Immigration requires foreigners to present TIN before getting work visas

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 11) — All foreigners planning to work in the Philippines must sign up as a taxpayer with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) before applying for a work visa.

In a statement, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced that they are making it a requirement for all foreign workers to present have their Tax Identification Number (TIN) from the BIR before they can secure a work visa.

“This ensures that the BIR will be able to collect taxes from them,” Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement on Thursday.

The requirement comes as the Duterte government tightens its watch on foreign workers, with the Department of Finance saying foregone taxes amount to billions of pesos yearly.

READ: 12,000 foreigners working illegally in PH – DOLE

Morente said all applicants for working visas need to have a TIN. This comes after a series of meetings of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Employment of Foreign Nationals.

Foreigners are likewise limited to taking "highly-technical" positions in the country, leaving all other jobs to Filipinos.

"These new rules do not impose added burden to professionals,” Morente said. “It was put in place to protect jobs for Filipinos. It ensures that blue collar jobs will not be given to foreign nationals."

READ: 35 'illegal' Chinese workers arrested in Parañaque construction site

The BI issues special work permits to foreigners who have an employment contract of three to six months, while work visas are required for those who plan to stay longer.

The booming Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) industry has been bringing in thousands of workers to operate online casinos based here, most of them Chinese.

Also yesterday, members of the inter-agency task force signed Joint Memorandum Circular 001 that outlines rules covering all foreign nationals eyeing to work in the Philippines. Apart from the BI, the new rules designate the Department of Labor and Employment, the Professional Regulation Commission, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Justice, and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau as agencies authorized to issue work permits to foreigners.

Prior to issuing any permit or visa, all agencies need to secure a Certificate of No Objection from DOLE. If there's an objection, the agency will perform a "labor market test" to see if there really is no Filipino qualified to take on the specific job.

A government-wide database will also be created to track all permits and visas, while a joint inspection team composed of DOLE, BI, and BIR officials will carry out joint inspections among companies employing foreigners to monitor compliance, according to the circular.

Other agencies who signed the new rules are the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Finance, and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.