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“New Countries Added to the H-2A and H-2B Visa Programs”

By Peter F. Asaad

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Department of State, has added the Czech Republic, Denmark, Madagascar, Portugal, and Sweden 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 68 eligible countries published on Dec. 16, 2014 in the Federal Register.

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. 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 may approve H-2A and H-2B petitions for nationals of countriesnot on the list if it is determined to be in the interest of the United States.

Effective Jan. 18, 2015, nationals of the following 68 countries are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B Visa programs:

Argentina Fiji Moldova Slovenia
Australia Grenada Montenegro Solomon Islands
Austria Guatemala Nauru South Africa
Barbados Haiti The Netherlands South Korea
Belize Honduras Nicaragua Spain
Brazil Hungary New Zealand Sweden
Bulgaria Iceland Norway Switzerland
Canada Ireland Panama Thailand
Chile Israel Papua New Guinea Tonga
Costa Rica Italy Peru Turkey
Croatia Jamaica The Philippines Tuvalu
Czech Republic Japan Poland Ukraine
Denmark Kiribati Portugal United Kingdom
Dominican Republic Latvia Romania Uruguay
Ecuador Lithuania Samoa Vanuatu
El Salvador Macedonia Serbia
Estonia Madagascar Slovakia
Ethiopia Mexico

This notice does not affect the status of beneficiaries who currently are in the United States in H-2A orH-2B status unless they apply to change or extend their status. Each country’s designation is valid for one year from Jan. 18, 2015.