USCIS ANNOUNCES COUNTRIES ELIGIBLE FOR H-2A AND H-2B VISA PROGRAMS

On Friday, January 25, 2019, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) and the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), in consultation with the Department of State, announced the list of countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs in 2019.  The notice listing the eligible countries was published in the Federal Register on January 18, 2019.

For 2019, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Neilsen and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have agreed to:

  • Add Mozambique and Samoa to the list of countries eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs;
  • Add Paraguay to the list of countries eligible to participate in the H-2A visa program;
  • No longer designate Ethiopia and the Philippines as eligible countries because they no longer meet the regulatory standards for the H-2A and H-2B visa programs; and
  • No longer designate the Dominican Republic as an eligible country for the H-2B visa program because it no longer meets the regulatory standards for that program.

The H-2A and H-2B visa programs allow U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural and nonagricultural jobs, respectively.  Typically, USCIS approves H-2A and H-2B petitions only for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as eligible to participate in the programs.  However, USCIS may approve H-2A and H-2B petitions, including those that were pending as of the date of the Federal Register notice, for nationals of countries not on the list on a case-by-case basis only if doing so is determined to be in the interest of the United States.

For a complete list of the 84 countries eligible for the H-2A visa program and the 81 countries eligible for the H-2B visa program, click on the following link for the Federal Register notice:  https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/01/18/2019-00074/identification-of-foreign-countries-whose-nationals-are-eligible-to-participate-in-the-h-2a-and-h-2b.

This notice does not affect the status of beneficiaries who currently are in the United States in H-2A or H-2B status unless they apply to change or extend their status.  Each country’s designation is valid for one year from January 19, 2019.

If you have any specific questions or concerns about H-2A or H-2B visas or an immigration issue, please contact the Kullman Firm attorney with whom you normally work, or Patricia A. Bollman, our Immigration Law Specialist at pab@Kullmanlaw.com.