The OWWA agency has been allocated with an emergency fund to execute its repatriation assistance program for overseas Filipinos who have suffered or are suffering from the aftermath of conflict, calamity, or similar crises outside of their control.
You may have heard of its most recent batches in light of the first COVID-19 surge throughout Europe and the Americas that has stunted many industries and caused the displacement of many Filipinos here and abroad. The repatriation assistance, as part of the agency’s social and family welfare services, also covers OFWs who are distressed due to war, state violence, economic crises, as well as man-made and natural disasters.
This repatriation program serves as the government and the country’s way of honoring the hard work and sacrifices of our OFWs, wherever they may be. So should you need assistance in going back to the country, or you know someone who does, let this article guide you through the process of repatriation through OWWA.
The OWWA repatriation assistance program is intended to help overseas Filipinos to come home during times of crisis while they are working abroad. Som
They must meet one or more of these criteria: they suffer from conflict, calamity, or similar crises outside their control; they are victims of trafficking and exploitation; they are stateless or displaced persons; they face extreme poverty that prevents them from meeting basic needs like food and shelter; they lack access to education and employment opportunities because of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation; etcetera.
Qualified beneficiaries of the program are entitled to avail of the following benefits:
- Airport assistance
- Free packed food upon arrival at the airport
- Free transportation to quarantine facility as well as quarantine accommodations
- Psychosocial therapy and stress debriefing
- Temporary accommodation to OWWA’s Halfway House
- Transportation facilities or fares for onward travel (to hometown) through OWWA staff
The OWWA repatriation assistance covers Filipino citizens working either on land or at sea or as seafarers. Your OWWA membership status, in this case, is not a requirement. Meaning, both active and inactive OWWA OFW members may apply for repatriation assistance.
Also, the OFWs who can apply for this program are those who are suffering from crises such as being victims of human trafficking, being displaced or in a country conflict, etc.
Qualified applicants for repatriation assistance must secure the following documents upon their application:
- Duly accomplished DOLE-OASIS Form and e-CIF Form
- Valid passport
- Exact address and active contact number
- Exit visa
How to Apply for OWWA Repatriation Program
Once you have secured the documentary requirements, follow these steps to continue your application:
- Fill out the DOLE-OASIS Form. You can either:
- Go to https://oasis.owwa.gov.ph/ and fill out the form online;
- Download and print the document here, or; https://www.dole.gov.ph/php_assets/uploads/2020/06/OASIS-Form-as-of-9-June-2020-9-pm.pdf
- Go to your designated OWWA-POLO office to get an application form.
- Accomplish the electronic Case Investigation Form by the Philippine Red Cross here: https://ecif.redcross.org.ph/
- Upon completion of the forms, prepare your exit visa and passport.
- Submit the documents to the nearest Philippine Embassy, Consulate or your designated OWWA-POLO office.
- Wait for a response from the Philippine Embassy, Consulate, or an authorized OWWA representative to notify you of your request.
- By filling up the DOLE-OASIS Form, you are automatically providing your personal data to DOLE, POEA, OWWA and your local POLO office, which will allow centralization of information in order for these agencies to act upon your emergencies and respond to your concerns.
- The DOLE-OASIS Form must be accomplished at least five (5) days before your scheduled flight to the Philippines.
- Online registration for DOLE-OASIS allows you to easily update your information, should you need assistance for repatriation or other services again.
- In case you cannot reach your designated OWWA-POLO office, you may contact your recruitment agency to assist you in the repatriation process. All registered recruitment and manning agencies are mandated by law to provide such assistance to OFWs as well, and by allowing them to register on your behalf, you consent to their use of your personal information for the sole purpose of repatriation application and nothing else. As such, these agencies are also responsible for reporting to POEA the names of OFWs to be repatriated, as well as their flight schedule, port of embarkment and disembarkment, and other relevant information.
- In light of the COVID-19 surge in the country, applicants are also required to accomplish the e-CIF Form prior to their arrival in the Philippines for your immigration and quarantine clearance.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
You may check out these common questions and answers about the process in applying for the OWWA Repatriation Assistance:
1. What is “repatriation”? Is it not a financial benefit?
Repatriation is the process of returning a person or their remains, as well as their belongings, to their home country. While it is not a financial benefit, it does merit its own benefits especially for OFWs who are stuck in political, economic, environmental or public health crises. Aside from repatriation assistance, OWWA also offers reintegration loans and programs to help distressed OFWs recover once they go home.
2. Does the exit visa count as a travel document?
No, the exit visa is not a travel document but is required for you to leave the country and go back to the Philippines.
3. How can I get an exit visa?
You may request an exit visa through:
- Your employer or sponsor, who will apply for an exit visa on your behalf;
- Your Passport Office
- The Philippine Embassy, Consulate or local POLO office in your country of employment, if you are undocumented, do not have an active passport, or do not have a valid employer.
4. What if I can’t schedule a flight for my repatriation?
Should you need assistance in scheduling your flight to the Philippines, you may reach your recruitment agency or your local POLO office to assist you in your flight schedule. A flight schedule is important prior to repatriation.
In summary, it is crucial that we remember who and where we are deployed as OFWs, whether active or inactive OWWA members, so we can easily find our way back home in times of crisis. And OWWA’s repatriation assistance brings us just a step closer to that.
For decades, overseas Filipino workers have been part of the national economic lifeline, contributing around 9% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in remittances.
However, with every milestone comes a great deal of sacrifice, and sometimes, to the extent of their well-being and security. That is why the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration was established to promote and protect the interest of OFWs, including repatriation services to our distressed and deceased fellowmen.