FAQs about POEA Online Processing System for Direct Hires (POPS-Direct)

Even after the function and power of seven different agencies had been consolidated into what is now known as Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), a lot of rules promulgated by the POEA regarding the recruitment and deployment of OFWs remain in place. Having said that, the rules relating to direct hires between foreign employers and Filipino workers remain unchanged as well.

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), formerly known as the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA), is a government agency mandated to protect the rights and welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

In this article, we delve further into the rules regarding the POEA Online Processing System for direct hiring (POPS-Direct) of Filipino workers. We rounded up all the common questions and answers relating to the Direct Hire Ban mandated by Article 18 of the 1974 Philippine Labor Code.

We also looked into the exemptions and regulations to the ban, along with all the questions you may have regarding POPS-Direct and its relation to the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 (RA 8042) as amended by RA 10022 of the Revised POEA Land-based Rules and Regulations governing the recruitment of land-based overseas Filipino workers (2016) and Memorandum Circular No. 8, Series of 2018.

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Also Read: From POEA Online to DMW Online

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding POEA Online Processing System for Direct Hires (POPS-Direct) and Direct Hires in the Philippines

In this guide, we checked everything there is to know about the DMW (formerly POEA) mandates for prospective foreign employers and directly hired overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Philippines.

1. What is direct hiring for overseas employment?

Direct hiring, as the name suggests, refers to the process of recruiting and hiring employees directly, without going through or getting the assistance of a licensed recruitment agency in the Philippines. (RA 10022, GBR No. 3, Series of 1994 and Memorandum Circular No. 7, Series of 2003).

2. Why is there a Direct Hire Ban?

In accordance with Article 18 of the RA 10022 of the 1974 Philippine Labor Code, direct hiring of Filipino workers by foreign employers without going through a licensed recruitment agency in the Philippines is generally prohibited, except for select instances. This ban was also reiterated in the provisions of RA 8042.

According to these laws mentioned earlier, any foreign employer intending to hire an OFW must recruit through Philippine-licensed employment/recruitment agencies. As mentioned earlier, however, there are exemptions to the ban and these exemptions were enumerated in the POEA Memorandum Circular No. 8, Series of 2018. The same lists all the categories of employers who are exempted from the ban on direct hiring, and are therefore allowed to employ OFWs without going through an agency. It also provides the specific guidelines on how these employers can proceed with the registration of their direct hires with the DMW.

3. Who are exempted from the Direct Hire Ban and are allowed to directly hire workers?

According to the POEA Memorandum Circular No. 8, Series of 2018, the following employers are allowed to directly hire Filipino workers:

  • Members of the diplomatic corps;
  • International Organizations (ex. United Nations, ASEAN);
  • Heads of state and government officials with the rank of at least deputy minister; and
  • Under certain conditions, other employer types like:
    • Lower-ranked members of the diplomatic corps and international organizations or heads of state and government officials, but only if their requests to directly hire Filipino employees are endorsed by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), or the Head of Mission, if the POLO is not available;
    • Professionals and skilled workers with duly-executed and authenticated contracts that says that the terms and conditions of such are over and above the standards originally set by the POEA. Note that for cases like this, employers are not allowed to hire over five (5) professionals and skilled OFWs if they are hiring for the first time. For the purpose of determining the number, workers who are hired as a group, as in the case of music bands or dance groups, are counted as one; or
    • Workers hired by their own relatives or family members who are permanent residents of the host country. Note that this does not cover domestic workers like live-in caregivers, care workers, or household service workers. For domestic workers who are to work for family members or relatives, employers may refer to the terms and conditions of the POEA Memorandum Circular No. 5, Series of 2018 for their reference.

4. What documents should be presented by the direct hire worker?

Workers who are hired directly by foreign employers who are exempted from the Direct Hire Ban must present the original copy along with one (1) photocopy of the following documentary requirements. These documents will be used by DMW for the evaluation, processing, and issuance of a DMW/POEA Clearance and Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC).

