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UAE-bound Filipino workers urged to file visa applications 10 days before departure


08:40 AM November 30th, 2012

By: Tina G. Santos, November 30th, 2012 08:40 AM

MANILA, Philippines—Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz urged on Thursday, overseas Filipino workers intending to apply for a United Arab Emirates (UAE) visa to file their applications early because its approval would be directed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abu Dhabi.

Baldoz’s advice came following a letter she received from the Department of Foreign Affairs informing her of the new electronic visa system of the UAE.

“We have been informed by the DFA that the filing of visa application at the UAE Embassy in Manila should be done at least 10 working days prior to the expected departure for that country,” she said.

“This was said to avoid inconvenience and to give the UAE Embassy ample time to facilitate visa issuance,” Baldoz added.

Baldoz said that the consular office of the UAE Embassy has reserved the hours from 9 a.m. to 12 noon for receiving telephone inquiries and 9 a.m.  to 3 p.m. for releasing documents.

Meanwhile, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) head Hans Cacdac advised balik-manggagawa, or returning OFWs, spending the holiday season in the Philippines to get their overseas employment certificate or exit clearance early and not get caught with the last-minute dash to return to their jobs abroad.

Cacdac said that the POEA, for several weeks now, have been gearing up for the anticipated arrival of thousands of OFWs this December and their subsequent departure after Christmas and New Year’s Day.

“The POEA has been improving its systems and expanding its facilities for the workers’ convenience, but still, we warn our OFWs not to wait for the last day of their vacation to get the exit clearance,” Cacdac said.

Cacdac urged OFWs to avoid the week after December 25 and January 1 when thousands of them troop to the POEA main office to have their travel documents processed.

He said the satellite processing units in Trinoma, Quezon City; SM Manila near the Manila City Hall; and the Duty Free store in Parañaque City are now operational and are ready to accept applications for exit clearance during shopping hours.

OFWs going to their provinces may also acquire their exit clearance from the POEA’s offices in Baguio City; San Fernando City, La Union; Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark Field, Pampanga; Calamba City; Legazpi City; Tacloban City; Iloilo City; Bacolod City; Cebu City, Cagayan de Oro City; Butuan City; Davao City; and Zamboanga City.

However, Cacdac said the most convenient way, especially for those with tight schedule or little time to spare for the exit document, is to use the POEA’s balik manggagawa appointment system, which is free and available at bmappointment.poea.gov.ph.

“With the appointment service, the worker may choose the time, date, and processing unit most suitable to him or her,” he said.

Cacdac said OFWs might also get their exit clearance, or OEC, at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) nearest their jobsite before their departure to the Philippines.

The POEA also issues to OFWs a multiple travel exit clearance, co-terminus with the validity of their employment contracts, but which shall not exceed two years. The worker has the option to secure a maximum of two travel exit clearances during the validity of her or his existing contract depending on the provisions of the contract allowing frequent vacations.

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