The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Friday listed the Philippines as one of three countries whose citizens are no longer eligible for the H-2B worker visa program, a decision that could be an additional burden to the local labor force. The CNMI has been using the H-2B visa for construction workers since the numerical cap is not applied to the Commonwealth and Guam.
The Dominican Republic and Ethiopia were the other two countries that were also removed from the program as per the determination made by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with the concurrence of their counterparts at the State Department. Based on the federal register, the three countries were no longer deemed eligible to avail the program since they no longer meet USCIS regulatory standards.
The Philippines and the Dominican Republic were countries that both have high H-2B visa overstay rate as stated in the U.S. Federal Register while Ethiopia was listed as an “at risk of non-compliance” nation based on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s biannual assessment. The Philippines’ H-2B overstay rate is at almost 40 percent while the Dominican Republic is at nearly 30 percent.