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All foreign nationals who intend to work in the Philippines are required to obtain proper work visas and/or permits, through a local petitioner or sponsor. The local petitioner or sponsor may be a domestic corporation (incorporated in the Philippines) or a foreign corporation registered and licensed to do business in the Philippines. The work visa and/or permit applications are usually filed upon the arrival of the foreign national in the Philippines.


Entities engaged in nationalized or partly-nationalized industries (industries where foreign ownership / control is limited) can only employ foreign nationals as technical personnel and subject to issuance by the Department of Justice (DOJ) of an Authority to Employ. The issuance of an Authority to Employ is required before a foreign national can work for a partly-nationalized entity.



A foreign national who: (a) intends to work in the Philippines for a short period not exceeding six months; and (b) will occupy a temporary position, is required by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to obtain a special work permit (SWP). The SWP is a special permit issued for an initial period of three months and may be extended only once for another three months. The SWP must be filed by a local petitioner or sponsor on behalf of the foreign national, upon the latter’s arrival in the Philippines.

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Alien Employment Permit (AEP)


A foreign national who intends to work in the Philippines beyond six months is required to obtain an AEP and a work visa from the relevant government agencies.


The issuance of an AEP is subject to the non-availability of a person in the Philippines who is competent, able and willing to perform the services for which the foreign national is desired. In general, the AEP application must first be filed with the DOLE on behalf of the foreign national.


It takes around two to three weeks from submission of the complete documentary requirements to process the AEP application. The validity period of the AEP usually coincides with the duration of the foreign national’s assignment in the Philippines.


There are certain instances when a foreign national is exempt/excluded from securing an AEP, some examples of which are when the foreign national is: (a) a corporate officer under the Corporation Code of the Philippines, Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws of the Corporation such as President, Secretary and Treasurer; (b) an intra-corporate transferee who is a manager, executive or specialist who is an employee of the foreign service supplier for at least one (1) year prior to deployment to a branch/subsidiary/affiliate or representative office in the Philippines; and (c) a consultant who does not have an employer in the Philippines.


The AEP application, once accepted for filing by the DOLE, does not allow a foreign national to work immediately. A Provisional Work Permit will have to be applied for and issued before the foreign national can commence work with the Philippine employer during the pendency of the work visa and AEP applications.

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