Have to. Want to. Can, too.


To leave (for overseas destinations) or live (here)?

Filipinos and their counterparts in other nations leave the country; apply for visas when required mostly because they want to, not necessarily because they have to.

Visitor visas, also called temporary residents in Canada, nonimmigrants in the United States are the most wanted.

“Have-to-have” visas are sought after by individuals who seek to work, study or invest in a country where their talent, skill, ability and entrepreneurial drive would be recognized, respected and rewarded mainly because of a hospitable, level playing field in the country of intended migration.

Those are the internal factors pushing intending immigrants.

‘Have To’ Scenario
The next stage for a college student graduating in the next two months, for example, is to find employment. If licensure is required to practice the profession such as engineers, nurses, teachers, accountants, architects, then preparation to take the board follows.

Assuming the grad gets licensed, he or she needs to find employment. Last year, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that 22.6 percent of college graduates were unemployed. There was no verifiable data as to whether those employed find jobs directly related to their degree or course.

If employed, there is the issue of decent pay. Assuming the newly licensed nurse gets a job that pays P18,000 a month or P234,000 yearly.

Meanwhile, a schoolmate who opts to pursue further studies abroad e.g., New Zealand (after assessing her career pathway in the Philippines) decides she “Has To” particularly because international students could work 20 hours a week part time while in school (8 months) and work full time during off-school season (4 months).

The price of NZ studies (tuition for further education in the healthcare sector) would be P630,704. The prize would be part time work in NZ averaging $300 a week or $1,200 a month. In a year the working student’s income would be the equivalent of P902,400.00.

After a year, the international student could look to full-time employment and permanent residency with a job offer. She would no longer be paying tuition but earning an entry salary of P1.3 million as staff RN, a qualification directly obtained through studies.

The schoolmate who found an P18,000 a month job might get P25,000 the year after or P300,000 a year – still way below what the student, now working full time, would be getting. Knowing this option, the graduate-licensed RN left behind mostly would “Want To.”

Auckland, New Zealand, has been rated the third best city in the world in a 2015-16 survey measuring quality of life by Mercer recruitment consultancy. The ranking was based on the country’s internal factors, such as culture and environment, political stability, safety, infrastructure and ease of doing business.

The external factors, on the other hand, are the economic and political conditions in the country of choice to settle permanently.

The sectarian and ethnic conflict in Syria, the ongoing violence in Afghanistan and Iraq, abuses in Eritrea, poverty in Kosovo have driven more than a million migrants and refugees into Europe in 2015.

The tidal wave of refugees from these areas of conflict has prompted European Council President Donald Tusk to bluntly tell would-be migrants “to stop coming to Europe.”

To help stem the flow, Balkan countries and Austria have started to restrict, if not close, their borders, endangering the sanctity of the Schengen agreement.

If the European economy is thriving, the migrants would be seen as a boon, providing a steady pool of skilled, unskilled labor force. But recovery had been slow despite the drop in oil prices and the “European Central Banks’ quantitative easing, creating money to buy financial assets,” the Economist reported.

With growth uncertain given the slowdown in the economies of China and other emergent Asian markets, Europe regards migrants as mouths to feed instead of hands that can work.

On the other side of the Atlantic pond, the UK Guardian reported that the United States added “242,000 jobs last month, spurred by growth in restaurants, retail and healthcare. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.9%, …half of what it was at the height of the recession.”

And so they came – and continue to come by the millions to the United States, increasing by the hundreds of thousands every year.

Majority of the visa holders come because they want to. Not because they have to.

Nonimmigrant numbers (temporary visitors in various categories) increase by almost a million every year from 2010 to 2014.

Those that “have-to-have visas,” specifically refugees, come from the Middle East, Asia and Africa, with only 4,000 from Europe.

Note: (1) The totals on this table do not include replaced immigrant visas. Special Immigrant totals include returning residents, Iraqi and Afghan translators, certain Iraqis or Afghans employed by or on behalf of the U.S. Government, and certain family members of Nonimmigrants.

