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USCIS Grants Temporary Extension of Accommodation for Sheepherders in H-2A Status

Release Date: March 20, 2012

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today 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, and 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. 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 deference to prior practice exempting them from the three-year limitation. 

Some petitioners may have had a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, denied solely on the basis that the H-2A sheepherder had exceeded the three-year limitation of stay. Affected petitioners may request that USCIS reopen these cases on a Service Motion by sending an email to: csc-ncsc-followup@dhs.gov. (Include ‘H-2A Sheepherder Service Motion Request’ in the subject line.) 

USCIS will only review denials for which it has received a written request. Such requests will be accepted through April 20, 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.gov or call USCIS’s National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.

For information on USCIS and its programs, please visit www.uscis.govor follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis) and the USCIS blog The Beacon.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 03/20/2012