[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 207 (Wednesday, October 26, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 74468-74470]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-25872]


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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.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: Under Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations, U.S. 
Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may generally only approve 
petitions for H-2A and H-2B nonimmigrant status on behalf of nationals 
of countries 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 85 countries 
whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A program and 84 
countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2B 
program for the coming year.

DATES: Effective Date: The designation of these countries is effective 
January 18, 2017, and shall be without effect at the end of one year 
after January 18, 2017.

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 filed on behalf of nationals of only those 
countries \1\ 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).
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    \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. 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.
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    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); 80 FR 72079 (Nov. 18, 2015) 
(removing Moldova from the H-2B program and adding 16 countries).
    The Secretary of Homeland Security has determined, with the 
concurrence of the Secretary of State, that 84 countries previously 
designated in the November 18, 2015 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 the H-2A program. Additionally, the 
Secretary of Homeland Security has determined, with the concurrence of 
the Secretary of State, that 83 countries previously designated in the 
November 18, 2015 notice continue to meet the standards identified in 
that notice for eligible countries and therefore should

[[Page 74469]]

remain designated as 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 one country 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 St. Vincent and the Grenadines as a country 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
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
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
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

[[Page 74470]]

South Korea
Spain
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
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. 2016-25872 Filed 10-25-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 9110-9M-P