Earlier this month the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced the list of countries, whose nationals can take part in the H-2A and H-2B programs this next year. In total, 58 countries are eligible. This number is up by five from last year. New to list are Iceland, Spain, Montenegro, Switzerland and Haiti.
The H-2A and H-2B guest worker visas are designed to allow individuals from the 58 specified countries into the United States to work in certain types of positions. Nationals who are hired to work in the agricultural field as laborers are usually given an H-2A visa. Those who are employed for work that is considered more seasonal, such as food service, construction and hotels are given H-2B visas.
The addition of Haiti to the list of eligible countries is a long time coming. With the country still dealing with the after effects of the earthquake that struck just over two years ago, its inclusion could not have come at a better time. A United States Representative for Miami, Florida, indicated the change is "a win-win" for both Haitian residents as well as the U.S. businesses that will hire them.
As is often the case in immigration matters, not everyone sees the H-2A and H-2B as a winning proposition. Some growers in Florida have expressed their feelings regarding how complicated and expensive the temporary visa program is compared to using undocumented migrants. In addition to having to pay a higher wage, employers must also provide transportation from the home country as well as housing.
Source: The Miami Herald, "Haiti workers can now apply for US guest worker visas," Jacqueline Charles, Jan. 18, 2012