(2) Combination B1/B2 visitor visa/Border Crossing Cards are issued to Mexican nationals. B1/B2/Border Crossing Card issuances are included in the “Visas Issued” line. ISIS and Conflict-driven. The total number of visas issued to applicants in the Near or Middle East had been increasing from 2005 to 2014.

2005    257,038
2006    289,335
2007    346,510
2008    388,639
2009    367,300
2010    387,665
2011    441,365
2012    497,442
2013    529,531
2014    620,802

Near/Middle East, the current areas of conflict, ISIS-affected include Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen.

Filipino visa applicants reflect the global migration pattern. Most of those who leave the country “want to,” followed by those who “have to.”

The push factors in the Philippines are top-billed by lack of employment opportunities, feeling of hopelessness that the government is able or willing to genuinely serve the people, peace and order situation and, in general, the search for a better quality of life.

The “Have-Tos” are mainly overseas Filipino workers leaving at an average of 5,000 a day, ending up and adding to the millions already in the Middle East, Africa and other parts of Asia.

On the other end of the spectrum, the billionaires, the well-off and well-connected can leave or live anytime they want to.

They “Can, too” if they need to leave in a hurry (stack crates upon crates with plundered money, jewelry, assets) — such as when there is a change of government or an impending social revolution, or maybe a threat of plunder charges when no longer in public office would endanger their life’s routine.

Then they “have to.”



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  1. Juan Delacruz on

    In reply to Trubinize, your math calculation is wrong, very wrong because if you make $30 an hour, you will not make $20,000 and working in a dead end job, and you are making your point with a little bit of arrogance. Can you do your calculations again? You think I do not have any clue on what I am talking about. I just mentioned on the areas what you failed to mention, and that is before tax, nothing more. I just made the comparison on living in the big cities versus smaller towns. You also mentioned about you and your friends on how you accumulated your wealth, which nobody was asking you and personally, I could care less, and I would say it is good for you.

    Well, I was born and raised in San Francisco, California before you migrated to the U.S. I still have my house there in Daily City, fully paid, and I spent many years working in Sunnyvale, in Santa Clara County. My children are all successful now, and I put my house for rent and I am somewhere enjoying life. So don’t ever think that I envy you or your successful friends. I have fully lived the American Dream, Trubinized so next time lets eliminate all these bragging and stay focused on the issue.

  2. Juan Delacruz on

    In big U.S. cities such as Trubinize has mentioned, it is true that Registered Nurses can earn $70. hourly wage and can have $150,000 of yearly income, with some overtime and working on holidays added to it. It may seems that this is a very huge amount, but he failed to mention that this is the BASE PAY, before DEDUCTIONS. In these U.S. Big Cities, Health Care workers are UNIONIZED. Under the U.S. Labor Law, workers are free to join a UNION, to increase their bargaining power. The UNION is the one to negotiate to hospitals how much salaries they want for nurses to go and work at their hospitals. This is the reason why the nurses salaries in these areas are high, comparing to some other part of the U.S. where nurses are directly recruited by hospitals though their Human Resources Offices.

    Now, here are the good parts, the nurses obligations. Unionize workers must pay their union dues, and some of these taxes are withheld by their employers- City Tax, State Tax, Federal Tax, Social Security deductions (for retirement), Another Social Security deductions (for disability), Health Care Insurance, Medicare, and you also need to buy a life insurance, for accidental death and dismemberment.

    In Big Cities, buying your own house is very expensive if you just started out working and no savings. house or apartment rental, car payment, car maintenance and gas, car insurance groceries, clothing and daily miscellaneous expenses cost money. In other word, the standard of living in big cities are expensive.

    Here is the bottom line- Nurses working in smaller towns are happy to have a $25-30 hourly wage, because this is what will amount to on the salaries of nurses in big cities as well, after deduction. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a decent pay for working professionals.

    • @Jaun Delacruz,

      Yes, taxes over here in the U.S. are pretty high and there is nothing a regular folk like me can do much to change things. I’m just being realistic.

