OFWs Guide to Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)

The Philippines is one of the top 10 countries with the highest number of migrants sent according to the United Nations (UN). In their report last 2020, there are more than 6 million Filipinos working abroad. With the number keep getting high, we are lucky that there is an agency that will keep an eye on our welfare. The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, also known as OWWA and formally known as formerly known as Welfare and Training Fund for Overseas Workers, is there to ensure the safety of our kababayan abroad.

It was established as an attached agency to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in 1977. In 2023, it the agency is now part of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW). Its main priority is the well-being both of the OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) and their family. It is mandated to give useful welfare services and benefits and ensure capital build-up and fund viability.

With just 25 US dollars, you can be a member and be legible for its social programs, such as insurance coverage, financial assistance, legal assistance, training, and other services that will help Filipino workers live a safe life overseas. As of now, OWWA works in seventeen (17) regions within our country and has thirty-one (31) posts in over twenty-seven (27) all over the world.

overseas workers welfare administration owwa

What is OWWA Agency?

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is a government agency that ensures the well-being and protection of Filipino overseas workers (OFWs). Established in 1977 as an attached agency to the Department of Labor and Employment, it was transferred to the Department of Migrant Workers in 2023. Its main mandate is to provide useful welfare services, benefits, capital build-up and fund viability for OFWs and their families.

What does OWWA Do?

The OWWA provides numerous social programs for its members such as insurance coverage, financial assistance, legal assistance, training and other services tailored to help Filipino workers living abroad live a safe life. It has seventeen regional offices within the country and thirty-one posts located in twenty-seven countries around the world.

Goal and Functions

The primary goal of the OWWA is to protect and provide for OFWs wherever they may be located in the world. Through its social programs and other services, it hopes to ensure that Filipino migrant workers are well taken care off and have adequate protection no matter where they decide to work abroad. This way, Filipinos can have a better life without having to worry

Benefits of OWWA members

Being a member of OWWA has a lot of advantages from the Pre-Departure Program, On-Site Assistance, and when returning to our country

Pre-Departure program

  • In the Pre-Departure program, you will be given an orientation, education and training seminars, scholarships, and assistance when applying to an employer. Here is the list of programs that OWWA offers:
  • Pre-departure Education Programs. This program helps first-time OFWs with their employment. It gives training and orientation such as language training, cultural, financial, and legal affairs orientation.
  • Pre-departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS). This program is required for all first-time OFWs and gives a specific orientation depending on what country you will go to.
  • Comprehensive Pre-departure Education Program (CPDEP). This is also a mandatory orientation for first-time domestic workers. This orientation last for four to six days.
  • Training programs designed for Filipino seafarers. 
  • Seafarers Upgrading Program. This program helps seafarers get job-related training and provide assistance worth up to Php 7,500 per member.
  • Mariner’s Dugtong Aral (Bridging) Program. This program is for seafarers who are graduate of Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering or Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and wants to have a degree in marine engineering by taking up the Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering program.

Qualified OFW dependents can also be given a chance to study and earn a living through these programs:

  • Education for Development Scholarship Program (EDSP) This scholarship is worth up to Php 60,000 per school year who are pursuing a 4-year or 5-year degree in college.
  • OFW Dependent Scholarship Program (ODSP). This education assistance is for those OFWs who are earning less than USD 600 or Php 32,000 per month. The dependent can get up to Php 20,000 per school year.
  • Educational Livelihood Assistance Program (ELAP) This program is presented to the eldest child of a deceased or convicted OFWs who are sentenced to the death penalty.

On-Site Assistance

The On-Site Assistance will give you support whenever you have a concern with your employer or the job itself. It will also protect you from abuse and maltreatment. It also has a Repatriation Program. It was formed to give assistance to a distressed Filipino worker to go back home. It also helps families in the Philippines to bring back the remains of the deceased OFW or when there are emergencies, either political agitation or natural calamities. OFWs will be given airport assistance upon arrival, psychosocial counseling and stress debriefing, and transport service to their hometowns.

