Seasonal workers come under two visa programs namely; H-2A and H-2B visa. These visa programs allow employers in the United States to bring foreign workers to fill temporary agricultural and non-agricultural jobs.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the federal agency that oversees the immigration system, approves H-2A and H-2B petitions only for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security deems eligible. USCIS in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State announced that they will only approve petitions for H-2A and H-2B nonimmigrant status for nationals of 84 countries' listed below from 2019 onwards:
Reasons for exclusion or removal of a country include; fraud, abuse, overstay rates, human trafficking concerns, and other forms of non-compliance issues. The Trump administration has put a ban on seasonal workers from the Philippines starting 2019 as part of a broader effort to restrict foreign workers and push employers to hire Americans.
Related Article: When Additional H2-B Visas Were Released
Coronavirus and seasonal workers
USCIS made temporary amendments to H-2B Requirements in view of the public health emergency and the economic impact caused by COVID-19 on n H-2B employers to help secure the U.S. food supply chain.
To take advantage of the emergency measures:
Why did the US cancel visas for Filipino seasonal workers?
In the year 2017, 64 agricultural visas and 767 seasonal work visas were issued in the Philippines, according to State Department data. In the notice published by the Federal Register, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) detailed the removal of the Philippines from the list of countries eligible for the H-2A visa citing overstay of visas and human trafficking as the two main reasons.
Overstay of visa
An estimated about 40 percent of H-2B visa holders from the Philippines did not leave the United States after their authorized period of stay
The notice does not affect those who currently hold valid visas, it said, though they would be affected if they applied for an extension. USCIS retains the ability to approve applications from Philippine nationals on a case-by-case basis at their discretion.
Filipino Overseas Workers by Occupation
In 2006, Richard C. Paddock best covered the contribution of Filipino overseas workers in his piece in the Los Angeles Times where he wrote, "They nurse the sick in California, drive fuel trucks in Iraq, sail cargo ships through the Panama Canal and cruise ships through the Gulf of Alaska. They pour sake for Japanese salarymen and raise the children of Saudi businessmen."
According to the 2019 Survey on Overseas Filipinos Workers (OFWs), an estimated 2.2 million worked abroad. Overseas Contract Workers (OCWs) or those with existing work contracts comprised 96.8 percent of the total OFWs. Interestingly, OFWs who worked in agriculture were less than 1%.
Filipinos and Money
The Philippines is one of the top remittance-receiving countries in the world. Remittances to the Philippines reached $34 billion in 2019. Remittance has lifted millions of Filipinos from poverty, provided access to quality education for the children, and better healthcare for many households.
Many households today rely on the remittances sent by friends and family in the Philippines. Over the years more and more OFWs are opting for formal channels to send money home. In a report by the Philippines Statistics Authority, the majority of OFWs sent their remittances through banks (58.0%) while the rest used money transfer (40.7%), agency or local office (0.6%), door-to-door delivery (0.4%), friends or co-workers (0.2%), or other means (0.1%).
The only disadvantage to the traditional ways of sending such as banks and agents is that they have exorbitant fees and lower exchange rates as compared to online money transfer companies. The best way to send money to the Philippines is online and through the money transfer companies. Compare the top money transfer companies and save on every transfer. Here are more tips on money transfer for OFWs.
Due to the COVID19 pandemic and the subsequent measures enforced by the governments to curb the spread of the virus, we have seen a dramatic economic downfall and record job losses. World Bank has grim predictions for the remittance industry owing to the economic contractions in major send countries like the United States.
Despite the temporary ban on seasonal workers from the Philippines, there are nearly 4.1 million individuals who are in the US who were either born in the Philippines or have Filipino ancestry, as per the US Census Bureau. The largest Filipino populations can be found in California, Hawaii, and New York. As families and friends continue to support households in the Philippines during this crisis. It will take a collective effort for every stakeholder to ensure that remittances keep flowing in order to prevent the possibility of erasing the growth and progress we have made over the years.
Abound, a comprehensive super-app tailored for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), has successfully secured $10 million in funding from the Times of India Group. This investment aims to bolster the app's remittance services, providing a more streamlined and cost-effective solution for expats.Nishkaam Mehta, the CEO of Abound, expressed in a press release on Monday that the primary objective of the app is to alleviate the complexities and high costs associated with traditional financial services for expats. He further emphasized that this borderless super-app is designed to cater to the distinct financial needs of Indian expats across various regions, enabling them to transcend geographical limitations and live their lives to the fullest.According to World Bank estimates from the previous year, remittances witnessed a 5% growth in 2022, reaching a staggering $626 billion. These transfers serve as a crucial financial lifeline for individuals sending money back home to their loved ones. Furthermore, with approximately 1.4 billion adults still without bank accounts, the need for innovative money transfer solutions is more pressing than ever.Abound, a venture of the Times of India Group and previously known as Times Club, is specifically crafted for Indian expatriates residing in the U.S. The app allows users to transfer funds to India without the hassle of long wait times or transfer fees. In addition to this, membership on the platform comes with a host of benefits including cash-linked and loyalty rewards, curated content, and access to both online and offline commerce. As more NRIs seek innovative financial management solutions, Abound positions itself as the ultimate all-in-one platform with features such as:Daily Shopping Rewards: Recognizing the significance of everyday spending for Indian expats, Abound offers a plethora of daily shopping rewards and cashback offers, enabling users to maximize their purchases.Exclusive Offers Across Categories: Abound provides its users with exclusive deals and offers across a wide range of categories, from groceries and entertainment to shopping and travel, thereby enhancing their lifestyle experiences.To commemorate the launch of its remittance feature, Abound is introducing a limited-time promotion for early adopters, offering an exchange rate of $1=₹83 for money transfers to India.Join the NRI community in ushering in a new era of financial management with Abound. The app is readily available for download on both Android and iOS devices, ensuring easy access and a seamless user experience.
