The Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) Committee of the Philippines has lifted the moratorium on the participation of Filipino nationals in the J1 cultural exchange of the United States of America effective 25 May 2021.

The moratorium was lifted by virtue of EVP Resolution No. 01- 2021 adopted on 6 April 2021 after a series of consultations and technical working group meetings of the 11-member inter-agency committee mandated to institutionalize necessary mechanisms to effectively implement the Exchange Visitor Program.

The aforementioned Resolution supersedes EVP Resolution No. 01-2020 promulgated on 25 May 2020, which temporarily suspended the participation by Filipino nationals in various US cultural exchange programs for a period of one year, following a large number of concerns and requests for assistance received by the Committee from J1 visa holders whose programs were cut short due to the socio-economic impact on their sponsoring institutions of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, the Philippine Embassy and Consulates General in the U.S. and the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) received numerous requests for assistance from J1 visa holders under the intern, trainees and summer, work travels categories, for return tickets to the Philippines, temporary accommodation, food and other basic needs. More than 500 EVP participants in the United States were affected. The EVP Committee and Philippine Foreign Service Posts (FSP) in the United States were overwhelmed with requests for assistance from affected participants, particularly for repatriation and subsistence allowance.

EVP Resolution No. 01 – 2021

The one-year moratorium has allowed the EVP Committee to fully review Philippine participation in the program and look at possible mechanisms and improvements on how to fully maximize the national benefits of participating in the program while ensuring the welfare of participants.

As provided, the Committee will continue to regularly convene to review and safeguard the integrity of the program and protect the rights of its participants.

To ensure the safety and welfare of participants for the duration of their program and even after completion or termination, the following policy actions will be implemented:

▪ Intensify the public information campaign that the EVP is not an alternative path to employment or immigration but a cultural and educational program;

▪ Expedite legal assistance to EVP participants who have a valid cause of action against intermediaries or third-party providers and sponsors;

▪ Adopt more stringent measures in the attendance to the pre-departure orientation seminar (PDOS) and issuance process of the CFO Registration Sticker;

▪ Explore the possibility of a Government-to-Government (G-to-G) arrangement or a possible framework for enhanced bilateral cooperation with the US government that will allow for greater oversight on the private exchange side of the EVP;

▪ Institute registration and monitoring systems for participants in coordination with Philippine Foreign Service Posts (FSPs) in the United States to allow for the continued assessment of the effectiveness of the program;

▪ Issue amended guidelines on the issuance of the No Objection Statement (NOS) and waiver of the two-year home-country residency requirement for exchange visitors; and

▪ Continue the efforts of crafting and adopting the Guidelines for the Accreditation of Local Representatives to regulate third-party intermediaries facilitating the participation of Filipinos whose program sponsors are US private companies.

With the goal of improving and optimizing the Philippines’ participation in the EVP, the Committee will continue to regularly convene and hold technical working group meetings, as well as facilitate dialogues with stakeholders and luminaries from different disciplines.

Registration of J1 Visa Holders

Effective 25 May 2021, through the CFO as EVP Secretariat, registration and pre-departure orientation seminars will resume.

The Committee will start adopting more stringent measures in the attendance to the PDOS and the issuance process of the CFO Registration Sticker. The following documents will be required from the registrants:

1. Undertaking from the U.S. sponsor and local representative that they will ensure the safety and welfare of participants, including the compliance with international health standards and protocols and repatriation in case of premature program termination for whatever reason;

2. Signed and approved health insurance of the participants stipulating coverage of the medical management of diseases, which should include COVID-19, and medical evacuation to the Philippines and/or repatriation of remains, that may be acquired by the EVP participant for the duration of the program; and

3. Notarized Affidavit from the participant stating his/her clear understanding of the EVP program and its purpose.

Participants under the Alien Physician and Research Scholar categories will be required to submit a reintegration plan including research and work programs for the duration of their training. Meanwhile, for participants under the Teacher category, specifically, those who are teaching in public schools must submit a clearance issued by the Department of Education (DepEd).

Conduct of Online PDOS

Prior to issuance of a Registration Sticker, qualified EVP Participants will still be required to undergo the usual PDOS to be conducted by the CFO. However, due to the restrictions on mass gatherings, participants will attend an Online PDOS instead of the traditional face-to-face seminar.

The virtual orientation created by the CFO can be accessed by registrants in the comfort of their homes wherever they may be in the Philippines. Information will be available on the CFO and EVP websites once released to the public.

For inquiries/clarifications regarding the Exchange Visitor Program of the Philippines, you may reach us through e-mail address evpsecretariat@gmail.com.