Farm Workers Given Exemption from South Africa Travel Ban
Farm workers from South Africa will be allowed to travel to the United States under an exemption to the Jan. 25 travel ban imposed to control the spread of a new strain of the coronavirus.
“The H-2 program is essential to the economy and food security of the United States and is a national security priority. Therefore, we intend to continue processing H-2 applications for individuals who provide temporary labor or services essential to the United States food supply chain, as permitted by post resources and local government restrictions,” the State Department said in a statement posted to the agency’s website.
Approximately 5,000 South Africans travel to the U.S. to work on farms under the H-2A visa program annually.
The American Farm Bureau Federation had sought the exemption in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken stating, “Many of these South African H-2A workers have a unique skillset, and American farmers are counting on their timely arrival as they make plans for their upcoming growing seasons.”
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