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Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 76 / Monday, April 20, 2020
"As a result of disruptions and uncertainty to the U.S. food agriculture sector during the upcoming summer 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 to temporarily amend the regulations regarding temporary and seasonal agricultural workers, and their U.S. employers, within the H–2A nonimmigrant classification. 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. Namely, the Department 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. DHS will apply this temporary final rule to H–2A petitions requesting an extension of stay, and, if applicable, any associated applications for an extension of stay filed by or on behalf of an H–2A worker, if they were received on or after March 1, 2020 and remain pending as of the effective date of this rule, as well as H–2A petitions for an extension of stay, received on or after the effective date of this rule, ending on the last day this rule is in effect. DATES: This final rule is effective from April 20, 2020 through August 18, 2020."