Neighboring Guam wants to include the Philippines on its list of countries under the Guam-CNMI visa waiver program, to allow Filipinos to enter Guam without a pre-approved U.S. visa to visit or be employed under the H-2A and H-2B non-immigrant worker programs.
Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero gave the order to start the process of including the Philippines in the Guam-CNMI visa waiver program through Executive Order 2019-22. The order also requires reports of recommendations to be submitted by March 1, 2020.
The executive order notes that, according to 212NIA [8 USC 1182] §212(1), the Guam and CNMI governors may ask the Interior and Homeland Security secretaries to add a country to the list of those whose nationals may obtain a visa waiver.
Currently, the 12 countries participating in the Guam-CNMI visa waiver program are Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.
The Homeland Security secretary may grant the request to include another country after consulting with the Interior and State secretaries, along with the requirements that may be imposed on a country’s nationals, at the discretion of the Homeland Security secretary.
“…Guam and the Philippines already share a long history of partnership in areas of labor, tourism, business development, and diplomacy; and…the Philippines has a growing middle class, which is set to exceed the spending power of Italy’s middle class by 2030, as identified by global think tanks,” the order noted.
It cited a World Bank report that the Philippines is projected to grow from a lower-middle income country to an upper-middle income country in the near future due to its sustained average annual growth of 6.3%.
Further, the executive order noted the Philippines’ removal from the eligibility list for H-2A and H-2B non-immigrant worker program by U.S. DHS in January 2019. “…It is the position of the Leon Guerrero-Tenorio administration that the addition of the Philippines to both these programs would facilitate increased economic growth to Guam’s overall economy,” the order noted.
It added that the Philippine’s Duterte administration, former Guam governor Carl Gutierrez, and the chief adviser on Economic Development National and International Affairs, or EDNIA, had held multiple meetings expressing support to add the Philippines to both the visa waiver program and the H-2A and H-2B non-immigrant worker programs.
Leon Guerrero directed the chief adviser for EDNIA to work with the State and Homeland Security secretaries; work with volunteer members of the Guam community for their expertise and resources; consult outside experts; and submit a report with recommendations and supporting documents to the Guam governor by March 1, 2020.