Belizeans are no longer eligible to apply for seasonal work visas to the United States of America. The Trump administration made its determination on Wednesday, 17th January, 2018, through its Department of Homeland Security. Belize has been named alongside Haiti and Samoa as the three countries which have been removed from the list of countries eligible to apply for H-2A and H-2B visas. A press release from the US Embassy says, and we quote, “When designating countries to include on the list, DHS, with the Department of State’s concurrence, takes into account a country’s cooperation with issuing travel documents for the citizens, subjects, nationals and residents of that country who are subject to a final order of removals along with other factors.” The announcement comes as a serious blow to Belize’s credibility as it is extremely rare for the U.S. to remove countries from the list.
In the 2016 financial year, the U.S. Embassy in Belmopan processed 299 such visas. It cited Belize was listed as “Tier 3” in the Department of State’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report and the country did not fully meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards and is not making significant efforts to do so. As it relates to Belize’s Tier 3 designation, Belize is the only country in the entire region to receive such a low mark in fighting Human Trafficking. The latest Report from the US State department said, and we quote again, ” …the government did not begin any new prosecutions or convict any traffickers. The government did not investigate or prosecute any public officials for alleged complicity in human trafficking-related offenses, despite reports of a significant level of official complicity. Despite the government’s raids on commercial sex establishments, few trafficking crimes were uncovered due to limited intelligence-gathering, inconsistent application of formal victim identification procedures, and suspected complicity among some law enforcement officials.”
While for Belize the removal from the Country Work Visa list is based on poor performance in Human Trafficking, Haitians were placed on the list due to the fact that they displayed, according to the report, high levels of fraud and abuse, and a high rate of overstaying the terms of their visas. Meanwhile, the third country, Samoa, is currently listed as ‘At Risk of Non-Compliance’ according to ICE’s year-end assessment of foreign countries’ cooperation in accepting back their nationals that have been ordered to be removed from the United States. The decision comes days after President Donald Trump held a meeting at the White House to review how the country receives Immigrants from several countries around the world. In that meeting he allegedly made controversial remarks about certain third world countries.