(WASHINGTON) — The Trump administration is moving to ban Belizean immigrants from applying for seasonal and farm work visas in the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday, January 17, 2018, just days after the president reportedly used a vulgar slur to describe the country last week.
The department said it will remove Belize, as well as Haiti and Samoa, from its list of countries whose citizens can receive H-2A and H-2B visas, which are typically granted to seasonal workers in agriculture and other industries.
“The Secretary of Homeland Security has determined, however, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, that the following countries should no longer be designated as eligible countries because they are not meeting the standards set out in the regulation: Belize, Haiti, and Samoa,” the department said in a regulatory filing.
In the filing, which was posted online, the DHS said Haitian nationals “have historically demonstrated high levels of fraud and abuse and a high rate of overstaying the terms” of their U.S. admissions.
Belize was removed from the list due to risks connected to human trafficking, while Samoa was removed for not accepting back citizens who’d been ordered to leave the U.S., according to the filing.
The announcement comes as the administration battles allegations the president asked lawmakers why they would want people from Haiti, Africa and other “s—hole countries” coming into the United States, according to multiple sources either briefed on or familiar with the discussion. - Source: ABC Radio
H-2 Visa Program Update for Belize - Release from U.S. Embassy, Public Affairs, Belmopan
As required by federal regulations of the United States, each year the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may consider adding or removing a country to the H-2 visa eligible country list by notice published in the Federal Register and valid for one year.
Pursuant to the Federal Register Notice (FRN) published and effective January 18, 2018, “the following countries should no longer be designated as eligible countries because they are not meeting the standards set out in the regulation: Belize, Haiti, and Samoa.”
When designating countries to include on the list, DHS, with the Department of State’s concurrence, takes into account a country’s cooperation with issuing travel documents for the citizens, subjects, nationals and residents of that country who are subject to a final order of removals along with other factors.
Specifically, “Belize is listed on the U.S. Department of State’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report as a ‘‘Tier 3’’ country. ‘‘Tier 3’’ means the country does not fully meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so.”
Accordingly, DHS has removed Belize from the H-2A and H-2B eligibility lists for 2018. DHS may receive a recommendation from the Department of State or a written request from the Government of Belize or an employer that would like to hire nationals of Belize in H-2A status, or another interested party or parties.
In FY 16, the U.S. Embassy in Belmopan processed 299 H-2 visas. Precise figures on H-2 visa issuances can be found on the travel.state.gov website link below.