May 11, 2021

Volume XI, Number 131


May 10, 2021

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H-2A Update: COVID-19

H-2A arrivals in 2020 have been significantly impacted by COVID-19 with several agencies implementing policy changes to address visa processing and travel restrictions. The following is the current status of efforts: 

  • H-2A visa applications are being processed by consulates despite temporary suspension of routine visa services at all U.S. embassies and consulates because H-2 applications are mission-critical.
  • Returning workers in the U.S. in the past 12 months were visa processed without an interview. On March 26, 2020 consulates in Mexico announced interview waivers to first-time applicants and to applicants whose visas expired in the past 48 months. Applicants who qualify will not require a consulate interview and may be scheduled to apply for visas immediately.
  • Mexican H-2A workers may travel to U.S. job locations once processed by the consulate as essential travel.
  • USDA and DOL are facilitating the identification of foreign and domestic workers that may be available and eligible to transfer to other U.S. agricultural employers to replace workers unable to consular process.
  • Employers unable to meet three-fourths guarantee obligation due to COVID-19 pandemic need to request termination under the existing contract impossibility provision due to events outside employer's control.
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires employers to provide paid leave to workers (including H-2A workers) suffering COVID-19 symptoms, quarantined or who are unable to work or need to care for children due to certain COVID-19 related issues. 
© 2021 Varnum LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 91



About this Author

Kimberly A. Clarke, Varnum, Immigration Lawyer

Kim focuses her practice on immigration matters, including nonimmigrant petitions, both employment- and family-based permanent residence applications, expatriation and foreign visa issues. She has developed a strong background in the area of worker verification issues and managed clients through internal and agency Form I-9 audits, USICE compliance investigations and civil criminal charges.

In addition, Kim maintains a specialty practice of consultation with agricultural clients and handles various agricultural labor and employment issues such as compliance with...

Kristiana M. Coutu, Varnum, Corporate and agriculture attorney

Kristiana's practice focuses on serving the needs of the agriculture industry. She has experience in several areas of agricultural law including labor and employment matters, H-2A labor, taxation, succession planning and general business matters. Kristiana previously practiced as a certified public accountant and has over 20 years of experience in the agriculture industry, including agricultural lending and operating her family farm. ​​

Brion Doyle, Litigation attorney, Varnum

Brion is a member of the Litigation Practice Team. He is experienced in commercial and environmental litigation in state and federal court. Brion has represented clients in a wide range of commercial and tort cases including class action defense, products liability defense, personal injury defense, commercial contract disputes, covenants not to compete, embezzlement and bank fraud actions, minority shareholder disputes, and in collection and creditors’ rights litigation. He has handled all forms of alternative dispute resolution, including facilitative mediation,...