The United States announced the expansion of a temporary guest worker visa to include Colombian citizens starting on January 18, 2016.
This visa, known as the H-2 visa, allows American companies to employ foreign workers for a temporary period of time when they can demonstrate a shortage of American labor willing to engage in certain short-term jobs.
The difference between the H-2 visas and other guest worker visas is that it does not require foreign workers to have an advanced education or a specialized occupation.
There are two types of H-2 visa: the H-2A visa that grants businesses the right to solicit foreign workers for seasonal agricultural work, and the H-2B is for nonagricultural intermittent work. The maximum stay under this visa is one year.
Sectors of the economy that make the most use of this visa include the agriculture, fishing, tourism, hotels, seasonal holiday work, and construction.
The US allocates 66,000 H-2B visas per year, according to newspaper El Espectador.
American companies that wish to use this visa to find foreign workers must first prove their is an insufficient availability of local labor and that it is a temporary job. Guest workers must be paid the same as US workers for their time.
Colombia will join 84 other countries whose citizens are eligible for this visa.
This is not the only developed country that is opening doors to Colombia. In addition, Colombians are facing an easier process to travel to Europe after an agreement was signed that exempted Colombians from having to request a visa before traveling.
The expansion of the United States guest worker visa comes as lawmakers consider tightening other programs that allow foreign nationals entry into the country.
Since the attack in San Bernardino, President Barack Obama has called for increased screening of foreign nationals who enter under a “visa waiver” program that allows citizens from 38 different countries to travel to the United States for tourism and business.