April 23, 2020 Update
On April 22, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order Suspending Entry of Immigrants into the United States. Within the Executive Order, exemptions are provided, including provisions that allow individuals who support essential services, like the food supply chain and agricultural workers, to continue to enter the United States legally. Specifically, H2A visa holders will continue to be allowed to enter the United States to fulfill their contractural obligations.
Secretary Perdue emphasized that agricultural workers are exempt in a tweet.
For more information regarding the Executive Order, please use this link.
March 30, 2020 H2A Update
On Thursday, March 26, the State Department took steps to increase processing of H-2A visa holders through consulates around the world.
- Secretary Pompeo, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, has authorized consular officers to expand the categories of H-2A visa applicants whose applications can be adjudicated without an in-person interview.
- Consular officers can, if they so choose, now waive the visa interview requirement for first-time and returning H-2A applicants who have no potential ineligibility.
- This expansion also increases the period in which returning workers may qualify for an interview waiver. Applicants whose previous visas expired in the last 48 months (increased from 12 months), and who did not require a waiver of ineligibility the last time they applied, do not need to be interviewed in-person if they are applying for the same visa classification as their previous visa.
Guidance can be found on https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/important-announcement-on-h2-visas.htm.
Individual Embassy Updates:
South Africa: As of March 24, South Africa announced a 21-day national lockdown, resulting in no visa processing being conducted as this time. Local Department of State officials anticipate the lockdown will mean their courier will not be able to deliver or receive passports. As this is a locally implemented lockdown, the U.S. government cannot facilitate processing or movement of H-2A workers. Please monitor https://za.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/ for updated information on specific South African activities.
Mexico: H-2 visas can only be processed in the U.S. Consulates General in Tijuana, Monterrey, Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, Hermosillo, Nogales and Ciudad Juarez. Priority will be given to applicants who had a visa in the same category which expired in the last 48 months (this is a temporary extension of the normal 12 months). Applicants with prior immigration or other lawful violations will generally not qualify for an interview waiver. More information and FAQs, please visit: https://mx.usembassy.gov/notice-to-h2-agents-and-petitioners-march-26-2020/.
Jamaica: In response to an employee testing positive for coronavirus, the embassy is closed. They will begin reprocessing H2A visas at a later date. If an individual has an immigrant visa appointment, the Consular Section will contact them when the embassy resumes routine service to reschedule the appointment
Guatemala, Peru, El Salvador: All travel to and from Guatemala, Peru, and El Salvador has halted.
It is imperative to monitor the respective Embassy’s webpage for most up to date information.
****Workers traveling to the United States should avoid going through Level 3 countries; i.e. do not bring workers to the U.S. via Europe.****