U.S. removes Haiti from low-skilled work visa list

BY TRACY MATHESON / JANUARY 18, 2018 /

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The Trump administration announced Wednesday that Haitians will no longer be eligible for U.S. visas issued to seasonal and farm workers, a benefit they have been offered since a catastrophic earthquake rocked the island country in 2010.

According to NBC News, the Department of Homeland Security has issued notice that it intends to prohibit people from Haiti, Belize and Samoa, from applying for H-2A and H-2B visas, which are temporary.

H-2A and H2-B visas enable businesses to bring in workers from other countries for seasonal employment in the agricultural (H-2A) and non-agricultural (H-2B) sectors.

A notice listing eligible countries was publicly posted online Wednesday and will be published in the Federal Register on Thursday.

DHS stated in the notice, “Haitian nationals applying for H-2A and H-2B visas present extremely high rates of refusal, and those issued H-2A or H-2B visas have historically demonstrated high levels of fraud and abuse and a high rate of overstaying the terms of their H-2 admission.”

Haiti has shown no improvement in those areas, so it was determined by officials that “Haiti’s inclusion on the 2018 H-2A and H-2B lists is no longer in the U.S. interest.”

Reuters pointed out that “a DHS report published last year stated that Haitians on a variety of non-immigrant visas, including H-2As and H-2Bs, had a roughly 40 percent visa overstay rate in the 2016 fiscal year.”

Belize and Samoa were also removed from the lists, for risks stemming from human trafficking and not taking back nationals ordered removed from the United States, respectively.

The announcement came less than a week after senators claimed that President Donald Trump insulted Haiti in a White House meeting on immigration. Sen. Dick Durbin, D.-Ill., alleged that, when addressing the inclusion of Haitians in the H2-A and H2-B visa program, Trump asked, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.”

Eligibility for the visa program is determined by the DHS secretary who compiles a list of which countries will be permitted to participate. The list is valid for one year and must be renewed.

The Trump administration also recently ended temporary protected status for approximately 60,000 Haitians who received the privilege following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.