The Department of Homeland Security and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is trying to ease the labour shortage in the US amid the Coronavirus crisis, by issuing a new rule that enables to temporary change certain H-2A requirements so the agricultural employers could be able to hire H-2A workers who are already in the United States.

The new rule aims to help agricultural employers in the US to avoid disruptions in lawful agricultural-related employment. It also tends to protect the nation’s food supply chain, and lessen impacts from the coronavirus pandemic, VisaGuide.World reports.

“Under this temporary final rule, H-2A petitioner with a valid temporary labour certification who is concerned that workers will be unable to enter the country due to travel restrictions can start employing certain foreign workers who are currently in H-2A status in the US immediately after USCIS receives the H-2A petition, but no earlier than the start date of employment listed on the petition,” the USCIS statement reads.

To benefit from the changes in regulatory requirements, the H-2A worker seeking to change employers needs to be in the United States and valid H-2A status.

Furthermore, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services by the new temporary amend the on the regulations aims to protect the country’s food supply chain by allowing H-2A workers to stay beyond the three-year maximum allowable period of stay in the US.

The decision came as an effort to facilitate the continued lawful employment of agricultural workers during the coronavirus national emergency.

Agricultural employers will be eligible to utilize the streamlined process if they are worried about the ability to bring in the temporary workers who were previously authorized to work for the employer in H-2A classification, but the illegal employment of internationals it’s not acceptable under no circumstances.

“This Administration has determined that continued agricultural employment, currently threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, is vital to maintaining and securing the country’s critical food supply chain,” Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf pointed out.

He also asserted that the temporary changes announced by USCIS provide the needed stability during this unprecedented crisis.

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