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  • News: DHS Notice of Countries Eligible to Participate in the H-2A and H-2B Worker Programs

    Federal Register, Volume 80 Issue 222 (Wednesday, November 18, 2015)
    [Federal Register Volume 80, Number 222 (Wednesday, November 18, 2015)]
    [Notices]
    [Pages 72079-72081]
    From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
    [FR Doc No: 2015-29373]
    
    
    =======================================================================
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
    
    [Docket No. DHS-2011-0108]
    RIN 1601-ZA11
    
    
    Identification of Foreign Countries Whose Nationals Are Eligible 
    to Participate in the H-2A and H-2B Nonimmigrant Worker Programs
    
    AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, DHS.
    
    [[Page 72080]]
    
    
    ACTION: Notice.
    
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    
    SUMMARY: Under Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations, U.S. 
    Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may approve petitions for 
    H-2A and H-2B nonimmigrant status only for nationals of countries \1\ 
    that the Secretary of Homeland Security, with the concurrence of the 
    Secretary of State, has designated by notice published in the Federal 
    Register. That notice must be renewed each year. This notice announces 
    that the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the 
    Secretary of State, is identifying 84 countries whose nationals are 
    eligible to participate in the H-2A program and 83 countries whose 
    nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2B program for the 
    coming year.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
        \1\ With respect to all references to ``country'' or 
    ``countries'' in this document, it should be noted that the Taiwan 
    Relations Act of 1979, Public Law 96-8, Section 4(b)(1), provides 
    that ``[w]henever the laws of the United States refer or relate to 
    foreign countries, nations, states, governments, or similar 
    entities, such terms shall include and such laws shall apply with 
    respect to Taiwan.'' 22 U.S.C. Sec.  3303(b)(1). Accordingly, all 
    references to ``country'' or ``countries'' in the regulations 
    governing whether nationals of a country are eligible for H-2 
    program participation, 8 CFR 214.2(h)(5)(i)(F)(1)(i) and 8 CFR 
    214.2(h)(6)(i)(E)(1), are read to include Taiwan. This is consistent 
    with the United States' one-China policy, under which the United 
    States has maintained unofficial relations with Taiwan since 1979.
    
    DATES: Effective Date: This notice is effective January 18, 2016, and 
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    shall be without effect at the end of one year after January 18, 2016.
    
    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Timothy Simmons, Office of Policy, 
    Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC 20528, (202) 447-4216.
    
