OWWA launches OFW e-card in US

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has launched the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) e-Card in the United States to provide OFWs easy access to the agency’s programs.

This was relayed by Grace Valera, director of the Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) based in Washington, DC, to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Sunday.

MHC is a Filipino-owned private organization that provides legal services on immigration matters to Filipinos residing in America.

Some 250,000 OFWs in the US will benefit in the first implementation phase of the e-card project.

Valera said the e-card may be availed of for free by all active “balik-manggagawa” OFWs, who have valid overseas employment certificate (OEC), or exemption number and a valid passport.

OWWA programs that may be accessed via the e-card include welfare services, scholarships, training programs, and social benefits.

When availing of these programs, the OFW may present the e-card at any OWWA regional welfare office or at the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO) and embassies/consulates, Valera said.

The e-card may also serve as a valid government identification card, apart from being proof of OWWA membership.

Help desks have been set up in all OWWA offices in the country, as well as overseas posts, to assist OFWs, who may have questions regarding the project.

OFWs who wish to apply for their e-cards may visit the OWWA website at www.owwa.gov.ph and may claim their cards upon return to the Philippines or through any family member with an authorization letter and copy of the OFW’s passport identification page.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the number of OFWs who worked abroad from April to September 2017 was estimated at 2.3 million.

Of this number, overseas contract workers (OCWs) or those with existing work contract comprised 97 percent. The rest (3 percent) worked overseas without a contract. (PNA)