BI promotes indefinite stay to foreign investors employing Filipinos
MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Immigration has called on foreigners with businesses here to employ Filipino workers so they could avail of a visa that would enable them to stay indefinitely in the country.
Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. issued the appeal after the bureau resumed implementation of the special visa for employment generation (SVEG), which would grant indefinite stay privilege to foreigners with investments in business enterprises employing at least 10 Filipinos each.
Holders of the SVEG, also known as the job generation visa, also enjoy multiple entry privileges, thus they can enter and leave the country as they wish without the need to secure reentry or exit permits.
David said that the BI has been encouraging foreign businessmen to avail of the visa as it would generate employment opportunities for Filipinos.
The BI announced the resumption of the scheme two weeks ago when it released the revised implementing rules and regulations for the SVEG that were approved by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
The SVEG was first introduced in 2009 pursuant to Executive Order No. 758 but the bureau suspended the program last July pending revision of its rules to make it more responsive and relevant to the purpose of the law.
The visa is still subject to restrictions imposed by the Constitution and existing laws on foreign investments.
Lawyer Cris Villalobos, head of the BI-SVEG one-stop facility, said the new rules provided for the outright issuance of an indefinite visa to a qualified foreign applicant, instead of the initial probationary one-year visa provided in the old rules.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) shall certify that the visa applicant employs at least 10 Filipinos whose employment contracts shall also be submitted, according to Villalobos.
Under the new rules, household service workers are no longer to be counted in the 10 employees a foreigner has to hire in order to avail of an SVEG.
Instead of the office of the BI chief, a hearing officer will now process and act on the application within 15 days. The period to file an appeal of rejected application to the commissioner’s office was also shortened from 45 days to 15 days.
The BI also scrapped the old rule providing for the grant of a one-year probationary SVEG while the employer complies with the requirements.
The failure to comply with the requirement of hiring at least 10 Filipino workers remains a ground for the revocation of the SVEG. Under the old rule, the holder is given a year to comply with this requirement; the new rule shortened the period to just 30 days.
The new rules also lengthened the time for the annual reporting of SVEG holders from one month to two months.
The commissioner was also authorized to conduct periodic inspections to ensure compliance, to promulgate additional rules, and to create an oversight committee to monitor implementation of the rules.
The SVEG was introduced by the BI pursuant to Executive Order No. 758, in 2008, issued by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to attract more foreign investors and to create more job opportunities for Filipinos.
The SVEG holder is given multiple entry privileges and conditional extended stay, without need of prior departure from the Philippines. The same privileges can also be extended to the holder’s legal spouse and unmarried children below the age of 18.
SVEG applications may be filed at the BI main office or any of its field offices in the country. A P10,000 application fee, P1,000 BI clearance fee, P20 legal research fee, and P1,000 express lane fee shall be charged to each applicant.
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