New Countries Eligible to Participate in 2011 H-2A and H-2B Programs

New Countries Eligible to Participate in 2011 H-2A and H-2B Programs

The H-2A and H-2B Visa Programs set the guidelines for those individuals seeking non-immigrant, or temporary worker status in the United States. The H-2A program grants U.S. employers permission to bring foreign workers into the United States to work in temporary agricultural jobs. The H-2B program serves the same purpose, but for temporary non-agricultural jobs. To facilitate these programs the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department only allows nationals from countries approved by the Secretary of Homeland Security to participate in these programs. In 2011, a new list of countries approved for these programs for the following year was announced.

Approved Countries

As of January 18, 2011, the following list of countries was approved, and nationals from these countries are allowed to participate in the program:

Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Nauru, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Vanuatu.

Of these countries, the following were designated for the first time this year:  Barbados, Estonia, Fiji, Hungary, Kiribati, Latvia, Macedonia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State excluded Indonesia from this list, rescinding their prior approval for participation in the program.

Special Approval

If a person currently holds a valid H-2A or H-2B visa, this new list does not affect their status. Individuals from countries not on the approved lists may be admitted under the visa programs, but only if the Secretary of Homeland Security determines that it is in the best interest of the United States.

The Law Firm of Annapolis provides immigration law services in the Annapolis & Baltimore, Maryland area.  If you have questions about the H-2A or H-2B program, or any other visa or immigration related questions, please contact us today and one of our immigration attorneys will be happy to discuss what options you may have to apply for a visa.