A one year ban has been imposed by the United States Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) to Filipino workers seeking jobs across the US under the federal H-2A and H-2B programs.
The DHS banned the entry of additional Filipino workers with H2-A and H2-B visas due to overstaying and human trafficking concerns.
The ban is effective from Jan. 19, 2019, to Jan. 18 next year.
H-2A visas are temporary visas for foreign agricultural workers while the H2-B visas are given to foreign workers providing non-agricultural services in the US.
“The Philippines has a high H-2B overstay rate. In FY 2017, DHS estimated that nearly 40 percent of H-2B visa holders from the Philippines overstayed their period of authorized stay,” the DHS notice read.
It noted that among all US posts in the world, the US Embassy Manila “issues the greatest number of T-derivative visas.”
T-derivative visas are reserved for certain family members of principal T-1 non-immigrants or certain victims of severe forms of trafficking in persons, the DHS said.
“DHS and DOS (Department of State) are concerned about the high volume of trafficking victims from the Philippines who have originally issued H-2B visas and the potential that continued H-2B visa issuance may encourage or serve as an avenue for future human trafficking from the Philippines,” the DHS said.
It added that these overstay and human trafficking concerns were “severe enough” to warrant the removal of the H-2A visa program as well, citing Filipinos’ four-fold increase in H-2A visa applications between 2015 and 2018.
“The Philippines’ continued inclusion creates the potential for abuse, fraud, and other harm to the integrity of the H-2A or H-2B visa programs,” it noted.
Ethiopia and the Dominican Republic are also among included in the said ban.
For expatriates who currently hold H-2A or H-2B non-immigrant status, the ban does not apply unless they seek to extend the visa or change status from existing visa to another.