3 Things that OFWs Must Know about the OFW ID

1. The iDOLE OFW ID Card is FREE!

According to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, “This is free for our OFWs. We do not want our OFWs to shoulder the cost because this is a gift from the President to recognize their sacrifices and immense contribution to our economy.”

2. Currently, this is only available for NEW Balik-Manggagawa (worker-on-leave, or vacationing OFWs).

“This is only the first phase of implementation and will cater first to our Balik-Manggagawa until the system is ready for all OFWs. We are doing this to secure the database and for further improvements in the system,” Secretary Bello said.

3. Registration can be done online via idole.dole.gov.ph in 3 easy steps!

This means that moving forward, OFWs will be able to do perform their transactions online! Per DOLE advisory:

“With the use of the ID, OFWs will no longer need to queue in transacting with agencies for their overseas employment as they can now access government services online during the further phases of the iDOLE eServices implementation.

The first phase of the system links DOLE with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

The iDOLE system will further interlink the databases of DOLE offices and agencies with other government agencies for a more reliable, updated and complete Labor Market Information System (LMIS) for employment facilitation purposes.” – Source: https://www.dole.gov.ph/news/view/3929

How Did I Learn About OEC Processing?

I learned it the hard way. Very hard, but amusing way!

Late in 2016, we started processing my brother’s papers for his employment in Canada. It took us around six months to prepare all the requirements including his passport. We submitted the documents via the MyCIC website in April 2017, I did everything online.

Everything happened so fast – medical exam, submission of passport, and claiming of visa. It all happened in less than two months. We never seek assistance from an agency nor asked help from a third party, a move that we later on regret not doing. We have the visa, we thought that’s all we need. In June 2017, we immediately booked his flight and he’s set to leave in three weeks.

NAIA Terminal 1

His flight schedule is 9AM, so we left Quezon City at 4AM. On our way to the airport, I had this strange feeling that something is not quite right. I just still couldn’t believe that it happened so fast, that it is even possible to do it that quick. When we passed by the POEA office in Ortigas, I had this deep sigh of relief thinking that we didn’t have to go through all the process inside that building. I would often see long lines there in the past and it surely looks depressing.

We got at the airport two hours too early. We didn’t let him in until 7AM, just enough time for checkin. My sister and I proceeded to the waiting area inside the terminal and decided to wait until his plane takes off.

15 minutes later, my phone started ringing. My brother was calling and I knew that something was wrong.

Imagine our horror when we learned that airport staff were looking for a document called OEC! We were in shock!


We did try our best to possibly get him through to no avail, but we stayed calm and present. It took awhile for everything to sink in but we knew we have to keep moving. We gathered all the information we needed and left the airport. That was my longest EDSA trip ever!

We spent the next five weeks literally running around Metro Manila to process his OEC. Although we knew we can’t relax until he actually makes it to Canada, we were laughing at the whole experience all throughout. We complied with all the rules of DOLE and POEA, two agencies that I wish I will never have to deal with ever again.

He finally took his flight in August 2017 and landed in Vancouver safely. It’s been four months (as of this writing) and I still couldn’t believe that this happened to us, and how we actually managed the whole thing. I am proud to say that we dealt with it peacefully. It was quite an experience, but definitely something that I do not wish anyone to go through!

So if you are leaving the country as an OFW for the first time, make sure that you have an OEC prior to booking your plane ticket. You may proceed to POEA directly for inquiries, or look for an agency that could help. Make sure that the agency is legit, visit http://poea.gov.ph/cgi-bin/aglist.asp for the list of POEA-accredited agencies.

Online: List of Direct Hires with DOLE Clearances or OEC

If you are a direct hired OFW, and recently applied for an OEC, you can check if your name is already on the list of those whose clearances were approved. This list is available online. Go to the POEA website via the below link:

http://www.poea.gov.ph/hswclearance/hsws.html
 

Note: These Notice Numbers get updated regularly and will definitely change every time you visit.

The page will show you the main directory of Notices, each number representing a group or batch of applicants with approved OECs. These Notices will open as a pdf file, and also include an instruction on how to claim your OEC.

Click on each of the Notices to find your name, you can make the indicated date as a reference. For example, if you applied in September or early October 2017, your name would probably be under Notice No. 336 if your clearance is approved:

Under this notice, the clearances were received by POEA from DOLE in October 30, 2017.

If your name is not on any of the lists and you want to check the status of your OEC application, you can contact POEA directly at 722-11-44 or 722-11-55.

DOLE Suspends Processing of OEC from November 13 to December 1, 2017

Update: POEA resumes processing of OECs, as of December 4, 2017.

