This decision was taken last week by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Janet Napolitano after having discussions with Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State. The citizens of these 11 countries included in the new list can apply for H-2A and H-2B visas.
The list of the newly designated countries for H-2A, H-2B visas has been published in the Federal Register. So, the new list includes Ireland, Lithuania, Croatia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Serbia and Uruguay.
As per the list for this year, the countries that fall under the designated nations for applying to H-2A, H-2B visa programs are mentioned alphabetically as below-
Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Belize, Brazil, Costa Rica, Canada, Croatia, Chile, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Ireland, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jamaica, Lithuania, Moldova, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Peru, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, South Korea, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Uruguay.
Under the H-2A visa program, employers are allowed to provide sponsorship to overseas workers for agricultural employment if they (employers) are able to prove that no eligible local workforce (US workers) was available or willing for the said work.
Under the H-2B visa program, the US employers are permitted to hire overseas workers for non-agricultural employment by providing sponsorship to such workers only if they are able to prove that no local labor qualified for such jobs was willing or available.
However, the US employers wanting to provide sponsorship under any of the two visa categories stated above must engage themselves in sincere recruitment efforts for finding local workforce within the US. Also, they need to submit a petition – (I-129) - with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USICS) along with an application with the US Department of Labor known as ‘Application for Temporary Employment Certification’.
The list, as published in the Federal Registrar, needs to be renewed every year. India, meanwhile, does not fall in this list, yet.
However, the DHS can allow any worker belonging to a country other than those covered in the new list of eligible countries for the H-2A, H-2B visa programs provided such participation suits the US.