Foreign Investors Can Stay Indefinitely In The Philippines If They Employ Filipinos

Foreign investors in the Philippines can now stay indefinitely in the country if they employ Filipino workers. This is according to Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. who made the announcement as the bureau resumed processing of the Special Visa for Employment Generation or SVEG. This visa is intended for foreign nationals who have business enterprise investments in the country and employ at least 10 Filipinos within their companies. Also known as the job generation visa, SVEG provides foreign investors the privilege of being able to enter and leave the Philippines without permits that are normally required from non-SVEG holders.

The Bureau, according to David, has been promoting the visa among qualified foreigners with the objection of generating more jobs for Filipinos. The SVEG’s resumption was made public around two weeks ago as immigration authorities announced the modified rules and regulations with the approval by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

This visa category was first implemented in 2009 as per Executive Order No. 758, but it was suspended recently to make way for changes that now make it a better fit for the law’s purpose. As it is, rules for SVEG issuance are still in line with constitutional restrictions and current foreign business laws.

The head of the bureau’s SVEG one-stop facility, Atty. Cris Villalobos, says the new rules now allow the outright issuance of the visa to qualified applicants. Before this change, the rule was for applicants to be issued a probationary visa good for one year.

It will be the task of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) to verify whether or not the applicants are actually employing at minimum of 10 Filipinos, one of the conditions that need to be satisfied before visa issuance. According to Villalobos, DoLE will be requiring applicants to submit copies of their employment contracts with Filipino workers, excluding household employees. Applications will now also be processed and decided upon by a hearing officer within 15 days, as opposed to older rules which provided that processing be handled by the office of the bureau chief.

The time it takes to process an appeal for a rejected application has been cut from 45 days to 15 days. The BI has also stopped giving applicants a one year probationary period during which they are expected to comply with their requirements. When they are unable to comply with the requirement on hiring at least 10 Filipino workers in their companies, these applicants stand to have their SVEG revoked. As per old rules, holders of this visa can spend an entire year making sure this requirement is met. Today, they can only be given one month or 30 days. Under the new rules, the annual reporting of SVEG holders has also been extended from one to two months.

The Immigration Commissioner has full authority to check on SVEG holders and their compliance to rules and requirements, add rules or requirements as necessary and form an oversight team to ensure that everything is followed to the letter.

The SVEG was created via Executive Order No. 758 in 2008 under the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo with the purpose of drawing more foreign investors into the country and generating more jobs for Filipinos. With an SVEG, a foreign national has multiple entry and privileges as well as extended stay with conditions and without having to leave the Philippines. These same benefits are also given to the holder’s spouse and children younger than 18. Applications are accepted at any BI office all around the country but not without a few fees, such as Php 10,000 for application, Php 1,000 for BI clearance, Php 20 for legal research, and P1,000 as express lane fee.

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