prone to abuse, hence we saw the need to tighten our regulations to ensure that jobs that can be done by Filipinos will not be given to foreigners,” he stated.

Based on its records, the BI said it had issued a total of 83,760 SWPs, while the Department of Labor reported issuing a total of 54,241 AEPs, which is the primary requirement for securing the 9(g) visa.

An SWP allows a foreign national with a tourist status to render service for a maximum period of six months, and does not bind a foreigner in an employer-employee arrangement.

On the other hand, a 9(g) visa is a working visa for aliens employed in the country, with contracts usually lasting for one to three years.