DHS Publishes New Eligibility List for H-2A, H-2B Visas

Global HR

​A handful of countries have been newly approved as eligible for certain temporary work visas, while one has been removed for no longer meeting program standards, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mauritius, and Saint Lucia have been added to the list of countries eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs for agricultural or seasonal low-skilled workers, respectively, beginning Nov. 10.

Citizens from Moldova will no longer be eligible for the H-2A visa program after Jan. 18, 2022.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas explained that Moldova’s removal is due to evidence of “agents recruiting applicants for H and J visas in Moldova collecting recruitment fees prohibited under U.S. law” and “increasingly sophisticated levels of fraud by Moldovan nationals seeking to obtain H-2A visas with a photocopy of a bona fide unnamed petition and fraudulent work contracts.”

The DHS considers several factors when deciding which countries to include for eligibility, including the country’s cooperation in receiving 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.

For example, the Dominican Republic was removed from the list of H-2B-eligible countries in January 2019 because in fiscal year (FY) 2017, it was estimated that nearly 30 percent of H-2B visa holders from the Dominican Republic overstayed their visas. However, according to FY 2019 overstay rates, only about 5 percent of Dominican Republic nationals overstayed their visas, and there have not been any significant fraud trends observed in the H-2A and H-2B visa categories related to the Caribbean nation since then.

Citizens from 85 approved countries are eligible for H-2A visas and citizens from 86 countries can apply for H-2B visas, both beginning Nov. 10.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.

Updated 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 Nov. 10, 2022: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, Nauru, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, North Macedonia, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saint Lucia, 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, Paraguay is 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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