Felicia Persaud (26512)
Felicia Persaud

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Department of State, has added three Caribbean countries and three other nations of the world as eligible participants in the visa work programs in the coming year.

Haiti and Saint Lucia have been added to the list of countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs. The Dominican Republic is now eligible for the H-2A program. Also added are Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the Republic of Cyprus.

The H-2A program allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs.
The H-2B program allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs.

A U.S. employer, or U.S. agent as described in the regulations, must file Form I-129, Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker, on a prospective worker’s behalf with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, (USCIS).

To qualify for H-2A nonimmigrant classification, an employer or petitioner must:

Offer a job that is of a temporary or seasonal in nature.
Demonstrate that there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work.

Show that employing H-2A workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

Generally, submit a single valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor with the H-2A petition.

The notice listing the eligible countries was published in the Federal Register on Nov. 10, 2021.
In total, nationals from 85 countries will be eligible to participate in the H-2A program and nationals from 86 countries will be eligible to participate in the H-2B program in the coming year.

Eligibility determinations will be made according to all the relevant factors and evidence presented in the case.

Generally, the U.S. CIS may grant H-2A classification for up to the period of time authorized on the temporary labor certification. H-2A classification may be extended for qualifying employment in increments of up to 1 year each. A new, valid temporary labor certification covering the requested time must accompany each extension request. The maximum period of stay in H-2A classification is 3 years.
A person who has held H-2A nonimmigrant status for a total of 3 years must depart and remain outside the United States for an uninterrupted period of 3 months before seeking readmission as an H-2A nonimmigrant. Additionally, previous time spent in other H or L classifications counts toward total H-2A time.

An H-2A worker’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may seek admission in H-4 nonimmigrant classification. Family members are not eligible for employment in the United States while in H-4 status.

To qualify for H-2B nonimmigrant classification, the company/petitioner must establish that:

There are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work.

Employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

Its need for the prospective worker’s services or labor is temporary, regardless of whether the underlying job can be described as temporary. The employer’s need is considered temporary if it is a:

1: One-time occurrence––A petitioner claiming a one-time occurrence must show that it has:

2: An employment situation that is otherwise permanent, but a temporary event of short duration has created the need for a temporary worker.

3: Not employed workers to perform the service or labor in the past, and will not need workers to perform the services or labor in the future; OR it is a seasonal need and the petitioner claiming a seasonal need must show that the service or labor for which it seeks workers is traditionally tied to a season of the year by an event or pattern, and of a recurring nature.

Additionally, a petitioner can claim a peak load need but show they regularly employ permanent workers to perform the services or labor at the place of employment; needs to temporarily supplement its permanent staff at the place of employment due to a seasonal or short-term demand; and the temporary additions to staff will not become part of the employer’s regular operation.

H-2B petitioners must also provide a single valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
For more details, see USCIS.gov.

The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow

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