POEA scraps the OEC or Overseas Employment Certificate requirement for qualified visiting and returning OFWs who are already part of the Balik Manggagawa database.**
This new directive is covered in the POEA Governing Board Resolution No 12 Series of 2016. This is the response of the Duterte administration to the clamor of our Overseas Filipino Worker for a simpler procedures and requirements in processing employment papers and documents.
Start of implementation is on the 1st week of September 2016.
**Not all OFWs qualify, please read further to know if you qualify or not.
The volume of OFWs returning for short vacation increases especially during the Christmas season and school graduations. The POEA offices are swamped by as many as 5000 to 7000 OFWs processing documents every day! Now with this new directive, OFWs under the OFW Balik Manggagawa (BM) program returning to the same employer and same job site are now EXEMPTED from processing the OEC requirement and payment of the same.
Who will continue to process OEC requirement?
Not all OFWs are given this exception. The following still needs to secure OEC documents:
- First time OFWs.
- Visiting OFWs who will go back to the same employer, but different job site.
- Visiting OFWs who will go back abroad to work for a new employer.
**Register in BM Online so you can process your OEC papers.
Who are exempted and covered by this new POEA rule on OEC?
The following will be exempted from the OEC requirement:
- BMs or Balik Manggagawa who are returning to the same employer and jobsite and with existing records in the POEA database; and
- BMs or Balik Manggagawa hired through the Government Placement Branch (GPB)
How to avail of this OEC Exemption?
In the governing resolution of POEA it says there that the BM worker shall use the existing BM online facility and prior to her / his departure. The worker has to register in the system by providing her/his personal and employment particulars to validate if she/he is exempted from obtaining the OEC. Her / his updated profile shall be stored in the POEA database and electronically transmitted to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to serve as reference of the Immigration officer in validating the exemption of the worker during her/his departure. There will be no processing fee when the worker avails of this clearance.
BM workers who are not exempted from obtaining the OEC during the time of registration will be directed to the BM online website where they shall register and set an appointment with any preferred POEA officer / center.
Those who will go directly to the BI counter at the airport without appropriate registration will be referred by the Immigration Officer concerned to the Laboar Assistance Counter (LAC) for evaluation to determine if the worker may be cleared for departure or be subjected to further evaluation / completion of documents.
So what does this mean for the OFWs?
This means that if you want to avoid any possible hassle at the airport, make sure that days or weeks before you are set to return to your job abroad that you will login and access BM Online website.
You need to check and make sure that all your BM online records are correct and updated, and your records are validated by POEA as having exemption. Now, if you encounter issues during your online check in the BM website, visit a POEA office and talk to an officer there. You do this so that when it is time for you to leave the country to go back to your work abroad, your records are all okay and you have exemption.
Also, please be aware that the BM workers are exempt from paying the travel tax and terminal fee upon the presentation of any of the following documents:
- Valid work visa
- Valid work permit
- Valid employment contract
- Valid company ID
- Recent payroll slip
- Or other equivalent document to the Tourism Infrastructures and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA)
This new POEA directed on the OEC requirement for the BM workers was signed by the DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello last August 4, 2016.
Pass on this good news to our OFWs!