WITH President Donald Trump’s mantra of “buy American, hire American,” is working in the US still a viable choice?
Are jobs still there for the taking for non-white immigrants in the US and the four other countries with permanent migration programs—Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom?
How many Filipinos are leaving on a regular basis to look for opportunities overseas? Is the current administration’s campaign against drugs, corruption and cronyism translating to opportunities for all?
Let’s start with the most fertile migration ground for Filipino immigrants.
With visa allocation and yearly quota still intact (despite campaign promises to cut down on immigration), anywhere from 50 to 6,000 Filipinos still get their green card and lawful permanent residency in the US.
Each immigrant admitted into the US is authorized to work: applicants who have been issued visas based on approved petitions in the family or employment-based categories—and special immigrants.
The US State Department and US citizenship and immigration services keep regular and reliable record of individuals admitted on a permanent or temporary basis. The same is true with the other four countries.
Main reason: economic
While stanching, reducing and eventually eliminating the flow of Filipinos leaving for foreign shores to work, study, do business and live elsewhere was not one of the principal campaign promises of President Digong, the main reason why Filipinos go overseas is economic.
The lack of opportunities at home, an uneven playing field, the culture of impunity by those who hold even the lowest positions of power and general abuse of authority are what push Filipinos to try their luck in foreign shores.
The drug menace persists because of coddling, protection and participation of politicians, government officials to the lowest level, law enforcement agencies from generals to the SPO1 ranks. Drugs and criminality are bedfellows and where safety is non-existent, responsible family heads try their very best to escape – at least the income earners initially and later the dependents.
This chain of migration, however, has been challenged in the US by Trump, and in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
So, has the relentless, brutal and deadly campaign against drugs, corruption and cronyism changed the migration mindset of Filipinos?
The record of passport applications from the Department of Foreign Affairs, comparing a 12-month period for 2015 and 2016, before and after the election of President Duterte, should provide the answer.
As the official figures show the number of passport applicants has increased.
Visas needed after passport
Unless a Filipino professional or skilled worker intends to visit or work in certain Asean countries, a visa is not needed. In Singapore, the ability to change one’s status from visitor to working is public knowledge.
For the five countries with permanent migration programs, however, a temporary or permanent resident visa is required.
Assuming visa applicants are issued visas, they then leave to pursue their intent. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Immigration does not share statistics on the number of Filipinos departing for foreign shores.
The US has specific categories of visa holders who may legally work. Filipinos petitioned by family members are legally allowed to work—any kind of employment with one or more employers.
Certain employment-based immigrant visa holders are required to work for the specific employer or sponsor that filed the immigrant visa petition. Ministers and religious workers may perform work in a full-time compensated position only with the sponsoring religious organization
Temporary workers in the US, however, must be sponsored by a qualified US employer after complying with the requirements of the US Department of Labor. Generally, the temporary workers in the H-1B or H-2B category may work only for the employer that filed the petition.
B-1 business visa
A person intending to work in the US must be the beneficiary of a temporary work visa petition. An individual who intends to travel to the US on business or occupation-related reason does not need an employer petition. He or she may apply for a B-1 visa, temporary visit for business.
Individuals already in the US in certain nonimmigrant categories may also be authorized to work without the need for an employer sponsorship such as E-1 treaty traders, E-2 treaty investors, E-3 and TN classifications, as well as, in certain instances, the F-1 (academic) and M-1 (vocational) student and J-1 exchange visitor classifications.
For the complete list of categories allowing foreign workers to work temporarily in the US this is the official link – https://www.visacenter.org/page/792/working-in-the-us
The lack of reliable information as to the number of Filipinos that continue to leave the country gives way to educated guesstimates: Citing data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Migrante International claims that average daily deployment of Filipino workers rose from 4,018 in 2010 to 4,624 in 2011 and to 4,937 in 2012.
Based on the official numbers of Filipinos issued passports, apparently, the exodus continues.