Tighter rules set on OFWs sponsoring kin for travel to UAE

Filipinos who travel to the United Arab Emirates using tourist visas but who intend to land jobs there will now have a harder time doing so.

Philippine diplomatic missions in the UAE have recently imposed stringent measures against the scheme, particularly on the practice of OFWs there signing affidavits of support to relatives whom they wish to sponsor to be able to travel to UAE.

In the past few years, there were cases where OFWs recruit Filipinos as domestic helpers by letting them enter UAE as ”sponsored” tourists but then later hired as domestic helpers or drivers.

Those who get affidavits show this document to immigration officials in Manila and in UAE. The affidavit states that the sponsor will shoulder the financial needs of his/her sponsored relative, including food, board, and lodging.

Based on a Philippine embassy advisory posted late February, OFWs in UAE can only sponsor relatives up to the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity such as spouse, parent, child, sibling, and in-laws. Authenticated birth certificates and/or marriage certificates should prove the relationship between the sponsor and the tourist.

Also, only OFWs earning UAE Dirham 3,500 (around P44,200) can sponsor a relative to visit the country. This practically excludes domestic helpers and drivers from sponsoring a relative since they don’t earn that much.

“[The exclusion was made] because we believe they do not have the capacity to sponsor someone as a tourist here. Considering that they live with their employers, I don’t think any employer would let their nanny’s relatives stay in their place,” Deputy Consulate General Giovanni Palec explained in an interview with Gulf News.

Palec stressed that the move is intended to eradicate human trafficking and illegal recruitment especially in UAE. Since legal hiring of Filipina maids through agencies was suspended, many have resorted to the illegal act of recruiting Filipinas through the sponsorship scheme.

Meanwhile, Migrante, an NGO advocating for OFW rights and protection, has scored the latest move by the diplomatic missions. “We believe that this document will not curb human trafficking but will only fuel corruption. Under the Philippine Constitution, any Filipino can travel freely as a tourist and this affidavit is not even mentioned. We consider this affidavit a form of state exaction,” Migrante UAE coordinator Nhel Morona said in a statement. Gianna Catolico


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