H-2 Visa Eligibility for 2023 Remains Largely the Same

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer November 10, 2022
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​Eswatini, in southern Africa, has been added to the list of countries eligible to participate in the H-2 visa programs for agricultural or seasonal workers, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced. No other changes were made to the list of eligible nations.

Beginning Nov. 10, citizens from 86 countries are eligible for H-2A visas for agricultural work and citizens from 87 countries can apply for H-2B visas for typically low-skilled seasonal work. 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.

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.

It has been common in previous years for countries to be removed from the eligibility list, but no countries were delisted for 2023. 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, Moldova was removed from the list of H-2A-eligible countries for 2022 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 Dominican Republic was removed from participating in the H-2B visa program for 2019 because it was estimated that nearly 30 percent of H-2B visa holders from the Dominican Republic had overstayed their visas in a previous year. However, overstay rates then decreased, and program eligibility was returned to the Caribbean nation in 2022.

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, 2023: 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, Eswatini, 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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