Here are the required documents from direct hire workers – regardless if they are Professional, Skilled, or Household Service Workers:

  • Verified original employment contract;
  • Passport, with validity of at least six (6) months before the date of intended departure from the Philippines;
  • Valid work pass or In-Principle Approval (IPA);
  • Certificate of medical fitness to work issued by a DOH-accredited medical clinic for OFWs;
  • Proof of certificate of insurance coverage covering at least the benefits provided under Section 37-A of the amended Republic Act 8042;
  • Notarized statement by the worker on how the job was secured, along with a photocopy of the employer’s passport/ID and contact details; and
  • Certificate of attendance to OWWA’s Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS) and Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS).

The list of these requirements can also be viewed at the POEA Online Processing System for Direct Hires (POPS Direct).

5. Where can a worker process their employment documents as a direct hire?

Armed with the documentary requirements for direct hire workers, Filipinos who have secured overseas jobs as direct hires are required to go for an online evaluation via the POEA Online Processing System for Direct Hires (POPS-Direct). They can then choose their preferred processing site and make an appointment.

To get started, direct hires must:

  • Visit the DMW website at https://www.dmw.gov.ph/.
  • From the homepage, scroll down and click on the Online Services tab.
  • Click the Direct Hire Processing card and you will be redirected to https://onlineservices.dmw.gov.ph/OnlineServices/POEAOnline.aspx.
  • On this page, you may make an appointment by clicking the Make Appointment button.

Note that once the appointment is made, the direct hire applicants may proceed to the Window Counters of the Direct Hire Assistance Division (DHAD) or the DMW Regional Centers and Units that they have selected in their appointment scheduler.

6. How does an employer or their authorized representative process the registration of their direct hires?

For employers or their authorized representatives who will be processing the registration of their direct hires, these are the steps you need to take to do so:

  • Set an appointment.
  • Visit the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) near you and submit the following documentary requirements for verification:
    • Original copy of the Employment contract signed on each page by the employer or the authorized representative. Note that the contract must contain terms and conditions, which are over and above the DMW employment minimum standards.
      Note: Please check Section II b & c of the POEA Memorandum Circular No. 8, Series of 2018 for the DMW minimum standards and additional standards for professionals and skilled workers.
    • Most recent photocopy of company profile
    • Most recent photocopy of company Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) of the current year
    • Most recent photocopy of business license or commercial registration of the employer
    • Photocopy of the worker’s work pass, be it an E-Pass, S-Pass, Work Permit for Non-Domestic Worker, or an IPA;
    • Photocopy of data page of the worker’s passport showing at least six (6) months of validity before the date of intended departure from the Philippines
    • DMW Compliance Letter;
    • Confirmation;
    • Proof of Payment of the Verification Fee
  • Once the documents are verified, you may collect them along with your POLO endorsement letter on the indicated claim date
  • You will then have to send the verified documents to the worker who is being directly hired in the Philippines

7. How long will it take before the worker can secure an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) through the Direct Hire Process?

As per the POEA Advisory No. 3A Series of 2022, evaluators have to give feedback within the seven (7) working days of ISO Process Cycle Time for the approval of the request for clearance from the direct hire ban. It may, however, vary depending on certain circumstances like the following:

  • For employers who are either members of the diplomatic corps; international organizations; heads of state and government officials with the rank of at least deputy minister, the direct hire OFW may be given an appointment for OEC issuance within a day or two, or as requested once the complete Phase 2 documentary requirements are uploaded.
  • For workers whose employers belong under MC No. 8, Series of 2018 – Item d2 or those who were allowed by the Office of the DMW Administrator, the DMW Clearance from the ban on direct hiring is prepared for approval when complete documents are submitted for Phase 1 Online Evaluation. Once they receive the Approved Clearance from the Direct Hire Ban, the status in the POPS Direct will indicate “Approved.” Only then can the direct hire OFW can move forward to upload their Phase 2 documents. Once the complete Phase 2 documentary requirements are uploaded, the OFW may be given an appointment for OEC issuance within the day or the next day or as requested by the OFW.

8. How will OFWs know that their application for POEA clearance from the direct hire ban is approved?

POPS-Direct will provide the worker with the status of the direct hire application for clearance from the direct hire ban. They will also have a notice of approved clearances for direct hires posted in the DMW website.

