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Migration to the United States

H2A & H2B Programs

Since the mid 1800's, Mexican nationals have been coming to the US and providing labor. The 1940's saw the creation of the US guest worker program that came to be known as the "Bracero" program. In the 1980's the guest workers program was revised and the H2 program was created - the US guest worker programs for non-professional workers, which is a form of documented migration on the basis of granting temporary worker visas.

The US guest worker program grants H-2 visas for temporary workers under either the H-2A or H-2B designation - the H-2A visa is granted for agricultural work, and H-2B visa for non-agricultural work.See also Temporary Guestworkers (H-2 Visas)

Below is the number of Temporary Worker Admissions in the H-2 program, showing the ever-increasing demand by the US for foreign labor.

Mexican guest workers to the United States under H-2 visas from 2000-2009:


20003 20014 20025 20036 20047 20058 20069 2007 2008 2009
H-2A 27,172 21,569 12,846 9,924 17,218 1,282 40,283 79,394 163,695 140,540
H-2B 27,755 41,852 52,972 65,878 56,280 89,184 89,184 105,244 74,938 37,467
Total 54,927 63,421 65,818 75,802 73,498 90,466 129,467 184,638 238,633 178,007



Undocumented Migration

The other form of Mexican migration to the United States is seen in the undocumented migrants crossing the Mexican/American border illegally. It is difficult to assign fixed numbers on the flow of undocumented Mexicans migrating to the US yearly, particularly in terms of participation in the workforce.

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that as of January 1, 2006, there were a total of 11,500,00 undocumented immigrants in the United States, and of those 6,570,000 of them are undocumented Mexican immigrants.10


"Visa Pages" - U.S. Temporary Foreign Work Programs - New Edition
Updated edition of Visa Pages is now available! 
"Visa Pages" is a one-stop resource to find comprehensive information about the various non-immigrant visas U.S. employers use to bring temporary foreign workers from all over the world to work in the U.S. 
Recruitment Rules: Countries of Employment

"Recruitment Rules: Countries of Employment" details the legal framework for international labor recruitment in four common temporary work programs - the United States nonimmigrant H-2A (agricultural) and H-2B (nonagricultural) visas, and the Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the bilateral Special Program for Agricultural Workers with Mexico and Caribbean nations.


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