The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said on Jan. 18 that low-skilled Haitian workers can now apply for jobs in the U.S. under a federal guest worker program.
Haiti is among five new countries that were added to list of nations whose nationals are eligible to apply for the H-2A and H-2B visa programs,
Prior to the decision, 53 countries were eligible. In addition to Haiti, the program has been extended to Iceland, Montenegro, Spain and Switzerland.
Nationals of Barbados, Belize, Dominican Republic and Jamaica are among countries already on the list to apply for the H-2A and H-2B visas.
“The H-2A and H-2B programs allow U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs and temporary nonagricultural jobs, respectively,” the USCIS said.
“USCIS generally may only approve H-2A and H-2B petitions for nationals of countries the secretary of homeland security has designated as eligible to participate in the programs,” it added.
USCIS may approve H-2A and H-2B petitions for nationals of countries not on the list if it is determined to be in the interest of the United States.”
Haitian advocates, including U.S. lawmakers and immigration supporters, have long lobbied for the U.S. government to allow Haitian nationals to participate in the visa programs.
“This is great news for the people of Haiti who are rebuilding their lives while their homeland recovers from the devastating earthquake that struck their nation two years ago last week,” Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-Miami) told reporters.
“It’s a win-win for thousands of Haitian families who remain displaced and the businesses here that employ them,” she added.