History: Queues at the Philippines Consulate will now be a thing of the past. Image Credit: Pankaj Sharm/XPRESS

Dubai: Long queues for exit clearance could be a thing of the past for Filipinos with the launch of an online “Balik Manggagawa” (returning workers) booking system.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) launched the portal on November 4. The free service allows overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to fill in and print their application form, pick the date, time and office or branch where they want to process their OEC. The exit clearance, also known as overseas employment certificate (OEC), is still available by manual processing at Philippine embassies or consulates. The portal replaces the OEC portal run by privately-owned Teleserve. The new system is strictly for booking appointments. The exit clearance exempts OFWs from paying airport fees.

In Dubai, OEC applications for walk-in customers at the Philippine Labour Office have been cut from over two hours to under one hour, XPRESS has learnt.

For online bookings, the POEA has set up counters at its main office in Mandaluyong, Duty Free Philippines in Parañaque City and SM Manila. Documents required for the portal and walk-in processing are the same: passport valid for six months from time of departure; a valid working visa/work permit; and proof of employment such as certificate of employment, company ID, payslip etc..

Returning workers must pay 100 pesos for POEA processing fee, $25 or peso equivalent for OWWA contribution on a per-contract coverage, 1,200 pesos for one year PhilHealth coverage and a minimum of a 100 peso contribution to the Pag-ibig Fund. Payment is made over the counter. Log on to bmappointment.poea.gov.ph