For the second time this year, DOLE suspends the issuance of Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) for OFWs for 15 days. This will start from November 13, 2017 to December 1, 2017 and covers new applicants only.

Screenshot from ABS-CBN News’ Twitter account

“Balik Manggagawa” or OFWs who are on vacation are not affected by the suspension.

Screenshot from ABS-CBN News’ Twitter account

Here’s the official statement from DOLE:

How to Submit an Online Legal Query to DOLE

Contacting the DOLE hotline at 1349 is the faster and easier way to get an advice about concerns related to your job or employer. As an alternative, you can also submit your complaint using their online contact form which can be accessed at https://www.dole.gov.ph/queries/submit.

The form is very straightforward. Simply enter your contact information and the description of your concern, then submit.:

You will receive a response via email in 3-5 working days. While the content is mostly general, it may include an information which is helpful. Below is an example of an email response received from DOLE through their online legal query form:

Finding the Exact Location of Golden Horizon Placement Agency

While processing his OEC, my brother and I have been going back and forth to Golden Horizon Agency in Novaliches this past few weeks. We were there five times, and for our first two trips, our Grab and Uber drivers were able to find the exact location. For our succeeding trips however, Waze is sending us to this location:

The above, as shown in Google Maps is incorrect. The correct location of Golden Horizon is:

Golden Horizon Placement Agency Inc., Quirino Highway, Novaliches, Quezon City

It is just along Quirino Highway, fronting a vacant lot and is a few meters away from a Shell gas station. If you are coming from Commonwealth, turn left from from the LTO building, you will pass by a footbridge and the office shouldn’t be far from there.

Screenshot from Google Maps.

How to Get an OEC for Direct Hires


Update: POEA resumes processing of OECs, as of December 4, 2017.

However, of November 2016, direct hiring of Filipino workers by a foreign employer is no longer allowed by the Philippine Government. You will need to seek the assistance of a POEA-accredited agency to process your Overseas Employment Certificate or OEC, unless you qualify under the below exemptions. Per the advisory released by POEA:

POEA officer-in-charge Aristodes R. Ruaro said that effective November 3, 2016, the POEA is strictly observing the full implementation of the policy on direct hires as mandated by the 2016 Revised Rules and Regulations on the Recruitment and Employment of OFWs as follows:

SECTION 123. Ban on Direct Hires. – No employer shall directly hire an Overseas Filipino Worker for overseas employment.

SECTION 124. Exemption from the Ban on Direct Hiring. – The following are exempted from the ban on direct hiring:

a. Members of the diplomatic corps;
b. International organizations;
c. Heads of state and government officials with the rank of at least deputy minister; or
d. Other employers as may be allowed by the Secretary of Labor and Employment, such as:

     1. Those provided in (a), (b) and (c) who bear a lesser rank, if endorsed by the POLO, or Head of Mission in the absence of the POLO;

     2. Professionals and skilled workers with duly executed/ authenticated contracts containing terms and conditions over and above the standards set by the POEA. The number of professional and skilled Overseas Filipino Workers hired for the first time by the employer shall not exceed five (5).  For the purpose of determining the number, workers hired as a group shall be counted as one;

     3. Workers hired by a relative/family member who is a permanent resident of the host country.”

Lazada Philippines
This means that if you do not qualify under any of the above conditions, you may need to seek the assistance of an agency to process your Overseas Employment Certificate or OEC. This way, the employment will no longer be technically considered as direct-hiring since it will go through an agency.

Bring your complete documents to an agency so that they can discuss the process with you. Depending on the circumstances of your application, the processing may take as short as two weeks, or up to three months.

Make sure that the agency is accredited. For the complete list of POEA-certified agencies, visit http://poea.gov.ph/cgi-bin/aglist.asp.



How to Get an OFW ID

The OFW ID is supposed to replace the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) which serves as a legal exit paper for Filipinos who are working abroad. Based from the POEA’s press release in June, the OFW ID is meant to be implemented mid-July 2017. It turns out that the agency is not yet fully prepared with the process, and as of August 2017, the latest advisory as published in the POEA website is:


PAGLILINAW TUNGKOL SA OFW ID 

• Hindi pa po nagbibigay ng OFW ID sa ngayon. Hindi pa po tapos ang guidelines tungkol dito
• Habang wala pa ang ID, sa bmonline.ph pa rin po ang exemption o appointment para sa OEC ng mga balik-manggagawa
• Hintayin po ang mga susunod na announcement para sa tamang proseso ng pagkuha ng ID ng mga OFW

UPDATE: The OFW ID is now available, and can be obtained online. Simply login to https://idole.dole.gov.ph/ and follow the steps from the website.