What Filipino Expats in UAE Struggle With Most

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Like everyone else living abroad, Filipinos deal with all sorts of headaches, but at least five issues appear to be particularly common within their community.

A legal expert in Dubai, who specialises in providing legal assistance to Filipinos in distress, has shone a light on the top five issues that are specific to expatriate workers from the Philippines, and attempted to explain the root causes.

 

From struggling to pay off debt and getting duped by illegal recruiters to drinking without a licence, Filipinos have a number of challenges to deal with, but by being fully aware of their limitations in a foreign country, they should be able to avoid getting themselves in trouble.

Lawyer Barney Almazar, director of Gulf Law, identified these commonly reported problems:

1. Indebtedness: Credit card, personal loans 

The UAE’s tax-free regime, coupled with the fact that the dirham is pegged to the US dollar, makes it possible for expatriates to earn more than they would have in their home country.

Their salaries aren’t only tax-free, banks tend to be more generous when it comes to extending loans and credit cards to borrowers, hence a lot of Filipinos have fallen into the debt trap.

"Credit cards and easy cash loans give you a false belief that you have so much money at your disposal.

"The main trigger point of financial distress is when they get terminated or when they are cheated by their employers [such as non-payment of salaries],” Almazar explains.

2. Intoxication: Drinking, possessing controlled beverages without permit

The second-most common problem among Filipinos has something to do with the consumption of regulated beverages. Drinking or carrying/transporting drinks without a licence could land expatriates in trouble.

This issue is particularly common, especially among newly joined expatriates, those who have recently left their old life in the Philippines, where getting intoxicated in their private homes or at gatherings during special occasions are commonplace and not prohibited by law.

3. Illicit relationship: Pregnancy outside marriage

Appearing third on the list of problems common among Filipino expats are cases that fall under immorality in the eyes of UAE laws, such as sharing accommodations with the opposite sex and unwanted pregnancies, are quite frequently popping up.

“This is the third-most prevalent [issue] among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Almazar says.

“Pemarital sex, or those between two single persons [isn’t being reported often]. They only consult if the act results in pregnancy. [But] if we will include marital disputes involving [illicit] affairs or presence of third parties, I would [get an average of] 10 [cases] a month,” says Almazar.

4. Illegal recruitment

Almazar says many Filipinos fall victim to illegal recruiters because they often avoid going through the red tape when applying for a job abroad.  There is indeed a need to update the current laws and regulations concerning the deployment of OFWs to foreign destinations, in order to promote the welfare of Filipinos abroad. 

“Our laws and government institutions for migrant workers are too old and do not respond to the needs of the time.

"Migrant workers have evolved. Professionals go abroad. Most will go thru the illegal network because they want to avoid the cumbersome government process,” noted Almazar.

“Why would Filipinos come to Dubai on  a visit visa pretending that they are just tourists and will not look for a job? It may sound ironic, but to decrease the victims of illegal recruitment, the government should not restrict its people when they want to go abroad.”

“Instead, they should make it easier for them to leave the country. Make them

be transparent so that the government will know their real intent and

therefore be able to really address their concerns.”

5. Immitation: Fraudulent documents

A number of expats have resorted to submitting fake documents in order to boost  their educational qualifications. Almazar warns expats against using forged papers, because  when things don’t turn out well between the staff and the employer,  there won’t be any dirt to dig up that could undermine the reputation of the expat.

“Some employers will accept the document even if they know it to be fake so that when the employee resigns, they will use the fake document against them. 

“Submission of fake document is not only criminal but also a ground to lose your gratuity pay,” Almazar warns.

There are also cases where fraudulent tenancy contracts are produced in order to secure a visa sponsorship for a spouse or a child.

“Since [they] cannot sponsor [their] wife or children if they do not have a tenancy contract under their name [some expats fake the document].”

“The violators will be given jail term followed by deportation especially if they also submitted fake authenticated documents bearing the forged seal of the UAE government,” explains Almazar.

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