Eid Al Fitr holidays: Filipinos in Dubai spend several hours in queue for travel document

Some camp outside the Philippine labour office overnight to get slots for the next day

By Nasreen Abdulla

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KT photos/Nasreen Abdulla
KT photos/Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Fri 29 Apr 2022, 8:08 PM

Last updated: Fri 29 Apr 2022, 11:47 PM

Scores of Filipino expats in the UAE, who are looking to fly home during the Eid Al Fitr break, are spending several hours in queue as they try to obtain travel requirements at the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (Polo) in Dubai, Khaleej Times has learnt.

Some camped outside the office overnight, just to secure a slot and finish the process the next day. A number of pictures and posts about the kabayans’ plight have been circulating online.

“I have been here since 10pm last night,” said Ronnie, who was still standing in the queue when Khaleej Times met him at around 8.30am on Friday. He was part of a group of at least 12 people.

“We slept here last night because we wanted to make sure we got the OEC (Overseas Employment Certificate),” the expat said.

An OEC is a document that certifies the regularity of Filipino expats’ employment. While it is not a requirement to travel to the Philippines, the expats will need to present the document to be able to fly back to the UAE.

Appointments used to be required to apply for an OEC, but some expats say they are unable to get a slot online and walk-ins have been allowed. Others told KT that the appointment system had been “suspended”.

“Because of the long holidays and since appointments have been suspended, the queue is huge,” said Ronnie.

Some of those in queue had travelled to Dubai from the Northern Emirates. Police were patrolling the area to maintain order.

In its official statement, Polo Dubai admitted that as travel protocols are eased, Filipinos have been flocking to its office recently for the OEC requirements.

Not all expats, however, can get their OECs at Polo Dubai. Those who are registering their employment for the first time will have to apply for the paper back home — however, they still need to get their employment contract verified at the Dubai office.

“This is the first time I will be traveling home, so I can only get my OEC in the Philippines,” said Nicole, who works in a private company in Dubai. “However, I need to get my employment contract verified. I think it is going to be a long wait.”

Expats like Nicole make up a significant portion of the queues at Polo Dubai.

“A daily average of 700 OFWs, mostly entered the UAE on a tourist/visit visa or through a third country recruitment are seeking contract verification, and an issuance of OEC has been recorded from March to April. Most of them went home during Ramadan because of cheaper air fares as compared with the December 2021 to January 2022 rates. Some who went home were emergency cases," the office said.

The statement, however, did not clarify the alleged “suspension” of the appointment system, which helps prevent the build-up of queues.

“The last time I got the OEC, it was much easier,” said Mutya. “I could book my appointment online and I just had to turn up at that time. This time, I had to walk in and it looks like total mayhem here. I have been in the line since 4am. Thankfully, I work in Dubai so it was not too inconvenient for me to come.”

Overseas Employment Certificate

An Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) is a document required from all Filipinos departing the Philippines for overseas employment, whether as a new hire or a returning worker to the same employer abroad.

It serves as an exit clearance and exempts the worker from paying travel tax and airport terminal fees.

The OEC is valid only for 60 days from issuance.


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