The United States and Guatemala Sign Agreement to Improve H-2 Visa Program Operation

Press Release

September 17, 2020

The U.S. Government, through efforts of U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City, today signed an updated bilateral cooperative agreement with Guatemala to facilitate increased transparency, accountability, and worker safety in the H-2 nonimmigrant visa programs for temporary workers from Guatemala.

According to Ambassador Luis Arreaga, “Today we celebrate our continued partnership with Guatemala to create prosperity and address the drivers of illegal migration. Guatemala is currently the third-largest H-2 sending country in the world, and this agreement will pave the way for even more Guatemalans to benefit from these opportunities. Guatemalans participating in the H-2 visa programs can legally work in the United States on a temporary basis and bring their wages home to their families and communities, ensuring a legal alternative to the dangers of illegal immigration.”

Through this agreement, the Guatemalan Ministry of Labor will provide additional safeguards for temporary workers by registering Guatemalan workers for possible employment in the United States and offering free recruitment and selection services for U.S. employers. The agreement will complement existing U.S. laws and strengthen the protections for U.S. workers as well as prospective Guatemalan H-2 workers by ensuring Guatemalan H-2 workers are less susceptible to criminal actors and are not charged excessive fees as part of the H-2 nonimmigrant visa programs, potentially undercutting U.S. workers.

The H-2A nonimmigrant visa program allows U.S. agricultural employers to hire seasonal workers from 85 eligible countries after the U.S. employer demonstrates that there are not sufficient, able, willing, and qualified U.S. workers available at the time and place of need and the employment of foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of workers in the United States similarly employed.

Similar to the H-2A nonimmigrant visa program, the H-2B nonimmigrant visa allows U.S. employers to hire seasonal workers for nonagricultural employment from 85 eligible countries after the U.S. employer demonstrates that there are not sufficient qualified U.S. workers available at the time and place of need and the employment of foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers similarly employed. All H-2 nonimmigrant workers are vetted by the Departments of Homeland Security and State prior to entering the United States.

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