How to Renew OWWA Membership in Tokyo, Japan

From time to time the Philippine Overseas Labor Office – Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (POLO-OWWA) section of the Philippine Embassy reminds all overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to make sure that their OWWA membership status is active.

Being an OWWA member entitles OFWs and their families to certain benefits and services that they can avail of, while working here in Japan and even upon returning to the Philippines. In this article, we will take a look at the different requirements, fees, and steps in applying for or renewing one’s membership with OWWA.

How to Renew OWWA Membership in Tokyo Japan
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons (PH Embassy) and OWWA Facebook page (OWWA logo)

What is OWWA?

As the name implies, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is a Philippine government agency that aims to protect and promote the well-being of OFWs and their families. It usually works hand-in-hand with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO); both OWWA and POLO are attached agencies of the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Who are eligible to become OWWA members? You can apply if you are:

  • An OFW with valid overseas employment and work visa, which are processed at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA);
  • An OFW who has acquired regular or permanent status (Permanent or Long-Term visa holder) in Japan with permanent and full-time employment and has remained a Filipino citizen; or
  • An OFW who has left the Philippines without proper documentation from the POEA, but has eventually acquired a valid work permit and visa in Japan.

To become a member of OWWA, you need to pay a membership contribution of USD 25 (converted to Japanese Yen). The contribution is valid for two (2) years upon payment. As of this writing, the POLO-OWWA Tokyo website shows that the OWWA Membership Fee is at JPY 3,125.00.

Benefits of OWWA Membership

What exactly are the benefits of being an OWWA member? Here is a quick rundown of the benefits, programs, and services that are available to OWWA members:

Pre-Departure Education Programs

Before the OFW departs the Philippines, he or she is required to undergo either one of these programs:

  • Country-Specific Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS). This is a one-day orientation program for OFWs, discussing topics such as job contracts, country profiles, health and safety, financial literacy, travel tips, and more.
  • Comprehensive Pre-Departure Education Program (CPDEP). This is a 3 to 6-day training for Domestic Workers, focusing on language training, culture, and more.

Programs for OFWs and Families

Both the OFW and his/her dependents are entitled to certain programs under OWWA. These include educational, social, and welfare assistance, as follows:

A. Education and Training Assistance

  • Seafarer’s Upgrading Program (SUP). Under this program, seafarers may avail of a PHP 7,500 assistance for a short course, available every three (3) recorded memberships.
  • Education for Development Scholarship Program (EDSP). This program comes with educational assistance for a 4 to 5-year baccalaureate course, with an annual tuition fee of up to PHP 60,000.
  • OFW Development Scholarship Program (ODSP). This program comes with educational assistance for a 4 to 5-year baccalaureate course, with an annual tuition fee of up to PHP 20,000. It is offered to dependents of OFWs whose monthly salaries are USD 600 and below.

B. Social Benefits

  • Disability and Dismemberment. This includes financial assistance up to PHP 100,000 for injuries sustained due to an accident while working overseas.
  • Death Benefit. This is a PHP 100,000 financial aid for death due to natural causes, and PHP 200,000 for death due to accidents.
  • Burial Benefit. This amounts to PHP 20,000 financial aid for funeral expenses, given on top of death benefits.

C. Welfare Assistance Program (WAP)

  • Bereavement Assistance. This is financial assistance worth PHP 20,000 for non-active members, with validity of filing within three (3) years after the death of the OFW.
  • Strong Typhoons, Heavy Flooding, Earthquakes, and other Natural Disasters. This is calamity assistance worth PHP 1,000 for active members and PHP 500 for non-active members.
  • Man-made Disasters (e.g. Fire) and Similar Cases. This is financial aid worth PHP 3,000 for active members and PHP 1,500 for non-active members.

