Hiring foreign workers in the Philippines

Learn what permits are needed for foreigners who will work in the Philippines


The Philippines allows foreigners to become employees or investors in the country. It is important to learn about working permits in the Philippines if you want to hire a foreigner or if you are a foreigner who wants to work in the country.

Keep reading to find out what kinds of permits foreigners need, when it is necessary to have a working visa, and what to prepare for the application.

Table of contents

    Working permit requirements in the Philippines

    Working visa vs. work permit

    Foreign nationals who intend to work in the Philippines for 3 months or longer must get a work permit. Those with short-term assignments for temporary positions lasting 3 to 6 months need to get a Special Working Permit (SWP).

    An employee working in the Philippines for longer than 6 months will need an Alien Employment Permit (AEP). For longer periods like this, the employee is also required to have a work visa in the Philippines.

    What is an Alien Employment Permit?

    The Alien Employment Permit (AEP) is a requirement for foreign nationals who wish to work in the Philippines for 6 months or longer. In order to obtain this permit, the foreign national must already have a local employer who will petition them. This permit is usually valid for as long as the employee’s assignment in the Philippines.

    Who can sponsor a work permit

    Companies must also meet certain requirements before they can sponsor a foreign national’s work permit and/or visa. The local petitioner or sponsor may be a domestic corporation or foreign corporation as long as they can legally conduct business in the Philippines.

    The employer must also be in a nationalized or partly nationalized industry. In other words, an industry with limited foreign ownership or control. If the hiring company is a partly nationalized entity, it must also have an Authority to Employ. The Department of Justice issues the Authority to Employ.

    How to get a working visa in the Philippines

    Short-term work visa in the Philippines (up to three months)

    Some foreign nationals may enter the Philippines with a visa on arrival. This is for both tourism and business purposes. The validity of this varies on the nationality of the foreigner but can be 7, 14, 21, or 31 days. The foreigner should also have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months and must have a valid return ticket.

    Should it be necessary, extending your visa for 1, 2 or 6 months is possible. If you need assistance with extending your visa, please contact Emerhub. We can help you extend your visa without having to go to the Bureau of Immigration.

    It is worth noting that an Alien Certificate Registration (ACR) I-Card may be necessary for these circumstances. The ACR I-Card is an identification card issued to all registered aliens whose stay in the Philippines has exceeded 59 days.

    Special working permit (3-6 months)

    The Special Working Permit (SWP) is a required working permit in the Philippines. This is for foreigners who will be working in a temporary position not exceeding 6 months. The SWP is initially valid for 3 months and is renewable, just once, for another 3 months. The local petitioner must apply for the SWP on behalf of the employee upon the employee’s arrival in the country.

    This permit is applicable to certain occupations including, but not limited to;

    • Lecturers
    • Researchers, or others pursuing academic work
    • Culinary professionals
    • Consultants and specialists

    Additionally, some occupations have specific requirements like minimum educational attainment and years of experience in the field. Applicants must meet these requirements to get the SWP.

    Long-term work permit

    To work in the Philippines for a period longer than 6 months, a foreign national will need the AEP mentioned earlier in this article and a work visa. To apply for an AEP, the foreign national must already have a local employer who will be the petitioning company. Processing this permit takes about 2 to 3 weeks from the submission of the complete required documents. 

    The required documents to apply for an AEP are:

    1. Application form;
    2. Photocopy of employee’s passport with a valid visa;
    3. All documents related to the contract of employment;
    4. Photocopy of current AEP (in cases of reissue); and
    5. Photocopy of mayor’s permit or photocopy of business permit

    The AEP is not required for some foreign nationals. These include;

    1. Board members who do not intervene in the day-to-day operations of the company
    2. High-level employees who have been with the company for at least one year
    3. The company’s president or treasurer if they are also stockholders of the company
    4. Consultants who have no employers locally

    The most common work visas in the Philippines are the Pre-Arranged Employment or 9(g) visa and The Treaty Trader/Investor or 9(d) visa. The validity of these visas is usually coterminous with the foreigner’s AEP. Processing either of these visas may take 2 to 3 months after submitting all the required documents.

    Start your work permit and work visa application by contacting Emerhub.

    Investor visa

    A foreigner may only get the aforementioned The Treaty Trader/Investor visa or 9(d) visa if they are a national of the US, Germany, or Japan. As its name suggests, these countries have a reciprocal agreement for the admission of treaty traders or investors with the Philippines. The foreigner’s nationality must be the same as the majority of the shareholders of the local petitioning company.

    For other nationalities who wish to make investments in the Philippines may apply for special resident visas. These visas are subject to other requirements or limitations imposed by law. The following are the different kinds of special resident visas:

    1. Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV) is available to foreigners and former Filipinos at least 35 years of age. They may also invest in any of the areas specifically designated by the PRA. 
    2. Special Investor’s Resident Visa (SIRV) is a program offered by the Philippine government to alien investors wanting to obtain a special resident status with multiple entries for as long as the required investment subsists.
    3. SIRV for Investors in Tourist-Related Projects and Tourist Establishments is for foreigners who invest at least US$50,000 in a qualified tourist-related project or tourism establishment, as determined by a governmental committee.

    Visas for accompanying family members

    Foreigners with work visas can bring family members with them during their stay in the Philippines. The 9(g) and 9(d) work visas and SIRV are extendable to the foreign worker’s spouse and any unmarried children below 21 years of age.

    It is imperative to obtain the necessary permits before starting any sort of work in the Philippines. Our team in Manila is ready to assist you with collecting documents and processing your work permit. Get in touch with us and our experts will help you in obtaining the best work permit for your specific business purpose. Send us a message through this website or send an email to [email protected] to start your work permit application.

    See also the frequently asked questions about getting a work permit in the Philippines.

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