Beautiful aqua-green waters, lush landscapes, and an array of wildlife make the Philippines an attractive destination for employees. Before sending your team to the exotic country, you'll need to secure a few documents so your employees are 100% legal and compliant with local laws.
In the article below, you'll learn the various types of permits and visas available in the Philippines and what is required to obtain each one. You'll also get a step-by-step rundown of the application process and how long you can expect it to take.
Types of work visas and permit in the Philippines
Exactly which Philippines work permit and visa your employee needs depends on the type of work conducted and how long an employee will stay in the country. The following discussion of requisite work documentation will help guide your application process and make it more efficient.
9(G) pre-arranged employee commercial visa
The most applied for and received Philippines work visa is the pre-arranged employee commercial visa, also known as the 9(G) visa. As long as an open job position requires skills, qualifications, and experience that is not in ample supply in the Philippines, a foreign business may employ a foreign national.
The reason for the popularity of the 9(G) visa is the flexibility it offers in duration and in the ability to enter and exit the country multiple times. The visa usually takes between two and three months to process, but this includes the prerequisite alien employment permit (AEP). Before securing a 9(G) visa, all employees must first receive an AEP.
An employee is not able to apply for a 9(G) Philippines work visa on their own; instead, they'll need the sponsorship of an employer. Your business must be a Philippines-based employer to be considered for sponsorship. If you do not already have a business entity established in the Philippines, it's best to work with a global payroll services provider like Skuad.
When applying for the 9(G), your business must choose expiration in one, two, or three years. You will be able to extend the visa beyond its expiration for up to three years at a time. To make it even more flexible, Philippines work visa regulations allow employers to make multiple extension requests for the 9(G) visa.
Temporary visitor’s visa for business purposes
Also known as the 9(A) visa, the temporary visitor's visa can be used by any foreign national who intends to stay for a short period of time, including for business purposes in the Philippines. Many refer to the temporary visitor's visa as the tourist visa because it's also for tourists who are visiting on holiday or for leisure.
There are a number of countries whose citizens are allowed to travel within the Philippines for up to 30 days without first securing a visitor's visa. For all other foreign nationals, securing a visitor's visa is necessary. A passport stamp indicates the length of stay for which the 9(A) visa is valid – anywhere between seven and 59 days. A person’s country of origin is a large factor in determining the duration of a 9(A) visa.
An employee who leaves the country automatically forfeits the 9(A) visa and will need to reapply for entry into the Philippines. Should you need your employee to extend their stay, an additional 29 days is possible under the Philippines immigration law.
Alien employment permit (AEP)
While not considered an actual work permit that allows employees to start working in the Philippines, all foreign nationals are required to secure this permit before moving forward with their Philippines work visa application. The AEP functions similarly to the special work permit (SWP) although it's typically used for longer work contracts.
The AEP is valid anywhere from one to five years but the official length of time depends on the duration of the job contract. Employers can renew this Philippines work permit for up to five years for additional work support. Any employer can petition on behalf of the employee at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) regional office. You cannot apply online but you can access the application form using the DOLE website.
Not every employee will be required to apply for the AEP as there are certain exemptions to this permit including:
- Members of a diplomatic service or foreign government officials
- Foreign principal owners and representatives of companies that have been accredited by the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)
- Probationary or temporary resident visa holders, or permanent resident foreign nationals under Philippines immigration law
The downside to securing an AEP is that whenever an employee assumes a new job title, or position, or joins a new company, they must go through the application process again. However, as the employer, you can complete the application process on your own as long as you have all of the following:
- An application form
- photocopy of current AEP (if needed)
- Photocopy of employee's passport and valid visa
- Documents related to the contract of employment
- Photocopy of mayor's permit (business permit issued by the local government unit (LGU)
International treaty trader/investor 9(D)
The international treaty trader, or the 9(D) visa, applies to foreign nationals whose country of origin has a bilateral trade agreement with the Philippines. The United States, Japan, and Germany all have this agreement with the Philippines.
While there aren't as many restrictions or required documents for the 9(D), those that are in place do present a higher barrier to entry for most employees. A foreign national must be able to prove that:
- Either the employee or your business has substantial trade with the Philippines equaling an investment of at least $120,000
- The employee has a position of supervisor or executive within the country
- They hold the same nationality as their employer or major shareholder
- They intend to leave when the duration of the contract is over or at the termination of their work contract
They must also gather and include a number of specific Philippines visa requirements documents including:
- Letter of request from the petitioning company
- Application form
- Clearance certificate issued by the Bureau of Immigration (BI)
Holders of the 9(D) visa can stay in the country for up to two years depending on the length of the employment contract. Just like with the 9(G) visa, an employee must first obtain an AEP before applying for the 9(D) visa.
Special non-immigrant visa under EO. 226
Unlike the other visa types outlined by the Philippines immigration law, the special non-immigrant visa applies to an employee and their respective spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21. If your employee has a family and has hesitations moving to a new role, they can take their family with them with the special non-immigrant visa.
The exact length of the visa will ultimately depend on the duration of the employment contract. However, the visa is potentially valid for up to three years. There are a number of stipulations that must be met for the non-immigrant visa to apply.
