New countries added to US temporary worker visa programme 2014

by Ray Clancy on January 20, 2014

Four new countries have been added to the list of visa programmes that allow US employers to bring foreign workers to the United States to fill temporary positions, it has been announced.

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Austria, Italy, Panama, and Thailand have been added to the list of countries whose nationals are eligible for H-2A and H-2B Visa programmes in 2014

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said that the Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Department of State, has added Austria, Italy, Panama, and Thailand to the list of countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B Visa programmes in 2014.

These allow workers from overseas to work in the US to fill temporary agricultural and non-agricultural jobs. Generally, USCIS only approves H-2A and H-2B petitions for nationals of countries the secretary of Homeland Security has designated as eligible to participate in the programmes.

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.

Effective from 18 January, the 2014 programme now covers 63 countries where people are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B Visa programmes.

Meanwhile, more is to be done to encourage more US students to study in Latin America and vice versa. Secretary of State John Kerry is heading an initiative which has $1 million to help Latin American universities participate.

It is estimated that around 54,000 students from the US study in Latin America and the Caribbean and the State Department wants to more than double that traffic by the year 2020.

‘We are economic and political neighbours, and yet very few of our students study in each other’s country,’ said Peggy Blumenthal of the Institute of International Education.

She believes that more Americans need to be comfortable speaking Spanish, as well as understand how Latin Americans do business.

But many Latin American universities aren’t set up to accommodate students from the US and the new programme will help improve the situation. According to the Forum on Education Abroad, which helps countries cater for US students, curriculums in Latin American universities need to come up to US standards.

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