The additions take the number of eligible countries, which include the UK and Ireland, for the programme up to 63
The H-2A and H-2B Visa programmes allow American employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural and non-agricultural jobs, respectively.
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.
Currently the number of the H-2B visas that can be awarded each year is capped at 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the first half of the fiscal year (1st October 1 to 31st March) and 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the second half of the fiscal year (1st April 1 to 30th September).
There is no cap on the number of H-2A visas issued annually for any particular country or for the programme overall. In 2011, a total of 55,384 H-2A visas were issued to all eligible countries.
Article published 23rd January 2014