In 2017, Clark County hired 80 special education teachers from the Philippines, securing their J1 visas to fill the teaching shortage.
Five years later, the majority of teachers from the first batch of hires have to go back to the Philippines due to limitations in their visas. Under the J1 exchange visitors visa, holders are required to go back to their home countries after a few years.
However, many of the teachers are not ready to give up their American dreams, especially that Clark County is even experiencing a massive shortage of teachers.
Upon hearing these concerns, Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto assured her assistance to the Fil-Am community. "If there are any issues, do not hesitate to reach out to me or my office," Masto said.
In fact, Masto recently sent a letter to Ur M. Jaddou, director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, as well as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to request that the two-year home-country physical presence requirement be waived for educators under Nevada's cultural exchange program.
"If that is waived on the U.S. side, while they are here before the 5 years is over, they can re-apply without going home. So meaning, they actually look for their next employer and they don't need to go home and just continue teaching," J1 teachers advocate Margie Gonzales noted.
Special ed teacher Janille Mendoza hopes that Masto's request on their behalf is approved. Mendoza arrived in Clark County last December and shared that an extended stay in the US will help her save money especially that she is her family's breadwinner.
"I can say na sulit naman po compared sa sinusweldo namin dun sa Pilipinas... Malaki din po yung extra na nasi-save namin being here," Mendoza said.
(I can say that it's worth it being here, compared to what we're earning in the Philippines... We're also able to have extra savings by being here.)
Meanwhile, Nevada's Washoe and Clark County school districts are still trying to fill more than 1,200 job openings.