U.S. bars Samoa from seasonal work visas

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U.S. President Donald Trump.

U.S. President Donald Trump.

Though no H-2A or H-2B visas were issued to Samoans in fiscal year 2016, D.H.S. said they had blocked the country for not taking back nationals ordered removed from the United States.

 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S.) has removed Samoa from the list of countries whose citizens are eligible for temporary work visas to the United States.

This was according to an announcement made by the Department yesterday.

Samoa joins Haiti and Belize as countries removed from the list.

Published in a Federal Register Notice (F.R.N), the list of countries eligible for H-2A and H-2B visas - temporary or seasonal non-immigrant work visas for agricultural and non-agricultural work, respectively is updated yearly. 

The most recent register, released by D.H.S. on Wednesday, excluded the three countries.

 “The decision to remove Haiti, Belize and Samoa from the H-2A & H-2B lists was made as a result of interagency coordination between D.H.S and the Department of State," D.H.S. Spokesperson Katie Waldman told VOA Creole.

During the 2016 fiscal year, 65 H-2A visas were issued to Haitians. 

According to a D.H.S. report from last year, roughly 40 percent of Haitians on non-immigrant visas, including but not limited to H-2A and H-2B, overstayed.

"The F.R.N. citation of cases of Haitian nationals having high instances of fraud and abuse as well as a higher likelihood of overstaying their visas was made based on input from the State Department, in the cases of fraud, and from State and DHS related to the volume of Haitian nationals who overstay their visas and remain in the country illegally,” Waldman said.

Two hundred and seventy-six H-2B visas, for seasonal workers, were issued to citizens of Belize in the 2016 fiscal year, but the Central American country has been blocked from the program amid concerns that it does not meet U.S. standards to protect victims of trafficking, D.H.S. said.

Though no H-2A or H-2B visas were issued to Samoans in fiscal year 2016, D.H.S. said they had blocked the country for not taking back nationals ordered removed from the United States.

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.

Trump has repeatedly denied making the comment and he praised the people of Haiti in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday.

“I love the people. There’s a tremendous warmth,” Trump said. “And they’re very hard-working people.”

It was not possible to get a comment from the Samoan government yesterday.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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