The Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA) works with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in order to ensure that all Overseas Filipino Workers get the programs and services they need to thrive in and out of the Philippines. This membership institution focuses on the welfare of OFWs by protecting their well-being and their families.
For instance, OWWA offers an affordable insurance program to active members. The membership fee is good for two years, which should be renewed to stay eligible for the benefits. In this article, we will talk about all the programs and services that the OWWA agency offers to OFWs and their dependents. Let’s learn what these programs are and how to benefit from them as an OFW and OWWA member.
What Are OWWA Programs and Services?
There are so many different types of programs that OWWA offers, including welfare and reintegration programs. These programs are designed to ensure that every OFW working abroad is protected and well-assisted in their needs and requirements.
The following are the on-site assistance and services offered to OFWs working abroad:
- OFW Whereabouts Assistance
- Psychological Counseling
- Airport Assistance
- Legal Assistance
- Hospital, Prison, or Work Camp Visitations
- Mediation or Conciliation with the Employer
On the other hand, OWWA also offers programs for OFWs and their beneficiaries in the Philippines. Here is the in-country assistance for OFWs and their families:
- Transportation Allowance Going to Respective Provinces
- Post-Repatriation Assistance
- OWWA Halfway House as Temporary Shelter
- Stress Debriefing and Counseling
- Family or Next-of-Kins Requests from OWWA Overseas Posts.
The reintegration programs for OFWs are designed to assist returning Filipino migrants. Below are the on-site reintegration preparedness services or training programs for OFWs working abroad:
- Financial Literacy
- Value Formation Training
- Techno-Skills and Capacity Building
- Entrepreneurial Development Training
The in-country reintegration programs, are basically services that are offered to returning OFWs in the Philippines. These programs aim to help them plan a business or livelihood in order to continue supporting their families. Here they are:
- Community Organizing
- Business Counseling
- Job Referrals
- Support Institution Networking – Social Preparation by OWWA Regional Welfare Offices
- Financial Literacy Seminars
Balik-Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program
This reintegration program is designed to assist and provide relief for OFWs returning to the Philippines, or those distressed or displaced OFWs. The BPBHP offers additional capital of up to Php 20,000, or a startup. The requirements include a duly accomplished application form, business proposal, Certificate of Entrepreneurial Development Training, and proof of repatriation or return to the Philippines such as travel documents, passport, and airline ticket.
OFW – Enterprise Development Loan Program
This program is formerly called the OFW Reintegration Program and is originally designed as a loan facility and enterprise development intervention of OWWA in order to help OFWs and families with business development. The OFW-EDLP is managed by the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Land Bank of the Philippines.
Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Pag-Unlad ng Samahang OFWs (Tulong Puso)
This one-time grant helps form, improve, and restore the livelihood projects of OFW organizations. It could be in different forms including equipment, raw materials, tools, and jigs, or other services with cash grants of up to Php 1,000,000 for OFW organizations consisting of 51 members or more.
Repatriation Assistance Program
This program is designed to retrieve human remains and bring back displaced or distressed OFWs to the country. During natural calamities or political unrest, emergency repatriation services are implemented in order to save and protect OFWs abroad. Assistance services include stress debriefing, psychological counseling, airport assistance, transport services going back to their provinces, and temporary shelter via the OWWA Halfway Home.
Social Benefits Programs
Every active OWWA member can benefit from the programs and services implemented by OWWA. For instance, OFWs are eligible for these social benefits while catering to their needs in order to overcome family problems such as bereavement, sickness, calamities, housing problems, or education.
The following are the OWWA programs offered under the social benefits category:
Disability and Dismemberment
Under the disability and dismemberment program, qualified OWWA members can enjoy a cash benefit of up to Php 100,000 after suffering an accident or injury while working overseas. Make sure to secure all the requirements so that you can avail of this OWWA program for OFWs here and abroad.
Supplementary Medical Assistance
This is also known as MEDplus, an OWWA program under social benefits that provide supplemental medical support to Filipino migrant workers suffering from life-threatening diseases. One important qualification to avail of this program is to be an active OWWA member with PhilHealth contributions. MEDplus also offers financial assistance with medical bills based on the current rate system which should not exceed Php 50,000 for every member.
Death and Burial
OWWA offers death and burial assistance wherein the deceased OFW’s beneficiaries may receive a maximum amount of Php 100,000 depending on certain conditions. The OFW should be an active OWWA member and that he or she died of a natural cause. In addition, beneficiaries may also receive up to Php 200,000 in insurance benefits in case of accidental death.
Moreover, claimants can also get a burial gratuity ride which typically amounts to Php 20,000 in order to help settle funeral expenses. The death benefits aim to ensure that OFWs will have decent burial rites in the Philippines and lessen the burden on their families.
