Philippines mulls protest against one-year ban on temporary US work visas


The US Department of Homeland Security has imposed a one-year ban on Filipino workers seeking under H-2A and H-2B visas.

The Malacañang has today (Tuesday, January 22) ordered the Department Foreign Affairs and Philippine Ambassador to the US to check if there is grounds to appeal.

In a notice issued on Friday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said the ban, which will run until January 18, 2020, had been imposed due to overstaying Filipino workers and concerns over human trafficking.

Speaking at a palace press briefing today, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said: “With respect to this particular issue, let us wait and let us have the DFA and Ambassador to the US to take care of that initially, because that’s their turf.”

He added that the government would have to first examine whether the DHS notice had a valid basis before it could ask for a reconsideration.

He also said that the Philippines would have to respect US laws. “If that’s the law in the US and there were violations, then we have to respect that. They have basis for that.

“We will only react if our workers are being mistreated, maltreated or being discriminated against. But if they violated the laws of the US, then they have to face the music,” he added.

In issuing the ban, the DHS cited the ‘high H-2B overstay rate’ of Filipinos and the ‘four-fold increase’ in H-2A visa applications between 2015 and 2018.

“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.

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 USDHS also imposed the same ban on workers from Ethiopia and the Dominican Republic. 

The notice does not affect the status of Filipino 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,” the DHS said.

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