What is the change? The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) confirmed that the issuance of Overseas Employment Certificates (OECs), or “exit passes,” for all directly hired overseas Filipino workers has been suspended pending further instruction.

What does the change mean? Until the suspension for direct hires is lifted, Filipino workers looking to work overseas must only apply for OECs through POEA-accredited agencies. The change affects not only workers who had planned to obtain an OEC, but also those who had applied for one, but which had not yet been issued.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing. The change took effect April 25 and the suspension will continue until further notice.
  • Visas/permits affected: Overseas Employment Certificates.
  • Who is affected:  Overseas Filipino workers.
  • Business impact: Overseas businesses that had intended to hire Filipino workers may need to adjust timelines and start dates.

Background: Overseas Filipino workers are required to obtain OECs before leaving the country. This is done to prevent abuse of Filipino workers abroad and to ensure that workers are properly documented when leaving the Philippines. It is not clear when the suspension will be lifted, but it could last two to four weeks or longer. Initial reports indicate that an investigation into anomalies in the deployment of directly hired overseas Filipino workers may be the reason for the suspension. A decision on when to repeal the suspension may depend on the outcome of the investigation.

BAL Analysis: The change will lead to possible delays in mobilization or relocation dates because OECs must be obtained only through accredited agencies. Processing times will likely vary from agency to agency, so it is difficult to say how serious processing delays will be.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in the Philippines. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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