St Kitts – Nevis not eligible for US H-2A and H-2B visas: Cuban-trained doctors to be removed from STEP – PEP programmes

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By Caribbean News Global contributor

BASSETERRE, St Kitts – St Kitts and Nevis is regrettable not among five Caribbean countries that the Donald Trump administration has named eligible for visa applications H-2A and H-2B respectively; meanwhile “medical doctors returning to serve the people of St Kitts and Nevis will be adequately paid when the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) forms the government after the 2020 elections,” said NextGen SKN Labour candidate Dr Terrance Drew.

The programme allows US employers to bring foreign nationals to the US to fill temporary agricultural and non-agricultural jobs. Reportedly, the four Caribbean nations are Barbados, Dominican Republic, Grenada; St Vincent and the Grenadines – among 84 countries listed worldwide for the programme.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Department of State (DOS), said the Caribbean countries are eligible to participate in the programmes in 2020; however, USCIS said although the Dominican Republic is eligible to participate in the H-2A programme, it is not eligible to participate in the H-2B programme.

For 2020, USCIS said the acting DHS has determined, in agreement with the office of the Secretary of State, that the countries designated as eligible in 2019 will remain unchanged.

It said examples of factors that could result in the exclusion of a country or the removal of a country from the list include: fraud, abuse, denial rates, overstay rates, human trafficking concerns, and other forms of noncompliance with the terms and conditions of the H-2 visa programmes by nationals of the countries.

Meanwhile, Dr Terrance Drew, St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) labour candidate for St Christopher 8, who recently returned from Germany laying the groundwork to forge the necessary partnerships and commitments to provide better healthcare for St Kitts – Nevis made the commitment that Cuban-trained doctors will be removed from the STEP programme and adequately paid for services rendered when the NextGen SKN forms the government after the 2020 elections.

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“No more will our doctors be placed on the STEP programme. It is absolutely embarrasing and disrespectul after they would have spent seven years studying and training in Cuba,” said Dr Drew, a medical internist and the shadow minister of health.

Dr Drew noted that the past labour administration initiated the People’s Empowerment Programme (PEP) and was severely criticised by Dr Timothy Harris and his coalition while in opposition.”Since they have been in office, they have not improved the programme,” he said.

“They have made the list longer and changed the acronym from PEP to STEP. PEP was designed to be short-term and to help the unemployed acquire skills, to become employees or entrepreneurs,” he pointed out.

Dr Drew, who was among the first batch of St Kitts and Nevis nationals to be trained in medicine in Cuba said the NextGen SKN “respects the sacrifices of our doctors and would not subject them to the PEP/STEP programme.”

With five years past the anniversary of the February 16, 2015, general elections, the SKNLP has told prime minister Dr Harris that his time has expired and he should announce the date for the general elections.

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