IN THE KNOW: OFWs’ exit clearance
Prior to departure, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) must present an exit clearance to the immigration counter at the airport.
This is an additional requirement to the general prerequisites for Filipinos traveling abroad: a passport valid for at least six months and the original visa to their destination.
An exit clearance certifies that the OFW is a registered legal overseas worker and guarantees that the worker will be given full protection and benefits by the government while abroad and upon return to the Philippines. The clearance also exempts the OFW from paying travel taxes and airport terminal fees.
An exit clearance comes in the form of an overseas employment certificate (OEC) or an e-receipt (electronic receipt), which is an integrated receipt for payments of Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) fees. The OEC and e-receipt have a validity of 60 days from the date of issuance.
OFWs can apply for an exit clearance at the POEA central and regional offices, POEA Labor Assistance Centers, Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (Polos), POEA-deputized Owwa regional offices and units, or through courier service (Teleserv Express Clearance System).
To apply for an exit clearance, OFWs need to secure a passport valid for at least six months before their departure date and a reentry visa, work permit or any equivalent document.
For workers whose visas are newly issued or stamped in Manila, they also need to submit a company identification card, employment certificate, pay slip or any other documentary proof that they are returning to the same employer.
Photocopies of old visas, contracts or certificates of employment are also required for those going to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait while household service workers returning to Singapore also need to present a copy of their latest Polo-verified employment contract from Singapore.
The latest statistics show that nearly 10 million Filipinos work abroad and that remittances have continued to increase in the past years.
OFW remittances reached nearly $17.4 billion in 2009 and $18.8 billion in 2010. For 2011, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas projects remittances to grow by 7 percent to $20 billion. Remittances from January to April this year already amounted to $6.2 billion.
Almi M. Ilagan, Inquirer Research
Sources: Official website of the Bureau of Immigration, official website of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, official website of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Inquirer archives, http://www.citizenservices.com.ph/poea/
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