Dubai: If you're a Filipino overseas worker, say goodbye to standing in line for hours to get an exit clearance or Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC).
You may now get the document online – but only if you meet certain requirements.
Filipino expatriates flying back to their home country for a vacation have been advised to ditch the serpentine queues and go online to get their OECs any time, anywhere through a new online portal.
The site was launched last week to help Filipinos pay for and print their own OECs at a click of a mouse -- and allow them to enjoy the rest of their holiday.
Vacationing Filipinos need to secure an OEC to prove that they have been hired legally and intend to go back to the same employer abroad.
An OEC is a Manila government requirement and those without it won’t be allowed to fly from any of the Philippine international airports. There are an estimated 2.2 million overseas Filipino workers.
In Dubai, hundreds of Filipinos queue up as early as 2am at the labour office in Al Ghusais daily to get the document, especially during peak months.
“This is the chance to have a faster and more convenient way of securing an OEC so they can also have more time to spend with relatives back home," Hans Cacdac, Administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), told Gulf News in a phone interview from Manila.
But Cacdac asked for more understanding. "This is the first year of implementation. We wish to implore the patience of our [compatriots] that we are also trying to improve the system.”
Cacdac said the service is only available to workers on vacation, rehired, or those returning to the same employer and with an existing record in the POEA database.
This means that one must have at least one OEC issued by POEA Manila or its satellite offices. UAE-issued OECs are not in the POEA database, hence they cannot be used.
Gulf News tested the portal for two days to see how it works. Due to problems in documentary requirements, this reporter was able to pay for and print her own OEC on the second day within a few minutes.
An applicant needs to pay 100 pesos (Dh8.91) plus the e-payment portal service fee of 19.50 pesos.
Currently, the portal has been accessed and used by 713 returning Filipinos and 424 of them were able to secure and print their OECs right away just five days after the launch. The rest got their OECs after taking an appointment with POEA or its processing sites based on their appointed time, date and chosen processing office, Amy Reyes, POEA Deputy Administrator, told Gulf News.
Vacationing workers whose data may not immediately match what is stored in the system or whose countries of destination are among those considered restricted markets will not be able to access the self-print service. They may, however, make an appointment using the same portal to get their OECs in the Philippines.