Overseas Filipino Worker: Everything You Need to Know about OFWs

Many Filipinos wish to work abroad for greener pastures. However, living and working in a foreign land can be a huge challenge. The urge to provide a better life for your family should be enough drive to achieve your dream of becoming an Overseas Filipino Worker. But before anything else, what does being an OFW really mean and how can you become one.

If you want to try your luck abroad, one of the most important things you should have is a specific skill. In addition to that, you also need to meet a set of qualifications and requirements to apply as an OFW abroad. Don’t worry because there are so many skills training and other educational programs that the Philippine government offers to aspiring OFWs.

ofw explained overseas filipino workers meaning

What Is An Overseas Filipino Worker?

An Overseas Filipino Worker is a citizen of the Philippines who left the country to work for an overseas employer. The main goal of OFWs is to provide for their families and send their children to decent schools. Wages and opportunities abroad are obviously way better than those here in the Philippines, so it’s not surprising a lot of Filipinos want to apply for jobs in other countries.

As someone working in another country, an OFW still pays taxes to the Philippine government. On the other hand, OFW remittances are essential in keeping the country’s economy going. OFWs are called modern heroes because they help the Philippines stay afloat despite the economic challenges faced as the Philippine peso continues to get a hit from the rising value of the dollar.

Benefits of Working Abroad

There are so many good things about working as an OFW abroad, but here are some of the best-known benefits of an OFW:

  • Experience new lifestyles and cultures of different countries.
  • Provide better quality of life and education for families and children.
  • Earn higher pay and better job opportunities.
  • Gain more skills that can be applied back home.
  • Get out of debt and achieve financial stability in the long run.
  • Buy a new home, car, or even start your own business.
  • Save a lot of money as an emergency fund for future unexpected bills.
  • Pay medical bills and other retirement needs of parents or grandparents.

How to Become an OFW Abroad

To live a more comfortable life in this challenging world, it’s important to consider other opportunities outside your comfort zone. Perhaps, working abroad has been your dream since you were a kid. So how do you become an OFW abroad? There are legal ways to become an OFW, but the entire process can be overwhelming for first-time OFWs.

You need to go through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration in order to legally become an OFW. The POEA is a government agency that manages the deployment of OFWs to different countries. The hiring process is conducted by private recruitment agencies that are accredited and licensed by the POEA.

UPDATE: POEA has been absorbed into the new Philippine government agency called Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).

These recruitment agencies help applicants get hired by overseas employers by assisting them with paperwork and other documentary requirements. They also ensure that both the applicants and their employers follow all the legal guidelines. The following are the basic steps in order to become an OFW:

Step 1: Attend the day-long Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar in order to determine whether working abroad is really for you or not.

Step 2: Choose a reliable recruitment agency that is licensed and approved by the POEA. Secure a job order first before processing your OFW application.

Step 3: Prepare all the requirements including your birth certificate, valid passport, employment certificate, NBI clearance, Transcript of Records, and other essential documents.

Step 4: Show up to your scheduled interviews for the screening process. This is basically an evaluation and assessment to determine if you’re fit for the job.

Step 5: Undergo a medical examination to ensure you are healthy and don’t have medical conditions that can affect your work. Also, you may be asked to undergo assessments in some testing centers to see if you have the skills and knowledge about the job.

Step 6: Sign the employment contract to make it official. Contract signing is one of the most crucial parts of the recruitment process, so make sure to review the terms and conditions and ask questions to clarify everything before you attach your signature.

Step 7: Pay the fees including the POEA processing fee of USD 100, OWWA membership contribution of USD 25, Pag-IBIG contribution of Php 1,200 per year, and PhilHealth contribution of Php 4,200 per year depending on your salary rate.

Step 8: Attend the mandatory Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar to understand the laws, rules, and regulations in the country of your employer. In this seminar, you will learn about their customs and traditions so you can behave properly.

Step 9: Submit all your requirements to your recruitment agency or the POEA. This includes your PDOS Training Certificate, Overseas Employment Certificate, and official receipts of payments. The agency will submit these documents to other concerned departments such as the Embassy of your destination.

Step 10: Undergo validation before deployment. After completing all the requirements, you’ll have your departure date scheduled. Prepare your e-receipt and OEC because the Bureau of Immigration and POEA Labor Assistance Center staff will ask you for these documents. OFWs are exempted from paying travel tax and terminal fees.

Step 11: Congratulations! You are now an OFW. Remember everything you’ve learned from the training seminars you attended in the Philippines. Make sure to follow the rules and laws in the country you are currently working in. Just stay out of trouble and do your job so you can have a pleasant experience working abroad.

Video: OFW Trivia: Who’s An OFW?

In this video, you will learn about the meaning of being an Overseas Filipino Worker and other trivia about OFWs including their remittances, sacrifices, privileges, being homesick, and many more. It contains all the interesting things about OFWs and the dark side of it. Not all people understand how hard it is to be an OFW, so make sure to watch this video until the end to learn why OFWs are called modern heroes.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are plenty of interesting things about being an OFW and it’s good to learn about them through these frequently asked questions below:

1. When did the Philippines start deploying Overseas Filipino Workers to other countries?

The first batch of Overseas Filipino Workers who were deployed outside the Philippines, specifically in Hawaii, was in the 1900s. They were agricultural workers who satisfied the labor needs of the said US territory in the agricultural sector during the time.

2. Why do many Filipinos want to work abroad?

The main reason why so many Filipinos want to become an OFW is the better opportunities offered abroad. They can earn more and provide a better life for their families back home while experiencing new cultures and lifestyles.

3. If I became an OFW, am I considered a migrant worker also?

No, OFWs are not all migrant workers as some of them work in OECD countries while others are in non-OECD countries. However, OFWs are considered migrant workers because they also move to another country to find a job.

4. How many OFWs are there across the globe?

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, there are roughly 1.83 million OFWs working around the world based on the December 2022 reports.

5. What countries do OFWs prefer the most?

While the country depends on the skills and type of work OFWs do, the top countries that many OFWs consider when going abroad include the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia.

6. What are the key benefits of working as an OFW abroad?

Overseas Filipino Workers enjoy great benefits when working in other countries across the globe. For instance, they get to learn new skills, gain work experience, and most importantly, earn more than the jobs available in the Philippines.


So we’ve talked about the definition of an Overseas Filipino Worker, its benefits, requirements, and how to apply. At this point, you have an idea of how to become an OFW and be successful abroad with the knowledge and skills you have. The key is to understand why you want to be an OFW and what is your driving force to endure being away from your family in the Philippines.

We have emphasized the significance of following the legal process when applying for a job abroad. While there are illegal ways to become an OFW, you should never go this route as you will only get in trouble eventually. Therefore, it’s important to have this guide for OFW aspirants and their families. After all, working as an OFW is not a walk in the park, it’s a big decision to make and you need to be completely sure before signing the contract.

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