March 26, 2020

State Department Increases Visa Waiver Capability

The State Department announced today that it is taking additional steps to increase the processing of H-2A visa holders through consulates around the world. These modifications, including the expansion of interview waiver eligibility, will ensure that the majority of H-2A processing can continue. The specific steps are summarized below:

  • Secretary Pompeo, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, has authorized consular officers to expand the categories of H-2 visa applicants whose applications can be adjudicated without an in-person interview. 
  • Consular officers can, if they so choose, now waive the visa interview requirement for first-time and returning H-2 applicants who have no potential ineligibility.  
  • This expansion also increases the period in which returning workers may qualify for an interview waiver. Applicants whose previous visas expired in the last 48 months (increased from 12 months), and who did not require a waiver of ineligibility the last time they applied, do not need to be interviewed in-person if they are applying for the same visa classification as their previous visa.

We anticipate the vast majority of otherwise qualified H-2 applicants will now be adjudicated without an interview.

In response to the announcement, Western Growers President & CEO Dave Puglia stated: “Western Growers applauds Secretary Pompeo and the professionals of the U.S. State Department for taking a practical approach to meeting the critical workforce needs of American farmers while protecting the health and safety of State Department personnel.

“The steps taken by Secretary Pompeo ease the flow of guest workers at a time when our farmers are redoubling their efforts to provide our nation with safe, healthy, abundant and affordable food. We are grateful to Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Perdue and all those in the Administration who listened to the needs of the agriculture community in the midst of our present crisis, and acted swiftly to implement this common-sense solution.”

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