USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Department of State, have added St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the list of countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs for the coming year. The notice listing the eligible countries was published on Oct. 26, 2016 in the Federal Register. DHS reserves the right to add countries to the eligible countries list at any time, and to remove any country at any time DHS determines that a country fails to meet the requirements for continued designation.
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 only approves H-2A and H-2B petitions for nationals of countries the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as eligible to participate in the programs. USCIS, however, may approve H-2A and H-2B petitions for nationals of countries not on the list if it is determined to be in the interest of the United States.
Effective Jan. 18, 2017, nationals of the following countries are eligible to participate in the H‑2A and H-2B visa programs:
Madagascar Slovakia Argentina
Malta Slovenia Australia
Moldova* Solomon Islands Austria
Mexico South Africa Barbados
Monaco South Korea Belgium
Montenegro Spain Belize
Nauru St. Vincent and the Grenadines Brazil
The Netherlands Sweden Brunei
Nicaragua Switzerland Bulgaria
New Zealand Taiwan** Canada
Norway Thailand Chile
Panama Timor-Leste Colombia Israel Papua New Guinea Tonga Costa Rica
Peru Turkey Croatia
The Philippines Tuvalu Czech Republic Japan Poland Ukraine Denmark Kiribati Portugal United Kingdom Dominican Republic Latvia
Uruguay Ecuador Lichtenstein Samoa Vanuatu El Salvador Lithuania
*Moldova is designated to participate in the H-2A program, but it is not eligible to participate in the H-2B program.
** With respect to all references to “country” or “countries” in this document, it should be noted that the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, Pub. L. No. 96-8, Section 4(b)(1), provides that “[w]henever the laws of the United States refer or relate to foreign countries, nations, states, governments, or similar entities, such terms shall include and such laws shall apply with respect to Taiwan.” 22 U.S.C. § 3303(b)(1). Accordingly, all references to “country” or “countries” in the regulations governing whether nationals of a country are eligible for H-2 program participation, 8 CFR 214.2(h)(5)(i)(F)(1)(i) and 8 CFR 214.2(h)(6)(i)(E)(1), are read to include Taiwan. This is consistent with the United States’ one-China policy, under which the United States has maintained unofficial relations with Taiwan since 1979.
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 Jan. 18, 2017.