The US State Department has conditionally changed its travel ban rules for workers from high-risk COVID-19 countries such as South Africa. This applies to those who meet critical skills requirements for the US agricultural sector.
The exemption applies specifically to those in the H-2 visa program, which the department has deemed essential to the US economy and its food security. The H-2 visa permits US employers to hire foreign workers to come to the country and work temporarily in the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors as there is a predicted shortage of domestic labour.
“Therefore, we intend to continue processing H-2 applications for individuals who provide temporary labour or services essential to the United States food supply chain, as permitted by post resources and local government restrictions,” it said.
The department specifically mentioned requiring skills such as:
- Seafood processors
- Fish cutters
- Salmon roe technicians
- Farm equipment mechanics
- Farm labourers
Those who apply for the visa will be considered an exception during their interviews.
US President Joe Biden introduced new travel regulations for the country last week, which included a travel ban to and from South Africa. The ban essentially prevented non-US citizens from entering the US if they had recently been to South Africa due to the new COVID-19 variant in the country.
Biden also reimposed an entry ban on nearly all non-US travelers who have been to Brazil, the UK, Ireland and 26 other European countries.
Picture: White House