The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has enacted temporary changes to H-2A guest worker program . As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices are closed so new H-2A applications are not being processed. To ensure the United States food supply stays adequate, the USCIS has issued temporary regulations extending the time temporary workers may stay int he country.
On April 20, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security and USCIS published a temporary rule to amend certain H-2A requirements to help U.S. agricultural employers avoid disruptions in lawful agricultural-related employment, protect the nation’s food supply chain, and lessen impacts from the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency. Under this temporary final rule, The Department is temporarily removing certain limitations on agricultural employers and workers in order to provide agricultural employers with an orderly and timely flow of legal foreign workers, thereby protecting the integrity of the nation’s food supply chain and decreasing possible reliance on unauthorized aliens, while encouraging agricultural employers’ use of the H-2A program, which protects the rights of U.S. and foreign workers. The USCIS will allow H-2A employers whose extension of stay H-2A petitions are supported by valid temporary labor certifications (TLCs) issued by the Department of Labor to begin work immediately after the extension of stay petition is received by USCIS. The Department is also temporarily amending its regulations to allow H-2A workers to stay in the United States beyond the 3 years maximum allowable period of stay.
Additionally, USCIS is temporarily amending its regulations to allow H-2A workers to stay beyond the three-year maximum allowable period of stay in the United States. These temporary changes will encourage and facilitate the employment of foreign temporary and seasonal agriculture workers during the COVID-19 national emergency.
This final rule is effective from April 20, 2020 through August 18, 2020. After August 18, 2020.