Philippines Lifted Ban - Au Pairs for European Countries

The Philippines on Wednesday (February 23, 2012) lifted a ban on sending Au Pairs to all European countries after new protection guidelines were issued, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said. The ban to European countries lasted for 14 years since 1998 due to racial and economic discrimination towards the poor Filipinos from the Philippines from the rich European countries.

The ban on the deployment of au pairs to European countries has been lifted after the ad-hoc Technical Working Group (TWG) issued a new set of guidelines, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario announced yesterday.

The DFA said that the new guidelines are meant to facilitate the departure of the "au pairs" and at the same time to provide them safety nets and protection. A strict monitoring system will be put in place at all Philippine embassies and consulates in Europe for the protection of Filipino au pairs, the Philippine Star reported.

The new "Guidelines on the Departure of Au Pairs to Europe" were approved to facilitate the departure of au pairs and provide safety nets and protection.

The ad-hoc TWG is composed of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Education (DepEd), Bureau of Immigration (BI), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO).

Under the new guidelines, procedures for the departure of au pairs have been simplified and the documentary requirements were set to the minimum.

A strict monitoring system shall also be put in place in the Philippine embassies and consulates general in Europe for the protection of au pairs. The DFA will act as the lead agency in formulating policies on the au pair scheme.

Departing au pairs only need to submit the following to the BI at the port of departure: a contract of engagement duly authenticated by the Philippine embassy or consulate general in the area of destination, valid passport with au pair visa, and a CFO certificate/sticker.

The DFA said au pairs need not go through the DOLE or POEA procedures as they are not considered overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

Au pair is a term used to describe those between 18 and 30 years of age, unmarried and without any children, placed under a cultural exchange arrangement with a European host family for a maximum stay of two years, unless otherwise allowed by host countries.

Under the au pair scheme, the au pair is placed in an immersion program in cultural and language learning in the specific European country of destination. He or she shall live with the host family at par (au pair) or on an equal basis with the immediate members of the host family, shall be given pocket money, share in child care, light household chores and responsibilities previously agreed upon in an au pair placement contract between the au pair and the host family.

The ban was imposed in 1998 due to isolated cases of abuse of the system by some unscrupulous elements. In 2010, the ban was lifted for Switzerland, Norway and Denmark.

Del Rosario advised prospective au pairs not to go to third party go-betweens since the procedures have been simplified at the least cost for the Filipino au pairs.

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