Each year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (DOS) determine eligible countries to participate in the H-2A and H-2B programs. Countries excluded from the program fail to meet the requirements to be designated to participate. The considered factors for exclusion of participation are fraud, abuse, nonimmigrant visa overstay rates, and more details related to noncompliance with the regulations of the H-2 programs.
U.S. employers can fill temporary agricultural and nonagricultural employment with foreign nationals under the H-2A and H-2B visa programs. Most of the time, the USCIS will process H-2A and H-2B petitions for countries designated to participate in the H-2 visa programs. In rare situations, the USCIS would consider granting H-2A or H-2B visas for nationals of countries not previously eligible, if in the interest of the United States.
This month, as a novelty, DHS and DOS have added the Kingdom of Eswatini (Eswatini) to the list of countries eligible to participate in both programs. The current designation of eligible countries is valid from November 10, 2022, until November 9, 2023. The participating nations are the following:
Andorra, The Kingdom of Eswatini, Madagascar, Saint Lucia, Argentina, Fiji, Malta, San Marino, Australia, Finland, Mauritius, Serbia, Austria, France, Mexico, Singapore, Barbados, Germany, Monaco, Slovakia, Belgium, Greece, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Grenada, Montenegro, Solomon Islands, Brazil, Guatemala, Mozambique, South Africa, Brunei, Haiti, Nauru, South Korea, Bulgaria, Honduras, The Netherlands, Spain, Canada, Hungary, New Zealand, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Chile, Iceland, Nicaragua, Sweden, Colombia, Ireland, North Macedonia, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Israel, Norway, Taiwan, Croatia, Italy, Panama, Thailand, Republic of Cyprus, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, Czech Republic, Japan, Turkey, Denmark, Kiribati, Peru, Tuvalu, Dominican Republic, Latvia, Ukraine, Ecuador, Liechtenstein, Poland, United Kingdom, El Salvador, Lithuania, Portugal, Uruguay, Estonia, Luxembourg, Romania, and Vanuatu.
Mongolia and the Philippines are eligible to participate in the H-2B program but are not eligible to participate in the H-2A program.
Paraguay is eligible to participate in the H-2A program but is not eligible to participate in the H- 2B program.
This month’s country designation will apply to nonimmigrants changing status to H-2A or H-2B. However, this notice will not affect H-2 beneficiaries who are currently in the United States and have applied for an H-2 extension before the date of the publication of the Federal Register Notice. Lastly, this notice does not affect H-2 beneficiaries who apply for an H-2 visa at a consulate and/or seek admission to the United States if their H-2 petition was approved before the date of publication of the Federal Register Notice.