U.S. authorities streamline H-2A visa process
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) aims to reduce delays for the visa applications many growers rely upon to harvest their fruits and vegetables, with the implementation of a new electronic process for H-2A petitions.
On Monday the USCIS and the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced they would be launching the e-Approval system for H-2A visas, which apply to foreign nationals seeking temporary or seasonal work in the agricultural sector.
USCIS claims the technology will allow it to send approval information to the DOS by the end of the following business day.
The new process is expected to come into effect today (May 11), and was met with open arms by producer association Western Growers.
"Yesterday’s announcements are welcome news for our members who are now being forced to rely on the H-2A Program," the group's CEO Tom Nassif said in a release yesterday.
"Coincidentally, the announcements come at a time while our members are in our nation’s capital to engage with members of Congress, their staffs and agency officials on issues of importance to them and their businesses.
"High on the list of those issues is simplifying the H-2A Program. Just last month, our Chairman and members of our board met with officials from each of the processing agencies to hear our concerns and solutions."
He said the willingness of processing agencies' representatives to hear Western Growers' concerns was appreciated.
"Western Growers looks forward to continued engagement with USCIS, DOS and the U.S. Department of Labor as we continue to press them on implementing our other recommended streamlining measures so that our farmers can continue to provide citizens of the U.S. and the world with the freshest and best produce on the planet," Nassif said.