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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security added St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the 2017 list of countries whose citizens are eligible to come to the U.S. on temporary work visas starting Jan. 18.
The tiny Caribbean nation joins the 84 approved countries from 2016, making residents of 85 countries eligible to participate in the H-2A agricultural guest worker program and residents from 84 countries eligible for the H-2B low-skilled, nonagricultural guest worker program.
Moldova was excluded from participation in the H-2B program in 2016 due to a "high occurrence" of failure to comply with H-2B visa standards. The country remains on the list of H-2A eligible nations.
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.
In 2009, when the list was first established, 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, four in 2014, five in 2015 and 16 in 2016. One country, Indonesia, was removed from the list during that time.
DHS takes into account several factors when deciding which countries to put on the list, 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.
Reasons to remove a country from the list could include fraud, abuse, or 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.
Nationals of the following 84 countries are eligible to participate in both the H-2A and H-2B visa programs through 2017: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Samoa, 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, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Vanuatu.
Nationals of the 85th country, Moldova, are eligible to participate in the H-2A program only.
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