No matter what time of the year, food supply and farming are essential to the US. That’s why immigrants as temporary employees make a major part of the workforce that deals with the food-related sectors of the economy. Those who work in USA as part of these essential industries need the attention and consideration of the US government.
In the current critical juncture created by the COVID-19 crisis, the government of USA has taken certain necessary measures for H-2A visa holders. H-2A visa holders are those foreign workers on a work visa USA working in the agricultural sector. They work on a temporary basis and contribute a lot to the food production and supply functions.
When domestic workers are not enough to fill the vacancies in the agricultural sector, these foreign workers are employed in the farms by the farmers. These employers’ interests had to be safeguarded too. It was to this end that the US government decided to make a new temporary final rule to help bring H-2A workers to the US.
The reforms done to the rule in this regard have been given shape by the Department of Homeland Security, with the support of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The salient features of this new rule are:
- An H-2A petitioner (the employer) who has a valid temporary labor certification can begin employing some of the foreign workers despite border restrictions. These employers should need the workers essentially. The workers should be currently with H-2A status in the US immediately after USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) gets the H-2A petition. But the worker should not be in the job earlier than the employment start date mentioned in the petition.
- The USCIS is allowing H-2A workers to stay longer than the maximum period allowable of 3 years.
- Agricultural employers (the farmers) will now have a streamlined process that they should make use of to recruit legal foreign workers.
- The disruptions in recruiting skilled farming workers will be reduced to the least. The farmers could access the workers essential to the food supply system. These new workers will ensure the smooth running of the supply system.
Once published in the Federal Register, the temporary final rule will become effective. Then, the new worker can stay in the US for a time not exceeding the validity period given to the Temporary Labor Certification.
If the DHA feels that the rule must be applied for a longer period, a new temporary final rule will be issued. This will be published in the federal register. That will lead to a change in the termination date of the new procedures.
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