The U.S. State Department 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.
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. Sec. Pompeo has announced that the State Department has also increased the period in which returning workers may qualify for an interview waiver. The department anticipates that the vast majority of H-2 applicants can now be processed without an interview.
“This is welcome news for both producers and consumers,” said Don Shawcroft, president of Colorado Farm Bureau. “Agriculture is open for business during this crisis and the announcement from Sec. Pompeo and Sec. Perdue ensures that our farmers can continue to rely on a critical source of employees, and be successful in growing food for America in 2020.”
The State Department had previously announced the suspension of all visa processing at Consular offices around the world, prompting serious concern from the agriculture community about their ability to grow a crop without access to critical farm workers. In 2019, more than 258,000 H2A workers were employed in the United States.
Farmers with questions about the changes to H2A processing can visit www.farmers.gov/manage/h2a for more information.