USCIS Gives H-2A Workers Temporary Flexibility to Stay and Work Longer

Notice was published in the Federal register on Monday that gives H-2A workers temporary flexibility to stay and work longer in the United States. A key excerpt from the notice follows:

“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.”

This will be welcome news for farmers who are scrambling this year to make sure they have enough workers to carry out the season’s production. Employers who find they need their H-2A employees longer than originally planned can have their H-2A workers continue to work while awaiting approval from USCIS for an extension request. In addition, allowing H-2A workers to stay beyond usual 3 year individual maximum time, will allow more workers to move from job order to job order without having to return to their home country for a few months. This should make more workers available and eligible for work  in the U.S. at a time when they are desperately needed.

H-2A Employers now have housing flexibility to provide for workers, access to expanded emergency job orders, and access to a database of workers already in the country.

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