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Immigration Law

USCIS Extends H-2A Visa Flexibility

Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 162 / Thursday, August 20, 2020

Temporary Changes to Requirements Affecting H–2A Nonimmigrants Due To the COVID–19 National Emergency: Partial Extension of Certain Flexibilities

"As a result of continued disruptions and uncertainty to the U.S. food agriculture sector during the summer and upcoming fall agricultural season caused by the global novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19) public health emergency, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, has decided it is necessary to temporarily extend the amendments to certain regulations regarding temporary and seasonal agricultural workers, and their U.S. employers, within the H–2A nonimmigrant classification. Through this temporary final rule DHS is partially extending some of the provisions of the April 20, 2020, temporary final rule. Namely, the Department will continue to allow H– 2A employees whose extension of stay H–2A petitions are supported by valid temporary labor certifications issued by the Department of Labor to begin work with a new employer immediately after the extension of stay petition is received by USCIS. DHS will apply this temporary final rule to H–2A petitions requesting an extension of stay, if they were received on or after August 19, 2020, but no later than December 17, 2020. The temporary extension of these flexibilities will ensure that agricultural employers have access to the 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 at the same time encouraging agricultural employers’ use of the H–2A program, which protects the rights of U.S. and foreign workers. DATES: This final rule is effective from August 19, 2020, through August 19, 2023. Employers may request the flexibilities under this rule by filing an H–2A petition on or after August 19, 2020 and through December 17, 2020."