The decision of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the U.S. Department of Labor, to reserve 6,500 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for Guatemalans, Hondurans, Salvadorans, and Haitians is the right move at the right time. The United States is committed to addressing the root causes of irregular migration, and today’s decision is a critical step in advancing that goal by building lawful pathways to temporary work opportunities in the United States. The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire noncitizens to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the United States, and with job openings in the U.S. at a near-record high, these visas will expand opportunities for temporary legal work in the United States, and they will support America’s economic recovery.
Through USAID’s work with underserved communities in Central America and Haiti, we recognize that many irregular migrants want to remain in their own countries but decide to come to the United States because they are unable to find work at home. The H-2B program in Central America and Haiti allows citizens to pursue lawful economic opportunities in the United States and then to return home, helping reduce irregular migration to the United States. Working with the Department of Labor, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of State, USAID is expanding support for the H-2B process in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador by building additional capacity in the responsible national ministries to connect applicants with U.S. businesses, facilitate potential workers’ engagement with the State Department for visa processing, and inform them of their rights and responsibilities as temporary workers. This work is a critical complement to the investments the United States is making to create jobs, reduce violence, spur agricultural productivity, and strengthen governance in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Haiti.
USAID is proud to work with our partners in the region to strengthen worker protections and improve citizens’ ability to seek temporary work opportunities. Today’s announcement is the latest action in the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to address the root causes of irregular migration from Central America, enhance pathways for legal migration, and strengthen the U.S. economy.