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Cablegate: Jamaica: H and J Workshop Is Worth the Flight to Jamaica

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FM AMEMBASSY KINGSTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0544
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RUEHGT/AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA
RUEHHO/AMCONSUL HERMOSILLO 0001
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RUEHNL/AMCONSUL NUEVO LAREDO 0001
RUEHRS/AMCONSUL MATAMOROS 0001

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KINGSTON 000058

SIPDIS
DEPT FOR CA/FPP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS KFRD KCRM CMGT JM
SUBJECT: JAMAICA: H and J Workshop Is Worth the Flight to Jamaica

REF: 09 KINGSTON 1142

1. (U) SUMMARY: U.S. Embassy Kingston ranks amongst the top 10
posts worldwide in terms of volume for H-2B applicants. Kingston
also ranks within the top 10 posts worldwide for fraud activity.
In an effort to reach out to local employment agents, and combat
fraud, Kingston's Fraud Prevention Unit (FPU) paired with the
Jamaican Ministry of Labor to host a workshop on important
employment-based consular issues, namely H-2B visas, J-1 visas, and
the Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Act.

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Workshop Gets Permanent Secretary's Attention

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2. (U) On January 14, Kingston FPU, accompanied by the Nonimmigrant
Visa Chief, visited the Ministry of Labor to present information to
registered Jamaican employment agents. The workshop attracted
about 80 participants, notably including the Permanent Secretary of
the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, Alvin McIntosh, who
welcomed the group and attended the majority of the presentations.
Agents, who arrange for Jamaicans to obtain H-2B and J-1 employment
in the U.S., traveled from throughout Jamaica with two agents
flying down from their offices in the U.S. in order to participate.
One agent who had flown down from Maine noted that the workshop was
well worth the flight. The purpose of the workshop was to inform
the agents of visa processes and requirements and to allow
networking among agents and with the U.S. Embassy staff. The
presentations included information about visa interviews and
appointments, the H-2B petition process, the H-2B Final Rule, J-1
summer work and travel visa requirements, and the Wilberforce
Trafficking Victims Act.

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------
--------------

Securing Cooperation on Wilberforce Education and Enforcement

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--------------

3. (U) This workshop was well-targeted; registered agents are the
intermediaries between Jamaicans and U.S. employers, and are in the
position to best assist the U.S. Embassy with disseminating
information on visas and workers' rights. A significant portion of
this workshop focused on education about the Wilberforce Act, and
the rights of H-2B and J-1 workers. In the vein of cooperation and
improvement, the agents agreed to review, share, and promote
awareness of visa issues, specifically the Wilberforce Trafficking
Victims Act, with their clients.

--------------------------------------------- -----------------

Interactive Presentations Encouraged Discussions

--------------------------------------------- -----------------

4. (U) Throughout the presentations, Emboffs encouraged questions
and comments from the audience, which led to meaningful discussions
and promises for future cooperation and information sharing.
Specifically, the open style of presentation allowed agents to
candidly discuss adjudication procedures for H-2B applicants, who
had numerous extensions, as well as current fee regulations. Also,
agents volunteered information about fees charged for J-1
applicants and frustrations with the quality of some U.S.-based J-1

KINGSTON 00000058 002 OF 002


summer work and travel sponsors. (Comment: The J-1 summer work and
travel program is an excellent exchange program between the U.S.
and Jamaica; in 2009 approximately 4,000 Jamaicans participated
and, according to validation study results, the vast majority
travel well on their visas. Reftel 09 Kingston 1142. End
Comment.) Lastly, agents were forthcoming about the extent of
their services, and shared their own best practices with Emboffs
and their colleagues.

5. (U) In order to assist Kingston FPU with identifying and
cataloguing agents, all agents agreed to email the embassy with
their contact information, lists of their current employees (who
may visit the embassy to drop off applications), and information
about their fees and services.

--------------------------------------------- --------------

Agents Complimentary of Embassy Procedures

--------------------------------------------- -------------

6. (U) Emboffs were encouraged by compliments from the agents
regarding the new appointment system and current H-2B procedures.
Several participants advised that they had been registered agents
for five to ten years and noted that the appointment system, in
particular, greatly improved the application process. Agents
appreciate the group appointment system, which helps streamline
their efforts, as well as the ability to drop off H-2B applications
the day before interviews. Emboffs offered to continue to build on
our partnership with the Ministry of Labor to ensure that
registered agents are aware of any upcoming changes to procedures
or visa regulations.

7. (U) CONCLUSION: The H-2B, J-1, and Wilberforce workshop jointly
hosted by Kingston FPU and the Jamaican Ministry of Labor was a
great success. The workshop allowed Emboffs to present valuable
information on visa processing, while also encouraging greater
cooperation and partnerships between the agents, the Ministry, and
the embassy. Kingston FPU is confident that this workshop will
significantly advance our goals to reach our target audience for
employment-related consular issues, visa procedures, and workers'
rights.
Parnell

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