U.S.: Farmworkers exempt from Trump's work visa suspension
The work visa suspension that U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Monday will not apply to farmworkers.
Trump will expand an existing visa ban to include certain non-immigrant work visas as part of a move to protect U.S. workers amid the economic devastation tied to the coronavirus pandemic.
The restrictions will apply for the rest of the year to foreign workers on H-1B visas for skilled workers and L-1 visas for workers being transferred within a company. The president will also block seasonal workers on H-2B visas, with an exception for workers in the foodservice industry.
However, seasonal farmworkers, who use the H-2A visa, are exempt from the new measures, amid an ongoing labor shortage in the agricultural industry and increasing reliance on the guest worker program.
In 2019, the Department of Labor certified more than 250,000 H-2A worker visas, a 10% year-on-year increase, Politico reported. For farmers to hire seasonal workers from other countries, they must prove that the jobs could not be filled by domestic workers.
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Trump administration has eased requirements for farmers to use the H-2A program as the pandemic has disrupted the labor supply.
The federal government waived in-person interviews for workers looking to get hired as embassies have shut down. Farmers can also hire foreign workers currently in the U.S., and the three-year time limit for workers has been temporarily lifted.