State Department Clears the Way for Agriculture Workforce
The U.S. State Department has revised its restrictions on the processing of visa applications submitted by farm workers in Mexico after hearing concerns that the restrictions would lead to a farm worker shortage in the U.S. On March 26, the State Department announced that U.S. Consular officers can now waive the visa interview requirement for eligible first-time and returning H-2A and H-2B applicants, making more workers in the H-2 program available while prioritizing public health.
The following statement may be attributed to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall:
“We applaud the administration for recognizing the contributions H-2A and H-2B workers make on farms across this country to ensure Americans have access to healthy, affordable food. Acknowledging the critical role of immigrant farm laborers by expanding the number eligible for visas protects the public health while ensuring families continue to have access to a stable food source.
“America’s farmers and ranchers are committed to feeding America’s families during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. Workers in the H-2A program represent 20% of the country’s farm workforce, so their contributions are necessary as we enter a critical time in the planting season.”
- On March 18, 2020, the United States suspended routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa processing services in Mexico.
- 258,000 H-2A workers were approved to work in the U.S. in 2019.
- 93% of H-2A laborers came from Mexico in 2018.
- USDA asks that questions regarding the H-2A program be directed tofarmers.gov/manage/h2a or email firstname.lastname@example.org.