Each year, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) H-2A and H-2B programs allow employers to bring in temporary workers for jobs that cannot be filled in any other way. The H-2A program, for example, allows employers to bring in non-US workers to work in temporary agricultural jobs. The H-2B program lets employers get non-US workers for temporary non-agricultural jobs. These programs are important for helping employers retain workers for jobs that cannot be easily filled by US workers. In many cases, employers hire H-2A and H-2B program employees when they cannot find US workers willing and able to complete certain jobs. The H-2A and H-2B programs, therefore, help the economy and ensure that employers have the workers they need.
This week, the USCIS has announced that the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be allowing nationals from 58 countries to take part in the H-2A and H-2B programs this coming year. The list of countries are to be published in the Federal Register and the nationals from every country will have one year to take part in the H-2A and H-2B programs.
Under the rules of the H-2A and H-2B programs, the Secretary of Homeland Security has the discretion to assign which countries may be eligible for H-2A and H-2B programs. However, the USCIS can approve some H-2A and H-2B applications, even if they come from other countries not approved by the Secretary of Homeland Security – as long as approving the applications would be in the interest of the US. Therefore, not being from a listed country does not necessarily mean that a H-2A and H-2B program application will be rejected. However, in most cases H-2A and H-2B program applicants are accepted largely from the designated countries.