A one-year ban on granting new working visas to Filipino workers has recently taken effect. The United States Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) decided to freeze applications for visas under the H-2A and H-2B programs until January 18, 2020.
These programs both offer temporary working visa’s to individuals. The H-2A program is specifically aimed at agricultural workers. The H-2B program, on the other hand, is for all other classifications of workers outside of agriculture.
The USDHS explains in a notice that the banning of workers is due to issues of overstaying and human trafficking concerns. On overstaying, they state: “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.”
Concerning human trafficking, the notice reads: “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 serve as an avenue for future human trafficking from the Philippines.”
While these numbers were mainly concerned with H-2B visas, the USDHS justifies that the harm is enough to preemptively remove the H-2A visa program. Especially since the visa applications for the H-2A program have quadrupled since 2015.
However, workers who already hold these visas will not be affected. They will be able to continue holding their H-2A or H-2B non-immigrant status. Only those seeking to extend or change their visas will be affected.
(This new Visa for Filipinos lets you study and work while on holiday in New Zealand)
Do you think banning these visa applications is justified?