The United States Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) had imposed a one-year ban on Filipino workers seeking employment in the US under the federal H-2A and H-2B programs.
In its Federal Register, the USDHS posted a notice on January 18 bearing the rule to ban the entry of additional—or new Filipino workers with H-2A and H-2B visas due to overstaying and human trafficking concerns.
The ban had been effective last January 19, 2019 until January 18 of 2020.
H-2A visas are temporary visas for foreign agricultural workers, while the H2-B visas are being given to foreign workers which provide 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 had issued 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 were originally issued H-2B visas and the potential that continued H-2B visa issuance may encourage or [even] serve as an avenue for future human trafficking from the Philippines.”
It cited that the Filipinos four-fold increase in H-2A visa applications between 2015 and 2018, were connected to the overstays and human trafficking concerns—and was “severe enough” to warrant the removal of the H-2A visa program as well.
It also noted 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.
The DHS also imposed the same visa ruling to Ethiopia and the Dominican Republic.
However, the notice does not affect the status of aliens who currently hold H-2A or H-2B non-immigrant status.
“Persons currently holding such status, however, will be affected by this notice should they seek an extension of stay in H-2 classification, or a change of status from H-2 classification, or a change of status from one H-2 status to another,” DHS said.
In 2016, US President Donald Trump had given a list of countries that he found its immigrants too open to work, considering them as a threat within the US borders.
“We are letting people come in from terrorist nations that shouldn’t be allowed because you can’t vet them,” Trump said.
He named these countries as Afghanistan, Iraq, Morocco, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Uzbekistan, Yemen and the Philippines, and ranted, “We’re dealing with animals.”