Reintegration Programs and Services

Upon returning to the Philippines, the OFW may avail of the following reintegration programs and services:

  • Skills-for-Employment Scholarship Program (SESP). This program includes a maximum of PHP 14,500 per training course, leading to the completion of a technical or vocational course in any TESDA-accredited school.
  • Information Technology (IT) Training Program. This is a computer literacy program for OFWs and their families, focusing on computer operation skills.
  • “Balik Pilipinas, Balik Hanapbuhay” Program. For those with ongoing livelihood business projects, this program provides additional PHP 10,000 as cash assistance.
  • OFW Enterprise and Loan Development Program (OFW-ELDP). This includes business training, seminars, and a loan between PHP 100,000 to PHP 2,000,000 for a single proprietorship enterprise, or up to PHP 5,000,000 for corporations. The loan has a fixed annual interest rate of 7.5 percent for a maximum of a 5-year term.

These are just some of the programs and services that OWWA members and their families may apply for. Notice that some services under the agency’s Welfare Assistance Program are available for non-active members as well.

How to Renew OWWA Membership in Tokyo Japan
Image Credit: OWWA / Facebook

Requirements for OWWA Membership or Renewal

Before submitting your application, be sure to prepare the necessary documents. Here are the lists of requirements for: (a) renewal with previous employer; (b) renewal with new/changed employer; and (c) new enrolees, respectively.

For Renewal with Previous Employer:

  • Duly accomplished OWWA OFW Information Sheet;
  • Photocopy of valid Employment Contract or Certificate of Employment with hanko (stamp or seal) of employer or authorized company representative issued within a month of membership application;
  • Photocopy of valid Philippine Passport with photo, name, and signature;
  • Photocopy of valid Residence ID Card;
  • Employer’s Corporate Registration Number (if employer is a company) or National ID Number (if employer is an individual), stated in OFW Information Sheet;
  • Returning Letter Pack (JPY 370) with applicant’s complete name, address, and contact number for sending back the official receipt and other documents.

For Renewal with New/Changed Employer:

  • Duly accomplished OWWA OFW Information Sheet
  • Photocopy of valid Employment Contract or Certificate of Employment with hanko of employer or authorized company representative issued within a month of membership application;
  • Photocopy of valid Philippine Passport with photo, name, and signature;
  • Photocopy of valid Residence ID Card;
  • Photocopy of Employer’s Corporate Registration Certificate (if employer is a company) or National ID Number (if employer is an individual);
  • Returning Letter Pack (JPY 370) with applicant’s complete name, address, and contact number for sending back the official receipt and other documents.

For New Enrolees:

  • Duly accomplished OWWA OFW Information Sheet;
  • Duly accomplished Declaration of Intent to be an OWWA Member Form;
  • Photocopy of valid Employment Contract;
  • Photocopy of valid Philippine Passport with photo, name, and signature;
  • Photocopy of valid Residence ID Card;
  • Photocopy of Employer’s Corporate Registration Certificate (if employer is a company) or National ID Number (if employer is an individual); and
  • Returning Letter Pack (JPY 370) with applicant’s complete name, address, and contact number for sending back the official receipt and other documents.

NOTE: You can download and print the OWWA OFW Information Sheet from this link. Also, for documents that are written originally in Japanese (e.g. Employment Contract or Certificate of Employment), please enclose an English translation.

How to Apply for OWWA Membership

Once you have gathered all the necessary documents, you can now submit your application. Typically, the application process may be done in either of two ways: (a) through walk-in at the POLO-OWWA Tokyo office; or (b) through mailing.

As of this writing, however, the POLO-OWWA Tokyo website states that walk-ins are currently suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can submit your application through the second option — via mail — instead.

You can send the documentary requirements through the Letter Pack. Meanwhile, the OWWA Membership Fee of JPY 3,500 (estimate equivalent of USD 25) must be sent through Genkin Kakitome, the registered cash envelope service of Japan Post.

Both the documentary requirements and membership fee must be sent to:

POLO-OWWA, Philippine Embassy
5-15-5 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-8537, Japan
Telephone No. 03-6441-0959

Video – “Kumusta Kabayan” Helpline by OWWA

Protecting the well-being of OFWs is part of OWWA’s mandate. In December 2021, the agency launched the “Kumusta Kabayan” Helpline to address the emotional and mental issues faces by OFWs abroad. These include homesickness, feelings of anxiety, and other overwhelming emotions that one may experience when living abroad.

