Employers looking to hire a foreign national to work in the Philippines play an active role in securing work authorization. For most non-Filipino residents to secure a legal work permit, employers with a registered business presence in the Philippines need to sponsor them—all while proving they haven’t been able to secure gainful employment through the country’s domestic labor market.
So before you make your first hire in the Philippines (or transfer an existing employee to the country), read our guide for everything you need to know about who needs a work visa, how to apply for one, and other common questions about work permits for employees in the Philippines.
What is a work permit in the Philippines?
A work permit (or work visa) in the Philippines is a document issued by the Philippine government that allows foreign nationals to legally work in the country. Once the employment visa expires, they need to either renew their work permit or return to their home country.
Most foreign nationals who want to work in the Philippines need to get an Alien Employment Permit (AEP) from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Afterward, they can apply for other functional visas aligned with the work they’re looking to do and the timeframe they’re looking to stay for.
Who needs a work visa in the Philippines?
Foreign nationals who aren’t Filipino citizens or permanent residents, usually need to obtain an AEP to work in the Philippines. The only exempted people from this requirement are:
- Members of international organizations affiliated with the Philippines
- Board members of Philippine corporations
- Representative of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)
- Teachers, researchers, and foreign exchange students from universities
- Temporary resident visa holders
- Employer-sponsored foreign nationals who get a Special Work Permit and work for less than six months
When you send an offer letter to a new hire in the Philippines, it should include a clause about the offer being contingent on their eligibility to work in the Philippines legally.
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How long is the processing time for a work permit in the Philippines?
An AEP takes about two to three weeks to process. From there, it can take an additional two or three months to get a work visa through the Bureau of Immigration.
Types of work visas in the Philippines
Before exploring work visa options, foreign nationals seeking gainful employment in the Philippines need to first apply for an AEP (unless they qualify for an exemption). Then they typically need to apply for a 9(g), which is an employer-sponsored working visa granted to address labor shortages. It’s issued for one to three years.
An applicant can then explore the following functional visas:
- Temporary Visitor’s Visa. This can be used as a version of a tourist visa or commercial visa, as it’s for foreign nationals visiting the Philippines for leisure and business purposes. You can extend it in two-month increments until 16 months, and can stretch the stay to up to two years with government approval.
- International Treaty Trader. This visa is for residents of the United States, Japan, or Germany who are looking to develop a business in the Philippines that they’ve previously invested in. It lasts for up to two years and can be extended.
- Special Investor’s Resident Visa (SIRV). Allows foreign nationals to live in the Philippines indefinitely and leave whenever they want, so long as they pledge to keep at least $75,000 (USD) in investments within the country’s borders.
- Special Non-Immigrant Visa. This work permit is dedicated to foreign nationals who are executives at companies headquartered in the Philippines, or have a subsidiary in the Philippines. Processing time is about a month. Unlike many other Philippine work permits, holders of this visa don’t need an AEP.
Application process for the Philippines work visas
Here are the steps for applying for a work permit in the Philippines:
- Start by filling out an AEP application, available on the DOLE website. Along with your application, you need an employment contract from your Philippine employer, a copy of your passport, and a registration certificate of the business of your employee sponsor. The employer can file the finalized application on the employee’s behalf, or the employee can do it themselves. If approved, the applicant’s name will be published in a newspaper.
- Those exempt from the AEP requirement need to get a certificate of exclusion from their local DOLE office. The applicant will also likely need a Philippine Alien Certificate of Registration, which requires biometric information.
- Next, to apply for a 9(g) visa, a Philippines-based company needs to petition to hire a foreign national, and show that no Filipino resident is willing or able to do the job being asked of the visa applicant. You can apply for the 9(g) via the Bureau of Immigration. The application needs to include proof of your valid AEP and proof of your employer’s business registration (we’ll spell out all the documents you need below).
- Wait for the application to process. If the applicant needs to start work before the 9(g) is approved, they can get a provisional visa from the Bureau of Immigration that’s valid for three months.
Not sure what type of visa your employee would need? We offer immigration services backed by top tier immigration advisers, and sponsor work visas in many countries. Inquire for more information.
Frequently asked questions about work permits for employees in the Philippines
What is an Alien Employment Permit (AEP)?
An AEP is a work authorization document issued to a foreign national who wants to legally work in the Philippines. It’s only granted after employers are unable to find Filipino citizens who can carry out the needed job. An AEP is generally the first document you need to enter, live, and work in the country, though you may need other visas too.
What documents are required to apply for a Philippine work permit?
To apply for an AEP, applicants need the following documents:
- A valid passport
- An employment contract
- A completed application form
- A copy of your employer sponsor’s business permit
And here are the additional documentary requirements for a 9(g) work visa:
- A notarized certificate of your employer’s headcount (Filipino and non-Filipino employees)
- A copy of your AEP approved by the DOLE
- A clearance certificate from the Bureau of Immigration
- An Alien Certificate of Registration
- The Articles of Incorporation of your employer’s company
- The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) certificate of your employer’s company
Once you have the AEP and 9(g) approved, you can apply for other functional visas such as the International Treaty Trader or Special Investor’s Resident Visa.
How much does it cost to get a Philippine work permit?
The application fee for an AEP is about PHP 9,000 for one year of residency. Each subsequent year costs PHP 4,000. Additional fees for other work permits may apply.
However, you should contact your local consulate or embassy for the most up to date quotes on application and processing fees.
Are family members included in work visa applications in the Philippines?
If the DOLE grants a foreign national an AEP, they can apply for dependent visas for immediate family members including a spouse and unmarried children under 21. Family members will have to submit separate dependent applications for DOLE approval.
Dependents aren’t allowed to work in the Philippines themselves without their own permits. In some cases, dependents can get a Special Work Permit or, in a spouse’s case, a Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV).
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Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, accounting or legal advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.