On 6 January 2021, the Secretary of Labor and Employment signed Department Order(D.O.) No. 221, Series of 2021 or the Revised Rules and Regulations for the Issuance of Employment to Foreign Nationals. The new D.O. effectively replaces D.O. 186 which was released in 2017.

 D.O. 221 – 2021 comes in response to the significant increases in the issuance of Alien Employment Permits (AEPs) noted in 2019, as well as the new policy issuances that impacted D.O. 186’s underlying provisions. Furthermore, new trends, developments, and issues also emerged from the sudden influx of foreign nationals in the country, necessitating a stricter regulatory response from the Department. 

The new D.O. provides for increased fees in AEP applications, a more comprehensive Policy Declaration, additional exemptions for diplomatic and consular employees, more stringent documentary requirements, particularly for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations, and an additional layer for the Labor Market Test. Moreover, D.O. 221 – 2021 also identifies additional prohibited acts and activities, with associated penalties, provides for a procedure in resolving AEP denials or revocation, an accreditation system for agents or representatives, as well as the development of an Online Alien Employment Permit Management System (OAEPMS).

The Bureau of Local Employment is set to conduct an Online Orientation and Capacity Building Activity for DOLE Regional Offices on 2-5 February 2021. The D.O. is set to be published during the 1st Quarter of 2021taking full effect 15 days after.