DHS Announces Countries Eligible for H-2A, H-2B Visas

Global HR

​Citizens of Mongolia, Samoa and Tonga will no longer be eligible to come to the U.S. under certain temporary work visas because those countries are failing to meet program standards, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Jan 13.

Citizens from Samoa and Tonga will not be eligible for either the H-2A or H-2B work visas for agricultural or seasonal low-skilled workers, respectively, and individuals from Mongolia will be eligible only for H-2B visas.

On the other hand, the Philippines will be returned to the list of countries eligible to participate in the H-2B visa program, the DHS said. The Dominican Republic, Moldova and Paraguay are currently only eligible to participate in the H-2A program.

There are 82 approved countries whose citizens are eligible for H-2A visas and 83 countries whose citizens can apply for H-2B visas in 2021.

The eligibility designation expires after one year and must be renewed. The notice does not affect workers currently in H-2A or H-2B status unless they apply to change or extend their status.

The DHS considers several factors when deciding which countries to include for eligibility, including the country’s cooperation in receiving its citizens who are subject to a final order of removal from the U.S., and the number of orders of removal executed against nationals of that country.

Reasons to remove a country from the list include fraud, abuse, visa denial rates, overstay rates, human trafficking concerns, and noncompliance with H-2A and H-2B terms and conditions by nationals of that country, as well as evidence of economic impact on U.S. industries or regions resulting from the inclusion or exclusion of specific countries.

2021 List of H-2 Eligible Countries

Nationals of the following countries are eligible to participate in both the H-2A and H-2B visa programs through January 2022: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, Nauru, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Vanuatu.

In addition, the Dominican Republic, Moldova and Paraguay are on only the list of H-2A eligible nations, and Mongolia and the Philippines are only eligible to participate in the H-2B program.

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