List of countries starting to accept OFWs despite COVID-19 pandemic

Photo from The Filipino Times

With the massive effect of COVID-19 pandemic in the economy and jobs particularly in the Philippines, many might consider this disaster as a major reset in their life. Due to the  closure of many of the establishment and cutting down of employees many went home jobless for how many months now.

As a matter of fact, last June 2020, the Department of Labor and Employment noted that about 7.3 million Filipinos lost their job ever since the pandemic started. This number equates to the record breaking 17.7 percent unemployment rate in the country. But just this December 3, the Philippine Statistics and Authority (PSA) announced that the number of jobless Filipinos already deflated to 4.5 million or 10.4 percent unemployment rate. This is because of the easing work and travel restriction not only in the Philippines but also in the other country.

According to Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in October, many destination-labor countries are starting to soothe the restrictions that they have implemented for foreign nationals. This only means that these countries are beginning to open again and look for foreign skilled workers thus the POEA optimistically stated that many job opportunities will soon be opened particularly for displaced OFWs and for those who are aspiring to work abroad. 

Listed below are the countries that started to hire foreign workers in spite of the pandemic according to the POEA.


It was in March when Bahrain closed its door to Filipino migrant workers because of the surging COVID-19 pandemic. But in August, they began easing their restriction and renewed the issuance of work permits for foreign skilled workers. And in September, the Bahraini government officially reopened its borders again particularly to Filipino and other foreign household service workers (HSW). DOLE asserted, based on the report of Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Bahrain, employers are more interested in Filipinos that is why the agency expects that the job vacancies posted will be influxed with Filipino workers.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)

KSA is one of the top destinations of OFWs with more than 800,000 Filipino workers. However, just like any other country it also suspended the recruitment of foreign skilled workers due to the pandemic. But just this October, the Saudi government allowed foreign nationals to enter their country again. With this, the DOLE foresees a number of OFWs to be deployed in KSA soon because the verification of employment documents has also resumed. However, POLO in KSA will only process limited applications because their volume capacity has been cut down to 50 percent to abide by the safety protocols imposed by the Saudi government.

Hong Kong

In the latest travel restriction implemented by the Hong Kong government, only Hong Kong residents with documents will be granted entry to the country but still there are exceptions made for arriving foreign nationals. This includes passengers who have their new entry visa to study, join and establish in any businesses and to work for various employers. Entailed in this exception are additional requirements such as health declaration form which is suggested to be submitted online. For travelers coming from COVID-19 high-risk areas like the Philippines, they are also required to provide a negative COVID-19 test report with confirmation issued by a laboratory or healthcare institution, documentary proof that will show that the  laboratory or healthcare institution is ISO 15189 accredited or simply recognized by the government, and confirmation of hotel reservation for 14 days from the day of arrival. The mentioned documents are also required to be written in English or Chinese. Employers in Hong Kong are interested in hiring skilled workers and household service workers.


Singapore has progressively opened their borders to foreign nationals including foreign workers. Since many travelers coming from the Philippines tested positive with coronavirus in their country, they are now requiring people who are not Singapore citizens or permanent residents to present a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test if their origin country is the Philippines. A pre-departure negative test must be within 72 hours. Failure to present this requirement is an automatic entry refusal in Singapore. Just like in Hong Kong, employers in Singapore are looking for skilled workers and household service workers.


Brunei is still imposing transit and entry restrictions for foreign nationals however one can still enter the country as long as he or she is sponsored by the government in Brunei, registered company or a family member who is a permanent resident in the country. An application for travel entry pass is necessary for sponsored foreign visitors. Once this entry pass is  obtained, the traveler must present a negative COVID-19 test result that was taken within 72 hours before departure from the origin country. A mandatory self-isolation will also be required upon arrival at a government approved hotel for a duration of 2 to 14 days. According to POEA, Brunei employers also accept skilled workers and household service workers.


Foreign workers are now allowed to enter Canada as long as they have non-discretionary reasons. Workers, including those who were laid off, can be considered to have a non-discretionary travel if they have a valid work permit and they normally reside in Canada. Those who also have a letter of introduction for a work permit, and valid job offer can enter the country. Foreign workers then can immediately start working after their mandatory 14-day quarantine. Canadian employers are mostly looking for health care workers particularly nurses.

United Kingdom

The UK  also welcomes foreign travelers and workers amid COVID-19 pandemic. They have an international travel scheme wherein foreign workers will be exempted from self-isolation or passenger location form, or both depending on the type of job they have and whether their origin country is included in the travel corridors list. Since the Philippines is excluded from the travel corridors list, Filipino workers must fill in and submit a passenger location form 48 hours before their arrival and do self-isolation once they arrived in the country. However, jobs like aerospace engineer, bus and coach drivers, IT and  telecom workers may not need to have a self-isolation.

Similar to Canada, UK employers are also interested in health care workers, particularly nurses. Health care professionals who wish to work in this country will be required to self-isolate upon arrival.


According to reports, all airports in Cuba are now open for commercial and charter flights. Foreign nationals will be allowed to enter the country if they were able to present a health declaration form and obtained a negative result after a COVID-19 PCR test. According to POEA, employers in Cuba are interested to hire construction workers.

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