PMA Welcomes Flexibility in H-2A Guest Worker Announcement

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Thu. April 16th, 2020
- by Jordan Okumura     

NEWARK, DE - A recent announcement from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) noted a temporary final rule change to certain H-2A requirements. The change notably will ease labor concerns during a critical time.

In a letter signed by Richard Owen, Vice President of Global Membership and Engagement, PMA issued the following statement:

Richard Owen, Vice President of Global Membership and Engagement, Produce Marketing Association“On April 15, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security, with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a temporary final rule that eases certain H-2A requirements,” the letter begins. “The change will help U.S. agricultural employers avoid disruptions in labor and protect the nation's food supply chain during this COVID-19 pandemic. PMA is pleased to see the rule change, emphasizing that maintaining a lawful, agricultural labor force during the COVID-19 public health emergency is critical to ensuring our industry has the capacity to continue to safely provide healthy, fresh produce to U.S. consumers."

Key points in the announcement include the following:

  • An H-2A petitioner, such as a grower, with a valid temporary labor certification, can begin employing certain foreign workers who are in H-2A status in the U.S. once United States Citizenship and Immigration Services receives the petition. H-2A workers looking to change employers must be in the U.S. already. The net result is more immediate access to a pool of H-2A farm labor
  • H-2A workers are temporarily allowed to stay in the United States beyond the three-year maximum time limit
  • The temporary rule is effective immediately once published in the Federal Register

The Department of Homeland Security, with support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, noted a temporary change to H-2A requirements

The letter went on to say, “The changes reflect the commitment from DHS and USDA to help U.S. agricultural employers have continued access to the essential labor force that will allow the fresh produce supply chain to continue to meet consumer demand. We commend DHS and USDA for showing agility in creating this temporary change. PMA will continue to provide up to date information for the industry and our partners as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Produce Marketing Association