News Detail

MLSS PR Unit February 21, 2023

Jamaican Government Redoubles Efforts to Increase Overseas Employment Opportunities for Jamaicans

labour ministry with coat of arms

Communication Unit

1F North Street, Kingston

Tel: (876) 967-5484

Fax: (876) 948-2831

Friday, February 3, 2023


Jamaican Government Redoubles Efforts to Increase Overseas Employment Opportunities for Jamaicans



The Ministry of Labour and Social Security is redoubling its efforts to increase the share of visas granted to Jamaicans for participation in the Seasonal Agricultural and Hospitality programmes in the United States.

On Wednesday, February 1, Hon. Karl Samuda and a team led by Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Colette Roberts Risden, hosted a meeting with representatives from the Embassy of the United States, to discuss the current visa arrangements under which Jamaicans are able to participate under both components of the programme.

Approximately 5000 Jamaican agricultural workers travel to the US each year to engage in a variety of farming activities including planting and harvesting of fruit and vegetable crops. While placement on the agricultural (H2A) component of the programme is exclusively managed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, placement on the Hospitality (H2B) component is facilitated both by the Government of Jamaica and private Employment Agencies, licensed to operate by the Ministry. This component has experienced steady growth over the years, with the exception of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced drastic reductions in the hospitality industry. In 2022, approximately 12,000 Jamaicans obtained employment through the H-2B programme.

In recognizing the value of the programme to both the US and Jamaican economies, Minister Samuda said “We want to ensure that Jamaica’s presence in the US benefits both Jamaica and the United States”. He noted that “many Jamaicans have been able to provide opportunities for their children, because of the programme, and many US farmers owe their success to the contribution of the Jamaican worker”. The Minister assured the team that the government was taking definitive steps to ensure that participating workers are properly oriented, noting that “they are our ambassadors, and so we must ensure that they know what is expected of them, what they are to expect, and how to conduct themselves”. Minister Samuda praised the US Government for its support of the programme, noting that the relationship reflects a “good partnership, based on friendship and mutual respect”. He however emphasized that Jamaica stands ready to supply significantly more workers.

The head of the US delegation, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services, Julie Stufft, confirmed that the Overseas Employment Programme and the Jamaican workers were highly valued by the US government, and the participating employers, noting that “Jamaica has a product which everyone wants”. Ms. Stufft assured the Jamaican team that her office would engage the relevant US government departments to explore recommendations for the expansions being sought by Jamaica.

The meeting was held at the Ministry’s North Street office in Kingston.


Contact: MLSS Communication Unit (876) 967-5484
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