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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) added five new countries to the list whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs in 2015. The additions join the 63 approved countries from 2014, making 68 countries eligible to participate in the programs.
Effective Jan. 18, 2015, nationals from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Madagascar, Portugal and Sweden will be eligible to participate in the H-2A agricultural guestworker program and the H-2B low-skilled, nonagricultural guestworker program. The designation expires after one year and must be renewed.
In 2009, 28 countries were designated as eligible to participate in the visa programs. Eleven countries were added to the list in 2010, 15 in 2011, five in 2012, one in 2013 and four in 2014. Indonesia was removed from the list during that time.
In order to be included on the list, DHS takes into account several factors including the country’s cooperation with respect to issuance of travel documents for nationals of that country 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.
Removal from the list could include fraud, abuse and noncompliance with H-2A and H-2B terms and conditions by nationals of that country as well as evidence of the economic impact on U.S. industries or regions resulting from the inclusion or exclusion of specific countries.
Nationals of the following 68 countries are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs through 2015: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Madagascar, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Nauru, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, The Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Vanuatu.
The notice does not affect those who currently are in H-2A or H-2B status unless they apply to change or extend their status.
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
Follow him @SHRMRoy
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