The Department of Homeland Security, with support from USDA, announced a temporary final rule that would make changes to some H-2A Program requirements. 

A USDA release says the changes are designed to help U.S. agricultural employers find and maintain a steady supply of labor, protect the nation’s food supply chain, and lower the impact of COVID-19. 

At the same time, USDA says the temporary changes won’t weaken or eliminate protections for U.S. workers. 

Under the temporary rule, an H-2A petitioner with a valid temporary certification, who is concerned that workers won’t be able to enter the country due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, can start employing certain foreign workers who are currently in H-2A status in the U.S. immediately, as soon as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services receives the H-2A petition. 

To take advantage of the limited-time change in requirements, the worker seeking to change employers must already be in the U.S. and in valid H-2A status. 

Also, valid H-2A workers are being allowed to stay beyond the three-year maximum allowable period in the U.S. Employers who are worried about finding an adequate supply of legal labor who were previously authorized to work for the employer as H-2A workers, should take advantage of the limited opportunity. 

The Citizenship and Immigration Service also says it’s never okay to hire illegal aliens to work on your farm or in your ag-related businesses.