The Department of Homeland Security has again extended the temporary rule allowing certain employers to streamline the process of hiring foreign temporary and seasonal agricultural workers with H-2A status during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) public health emergency. As we previously reported, Homeland Security implemented the rule change at the beginning of the pandemic to allow any seasonal or temporary worker validly in the United States with H-2A status to switch employers as soon as the new employer submits its own H-2A petition, without having to go through the normal process of waiting for a new H-2A petition to be approved. The new temporary final rule applies to all such petitions received by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services on or after December 18, 2020, but no later than June 16, 2021, extending the previous flexibilities under other rule changes for an additional 180 days. The rule covers all agricultural employers who have obtained the appropriate labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Tips: The temporary final rule is effective through December 18, 2023, which reflects the typical three-year cap on H-2A authorizations. However, the period for submitting new petitions under the rule ends on June 16, 2021. Employers may continue to employ valid H-2A workers pending approval of a new petition, but if a petition is denied, authorization ends 15 days after such denial. Under the rule, employers may still only employ workers who are validly authorized to work in the United States. If you need help with the H-2A process, your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney can refer you to organizations that specialize in this work.