9. How long is the validity period of an OEC?

An OEC is valid for two (2) months or a total of sixty (60) days from the date when the OEC was issued. Note, however, that while it has a long validity period, an OEC can only be used once for a single exit from the Philippines.

Are you a direct hire worker looking to get an OEC? Learn How to Apply OEC from POEA for Direct Hire Workers today!

10. Why do we need to verify, authenticate or get acknowledgement for an apostilled employment contract?

This question is best answered by quoting Part III, Rule I, Section 95, Paragraph 2 of the 2016 Revised POEA Rules and Regulations governing the recruitment and employment of Land-based Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW):

The clause reads,

“Verification shall refer to the procedure being conducted or applied by the Labor Attache to ensure that all the employment rights, benefits and welfare of Filipino migrant workers at the worksite are duly protected. The Labor Attache shall also ensure that the employment contracts of overseas Filipino Workers are consistent with the prevailing employment laws, standards and practices in both the Philippines and the host country, and that the documentary requirements for overseas employment as required by the Administration are complied with.”

Having said that, it seems that the verification process is more about confirming compliance than anything else. It’s a way for the Labor Attache to do their job and ensure that the OFW, though directly hired, will have the protection of the government even when they do not have agencies to run to in times of trouble.

11. Where should the employment contract be verified or authenticated?

Under the Memorandum Circular No. 8, Series of 2019 published on 29 August 2019, the employment contract needs to be verified by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) if there is a POLO over the jobsite for countries which are signatory to the Apostille Convention. If there is no POLO in the destination country, then it will need to be acknowledged or authenticated by the Philippine Embassy/Consulate in the country which is to be the OFW’s jobsite.

To learn more about getting your documents apostilled, read this: Apostille: Step-by-Step Guide to Authenticate Documents in DFA

12. How will it be determined if an employer has already hired five (5) directly hired workers?

The best way to find out if the foreign employer has already hired the allowable number of direct hires is to check for it via the POEA Verification System. The system should show the data of all workers directly hired by their employer. Note that this is of particular importance since an employer is only given a one-time opportunity to directly hire five (5) workers. Their succeeding workers to be recruited shall then be required to go through documentation in partnership with a Philippine-licensed recruitment agency.

13. Can employers with expired/canceled accreditation to a licensed recruitment agency directly hire?

Yes. Employers who previously had accreditation with a Philippine-licensed recruitment agency may be allowed to directly hire workers, if and only if their accreditation has expired or was canceled. Based on MC No. 8, Series of 2018- Section VIII on Non-Exemption for Employers Accredited with a licensed Philippine Recruitment Agency (PRA), this can only be allowed one year after the accreditation has expired or was canceled.

14. What is a Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS)?

The Pre-Orientation Employment Seminar (PEOS) is a mandatory requirement for aspiring OFWs. It is an online seminar that doubles up as a tool to educate the aspiring migrant Filipino worker about what it is like and what to expect when applying for work overseas. This online seminar which can be accessed through the DMW website, www.dmw.gov.ph under the Online Services tab. After undergoing the PEOS online seminar, the worker will need to print out the PEOS certificate which is part of the requirements for the Direct Hire Phase 2 process.

For more information about getting a PEOS certificate, check out our previous article entitled, How to Register Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS) Certificate Online.

15. What is the E- registration for?

The DMW E- registration is an enhanced online registration that every aspiring OFW must go through. This registration provides the OFW with a reference number for the encoding of the OFW’s Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) and is also accessible via the Online Services tab in the DMW website, www.dmw.gov.ph.

Read Also: How to Register in POEA? A Complete Guide for Land-based Applicants

16. What is a compliance form?

A compliance form is a form issued to a direct hire employer when the employment contract they provided to the worker lacks any of provisions required by the standard DMW employment contract. Once issued, the employer has to sign and stamp the compliance form with the company seal or logo, and it will then become part of the worker’s employment contract. The Compliance Form is required to be submitted during the Phase 2 – Direct Hire Process for the OEC issuance.

