Muscat: New workers from Philippines are no longer allowed to seek employment under H2 status in the United States, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced in a recent notice.
The notice imposes a one-year ban on Filipino migrant workers across the US from 19 January 2019 to 18 January 2020.
Explaining its decision, DHS cited a high rate of overstaying Filipinos in the US and concerns over the "high volume of trafficking victims" from the Philippines who were originally issued H-2B visas.
"The Philippines' continued inclusion creates the potential for abuse, fraud, and other harm to the integrity of the H-2A or H-2B visa programme," the DHS notice read.
The DHS believes that these overstaying and human trafficking concerns are "severe enough" to warrant the removal of new Filipino migrants from the H2 visa programme.
H-2A visas are issued to seasonal workers to fill temporary agricultural jobs while the H-2B visas are issued to skilled and unskilled workers for a temporary or seasonal job when there is shortage of workers in the US.
In a statement, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Elmer Cato reminded Filipinos abroad, particularly those in the US, to follow immigration rules and avoid staying beyond what is allowed in their visas.
"As visa issuances are a country’s prerogative, the DFA notes the concerns that led the DHS to arrive at its decision," he said.
"Nonetheless, the Philippines is open to the possibility of working with the United States in addressing these issues, as it has previously done so with similar concerns involving the Filipino Community there."
Meanwhile, he said the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. along with the other Filipino consulates in the US, would continue to extend appropriate assistance to Filipino nationals pursuant to law.
— With inputs from the Philippines News Agency