The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has now included Haitian nationals as eligible for federal guest worker programs (H-2A and H-2B visas) to employ low-wage laborers to work in the United States. Haitian President Michel Martelly thanked the United States for its decision. Other new countries on the list are Iceland, Montenegro, Spain and Switzerland.
Haitian advocates, including U.S. lawmakers and immigration supporters, have long lobbied for the U.S. government to allow Haitian nationals to participate in the visa programs. Under both, U.S. companies can now temporarily import low-wage laborers. H-2A visas are given to agricultural workers, while H-2B typically are given to those in industries with short, seasonal spikes such as hotels, construction and food service.
“This is great news for the people of Haiti who are rebuilding their lives while their homeland recovers from the devastating earthquake that struck their nation two years ago last week,’’ U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami. “It’s a win-win for thousands of Haitian families who remain displaced and the businesses here that employ them.”
[. . . ] The guest worker program is not without its critics especially in Florida. Growers have long complained about the paperwork and expenses associated with the program. Some growers say the legally imported workers are more expensive than undocumented migrants because guest workers must be paid more than the state’s minimum wage. Also, housing and transportation for guest workers’ to and from their country must be provided.
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