    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 
        Background: Generally, USCIS may approve H-2A and H-2B petitions 
    for nationals of only those countries that the Secretary of Homeland 
    Security, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, has 
    designated as participating countries. Such designation must be 
    published as a notice in the Federal Register and expires after one 
    year. USCIS, however, may allow a national from a country not on the 
    list to be named as a beneficiary of an H-2A or H-2B petition based on 
    a determination that such participation is in the U.S. interest. See 8 
    CFR 214.2(h)(5)(i)(F) and 8 CFR 214.2(h)(6)(i)(E).
        In designating countries to include on the list, the Secretary of 
    Homeland Security, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, will 
    take into account factors including, but not limited to: (1) The 
    country's cooperation with respect to issuance of travel documents for 
    citizens, subjects, nationals, and residents of that country who are 
    subject to a final order of removal; (2) the number of final and 
    unexecuted orders of removal against citizens, subjects, nationals, and 
    residents of that country; (3) the number of orders of removal executed 
    against citizens, subjects, nationals, and residents of that country; 
    and (4) such other factors as may serve the U.S. interest. See 8 CFR 
    214.2(h)(5)(i)(F)(1)(i) and 8 CFR 214.2(h)(6)(i)(E)(1). Examples of 
    factors serving the U.S. interest that could result in the non-
    inclusion of a country or the removal of a country from the list 
    include, but are not limited to, fraud, abuse, and non-compliance with 
    the terms and conditions of the H-2 programs by nationals of that 
    country.
        In December 2008, DHS published in the Federal Register two 
    notices, ``Identification of Foreign Countries Whose Nationals Are 
    Eligible to Participate in the H-2A Visa Program,'' and 
    ``Identification of Foreign Countries Whose Nationals Are Eligible to 
    Participate in the H-2B Visa Program,'' which designated 28 countries 
    whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B 
    programs. See 73 FR 77043 (Dec. 18, 2008); 73 FR 77729 (Dec. 19, 2008). 
    The notices ceased to have effect on January 17, 2010 and January 18, 
    2010, respectively. See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(5)(i)(F)(2) and 8 CFR 
    214.2(h)(6)(i)(E)(3). In implementing these regulatory provisions, the 
    Secretary of Homeland Security, with the concurrence of the Secretary 
    of State, has published a series of notices on a regular basis. See 75 
    FR 2879 (Jan. 19, 2010) (adding 11 countries); 76 FR 2915 (Jan. 18, 
    2011) (removing Indonesia and adding 15 countries); 77 FR 2558 (Jan. 
    18, 2012) (adding 5 countries); 78 FR 4154 (Jan. 18, 2013) (adding 1 
    country); 79 FR 3214 (Jan.17, 2014) (adding 4 countries); 79 FR 74735 
    (Dec. 16, 2014) (adding 5 countries).
        The Secretary of Homeland Security has determined, with the 
    concurrence of the Secretary of State, that 67 countries previously 
    designated in the December 16, 2014 notice continue to meet the 
    standards identified in that notice for eligible countries and 
    therefore should remain designated as countries whose nationals are 
    eligible to participate in both the H-2A and H-2B programs. The 
    Secretary of Homeland Security has determined, however, with the 
    concurrence of the Secretary of State, that Moldova should no longer 
    continue to be designated as an eligible country to participate in the 
    H-2B program because Moldova is not meeting the standards set out in 
    the regulation for the H-2B program participation. See 8 CFR 
    214.2(h)(6)(i)(E)(1). Specifically, DHS and the Department of State 
    have found that there is a high occurrence of failure to comply with 
    the terms of the H-2B visa among H-2B visa holders from Moldova. 
    Moldova continues to meet the standards set out in the regulation in 
    regard to its participation in the H-2A program; therefore, this 
    determination does not affect participation of nationals of Moldova in 
    the H-2A program. Accordingly, Moldova remains on the list of eligible 
    countries for the H-2A program, but DHS has removed Moldova from the 
    list of eligible countries whose nationals are eligible to participate 
    in the H-2B program.
        Further, the Secretary of Homeland Security, with the concurrence 
    of the Secretary of State, has determined that it is now appropriate to 
    add 16 countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-
    2A and H-2B programs. This determination is made taking into account 
    the four regulatory factors identified above. The Secretary of Homeland 
    Security also considered other pertinent factors including, but not 
    limited to, evidence of past usage of the H-2A and H-2B programs by 
    nationals of the country to be added, as well as evidence relating to 
    the economic impact on particular U.S. industries or regions resulting 
    from the addition or continued non-inclusion of specific countries. In 
    consideration of all of the above, this notice designates for the first 
    time Andorra, Belgium, Brunei, Colombia, Finland, France, Germany, 
    Greece, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, Singapore, 
    Taiwan, and Timor-Leste as countries whose nationals are eligible to 
    participate in the H-2A and H-2B programs.
    