For starters, the employee must be an executive of the company to be considered. They must also work exclusively for the regional or area headquarters, or regional operating headquarters. In addition, they must receive some kind of salary and not be on a commission or bonus-based salary. The last stipulation requires the employee to be paid by the headquarters located in the Philippines for an amount that is equal to at least $12,000, or the equivalent in other foreign currencies.
In total, applicants can expect the process to take anywhere from three to four weeks before getting word of approval. In addition to receiving multiple entry privileges in the Philippines, applicants may also receive:
- Exemption from securing alien certificates of registration
- Exemption from Philippines immigration and alien registration fees
- Exemption from obtaining an emigration clearance certificate
- Tax withholding of 15% on compensation income
- Travel tax exemption
- Tax and duty-free importation for personal and household effects
- Exemption from a government department or agency clearance, except on final departure from the Philippines
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Requirements for the Philippines work visa and permit
There are a number of documents and forms that must be gathered/completed before applying for a work visa and permit in the country. These Philippines visa requirements have been established by law; forms must be filled out correctly.
Failure to do so will result in an application being denied and your employee being kept out of the country for business purposes. To ensure full compliance with the Philippines immigration law and to increase the odds of success, partnering with a global payroll provider like Skuad makes the process easy and painless.
If you decide to complete the process yourself, below is a list of requirements by the Philippines immigration law that you must meet to apply for a work visa and permit in the country.
Alien employment permit (AEP) requirements
Your employee won't be able to work in the Philippines with only an AEP in hand, but it is a requisite along with the 9(G) visa to secure legal status to work in the country.
To apply for an AEP, you and your employee must gather the following:
- Completed application form
- Employment contract along with any related documents
- Photocopy of employee's passport
- Photocopy of the business permit from your company
- Photocopy of the current AEP (if applicable)
9(G) work visa requirements
Once an AEP is awarded, an employee can start the process of applying for a 9(G) work visa in the Philippines. There are significantly more documents and work involved when applying for a 9(G) visa. An employee must also have secured a job with your company before applying.
Here is a list of the documents and forms needed to apply for the 9(G) visa:
- Valid passport
- Completed 9(G) application form
- Certified copy of the AEP
- Notarized certification of your number of foreign Filipino employees
- Newspaper clipping showing the publication of AEP application by DOLE
- Alien certificate of registration
- Certificate of clearance from the BI
- Additional documents that support employment
How to apply for the Philippines work permit and visa
The process for applying for a Philippines work permit and visa is relatively straightforward. If you are having any difficulty, consult a global payroll provider for help. Here are the steps for applying for the Philippines permit and visa:
- Gather all documents and forms required. Both the employee and you as the employer may apply for the permit and visa.
- Applying for the AEP at the Philippines consulate in the employee's home country.
- Once the AEP has been awarded, an employee may then apply for the 9(G) Philippines work visa.
Since this type of visa requires employer sponsorship, it allows you to apply on the employee's behalf. You must apply through the Bureau of Immigration.
If you have an immediate need to start the employee working for your company before the visa process is completed, you should first apply for the Provisional Work Permit (PWP) with the BI. It can take as little as two weeks for the application to be approved and you can start the application process once an AEP application has been filed.
Application processing time
Overall, employees should expect the entire application process for the AEP and the 9(G) visa to take anywhere from two to three months. The AEP application alone takes two to three weeks, then you must go through the 9(G) process. This is what makes the provisional work permit so valuable: shorter approval times.
If any of the documents include mistakes or incorrect forms are submitted, the length of the application process will increase. Keep in mind if the employee changes positions within your company they will need to apply for another AEP.
Planning to hire or work in the Philippines? Here’s how Skuad can help
Going through an application for a work permit and visa in the Philippines requires a great amount of time and knowledge about local laws and restrictions. Unintentional mistakes when filing forms or gathering the wrong types of documents can result in your employee being denied and the process becoming lengthened.
To manage the process efficiently and make it easier for you and your team, you need to partner with a global employment platform provider. They help manage the entire process and have law experts in the Philippines ready to lend guidance.
Whether you’re moving team members to manage your projects or want to empower your employees to work from wherever they’d like, check out where we’re making mobility possible. Hire talent in the Philippines and beyond and build globally-distributed teams easily with Skuad. Contact us for a free demo.
1. How can I get a work permit in the Philippines?
To get a Philippines work permit, you need to apply for the Alien Employment Permit with the Department of Labor and Employment. An employer or employee may apply but they need all the correct documentation and forms.
2. How long does it take to get a work permit in the Philippines?
The process of obtaining an Alien Employment Permit can take anywhere from two to three weeks. Obtaining a 9(G) visa can take anywhere from one to two months.
3. Who needs a work permit in the Philippines?
Any foreign national who plans on working in the Philippines for a foreign business entity will need a Philippines work permit to be legally allowed to perform any official duties.
4. Can U.S. citizens work in the Philippines?
Yes, U.S. citizens can work in the Philippines as long as they have obtained the correct work permit and visa. The U.S. is one of three countries also eligible for the International Treaty Trader Visa.
5. How long can a U.S. citizen stay in the Philippines?
With the 9(G) visa, an American citizen can stay in the Philippines anywhere between one and three years. However, the total length of stay is dependent on the duration of the employment contract. The 9(G) visa may also be extended up to three additional years.