Guam – The U.S. Embassy in the Philippines may stop issuing H-2 visas for Guam because of continuing complaints against Philippine body-brokers there who continue to charge workers coming here to Guam illegal recruitment fees.
The U.S. State Department’s Fraud Prevention Manager Clay Allan warns that “If it continues its possible that the embassy may stop issuing visas from the Philippines.”
Allan was on Guam a few weeks ago to attended a Labor Conference and he warned Guam employers that they need to police their recruiters, also known as body-brokers, and prevent those recuriters from charging illegal recurtiment fees from the Filipino H2 workers they bring to Guam.
The U.S. has had laws in place since the mid 1980’s that prohibit recruitment fees from being charged to workers as a condition of employment, specifically H2 workers. And those regualtions were revised in January 2009 tighting the prohibition and penalties for anyone charging the fees.
According to Guam’s Philippine Consul General, Bayani Mercardo, Philippine law is different. “Under our labor laws” he said, “recruiters can charge recruitment fees for those who want to work over seas, unless there is a specific law in the host country like the United States.”
Mercardo says, “As soon as U.S. Immigration informed the Philippine Government the existence of such law, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) informed all the recruiting agencies and the general public . But apparently, according to the US embassy, some recuiters are not following the US Labor regulations.”
Guam Alien Labor Director Gregg Massey says the U.S> prohibition is hard to enforce because these fees are being charged in a foreign country.
Massey says, “What it does it puts it on the employer that those fees are not charged to the worker because the recruiters are actually agents of the employer trying to secure man power for them. A lot of times the recruiter will get paid a bonus if they find workers for an employer. But if they accept fees from both the employer and the H2 worker, the recruiter is essentially double dipping.
According to Massey, “The recruiter is not suppose to be charge fees to the worker, the employer needs to pay for the recruiter fees. but it seems like its not happening because we got word the state department that a lot of the fees are still being charged under the able over there.”
Topline Manpower Services has been identified as an agency that has been taking money from Guam bound workers. Massey says there are two scenarios if the department of labor finds out if fees were paid to recruiters if the U.S. State Department finds out that a fee was paid prior to the issue of a visa, then the U.S. State Department may not issue a visa. If we (U.S. Department of Labor) find it was done after and the worker already came to Guam, then the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services may revoke the approval and send the worker home
According to the Mercardo, its against U.S. law and the law recruitor will be administratively dealt with by the Philippine Oversea Employment Agency (POEA)
Massey says employers need to make sure their recruiters are not charging their worker fees. He says it all comes down to the creditability of their recruiting agencies. Accroding to Massey, once word gets out that this law is being enforced by the US State Department , US Department of Labor and U.S Immigration he feels the illegal fees will stop.
In addition, According to Massey, The U.S. Embassy is now enforcing a stricter policy where they will interview 100 percent of the H2 Visa Applicants. If their is a conflict with the H2 Visa application, the visa will be denied.