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Why OFWs Should Avoid Using Tourist Visa for Work



Finding a good-paying job in the Philippines is difficult. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) are known as modern day heroes because of their courage and bravery to live and work abroad even if it means being away from their families. Unfortunately, while there are a lot of Filipino work abroad available overseas, due to lack of knowledge, some OFWs choose the easier route – working abroad on a tourist visa.


The Tourist Visa Trap

The name of the visa is an obvious indication of what it is for: tourist visa are for tourists, working visa are for workers. Tourist visa is easier to process when one wishes to travel abroad. Thus, a lot of Filipinos take advantage of it to work abroad even if the visa they have will expire in just a month.

In a March 2015 advisory, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) warned Filipinos who plan to work abroad not to leave the country as tourists with a tourist visa. According to POEA chief Hans Leo Cadac, Filipinos should not accept job offers abroad if they are to leave using a tourist or visit visa, even with the assurance from recruiters that they will find employment for them upon arrival in the country of destination.

Foreign workers without proper employment documents cannot work legally in any country and are constant target of crackdowns. They are also more prone to exploitation by employers.

The legal way is to obtain an employment contract and employment visa or work permit and submit them to the POEA for processing and issuance of exit clearance”, says Cadac.


Why You Shouldn’t Use a Tourist Visa If You’re Working Abroad

When you’re one step closer to your dream job abroad, the last thing you want to happen is to spoil it. If you’re planning to be an OFW, consider these seven reasons why you should avoid using a tourist visa for work.

  1. There’s a huge possibility to get less than the proper minimum wage. Often, the employer would take advantage of your ignorance and won’t give your pay at all. If that happens, fighting for your rights is hard as you are listed as a “tourist.” Furthermore, you will also be penalized as it is forbidden to work if you’re on a tourist visa. You will then get deported and fined at the same time. It might be a good idea to talk to an Attorney here to get an idea for how you could legally challenge your employer.
  2. When you work under a tourist visa, your insurance papers are for tourists only. Meaning, you will not receive proper care nor other medical benefits should you encounter “work” related accidents. Ideally, when you are a certified OFW, the employer, and even the government will shoulder these unfortunate events.
  3. Most often than not, some employers who find out that you’re just working on a tourist visa will take advantage of it. They could treat you otherwise. There are a huge number of maltreatment cases for Filipino workers abroad because of one reason: no proper working visa. Moreover, these unlawful employers may do things like withholding your passport and travel documents, in line with the situations mentioned above. This usually happens to most OFWs or Domestic helpers to be specific. However, it could happen to anyone who doesn’t have the right visa and documents. Ultimately, you wouldn’t have the right to claim benefits, because, in the eyes of our government, you committed an illegal act, which is to work abroad without a proper work visa.
  4. Working on a tourist visa could entail danger. It could lead to human trafficking or prostitution. Don’t let yourself be scammed andhurt; get a recruiter who will go through the proper and legal way of getting your work visa. Certified recruiters process proper contracts and documents that will serve as your protection as an OFW.
  5. Being a Filipino worker abroad working on a tourist visa makes you an illegal worker. Once caught overstaying in a foreign country on a tourist visa, you will be jailed and have to pay a fine.
  6. Having your proper documents, like the OEC (Overseas Employment Certificate) alongside the work visa will prove to immigration officers that you are intending to travel abroad to be an OFW. Without it, the immigration might ask you to be offloaded from your flight. This certificate not only serves as your exit clearance to and from the country, it also gives you benefits like exemption from the Philippine Travel Tax and Airport Terminal fee.
  7. Another benefit of having your work visa and proper documents is that you will be eligible for the welfare assistance that the POEA offers, especially for those Filipinos working abroad, experiencing irregularities such as maltreatment and withholding of documents. The POEA and OWWA will be able to give you and your family assistance by having free legal aid, which is an expense paid Lawyer to help you with your case.


The claim for your medical benefits (and even death) would be an easier battle as you have the government’s side on the issue. You can go to the Philippine Embassy or Consulate nearest you, or have your family get help from the Legal Assistance Division POEA head office if these situations arise.

Essentially, do not patronize any shortcuts to working abroad. Follow the law and policies our government provided. You may also visit websites or any beginner’s guide to work abroad and check if your recruiter is accredited by the POEA.

Now that you have read a few reasons why you should not use a tourist visa for traveling abroad, you are now well equipped to deal with the illegal recruiters who will most likely scam you.

How about you? Have you got any reasons to add to the list?

For queries and other clarifications, join the official Facebook group. We are not an immigration agency. We are Pinoy bloggers who simply aim to help our kababayans.


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