      Most nurses are married, if a nurse’s spouse makes “only” $50,000 per year, then their total family income is now $200,000 per yesr. It could substantially be greater than this amount if the nurse’s spouse is also earning a high income. If both of them are nurses, therefore they will certainly be in the ‘upper middle income’ bracket by U.S. standard.

      Most people would rather be earning $150,000 per year and pay higher income tax rather than earning “only” $20,000 per year in a dead-end job.

      The ‘cost of living’ is very high in places like New York City or San Francisco. (A high ‘standard of living’ is good because this is when most people are enjoying the good life, having good paying jobs and able to afford eating out, buying nice things, going on vacations, for example)

      Big cities and itheir suburbs are desirable places to live, in my opinion. You can enjoy big city emenities and culture, but some people do not like the crowded cities and choose to live the simple life in rural areas of the U.S.A. and less in income is fine with them.

  3. Let’s continue with the math of Trubinize
    Probably IRS and state taxes will amount to 30% =45,000
    Mortgage payments or rentals at $3000 per month =36,000
    Car lease at 450 and maintenance at 200 per mo = 7800
    Although food, uniforms, entertainment and bundled
    fees for cabled tv are not significant enough, they still
    add up to thousands at year end…
    College tuition fees?? Just food for thought for nurses
    rushing to the US.

    • @Roda,

      Your figures are pretty close to what most folks have with good income over here in the U.S.

      Despite the high taxes, most professionals, like the Fil-Am registered nurses working in big hospitals in big cities, enjoy the good life as long as they are careful with their finances.

      Most professionals own homes, they usually have two cars and they vacation 1-2 times per year. Many registered nurses I know drive Lexus, Mercedes Benz or BMW (although most of them drive newer Toyotas, GMs, Hondas). And why not, they work very hard. The work of a nurse, or most professionals for that matter, is hard and stressful.

      Most professionals are very well compensated. I also have friends who work in the Silicon Valley and they make tons of money, much more than a nurse could possibly earn. These are the folks who enjoy free or subsidized meals! They even get job perks that most of us dream about, but these are one of the brightest people in the world who are willing to work hard and long hours.

      Google and Apple will NOT hire people with average intelligence. They want the brightest, smartest and the best employees. They can afford to be choosy. They pay well. Very well, I might add.

      Food for thought for Pinoys in college wishing to come to the U.S.A.

  4. I too had to leave the Philippines almost 40 years ago after graduating from college. The Philippines was still under the so-called “conjugal dictatorship” of Ferdinand and Imelda. I did not see a bright future for me in the Philippines under Martial Law that was so corrupt I saw the coming collapse of the Philippine economy even before it happened. Millions upon millions of Filipinos have left the Philippines since I left the country for lack of decent paying jobs in the Philippines.

    I acquired U.S. citizenship thru marriage to my American wife. We have two grown U.S. born children and now three U.S. born grandchildren of mixed races. My American wife agreed to retire with me in the Philippines once we reach the age of 65. However, we are seeing that the crop of presidential candidates doesn’t bode well for the economy of the Philippines and we now have reservation about retiring over there. We fear that there could be another political and social upheaval if the economy collapses once again. My wife and I have traveled pretty extensively during these past few decades and there are only two countries that we visited that we did not feel safe: Mexico and the Philippines. (Needs no explanation)

    BTW: Registered nurses working in large U.S. hospitals in New York City, Chicago and San Francisco (not in Skilled Nursing Facilities or nursing homes which pay about half as much) now earn a starting salary of over $50 per hour. Those with enough job seniority now earn over $70 per hour. With holiday pays and some overtime work, the yearly income of U.S. registered nurses with enough job seniority is $150,000 per year, or more.

    Hard to brlieve? Google large hospital jobs for nurses in large U.S. cities. Hospitals in remote areas and in the Southern U.S. pay much less but the cost of living, especially housing is lower compared to cities in the North East or Western U.S.

    • Just do the math, the salary of a registered nurse at $150,000 per year, with the current exchange rate of around P47 to $1, that is around P7,000,000 (P7 Million) per year.

      Still don’t believe this salary? Google RN jobs.