Welfare Assistance Program
This is another social benefit program that even non-active OWWA members including their listed dependents can avail of. Basically, the Welfare Assistance Program is designed for OFWs who aren’t entitled to the regular services of OWWA under their social benefit programs. The cash relief assistance can be claimed under these circumstances:
- Medical assistance in case of accidental, sickness, or crime-related injuries for OWWA members who aren’t covered by the MEDplus program
- Disability assistance in case of accidents or crime incidents
- Bereavement assistance is given to the deceased OFW’s families or dependents given they have an active OWWA membership
- Calamity assistance is offered to OFWs who are active OWWA members and their families during human-induced or natural disasters
- Relief assistance is provided to laid-off or distressed OWWA members caused by health crises, political, economic, bankruptcy, or other related events
Education and Training Programs
OWWA also focuses on the education and training of OFWs and their families. Some services and programs are designed to help OWWA members prepare and train so that they can acquire important skills. On the other hand, other programs aim to support members and their dependents in learning and improving their skills in the long run.
Seafarers Upgrading Program
This SUP program is short-term training program and is focused on providing job-related skills training for seafarers or sea-based OFWs. The main purpose is to help them upskill in order to stay competitive in the industry as per the standards of the International Maritime Organization. The SUP requires up to Php 7,500 for every upgrading course or program in any accredited maritime training center.
Short-Term Training Programs for OFWs and Dependents
Below are short-term training programs that are designed for Filipino migrant workers and their dependents.
Skills for Employment Scholarship Program. The SESP is available for OFW OWWA members and their dependents who want to undergo training courses for at least six months or up to two years. One of the benefits is cash assistance of up to Php 14,500 per training course that can be completed through vocational or technical courses offered in schools that are accredited by MARINA, TESDA, and other training institutions under the government.
Information Technology Training Program. The IT training program helps OFWs and their qualified dependents become computer literate and upgrade their IT skills. OWWA initially launched this program so that IT centers can be set up at any OWWA regional branch to promote family connectivity. The project eventually became a training program for OFWs and families for IT skills development and upgrade by studying IT applications.
Education for Development Scholarship Program. The EDSP is another scholarship grant that qualified dependents can avail of. This program can be benefited siblings or children of OFWs who are active OWWA members. However, there are minimum qualifications to be met, especially when it comes to the academic performance of applicants.
Qualified scholars can enjoy up to Php 60,000 cash assistance every school year to ensure they complete their four to five years baccalaureate course. In this program, 1000 slots are open for applicants; 600 for enrolled college students, and 400 for freshmen DOST national examinations passers.
OFW Dependent Scholarship Program. This offers financial support for qualified scholars with up to Php 20,000 cash grants every school year. The ODSP is designed for the dependents of OWWA members or OFWs. Applicants must not have other scholarship grants given by OWWA in order to avail of this. Also, member OFWs should earn a maximum of $600 per month to be eligible for this program.
Education and Livelihood Assistance Program for the Dependents of Deceased OFW Members. The ELAP is created to help qualified dependents or survivors of deceased OWWA members or OFWs with livelihood and education assistance. This is offered to families of convicted OFWs or those who died from the death penalty abroad.
Under this program, recipients will get cash aid to help them continue their studies at the time of the OFW member’s death. In addition, qualified dependents are also offered livelihood activities in order to provide continuous income in the Philippines. Dependents will receive cash aid for livelihood and education assistance.
There are also special programs that OWWA provides to meet the social, educational, and financial needs of its active members. The following are special projects that OFWs can benefit from:
DOLE-OWWA AKAP for OFWs. As a financial assistance program offered by OWWA, the DOLE-OWWA AKAP supports the implementation of pending and new applications for DOLE-AKAP. It helps displaced Filipino migrant workers permanently or temporarily affected by the COVID pandemic. While there are members who may be ineligible to avail of this program, the priority is documented OFWs, qualified undocumented OFWs, active OWWA members, inactive OWWA members, and returning awardees who can’t go back to their overseas employer due to the pandemic.
Tertiary Education Subsidy for Dependents of Repatriated OFWs. This Tabang OFW program is created and managed by CHED and DOLE to ensure that qualified dependents of OWWA members can benefit from scholarships and training. The main goal is to help the families of OFWs who died due to the pandemic or those displaced OFWs. It supports college-level dependents through the Tertiary Education Subsidy program.
OWWA Rebate Program. This financial assistance program has been designed based on the OWWA Act or Republic Act 10801. OFWs who haven’t received any benefit, support, or grant from OWWA yet are eligible for the Rebate Program. Beneficiaries may get cash aid between Php 941.25 to Php 13,177.50 depending on the OWWA contribution they have made in total.
Some of the online services that OWWA provides its active members are the following:
OFW Assistance Information System. This online platform facilitates service delivery to all OFWs with active OWWA memberships. It provides information to POEA, POLO, DOLE, and OWWA so that they can quickly respond to the concerns of OFWs regarding transportation, quarantine, testing, and repatriation.
OWWA e-CARD Tracker. This e-service allows OWWA members to track their OFW e-Card. They can check their status using their passport numbers or tracking numbers together with their birth date. The e-Card also provides status delivery to reduce the hassle of tracking users’ OFW cards.
Video: OWWA Latest Update for OFW, Programs, Services, and Benefits
This video explains the latest benefits, programs, and services that OWWA offers to OFWs in the Philippines and abroad. Watch til the end to understand how these programs work and their benefits to all Filipino migrant workers.
Now that you have the full list of OWWA programs and services for OFWs, it’s easier to know which particular program or service you need according to your current situation. We’ll update this list in case new programs are available to OWWA members with active membership status.