The U.S. State Department clarified its ban on noncitizens entering the United States from South Africa. A Biden administration proclamation suspended travel from several countries due to COVID-19 concerns. The State Department clarified that agriculture workers entering the U.S. qualify for national interest exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
The American Farm Bureau Federation sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske earlier this week requesting an exemption for South African farm labor.
“We appreciate the swift action by the State Department to address a critical need for American agriculture,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Farm workers from South Africa bring valuable and unique skills to the farms on which they are employed. America’s farmers rely on the H-2A program to provide a robust workforce and we are committed to ensuring their safety while continuing to provide healthy, affordable food for families across the country.”
President Biden’s proclamation allows for noncitizens to be exempt from the ban if their arrival is in the national interest. Food and agriculture workers have been deemed essential during the pandemic.