WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it extended an accommodation for H-2A workers in the sheepherding industry to transition to the three-year limitation of stay requirements. USCIS will require H-2A sheepherders who have reached their maximum three-year period of stay to depart the United States by Aug. 16, 2012. These sheepherders must then remain outside the country for at least three months before petitioning for 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. All H-2A nonimmigrant workers are subject to a three-month departure requirement once they have been in the United States in H-2A status for a maximum three-year period.
USCIS announced its limitation of stay requirements under a final rule that became effective on Jan. 17, 2009. The agency granted an accommodation for H-2A sheepherders in December 2009 in regard to prior practice exempting them from the three-year limitation.
Certain petitioners may have had a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, affected solely on the basis that the H-2A sheepherder had exceeded the three-year limitation of stay. Petitioners may request that USCIS reopen cases by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Include ‘H-2A Sheepherder Service Motion Request’ in the subject line and the case receipt number in the body of the email. USCIS will review cases that were:
- denied solely on the basis that the H-2A sheepherder had exceeded the three-year limitation of stay; or
- approved, but the validity period was shortened due to the three-year limitation of stay.
USCIS will only review cases for which it has received a written request through the above email address. Requests will be accepted through April 30, 2012. No fee is required. If a petition was previously denied on other grounds in addition to limitation of stay issues, USCIS will not review the case through a written request.
USCIS may request additional evidence in any reopened case where a final decision cannot be made based solely on the evidence of record. This includes evidence to show the beneficiary is eligible to continue to perform the labor or services stated on the petition. If the petitioner fails to submit requested evidence, USCIS may deny the case.
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.govor call USCIS’s National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.