DFA, envoy tapped to act on US work visa ban
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Tuesday said it will let the Department Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Philippine Ambassador to the US take the necessary steps following the issuance of a one-year ban on Filipino workers seeking jobs across the US under the federal H-2A and H-2B programs.
In a notice issued last week, the US Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) imposed the ban, which will stretch from Jan. 19, 2019 to Jan. 18, 2020, on the entry of additional Filipino workers with temporary working visas due to overstaying and human trafficking concerns.
READ: US stops issuing new work visas to Filipinos
“With respect to this particular issue, let us wait and let us have the DFA and (Philippine) Ambassador to the US to take care of that initially, because that’s their turf,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
Panelo said the government will have to examine first whether or not the USDHS notice has a valid basis before it can ask for a reconsideration.
The Palace official also said that the Philippines will 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,” Panelo said.
“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 USDHS cited the Philippines’ ‘high H-2B overstay rate’ and the recent ‘four-fold increase’ in H-2A visa applications between 2015 and 2018.
The H-2B visa is issued to foreign workers in the US for temporary non-agricultural jobs while the H-2A visa allows foreign workers for temporary or seasonal agricultural work.
The USDHS also imposed the same ban on workers from Ethiopia and the Dominican Republic. /gsg