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


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on March 20, 2012, 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 leave the United States by August 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 January 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 e-mail 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.

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