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Posted by on Dec 3, 2009 in Resources

Work Visa to Philippines

Before a foreigner may be allowed to work in the Philippines, he must obtain a work permit from the government. However, acquiring a “Pre-Arranged Employment Visa” from the Bureau of Immigration (BI) is not that simple since the applicant must prove that the services he would be rendering is not readily available in the Philippines.

Hence, it is up to the prospective employer to establish, in writing and under oath, that there is no other person in the Philippines, willing and competent enough to perform the services he requires. He must also prove that the foreign employee’s admission to the country will be beneficial to the public interest.

Two types of pre-arranged employment visa

Under the Philippine immigration law, there are two types of pre-arranged employment visa: the “commercial,” and the “missionary” visas.

A “commercial visa” is issued to foreigners applying as: professors and teachers of educational institutions; doctors and nurses of hospitals; scientists, professionals, and other workers in banking, commercial, industrial, agricultural and other business enterprises.

On the other hand, a “missionary visa” is issued to a foreigner who is:
- A member of a religious denomination that is a bona fide non-profit organization in the Philippines
- A minister or religious worker of a non-profit denomination
- Requested by his religious organization to carry out a religious occupation in the Philippines
- Scheduled to study a fixed curriculum in order to accomplish and undergo proper formation training.


It is the prospective local employer who is obligated to file a petition with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) asking its permission to allow the potential foreign employee to render his services in the Philippines. If all the requirements are complied with, the Labor Department then approves the petition and refers the matter to the Bureau of Immigration, who then endorses the documents to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). The DFA then authorizes the Consular Office having jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence to issue the appropriate visa.

In order for the working visa to be approved, the petition must state that the local employer exerted all efforts to locate an employee locally, but was unable to find a suitable and competent person who can render the services.

Grounds for employer-employee relation must be present (commercial)

The petition must also show that the potential foreign applicant intends to be a bona fide employee by illustrating that the following circumstances are present:

1)that the employee was selected by the employer, and that his services is being engaged to perform the required work
2)that the employee is to be paid a salary for services to be rendered
3)that the employer can dismiss the foreign employee for justifiable legal grounds
4)that employer exercises the power of control over the foreign employee as to the means and methods by which his work is to be accomplished

As long as these four elements are present, there is a presumption that an employer-employee relationship exists. In this case, the pre-arranged employment visa may justifiably be issued by the Philippine government.

The employer’s petition must state the true nature of the services to be rendered by the foreigner, as well as the estimated length of time which the work is to be rendered, and the wages and other forms of compensation which the worker is to receive. It must also state the reasons why the admission of the foreign employer would be beneficial to the public interest.

Missionary visa

In the case of a “missionary visa,” the application must be accompanied by a notarized letter of request from the petitioner-organization together with the details of the applicant’s place of assignment, the certified true copy of the SEC Certificate of Registration, Articles of Incorporation and By-laws of the petitioner-organization.

Aside from the letter of request from the petitioner organization, applicants for a missionary visa must obtain formal letters from their home church to help authenticate the “mission” aspect of the aspirant intending to enter the country via the missionary visa.

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