17. What is the legal basis of the mandatory life insurance coverage for OFWs and its benefits?

The mandatory insurance coverage for OFWs is made legal by the provisions of the Migrant Workers Act, otherwise known as the RA 8042. According to the law, the mandatory insurance offers benefits to cover for the following situations:

  • Death: Loss of life due to accident;
  • Permanent Total Disablement due to an Accident;
  • Permanent Partial Disablement due to an Accident;
  • Accident Medical Expenses Reimbursement;
  • Repatriation of Remains – Expense Reimbursement.

Note that the Certificate of Life Insurance shall be required for submission as part of the documentary requirements during the Phase 2 – Direct Hire Process for the OEC issuance.

18. When is the worker allowed to take the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS)?

Once the OFW has submitted all the documentary requirements, secured the OEC, and is already in the process of preparing for deployment, the POPS-Direct system will recognize that the OFW is ready and will provide the registration form to take the Online PDOS given by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). The form will be emailed to OWWA and the OFW will be given an online schedule to take the PDOS.

Read about taking PDOS in this previous article entitled, How to Attend PDOS (Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar).

19. When must the worker secure a medical certificate?

The would-be OFW is encouraged to secure a medical certificate when the approved DMW clearance is released. That way, there won’t be any delay in submission upon reaching the Phase 2 of the direct hiring process. Note that for the medical certificates, only those issued by a DOH-accredited clinic for OFWs is acceptable for the issuance of an OEC.

20. When should a worker’s flight be booked if employment documents are processed through the direct hire facility?

According to the provisions of the Advisory No. 38 Series of 2018, flight bookings, departure schedules, and itinerary should only be finalized and confirmed by the employer once the DMW Clearance (formerly POEA Clearance) is issued to the worker. It also states that the availability of a booked airline ticket is not required during the evaluation.

21. How much does an OEC cost?

The cost for the issuance of OEC varies depending upon the US Dollar conversion rate. Nevertheless, OEC costs and related fees are as follows:

DMW OEC Processing Fees (DOLE D.O. 28, s. 1992) – $100
OWWA Membership Fee (RA 10801 IRR Rule IV Sec. 8) – $25
Pag-IBIG Contribution (RA 9679 IRR Rule V Sec 1d Memorandum Circular No. 06, s. 2010) – Php 100 per month
PhilHealth (PhilHealth Circular 2016-0031) – Php 2,400

22. What is a DMW OFW Record?

DMW OFW Record refers to the full documentation that the DMW has of an OFW once an OEC was issued at the DMW Main Office, Regional Offices, Extension Units or BM Mall Processing Centers.

Learn How to Request for Your OFW Information Sheet from POEA by reading our previous article about it.

23. What are the documentary requirements needed by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) from an OFW at the airport terminal?

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) requires the following documentary requirement from the OFW before allowing him to leave the Philippines for his jobsite abroad:

  • Passport with a validity of at least one year at the time of submission for evaluation, as mandated by the POEA Advisory No. 42, Series of 2019
  • Valid Work Visa/Entry or Work Permit
  • POLO-Verified or Philippine Embassy Authenticated Employment Contract
  • Valid OEC


Now, before we wrap up the article, let’s go through a quick recap! POEA has since become DMW courtesy of the former president’s initiative to create a consolidated agency that will take care of everything related to migrant Filipino workers. Despite the change, some rules remained the same and one of them is the rule regarding the Direct Hire Ban. Though there may be exemptions to the rule, it is generally prohibited for foreign employers to directly hire OFWs without having to seek assistance from recruitment firms licensed in the Philippines.

In this article, we looked into the exemptions to the Direct Hire Ban as well as all the instances that such exemption occurs. We also detailed everything that you’ll need to know and prepare so you can prepare for deployment in case you get hired by a foreign employer exempted from the Direct Hire Ban. After all, meticulous preparation really helps save time and speeds up the process.

Contact Information

For any inquiries, clarification, and follow-ups regarding Direct Hire concerns, you may call 722-11-60 of the Direct Hire Assistance Division or refer to the DMW Directory to inquire from the DMW Regional Centers and Units.

Also Read: List of Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Regional Offices and OSSCO offices Philippines

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