According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Homeland Security consulted with the Department of State, and identified 53 new countries whose nationals are now eligible to be in the H-2A and H-2B programs for the coming year.
The H-2A program gives eligible U.S. employers the ability to fill temporary agricultural jobs by bringing foreign nationals to the United States. The H-2B is similar, in that it gives U.S. employers the ability to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs by bringing foreign nationals to the United States. With only limited exception, the USCIS only allows for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security determines as eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B programs.
The new list that was published late January expands greatly on the number of countries eligible to participate. The list remains valid for one calendar year.
According to USCIS.gov, this new list, effective Jan. 18, 2012, the following countries are now eligible for the H-2A and H-2B programs: Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Nauru, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Vanuatu. Of these countries, the following were designated for the first time this year: Barbados, Estonia, Fiji, Hungary, Kiribati, Latvia, Macedonia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
The new list doesn’t have any bearing on anyone who has a valid H-2A or H-2B visa currently. Also, even if your country is not on the list, the USCIS does still make exceptions, so it’s always a good idea to file anyway.