x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Filipinos in UAE to get multi-exit clearance

Filipinos in the UAE can now apply for a travel permit that allows them multiple exits from the Philippines, removing the need to reapply whenever they leave their country.

ABU DHABI // Filipinos in the UAE can now apply for travel clearance that covers more than one exit from the Philippines when they go home on holiday.

The exit clearance will be valid for the life of a worker's contract, although not exceeding two years, removing the need to reapply each time they leave the Philippines.

An exit clearance costs 100 pesos, or about Dh10, and exempts workers from paying the travel tax and terminal fee at the Philippines' international airports.

"We started implementing the scheme full blast on October 1," said Hans Cacdac, the head of the Philippine overseas employment administration (Poea), from Manila.

A pilot for the scheme began in August for Filipino workers in Hong Kong, Brunei and Cambodia. This was expanded to South-East Asia and now covers all countries.

Overseas Filipino workers on holiday in their homeland can secure up to two travel exit clearances at Poea's central office in Manila's Mandaluyong City.

Workers whose contracts allow them frequent home leave do not have to abide by the maximum limit. But they must ensure their memberships with the overseas workers welfare administration (Owwa), PhilHealth and the Home Development Mutual Fund are updated, said Mr Cacdac.

"It will be available in our regional Poea offices within this month," he said. "By next month, we hope to provide it at all of our Philippine overseas labour offices worldwide."

The new exit clearance will be valid only if the overseas worker is returning to the same employer whose name and job site are shown in the clearance and in visa details.

Currently, the overseas employment certificate, which proves a worker has been hired legally, is valid for only 60 days, meaning in practice that Filipinos need a new one each time they return home.

It is available from the Philippine overseas labour office in Abu Dhabi or Dubai, and at Poea offices in the Philippines.

Nasser Munder, the labour attache in Abu Dhabi, said his office had yet to be formally notified of the move.

"It will reduce the long queues at our office but we'd like to know more about the new scheme," Mr Munder said.

The labour office in Abu Dhabi processes 200 applications a day for these certificates, and in June and December that number can double.

The Poea, which promotes and monitors overseas employment, also plans an online system to speed up the exit clearance process.

rruiz@thenational.ae