Gov't drafts stricter rules for issuance of work permits to foreigners

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 1) — The government has come up with stricter rules in issuing permits to foreign nationals opting to work in the country.

Joint guidelines for the issuance of work and employment permits to foreigners were signed Tuesday by the Bureau of Immigration (BI), Justice department, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Under the new rules, a special work permit will only be issued to foreigners who intend to work outside an employment arrangement. Those who seek to work under an such arrangement are required to obtain an alien employment permit (AEP) from the DOLE. But pending the issuance of an AEP, applicants may work in the country if they have a PWP valid for six months.

Foreign workers are now also required to obtain tax identification numbers from the BIR.

In a statement, the BI said the new policies were created amid concerns about the rising number of foreign workers in the country.

“We saw a rise in the number of foreign nationals in the previous years due to emerging industries such as the online gaming industry,” Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente was quoted as saying in a statement.

“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.

The previous guidelines lack restrictions, making it "prone to abuse," the commissioner added.

“The procedures are simple, the process is now quicker, so there’s really no excuse for foreign nationals to not follow,” he said.

Some sectors had previously called out the increasing presence of Chinese workers as the country strengthen its ties with China.

Bureau of Local Employment Director Dominique Tutay previously told CNN Philippines that from 2015 to 2018, there were 169,893 foreign nationals working in the country--about 51 percent of them are Chinese.

Citing data from the Immigration Bureau, Tutay said in 2018 alone, 185,000 foreign nationals were given special work permits by the agency, and 127,033 of the applicants for such permits were Chinese.