Citizens of 53 countries including Australia, Brazil, Ireland and the UK are eligible to take part in programmes that allow them to work in temporary jobs in 2012, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced.
It said that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Department of State, has identified the countries to take part in the H-2A and H-2B programmes.
H-2A allows US employers to employ foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs while H-2B covers temporary non agricultural jobs.
USCIS, with limited exception, approves petitions only for nationals of countries designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security as eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B programmes.
The new list of eligible countries will be officially published in a Federal Register notice on 18 January and the designations are valid for one year from the date of publication.
The full list included 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 and Lithuania.
Also on the list are 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.
After considering a number of relevant factors under the governing regulations, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State have determined that Indonesia currently does not warrant a renewed designation as a participating country in the H-2A and H-2B programmes for 2011.
This new list does not affect the status of individuals who currently hold valid H-2A or H-2B visas or status, a spokesman said.
A national from a country that is not on the list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A and H-2B petition if the Secretary of Homeland Security determines, in her sole and unreviewable discretion, that it is in the US interest for the person to be a beneficiary of the petition.