According to recent data released by the central bank, Mexico received an impressive sum of nearly $5.7 billion in remittances during the month of May, setting a new monthly record. However, analysts caution that the strength of the peso against the dollar may have mitigated this achievement.Since the majority of remittances to Mexico originate from the United States, the value is recorded in dollars. Goldman Sachs analyst Alberto Ramos explains that "a strong peso hurts remittances," referring to the fact that the appreciation of the Mexican currency has an adverse effect on the funds received when converted from dollars to pesos.Interestingly, the peso has emerged as one of the top-performing currencies this year, appreciating over 13% against the U.S. dollar between May 2022 and May of this year.Due to the peso's appreciation, when measured in local currency, remittances actually experienced a 2.2% decline compared to the previous year, as stated by Ramos.Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has consistently highlighted the positive impact of remittances on the country's economy. The funds, primarily originating from the United States, have played a significant role in Mexico's economic growth.In 2022, Mexico recorded a record high of $58.5 billion in remittances from abroad, making it the second-largest recipient country, trailing only behind India.Despite the challenges posed by the "super peso," the dollar value of remittances sent in May increased by nearly 11% compared to the previous year.The latest data for May reveals a substantial jump of almost 14% compared to the previous month, resulting in a total inflow of funds reaching $24.67 billion this year.Notably, this amount surpasses the combined revenue generated by oil and agricultural exports during the same period, as noted by analysts at Mexican brokerage Monex.Analysts at Monex and BBVA attribute part of the May surge to the celebration of Mother's Day, suggesting that around 10% of the increased transactions can be attributed to this commemoration.The number of transactions in May experienced a 7% year-on-year increase, reaching a total of 14.56 million. Furthermore, the average amount per transaction rose by 3% to $391.Goldman Sachs' Ramos emphasizes that the strength of remittances reflects the robust U.S. labor market and visible wage growth, particularly in sectors where Mexican citizens are prominently represented.To compare today's best rates when remitting money to Mexico, use CompareRemit's easy-to-use USD to MXN exchange rate comparison tool!
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently announced that it will be promoting the use of the Indian Rupee (INR) for international trade transactions. This move is expected to have significant impacts on both the Indian and American economies.According to a report by Times Now News, 18 countries have already agreed to trade in INR, including Japan, the UAE, the UK, and Switzerland. The Hindu Business Line reports that the RBI has granted approvals for rupee trade in 60 cases involving 18 countries. This is a significant development for India, as it reduces its dependence on the US dollar for international trade transactions.One of the potential impacts of this move is that it will boost the value of the INR. Since there will be an increased demand for INR in international markets, its value is expected to rise. This will make imports cheaper for India, as it will not have to pay as much for goods and services denominated in foreign currencies. Additionally, it will make Indian exports more competitive, as foreign buyers will be able to purchase goods and services using INR, without having to first convert their currencies to US dollars.Another potential impact of this move is that it could reduce the demand for the US dollar in international markets. As more countries start using other currencies, such as the INR, for international trade, the demand for the US dollar may decrease. This could lead to a decline in the value of the US dollar, which would have implications for the US economy.The US dollar has long been the dominant currency for international trade transactions, and any shift away from it could have significant impacts on the global economy. In particular, the US economy could be affected if the value of the US dollar declines, as this could lead to higher inflation and lower purchasing power for Americans. It could also lead to a decrease in the demand for US Treasury bonds, which could make it more difficult for the US government to finance its debt.However, it is worth noting that the shift towards using the INR for international trade is still in its early stages, and it remains to be seen how significant its impact will be. Additionally, the US dollar is likely to remain a dominant currency for the foreseeable future, given its widespread use and the stability of the US economy.Overall, the RBI's move to promote the use of the INR for international trade transactions is a significant development for India. It has the potential to boost the value of the INR and make Indian exports more competitive, while reducing India's dependence on the US dollar. However, it also has potential implications for the US economy, particularly if the value of the US dollar declines as a result.To compare current USD to INR rates, use our online comparison tool and compare exchange rates, fees, and more when sending money overseas from the US to India.
Download Our Free App
Try our faster, enhanced mobile app for a better experience