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OFW Guide To Avoid Illegal Recruiters
By 27 Feb 2020 902

By: Atty. Wivino E. Bracero II |

Planning to work overseas? Do not “skip the line” or else you might fall on your face.

Everybody wants a quick fix. I mean, who doesn’t want a fast way of doing things? Many of us looks at requirements, processes, and procedures with contempt; thinking them as only delaying something that we want to do or achieve. That’s why, we find ways and means to “skip the lines” so to speak. And a lot of shady people are ready and willing to cash in on this.

Nowhere is this more displayed as in people looking for jobs overseas. There are a lot of regulations, pages of documents to fill up and submit, numerous lines to wait in, endless follow ups, and the list goes one. Many just don’t want to go through all those this. They just want to work overseas. But one has to remember that these safeguards are there to ensure that our OFWs gets the best deal when applying abroad. To skip the process, the OFW risks foregoing the protections granted by law to OFWs.

Why is following the process important?

First, one needs to apply only with a licensed recruitment agency. License from whom? The government through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). The POEA is tasked to sift through those applying for license to get into the overseas recruitment business. The POEA also ensures that there really is work waiting for OFWs in the country of destination. With a valid POEA license, the public is assured that the recruitment agency is legitimate and can be made accountable for illegal acts, if any. A list of licensed recruitment agencies can be accessed through this website:

Second, the fees that a licensed recruitment agency can collect is regulated by the government. According to the 2016 POEA Rules and Regulations, a licensed recruitment agency can collect an amount equivalent to one (1) month salary from each applicant except for those applying as household service workers or to countries that prohibits the collection of placement fees. (Section 51 of the 2016 POEA Rules and Regulations)

These are just a few things how the POEA protects our OFWs by putting into place these processes.

Unfortunately, this has not deterred some shady people from making a quick buck from unsuspecting individuals who only wanted to work abroad and each a living in the quickest possible time. Simply put, these people are definitely illegal recruiters leaving their victims paying an exorbitant amount with nothing to show for it.

Image from: Pixabay/ mohamed_hassan

So, in order to help everyone here are some signs that you are dealing with potentially an illegal recruiter:

  1. NEVER TRANSACT BUSINESS OUTSIDE OR NOT IN AN OFFICE. Illegal recruiters transact business not in an office or in public. Most illegal recruiters nowadays pose as being connected with a licensed recruitment agency in order to convince their victims that they are legitimate. But when transacting business, they do so not in the office of the licensed recruitment agency that they claim to be connected to or any office for that matter. They almost always meet their potential clients outside, in a public place.
  2. NEVER PAY ANYTHING UPON APPLYING. They ask for payment upfront. Licensed recruitment agencies never charge any amount upfront. They will accept your application with you paying any fees. Only when you are selected by an employer would the processing of your documents start and you start paying for it and eventually you will be asked to pay for the placement fee, when applicable. Fees are indeed collected by licensed recruitment agency but never upon applying.
  3. NEVER SEND MONEY THROUGH REMITTANCE FACILITIES. In relation to payments, they would ask you to pay in cash or through unconventional methods such as through remittance facilities. Licensed recruitment agencies always transact business in their office, when practical. Thus, payments are collected only inside their office by an authorized person. If bringing along a large amount to their office is impractical, they may ask the amount be deposited to their bank account instead but this is only upon the request of the applicant.
  4. ALWAYS ASK FOR AN OFFICIAL RECEIPT AFTER MAKING PAYMENT. Also, they will never issue any receipt for payment they collected from you. Licensed recruitment agencies are required to issue receipts for the placement fee paid by an applicant (Sec. 51, 2016 POEA Rules and Regulations).
  5. NEVER BELIEVE THAT YOU WILL GET HIRED WITHOUT BEING SCREENED. They will promise you a job even without undergoing any screening. They will promise you that they can guarantee a job for you even without undergoing any interview. This needs no further explanation other than that no employer would hire anyone without any screening, hard stop.
  6. ALWAYS CHECK THE DOCUMENTS GIVEN YOU. They will give you fake documents. One modus operandi of illegal recruiters is to give you documents under the name of a licensed recruitment agency. So, when you receive documents for your departure, make sure to check with the agency named in the documents. The contact details of licensed recruitment agencies are easily found online. Also, when you use fake documents, you might be held liable for a crime.
  7. ALWAYS CHECK THE VISA ISSUED TO YOU. They will give you a tourist visa, or no visa at all. Licensed recruitment agencies will never deploy anyone for deployment abroad without the proper work visa. Their employers have quotas for work visas that they use for the employees they employ from abroad.

In the end, the best way to avoid falling victim to an illegal recruiter is to just follow the process. A little patience really does go a long way, and may well save you thousands of pesos.

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