U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that a list of 58 eligible countries will be able to participate in the H-2A and H-2B program in the forthcoming year. This eligibility list is valid for a period of one year and will be published in the Federal Register.
The list of countries has been finalized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in consultation with the Department of State (DOS). USCIS may only approve H-2A and H-2B visas for participants from the eligible countries. USCIS may approve visas for participants from non-eligible countries if they find it to be in the interest of the U.S.
U.S. employers can bring temporary employees to the U.S. to fill agricultural jobs under the H-2A program and non-agricultural jobs under the H-2B program. These temporary employees need to be nationals of the countries listed in the Federal Register. The eligibility list comes into effect from January 18, 2012 and is valid for one year.
The 58 countries on the list this year are: Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Nauru, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Vanuatu.
Haiti, Iceland, Montenegro, Spain and Switzerland have been added to the list for the first time this year.
Persons currently in the U.S. under the H-2A and H-2B status will not be affected by this new list. They will be affected only in case they apply to extend or change status.