What is an OFW – Overseas Filipino Worker?

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are Filipino citizens who choose to work and live in a foreign country for a specific or indefinite period of time. They migrate abroad to seek employment opportunities and support themselves and their families back home. While working overseas, they provide valuable services to other countries in various sectors such as domestic work, construction, healthcare (nurses and caregivers), the maritime industry, and other professional fields, depending on the demand from overseas employers.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO) and What is an OFW – Overseas Filipino Worker? The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) are the government agencies responsible for addressing the welfare and labor concerns of Filipinos working abroad. They provide assistance, guidance, and protection to OFWs, ensuring that their rights are upheld and that they receive the support they need.

Currently, there are approximately 10 million Overseas Filipinos spread across the globe, with Saudi Arabia hosting the largest number of Filipino workers at around 2.6 million. The majority of OFWs are classified as overseas contract workers, as they hold employment contracts with their foreign employers. These contracts can range from short-term assignments of one month to long-term contracts spanning several years. These individuals are commonly referred to as time-based migrant workers.

It’s worth noting that the information provided here reflects the situation up until September 2021. Figures and circumstances may have changed since then.

What is the meaning of OFW?

OFW stands for Overseas Filipino Workers. These individuals come from diverse backgrounds, ranging from mothers to construction workers, teachers to professional doctors. They embark on journeys to various parts of the world, undertaking a wide range of jobs that correspond to their respective professions

Why do many Filipinos want to work abroad?

Many Overseas Filipinos aspire to work abroad because they can earn higher salaries compared to what they can earn in their home country. This allows them to financially support their families back home. Here is a list of reasons why Filipinos choose to work abroad and become Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs):

  1. Income Stability: Working abroad provides a stable source of income for their families. The higher wages and better employment benefits enable them to meet the financial needs of their loved ones, such as daily expenses, housing, healthcare, and other essential requirements.
  2. Better Career Opportunities: Overseas employment offers Filipinos access to a wider range of job opportunities and industries. They seek career growth and professional development, which may be limited or unavailable in their home country. Working abroad allows them to gain valuable international work experience, enhance their skills, and broaden their professional network.
  3. Education for Children: Many OFWs prioritize their children’s education and see working abroad as a means to provide better educational opportunities. They believe that a quality education will equip their children with the skills and knowledge needed for a brighter future.
  4. Skills Development: Overseas employment enables Filipinos to maximize their skill sets. They can undergo specialized training and higher education programs that are often not readily accessible or affordable in the Philippines. By upgrading their skills, OFWs enhance their employability and increase their chances of securing better-paying jobs.
  5. Greater Freedom: Working abroad offers OFWs a sense of freedom and autonomy. They enjoy the advantages mentioned above, which provide them with financial stability and the ability to make choices for themselves and their families. This freedom empowers them to improve their living conditions, support their loved ones, and plan for a better future.
  6. Better Opportunities: Filipinos opt for jobs abroad that they believe will lead to better opportunities for both themselves and their families. These opportunities may include career advancement, higher income potential, access to modern technologies and resources, and exposure to diverse cultures and perspectives.

What types of jobs do Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) do?

The job opportunities for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are diverse and encompass a wide range of industries and professions. These opportunities are available in various countries across the globe, including the Middle East, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and different countries in Europe.

Depending on their educational background and qualifications acquired in the Philippines, OFWs can secure a variety of job roles, including:

  1. Overseas Manpower: This category includes OFWs working as caregivers, domestic helpers (such as nannies and maids), and other related roles.
  2. Construction Industry: Many OFWs find employment as construction workers or carpenters, contributing to the construction industry abroad.
  3. Manufacturing Sector: OFWs may work in manufacturing industries as factory workers, participating in the production processes.
  4. Engineering and Medicine: Some OFWs secure positions in fields like engineering or medicine, working as engineers, doctors, or other related professions.
  5. Information Technology (IT): OFWs with skills and expertise in IT can pursue job opportunities in this field, contributing to various technological and software development projects.
  6. Customer Service: OFWs may also work in customer service roles, providing support and assistance to customers in different industries.
  7. Nursing: Nursing is a prominent field for OFWs, with many Filipino nurses working abroad and providing healthcare services in hospitals and other medical institutions.

It is important to note that this list is not exhaustive, and OFWs can pursue a wide range of other occupations based on their qualifications, skills, and the demands of the job market in their respective host countries.

How to Become an OFW?

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) can secure employment opportunities by applying through agencies accredited by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA). These accredited agencies are responsible for finding job placements and facilitating the overseas employment of OFWs.

It is crucial to note that individuals aspiring to become OFWs must apply exclusively to POEA-accredited agencies. These agencies meticulously assess applicants based on their qualifications and background to ensure their suitability for the desired job positions. In contrast, non-accredited agencies do not conduct such screenings, which increases the risk of OFWs falling victim to human trafficking crimes in foreign countries. To access a comprehensive list of accredited POEA agencies, please click here

Why do Overseas Filipinos send remittances?

Each month, Filipinos living abroad send money to their families back home as remittances. This is done by electronically transferring funds from one bank account to another using various websites. The remittances sent on a monthly basis serve as financial support for their loved ones’ daily expenses and bill payments. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) send these remittances regularly because their families rely on them.

How do Overseas Filipino Workers contribute to the economy of the Philippines?

Overseas Filipinos play a significant role in bolstering the Philippine economy. Each Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) sends an average of $400 in remittances every month, making a substantial contribution. Additionally, overseas Filipinos also contribute to the economy through their expenditures when visiting friends and family, as well as during special occasions such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve, birthdays, and other holidays

How do Overseas Filipinos send money?

There are many ways Overseas Filipino Workers make sure they get their remittance from one country to another, some examples are listed below:

Bank Wire Transfer – A bank wire transfer is a secure method of electronically transferring money from one bank account to another. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) typically pay a fee of approximately $25 when sending money overseas.

Western Union – When OFWs use Western Union to send money overseas, they usually incur a transaction fee ranging from $15 to $25 per transaction.

MoneyGram – MoneyGram is similar to Western Union and is also used by OFWs to transfer money from one country to another. However, MoneyGram generally charges OFWs lower fees compared to Western Union for their money transfer transactions.

What is the role of Overseas Filipino Workers in the economy of the Philippines?

According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are considered temporary workers for the purpose of labor export policy formulation and program implementation.

OFWs play a vital role in sending remittances to their home country. Typically, they send money back to support their families by covering expenses such as rent or mortgage, utilities, food, clothing, and education, among others. The Philippines has benefited from the funds sent home by OFWs, as it serves as one of the country’s sources of income and contributes to the Philippine Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In 2020, remittances received in the Philippines accounted for 9.7 percent of the country’s total GDP.


Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are individuals who work abroad full-time and receive a fixed income. They typically spend a certain period of the year working ofw overseas Filipino worker and then return to the Philippines for a few months to be with their families. One of the significant contributions of OFWs is the remittances they send back home, which play a crucial role in supporting their families. These remittances are used for various expenses such as rent, utilities, food, clothing, and education.

The Philippines benefits from the money sent by OFWs, as it serves as a source of income and contributes to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Remittances received in the Philippines account for approximately 9.7% of the country’s total GDP.

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