Exchange program to the US suspended
MANILA, Philippines — The participation of Filipinos in the Exchange Visitor Program in the United States has been suspended for a year amid the pandemic that has left at least 900 Filipino interns and trainees on their own in the United States.
The Department of Foreign Affairs imposed the moratorium on May 25, which would last for a year, or six months after Philippine authorities lift travel restrictions, whichever is longer.
According to the committee handling the program, as of June 21, the Philippine Embassy and Consulates in the United States and the Commission on Filipinos Overseas have received more than 600 requests for assistance from J1 visa holders, particularly interns and trainees, who were clamoring for return tickets to the Philippines, temporary accommodation, food and basic needs because their programs were prematurely terminated.
More than 300 others used their own funds to get home, while others opted to stay in the United States and risked overextending their visa. “They have all complained of lack of support from their agencies, sponsors and host institutions,” the committee said.
—Dona Z. Pazzibugan
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