Filipinos can now apply again for H-2B visas after the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) added back the Philippines to the list of countries eligible to participate in the temporary non-immigrant working visa program.
“For 2021, the acting secretary of homeland security and secretary of state have agreed to… add the Philippines to the list of countries eligible to participate in the H-2B program,” a statement on the US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website said.
The announcement came as the administration of US President Joe Biden officially took office last week.
Effective January 19, 2021, US employers can now bring foreign nationals to America to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs.
However, the Philippines was still not eligible to participate in the H-2A program, which is meant for temporary agricultural work.
Lou Tancinco, an immigration lawyer in the US, said the lifting of the ban is very timely as the DHS has mentioned military projects in Guam will be needing manpower.
She added that Filipino workers who are interested to apply for the H-2B visa may contact valid job contractors or agencies for US jobs that will qualify them for the visa program.
“So maybe they can inquire about valid US employers who are offering jobs in that area. Just make sure that the prospective US employer has a valid approved visa petition by the USCIS before applying,” she said in an episode of Balitang Pinoy Abroad.
In January 2019, the Homeland Security banned the entry of additional Filipino workers with H-2A and H-2B visas due to “severe” overstaying and human trafficking concerns.
Further, the DHS maintained its authority to add and remove countries to the list any time should a country fail to meet the requirements for continued designation.
Factors that could result in the exclusion of a country or the removal of a country from the list include fraud, abuse, denial rates, overstay rates, human trafficking concerns, and other forms of noncompliance with the terms and conditions of the H-2 visa programs by nationals of that country that are contrary to US interest, DHS said.—Ma. Angelica Garcia/LDF, GMA News