    Designation of Countries Whose Nationals Are Eligible to Participate in 
    the H-2A and H-2B Nonimmigrant Worker Programs
    
        Pursuant to the authority provided to the Secretary of Homeland 
    Security under sections 214(a)(1), 215(a)(1), and 241 of the 
    Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1184(a)(1), 1185(a)(1), and 
    1231), I am designating, with the concurrence of the Secretary of 
    State, nationals from the following countries to be eligible to 
    participate in the H-2A nonimmigrant worker program:
    Andorra
    Argentina
    Australia
    Austria
    Barbados
    Belgium
    Belize
    Brazil
    
    [[Page 72081]]
    
    Brunei
    Bulgaria
    Canada
    Chile
    Colombia
    Costa Rica
    Croatia
    Czech Republic
    Denmark
    Dominican Republic
    Ecuador
    El Salvador
    Estonia
    Ethiopia
    Fiji
    Finland
    France
    Germany
    Greece
    Grenada
    Guatemala
    Haiti
    Honduras
    Hungary
    Iceland
    Ireland
    Israel
    Italy
    Jamaica
    Japan
    Kiribati
    Latvia
    Lichtenstein
    Lithuania
    Luxembourg
    Macedonia
    Madagascar
    Malta
    Mexico
    Moldova
    Monaco
    Montenegro
    Nauru
    The Netherlands
    Nicaragua
    New Zealand
    Norway
    Panama
    Papua New Guinea
    Peru
    The Philippines
    Poland
    Portugal
    Romania
    Samoa
    San Marino
    Serbia
    Singapore
    Slovakia
    Slovenia
    Solomon Islands
    South Africa
    South Korea
    Spain
    Sweden
    Switzerland
    Taiwan
    Thailand
    Timor-Leste
    Tonga
    Turkey
    Tuvalu
    Ukraine
    United Kingdom
    Uruguay
    Vanuatu
        Pursuant to the authority provided to the Secretary of Homeland 
    Security under sections 214(a)(1), 215(a)(1), and 241 of the 
    Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1184(a)(1), 1185(a)(1), and 
    1231), I am designating, with the concurrence of the Secretary of 
    State, nationals from the following countries to be eligible to 
    participate in the H-2B nonimmigrant worker program:
    Andorra
    Argentina
    Australia
    Austria
    Barbados
    Belgium
    Belize
    Brazil
    Brunei
    Bulgaria
    Canada
    Chile
    Colombia
    Costa Rica
    Croatia
    Czech Republic
    Denmark
    Dominican Republic
    Ecuador
    El Salvador
    Estonia
    Ethiopia
    Fiji
    Finland
    France
    Germany
    Greece
    Grenada
    Guatemala
    Haiti
    Honduras
    Hungary
    Iceland
    Ireland
    Israel
    Italy
    Jamaica
    Japan
    Kiribati
    Latvia
    Lichtenstein
    Lithuania
    Luxembourg
    Macedonia
    Madagascar
    Malta
    Mexico
    Monaco
    Montenegro
    Nauru
    The Netherlands
    Nicaragua
    New Zealand
    Norway
    Panama
    Papua New Guinea
    Peru
    The Philippines
    Poland
    Portugal
    Romania
    Samoa
    San Marino
    Serbia
    Singapore
    Slovakia
    Slovenia
    Solomon Islands
    South Africa
    South Korea
    Spain
    Sweden
    Switzerland
    Taiwan
    Thailand
    Timor-Leste
    Tonga
    Turkey
    Tuvalu
    Ukraine
    United Kingdom
    Uruguay
    Vanuatu
        This notice does not affect the status of aliens who currently hold 
    valid H-2A or H-2B nonimmigrant status. Persons currently holding such 
    status, however, will be affected by this notice should they seek an 
    extension of stay in H-2 classification, or a change of status from one 
    H-2 status to another. Similarly, persons holding nonimmigrant status 
    other than H-2 status are not affected by this notice unless they seek 
    a change of status to H-2 status.
        Nothing in this notice limits the authority of the Secretary of 
    Homeland Security or his or her designee or any other federal agency to 
    invoke against any foreign country or its nationals any other remedy, 
    penalty, or enforcement action available by law.
    
    Jeh Charles Johnson,
    Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-29373 Filed 11-17-15; 8:45 am]
     BILLING CODE 9110-9M-P
    
    
    
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