Congrats on bagging that job abroad! Now, are you sure you have everything you’ll need?
Are you aware of the steps you need to go through and documents you need to secure before you can officially become an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW)? Give yourself some peace of mind and check out this pre-departure checklist to make sure you have everything you need.
Passport and Visa
When that’s all taken care of you must make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months. This is very important because you will not be permitted to leave the country otherwise. Your visa should be shouldered by your employer so be sure to fill out the application form required and you can send them back to your employer through email.
Pay Your Placement Fees
Recruitment agencies will usually charge you a placement fee. This fee will most likely amount to one month’s salary although it will be good to check.
Always be safe and make sure that you are dealing only with licensed recruitment agencies. It is not uncommon for people to pretend to be part of a recruitment agency in order to scam people out of their money. Be smart and check the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) website for a list of licensed and accredited recruitment agencies.
You are also required to take a medical exam which will indicate whether or not you are “fit to work.” Being declared “unfit to work” may end in a cancellation of your job offer. However, this medical exam protects you from taking up work that may potentially harm you if your body is physically incapable of taking up the workload. The fees for a medical exam will differ depending on what your destination country will require. You may be required to take additional tests to complete your medical exam. In that case, you will have to pay additional fees.
The law states that recruitment agencies must provide insurance for workers that completely covers the duration of the employment period. This insurance is paid for by the agency, so there is no need for you to pay for premiums.
Government Contributions and Memberships
You will have to re-apply for government mandated contributions and memberships such as PhilHealth, Pag-IBIG, and SSS. This time, be sure to classify yourself as an OFW. Also, you will have to register in order to be part of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). Be sure to check occasionally that your regular contributions are being made while you work abroad.
Ensure that you attend the pre-departure seminar organized by OWWA because OFWs are required by POEA to do so. It is also good to do so on your own behalf since it will teach you all you need to know about your destination country’s culture and working environment. You will also be informed of the rights granted to you by your employment contract as well as how you may contact Philippine embassies and the like.
Overseas Employment Certificate
After you have attended the pre-departure seminar, you are then given an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC). This validates that you are employed in a foreign country as an OFW. The OEC is important and you cannot leave for your country of employment without it since you are required to present it to the immigration officer at the airport. The OEC also excuses you from having to pay airport terminal fees and travel tax. Take good care of your OEC since you will also need to present it every time you return to the Philippines. But do not worry. If you should lose your OEC while you are in your country of employment, you can still apply for another one there.
Make sure you go over your remittance plans with your family or whoever you plan to be sending money to while you are working abroad. Again, it is important that you are safe with your hard-earned salary so be sure to choose a remittance service provider that is known to be reliable, quick, and easy.
These are the steps you need to go through in order to be ready to work abroad as an OFW. It will also help to have your important documents photocopied and even scanned so that you have access to them on a computer. Always be mindful and stay safe when you are abroad and have a happy trip!