Your application for NZ Work Visa was successful – you are very glad to have received your passport with your visa attached to it. Maybe you are already thinking of buying your plane ticket. But hold your horses! You still need to get your Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) from POEA, and believe me it might not be that easy!
POEA launched a system to get your OEC online (Balik-Manggagawa Online Processing System), but as the name suggests, you can only use it if you are an OFW who came back to the Philippines for vacation. All first-time OEC applicants must go to POEA to register their work and obtain their OEC. You also need to do the same if your employer changed while abroad.
What is OEC?
In simple terms, it is your “exit pass” which you need to present to the immigration officer at the airport. This is a requirement if you are leaving the country on a work/employment visa. You will need a new OEC every time you leave the country – even if you stayed in PH for a short time. Permanent resident visa and open work visa (a visa which does not require you to have a job offer – your partner can apply for this) holders are not required to obtain an OEC.
POEA Classification of OFWs Applying for OEC
- Hired through Employment Agencies – you applied and were hired yhrough one of POEA registered recruitment agencies. Usually, the agency will do all the processing for you for a fee charged from you or your employer.
- Direct or Name Hire – you were hired directly by an employer abroad.
If you go thru an agency, then they can help you with the processing of your OEC. If you are under direct hire just like me, then you have to apply for OEC by yourself. Based from my experience, it is easier to apply for your NZ work visa than to obtain an OEC. 🙁
I would like to share my experience on obtaining OEC through Name-Hire process.
Requirements for OEC Application : Name (Direct) Hire
Here are the things that you need to prepare before you go to POEA:
- Work Visa
- Employment Contract/Agreement – must be verified and authenticated by Philippine Embassy. You can actually skip authentication – will mention how later.
Note that the medical exam is not required for OFW’s bound to NZ as you already had it in your NZ work visa application.
Applying for Overseas Employment Certificate (A Horror Story)
For the official steps in OEC application for Name Hires, you can refer to POEA website, but don’t take the word for it. I’d still advice you to contact them for requirements/steps.
I applied in POEA main branch (Ortigas). I had my passport, visa, and employment agreement with me. I heard about horrors stories of POEA exit clearance application, so I went early. I asked the guard at the entrance where should I pass my application, and the polite guard told me to proceed to Name Hire Division on 2nd floor (Tip: elevators are usually full, it might save you time to use the stairs). I went straight, and asked the guard on duty for queue number. He asked me to show my work visa first as proof that I need to apply for OEC. He gave me a number, and took a seat. When my number was called, I went to my designated window and presented the requirements to the officer. It only took a few minutes for him to tell me that I am missing a requirement – My employment contract should be authenticated by Philippine embassy/consulate in New Zealand! That means I need to ask my employer to bring the employment contract to embassy for authentication and send it to me in the Philippines.
I got the job online. My employment agreement was signed online thru Docusign. I even applied for work visa online. So I didn’t expect the hassle of manual authentication/verification of my contract. I know that POEA is just doing their job to make OFWs “protected”. But have they thought about the cost of having the contract verified and authenticated (shipping the contract to AU then to NZ then back to PH + notarial fees + verification fees)? And more importantly, the time it will take to have it verified – I was afraid that my employer would just give up on me and offer the position to another applicant from another country which doesn’t need this bureaucracy.
Fortunately, there is another option. The officer said we could ask approvals from Name-Hire director and POEA Administrator. This will bypass the verification of my contract. He said many are doing this option, but it might take time, and approval is absolutely on the hands of their director and administrator. I opted for this option. The officer told me that he will submit my papers to their director for approval. But before I left, I asked them if there are other requirements. Good thing I asked! They wanted me to ask my employer to sign an addendum to the contract:
- Add the clause which requires my employer to provide the plane ticket back to the Philippines (even if I told them that I don’t need my employer to provide the return ticket because I am a permanent hire)
- Add the clause which requires my employer to repatriate my remains if anything happened to me while in NZ (even if I told them that my family can pay for my repatriation).
I had no choice, so I asked my employer to sign the addendum to provide the plane ticket, though between us, I would not ask for it. For the repatriation, the officer said that I could waive it by getting an insurance. Yes, there is an insurance specifically for OFWs and if anything happened to you while abroad – this includes repatriation. I paid US $42 for one year of coverage. I was also required to provide a company information/summary and a copy of certificate of incorporation or business registration of my employer. Good thing business registration details in NZ are available online.
So I came back for another day to give the additional requirements. I presented my documents to the officer, but he said that my application is still for director’s approval. So I asked if I can talk to the director, he was kind and asked me to talk to the guard to set up an appointment. I waited patiently to meet the director, and when I had the chance she interviewed me and asked me a couple of questions. She politely explained to me that they needed to be stricter because of the recent OFW woes in NZ. But she assured me that she will back me up to get the next approval from POEA Administrator.
I handed my papers back to the officer. Before I left, I asked him if I could get his number so I won’t waste days going back in POEA office while waiting for approval. He was hesitant at first, but since nakulitan na sya sakin, he asked for my number instead and said that he will send me a text message once everything is ok.
After a few days, I received a text message from him, so I went back to POEA. But that was just the start. It only meant that I have satisfied all the requirements and that I may proceed to the next step which is to attend the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar or PDOS.
I went to the next room to attend to the PDOS, and they checked if I had a PDOS referral. They asked me to fill out a form and provide a copy of my passport (Tip: Bring a few copies of your passport with you). There were several topics discussed in the seminar and some of the most important ones are: what to expect in the airport, documents that you need to bring to the officer, which I think will benefit our kababayans who leave our country for the first time, and yes, I also remember he advised to not be mayabang. He mentioned an example story about a Filipino in the US.
There were also some people from Landbank, Philhealth and SSS who gave lectures about saving and preparing for the future.
After the seminar, the PDOS certificates were given to the attendees. Then, I went back to the Name Hire window to present the certificate.
Lastly, the OEC
The last steps are, of course, payment. I paid P4,700.72 (or US $100 equivalent) for POEA processing fee, P1,175.18 (or US $25 equivalent) for OWWA membership. Philhealth and PAGIBIG are optional – I paid P600 for 3 month PAGIBIG contribution. After payment, they finally gave me my OEC.
It took me two weeks to get the OEC. I had a total of 4 days of visit to POEA. So it is advisable to get a clearance as early as possible.