New entry rules for Caribbean agricultural workers

The United States Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State have published rules in the U.S. Federal Register eliminating the nonimmigrant visa exemption for certain Caribbean residents coming to the United States as H-2A agricultural workers.

Beginning Feb. 19, the State Department said on Thursday that certain Caribbean residents seeking to come to the United States as H-2A agricultural workers will be required to have both a valid passport and visa.

“Eliminating this visa exemption, which was originally created to address labor shortages during World War II, will ensure those traveling to the United States, like other H-2A agricultural workers, have been sufficiently screened via the Department of State’s visa issuance process prior to their arrival,” said the State Department in a statement.

“This visa requirement will also better ensure that these workers are protected from potential employment and recruitment-based abuses,” it added, stating that the spouses and children who travel with these workers to the United States will also be required to have both a valid passport and visa.

The State Department said the change applies to a British, French, or Netherlands national, or a national of Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, or Trinidad and Tobago, who has residence in British, French, or Netherlands territory located in the adjacent islands of the Caribbean, or has residence in Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, or Trinidad and Tobago.

“The H-2A nonimmigrant classification applies to an alien seeking to enter the United States to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature,” the statement said.

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