The Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Bureau of Immigration (BI), Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) has recently issued Joint Memorandum Circular No. 001, s. 2019 or "The Rules and Procedures Governing Foreign Nationals Intending to Work in the Philippines" (Joint MC).

The Joint MC may be found here.

The Joint MC aims to harmonize the various regulations and guidelines governing the issuance of the following to foreign nationals intending to work in the Philippines:

  • Alien Employment Permit (AEP) by the DOLE;
  • Special Temporary Permit (STP) by the PRC;
  • Special Work Permit (SWP), Provisional Work Permit (PWP) and 9(g) visa by the BI;
  • 9(g) and 47(a)(2) visa by the DFA;
  • Authority to Employ Alien (AEA) and 47(a)(2) visa by the DOJ;
  • Authority to Hire Foreign National (AHFN) by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB).

A. 9(g) Visa

The Joint MC outlines the process for applying for a 9(g) visa within or outside the Philippines.

i. Application for 9(g) visa in the Philippines

Consistent with existing regulations, all foreign nationals are required to obtain the proper work visa and/or permit through a local petitioner or sponsor. The Joint MC now expressly requires that the foreign national must enter into an employment contract with the local sponsor. This appears to align with the new rules on the issuance of an SWP, which is applicable when no employment relationship exists between the foreign national and the sponsor.

The Joint MC also reiterates the requirement for the sponsor to obtain (a) an AEP; (b) an AEA, when it is engaged in a partially nationalized industry; and (c) an AHFN, if it is engaged in mining. The foreign national must also acquire an STP, if he/she intends to practice a regulated profession in the Philippines (i.e. doctor, architect, accountant).

ii. Application for 9(g) visa outside the Philippines

The Joint MC provides the option of applying for a 9(g) visa in the foreign national's home country through the DFA / Philippine Embassy or Consulate.

We are familiar with this process and can assist you, if necessary.

B. Certificate of No Objection from DOLE

All government agencies issuing work-related permits, visas and authorities are now required to secure Certificates of No Objection (CNO) from the DOLE, prior to the issuance of said work permits. This requirement does not apply to the DOJ in issuing an AEA and the BI in issuing an SWP.

Should there be an objection, the DOLE will conduct a labor market test to determine whether a Philippine person is competent, able, and willing to perform the job.

C. Technical Working Group (TWG) / Joint Inspection Team (JIT)

A TWG composed of representatives from the government offices who are signatories to the Joint MC, was created to develop an inter-agency database system accessible to all members. The DOLE will be the administrator of the database.

A JIT was also created, composed of the DOLE, BI, and BIR, to conduct joint inspection of establishments employing foreign nationals to ensure compliance with labor, immigration, and tax laws.

The Joint MC will be effective on 1 November 2019.