The United States government has banned the entry of new Filipino workers due to severe overstaying and human trafficking concerns.
In a statement, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said workers from the Philippines, Dominican Republic and Ethiopia were no longer eligible to apply for H-2A and H-2B visas for foreign workers.
H-2A visas are temporary visas for foreign agricultural workers, while H-2B visas are issued to foreign workers providing non-agricultural services in the US.
“The Philippines has a high H-2B overstay rate. In the fiscal year 2017, DHS estimated that nearly 40% of H-2B visa holders from the Philippines overstayed their period of authorized stay,” the DHS said.
The DHS also said there had been a high volume of human trafficking victims from the Philippines who were originally issued H-2B visas. The continued issuance of the visas to Filipinos was considered a way to perpetuate human trafficking from the Philippines.
The notice on the ban went into effect on January 19 and will last until January 18, 2020. Foreigners who hold valid H-2A or H-2B non-immigrant status will not be affected.
“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 one H-2 status to another,” the DHS said.