Samoa removed from Homeland Security list for “nonimmigrant workers” visas

It does not affect ‘visitors’ visas
fili@samoanews.com

Samoa, along with two other countries, have been removed from the list of countries, whose nationals were authorized by the US Department of Homeland Security to participate in two nonimmigrant workers visa programs.

The reason, according to a USDHS document published yesterday in the federal portal <www.regulations.gov>, is that Samoa has not made progress in accepting their nationals being deported back to Samoa.

Removal from the list is for one year, effective yesterday, and as of yesterday afternoon, Samoa News wasn’t able to obtain an official statement from the Samoa government regarding the USDHS action.

Under USDHS regulations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may generally only approve petitions for H-2A and H-2B nonimmigrant status for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, has designated by notice published in the Federal Register, which is renewed each year.

The new list for 2018 was released yesterday identifying 83 countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A (Temporary Agricultural Worker Program) program and 82 countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2B (temporary nonagricultural jobs) program for the coming year.

The Secretary of Homeland Security has determined, however, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, that — Samoa, Belize and Haiti — should no longer be designated as eligible countries because they are not meeting the standards set out in the regulation.

USDHS says Samoa is currently listed as “At Risk of Non-Compliance” according to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) year-end assessment of foreign countries' cooperation in accepting back their nationals that have been ordered removed from the United States.

“Despite attempts to improve cooperation on removals to Samoa, there has not been sufficient progress on removals to Samoa,” it says.

Meanwhile, ICE recently released its fiscal year 2017 Enforcement and Removal Operations Report (ERO), which summarizes the agency’s ERO activities. ERO identifies, arrests, and removes aliens (or foreign nationals) who present a danger to national security or a threat to public safety, or who otherwise undermine border control and the integrity of the U.S. immigration system.

Data provided in the report shows that in FY 2016 only three nationals of Samoa were removed from the US under the ERO but in FY 2017, there were 13 nationals.

ICE shares responsibility for administering and enforcing the nation’s immigration laws with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Samoa News should point out that rumors have “visitors” visas being affected as well. This is not the case — it is only for nonimmigrant work visa programs, known as H-2A and H-2B.

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