USCIS reminds the sheepherding industry of the upcoming expiration of the one-time accommodation giving them more time to fully transition to the three-year limitation-of-stay requirements for the H-2A nonimmigrant classification.
USCIS announced its limitation-of-stay requirements under a final rule that became effective on Jan. 17, 2009.
The agency granted a one-time accommodation for sheepherders in H-2A status in December 2009 in deference to their industry’s prior exemption from the three-year limitation. This exemption did not impact other H-2A categories.
Time spent as an H-2A sheepherder before the final rule became effective has not been counted toward the three-year maximum period of stay. Instead, USCIS started the clock on Jan. 17, 2009, for H-2A sheepherders lawfully present in the United States on that date.
All H-2A nonimmigrant workers, including sheepherders, are subject to a three-month departure requirement once they have been in the United States in H-2A status for the maximum three-year period. For example, H-2A sheepherders present in the U.S. on Jan. 17, 2009, must depart by Jan. 16, 2012, and remain outside the country for at least three months before being granted H-2A classification again.
The H-2A program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs.
For more information on the H-2A visa program and current processing times for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, visit www.uscis.gov or call USCIS’s National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.