Upon returning to the country

Upon returning, OFWs are given reintegration programs that would help them get a new job or have their own business. This program gives on-site preparedness training such as:

  • Values formation
  • Financial literacy
  • Entrepreneurial development
  • Techno-skills and capacity building

It also gives In-Country Reintegration like:

  • Job referrals
  • Business counseling
  • Community organization
  • Financial literacy
  • Networking with support groups and institutions
  • Social preparation is given by the Reginal Welfare Offices of OWWA
  • Balik Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay! Program. This program gives livelihood assistance up to Php 20,000.
  • OFW-Enterprise Development and Loan Program (OFW-EDLP). With the help of Landbank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines, returning OFWs can apply for a loan that allow them to get a 7.5% interest per annum.
  • Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Pag-unlad ng Samahang OFWs (Tulong PUSO). This program gives assistance and support the services of OFW-caused organizations that have 50 members. This is a one-time project-based program where they can get up to Php 1,000.000.

How to Sign Up and Become an OWWA Member?

All OFWs automatically become a member of OWWA, provided that they applied for a work visa in a legal way and pay the membership fee of 25 US dollars. This membership is valid for two (2) years once your application is accepted. There are two ways on how to apply:

  • For OFWs living in the Philippines, you may apply at OWWA Regional Welfare Offices, for OFWs living abroad, you may go to Philippines Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs).
  • Get an online application via OWWA Mobile App. You can download it on Google Play Store or App Store for iOS.

OWWA Office Application

When applying to an office, it is highly advisable to set an appointment with OWWA office to secure a fast application and minimize the health risk. You can book your appointment at https://appointment.owwa.gov.ph/. Once you’re done, you can go to OWWA office to submit your application and pay the membership fee on the day you of your appointment. The requirements might change depending on the location of the OWWA office you will apply to but these are the general requirements that all offices ask for:

  • OWWA OFW Information Sheet
  • Copy of the passport’s data page
  • Copy of the Employment pass or work permit
  • Copy of Employment Contract
  • Membership fee worth 25 US dollars

After paying the membership fee, you can download the OWWA Mobile App to validate your membership.

Email/Online Application

Applying online is the easiest way to apply as this can help you avoid crowded places. You can go to the official website of OWWA of your country of destination. Look for the right email address where you can send your required documents. You can submit your application via email but you have to observe the proper email etiquette when submitting.

After sending, you will be given an instruction on how to pay your membership fee and you will receive a separate email for your Official Receipt. You can validate your membership via OWWA Mobile App.

Video: A guide on how to access OWWA membership profile online.

This YouTube video will give you step-by-step instructions on how to create your profile and use the app:

Frequently Ask Questions

How can I be a member of OWWA?

If you paid the membership fee of 25 US dollars and your application has been approved, you are already a member of OWWA. You can validate it via OWWA Mobile App.

What are the benefits of becoming an OWWA member?

All OWWA members can qualify for Social Benefits, Education & Training, Repatriation, Reintegration Services, and special programs.

When should I renew my OWWA membership?

OWWA membership is valid for two (2) years once your application is accepted. Members should renew their membership if they are still actively working overseas.

How do I renew my OWWA membership?

You can use the following method to renew your membership:

  • OWWA Mobile App. Download the app and follow the step-by-step guide on how to renew your membership.
  • Overseas Jobsite. OFWs may check the OWWA Directory if there are available sites and events on their host country.
  • Ask for help. You may want to ask help from your family or relatives to renew your membership on your behalf at the nearest Regional Welfare Office.


Because of the pandemic, more and more Filipinos are becoming desperate to earn more money and considering working abroad to sustain their family’s day-to-day needs. With that, they might fall for illegal recruiters or bad-intended people who can cause you and your loved ones harm. OWWA’s job is to secure the safety and welfare of all Filipinos working abroad and their family.

They work tirelessly to make sure that your employers are legal and that you are in the safe hand. With that in mind, it doesn’t only give more opportunities to work in another country but it also gives assurance that they and their family are being taken care of before, during, and once they return home.

To make sure that you are dealing with the right people, avoid fixers and coordinate directly with OWWA offices and check if your placement agency is legal and registered with Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, and visit OWWA’s official website at www.owwa.gov.ph.

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