USCIS Announces Countries Eligible for H-2A and H-2B Visa Programs

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Department of State (DOS), have announced the list of countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs in 2019.
For 2019, the agencies have agreed to:

  • Add Mozambique and Samoa to the list of countries eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs;
  • Add Paraguay to the list of countries eligible to participate in the H-2A visa program;
  • No longer designate Ethiopia and the Philippines as eligible countries because they no longer meet the regulatory standards for the H-2A and H-2B visa programs; and
  • No longer designate the Dominican Republic as an eligible country for the H-2B visa program because it no longer meets the regulatory standards for that program.

USCIS said factors that could result in the exclusion of a country or the removal of a country from the list include but are not limited to fraud, abuse, denial rates, overstay rates, human trafficking concerns, and other forms of noncompliance with the terms and conditions of the H-2 visa programs by nationals of that country.
The USCIS announcement is at The related Federal Register notice is at

USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for FY 2019 H-1B Cap Petitions

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has resumed premium processing as of Monday, January 28, 2019, for all fiscal year (FY) 2019 H-1B cap petitions filed before December 21, 2018, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption (master’s cap). Petitioners who have received requests for evidence (RFEs) for pending FY 2019 cap petitions should include their RFE response with any request for premium processing they may submit.
When a petitioner requests the agency’s premium processing service, USCIS guarantees a 15- day processing time. If USCIS does not take certain adjudicative action within the 15-calendar day processing time, the agency refunds the petitioner’s premium processing service fee and continues with expedited processing of the petition. USCIS said this service is only available for pending petitions, not new submissions, “because we have already received enough petitions to meet the FY 2019 cap.”
The previously announced temporary suspension of premium processing remains in effect for all other categories of H-1B petitions to which it applied. USCIS said it plans “to resume premium processing for the remaining categories of H-1B petitions as agency workloads permit.”
The USCIS announcement is at The previous notice about the suspension of premium processing and who is affected is at

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Disclaimer: This newsletter is provided as a public service and not intended to establish an attorney client relationship. Any reliance on information contained herein is taken at your own risk.

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