If you or anyone you know is interested in calling the “Kumusta Kabayan” Helpline, please do not hesitate to contact the numbers +639664739543 and +639691697068 through Viber or WhatsApp. In the meantime, check out this video featuring the Helpline, as shared by the POLO-OWWA Tokyo Facebook page:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are some commonly asked questions — and answers about applying for OWWA membership/renewal and about the POLO-OWWA office in general:

1. What are the areas of jurisdiction under POLO-OWWA Tokyo?

POLO-OWWA Tokyo covers the following areas or Prefectures: Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Gunma, Fukushima, Hokkaido, Ibaraki, Iwate, Kanagawa, Miyagi, Nagano, Okinawa, Niigata, Saitama, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Yamagata, Yamanashi, and of course, Tokyo.

If you are an OFW based in any of these areas, you can submit your OWWA applications and other related concerns to the POLO-OWWA office in Tokyo.

2. How much does it cost to be an OWWA member?

The OWWA Membership Fee is USD 25 or its equivalent in Japanese Yen. As of this writing, the OWWA Membership Fee is JPY 3,125.

However, the amount may change as the USD-JPY exchange rate is subject to change every first working day of the month. Therefore, all OWWA applications and membership fees must be mailed at least on or before the third week of the month of application to avoid any discrepancies.

3. How do I submit my application?

As mentioned earlier, applicants need to submit their documentary requirements through Letter Pack, and the membership fee through Genkin Kakitome, the registered cash envelope service of Japan Post. Documents and fees should be mailed to:

POLO-OWWA, Philippine Embassy
5-15-5 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-8537, Japan
Telephone No. 03-6441-0959

In the meantime, please wait for further announcements, particularly when it is possible to “walk in” at the POLO-OWWA office in Tokyo again.

4. When do I become a member of OWWA?

There is no exact period stated on the POLO-OWWA Tokyo website, but usually OWWA membership is automatic once your documents are verified and your payment is processed. Just for reference, though, the processing time for Contract Verification (not OWWA applications) is between 5 to 10 working days.

How to Renew OWWA Membership in Tokyo Japan
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

5. Will my OWWA membership expire?

Yes. The Membership Fee of USD 25 is valid for two years, after which you will need to renew your OWWA membership to stay active.

6. Is there anything else that I need to know regarding OWWA applications?

Yes. Please take note of these additional reminders:

  • Make sure that all the details on your OWWA OFW Information Sheet are true and correct.
  • See to it that all your documentary requirements are complete; otherwise, your membership application may not be processed.
  • New OWWA members become eligible to engage in the agency’s regular activities and services — along with special programs — typically after three (3) months of membership.

Summary

Without a doubt, being an OWWA member is a must for all OFWs, wherever they may be in the world. In order to be eligible for the agency’s social, educational, and welfare programs, you need to maintain your membership by renewing every two years. Do not forget this important task!

Contact Information: POLO-OWWA Tokyo

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your OWWA application and other matters, you can get in touch with POLO-OWWA Tokyo through the contact details below. Please note that the office is open from Monday to Thursday between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm, and every Friday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.

Address: Philippine Overseas Labor Office, Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines, Roppongi, 5-15-5, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan, 106-8537
Telephone: (03) 6441-0959
Email: polo_tokyopost@yahoo.com.ph
Website: https://polotokyo.dole.gov.ph/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/poloowwatokyo/

Google Map Location

The POLO-OWWA office is located at the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo. The embassy is just a 7-minute walk from Azabujuban (Namboku and Oedo Line), Exit 7. It is also just a 9-minute walk from Roponggi Station (Hibiya and Oedo Line), Exit 3.

Here is the office’s location on Google Maps, for your reference:

 

DISCLAIMER: We hope that the above guide has been helpful, especially if you are planning to apply for OWWA membership or renewal. Furthermore, please note that the above guide is presented for general, information-sharing purposes only. To know the latest details about the requirements and procedure for OWWA membership applications, please visit the official website of POLO-OWWA Tokyo.

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