Applying for an overseas job is neither free or cheap. Prepare to pay from around PHP 28,000 to PHP 358,400, depending on your wage and country of employment. That's the typical range prospective Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) shell out in hopes of landing work abroad, according to the Migrant Forum in Asia.
Many aspiring OFWs exhaust their family savings or borrow money from relatives and worse, loan sharks, just so they can pay the expensive placement fee. They end up amassing huge debts. The more heartbreaking part is that the desire to work abroad is so strong, some of them aren't aware that they're being scammed by illegal recruiters.
How to avoid being exploited as a would-be OFW? Know the right fees you're required to pay, as well as the ones that your employer must shoulder.
1. There are Limits and Exemptions to Placement Fee Payment
The Placement Fee Must be up to One-Month's Salary Abroad Only
Recruitment agencies licensed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) are allowed by law to charge placement fees for their services. But it's against the law to collect more than one month's worth of the OFW's basic salary.
The salary from which the placement fee is computed must be the one stated in the POEA-approved employment contract. Until you've signed the contract, the agency cannot ask for the placement fee payment yet.
You can also choose to initially pay only 50% of the fee and then pay the other half when the recruitment agency provides you with the travel documents and plane ticket.
When you pay the placement fee, ask the agency to give you a BIR-registered receipt indicating the exact amount paid and payment date.
No Placement Fees for Certain OFWs and Countries of Employment
Household service workers, seafarers, and caregivers are exempted from paying placement fees.
If you'll work in one of these countries that ban placement fee collection, report to the POEA if your recruiter is still charging this fee.
- United States (under H2B visa)
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
2. Aspiring OFWs Also Spend Money on Document Requirements
Filipinos who want to work abroad need to process so many documents—all of them cost money, too. Here are the documentation fees that OFWs need to prepare for.
- Passport: PHP 950 (regular) / PHP 1,200 (express)
- NBI/Police/Barangay Clearance: PHP 115 for NBI Clearance (Police and Barangay Clearance fees vary depending on location)
- Philippine Statistics Authority-authenticated birth certificate: PHP 330
- Medical/Health exam: Amount varies per clinic
- PhilHealth contribution: PHP 2,400
- Pag-IBIG contribution: PHP 100
3. The Employer Must Pay for the Processing Fees
Not all OFW fees are paid by the worker. According to POEA rules and regulations, foreign employers must cover the following expenses:
- Visa (including the stamping fee)
- Round-trip airfare
- Work permit and residence permit
- POEA processing fee: PHP 200
- OWWA membership fee: USD 25
- Transportation from the airport to the job site
- Insurance coverage
- Additional trade test/assessment, if required by the employer
The POEA prohibits recruitment agencies from charging fees other than the ones included in the government agency's rules. So beware of recruiters that don't collect placement fees but charge other fees with different names, like training fees. You can report such a recruitment agency to the POEA via its hotline (722-11-44 / 722-11-55) or email (email@example.com).
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