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Tipsheet

Months After Migrant Surge, DHS Rewards Haiti with Eligibility for Guest Worker Visa Programs

AP Photo/Fernando Llano

The Department of Homeland Security said in a Federal Register notice on Wednesday that it is making Haiti eligible once again for two guest worker visa programs, despite being removed under the Trump administration over cases of fraud and the significant number of overstays. 

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DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas “has determined, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, that Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Cyprus, the Dominican Republic (currently only eligible for H-2A), Haiti, Mauritius, and Saint Lucia should be designated as eligible countries to participate in the H-2A and H-2B non-immigrant visa programs because the participation of these countries is in the U.S. interest consistent with the regulations governing these programs,” the notice states. 

The Department claimed adding Haiti back to these two programs “serves U.S. interest and is consistent with the whole-of-government efforts to address the root causes of irregular migration and create lawful pathways for a safe, orderly, and legal migration.”

The notice pointed to Haitians’ ability to “contribute to the U.S. economy” and bring their earnings and skills home to help rebuild Haiti’s society, furthering its stabilization.

DHS also said the country was being restored to the list because it “accepted the return of its nationals subject to a final order of removal which proceeded almost uninterrupted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the political, environmental, and economic challenges facing Haiti.”

The Trump administration removed the country in 2018 because "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," according to Fox News.

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The notice acknowledged those issues “remain a concern” but that the “foregoing favorable factors in the U.S. interest outweigh these concerns.”

The move comes months after an immigration crisis in Texas, where at one point more than 10,000 illegal immigrants were packed under the Del Rio International Bridge, the majority of whom were Haitian nationals. While the Biden administration claimed they were subject to expulsion, they were released across the U.S. on a  “very, very large scale," according to reports.

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