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Story Highlights

  • Officials from the United States (US) Embassy in Jamaica have assured the Jamaican Government that the new visa regime for farm workers, set for implementation on February 19, will not result in any delays for workers entering the North American country.
  • They gave the commitment during a meeting with Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, at his North Street offices in Kingston on Friday (January 29).
  • They promised the timely processing of visas for persons involved in the temporary agricultural or farm work programme (H-2A).

Officials from the United States (US) Embassy in Jamaica have assured the Jamaican Government that the new visa regime for farm workers, set for implementation on February 19, will not result in any delays for workers entering the North American country.

They gave the commitment during a meeting with Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, at his North Street offices in Kingston on Friday (January 29).

They promised the timely processing of visas for persons involved in the temporary agricultural or farm work programme (H-2A).

Urging that the transition be made “seamless,” Minister Ferguson said it is important that there are no delays for the workers going on the programme, which has been contributing greatly to the Jamaican economy.

In response, the US Consul General, Mike Schimmel, informed that the Jamaican workforce is valued by the American employers and their elected officials, “(who) have told us to make sure this (visa regime) works.”

“They do not want to lose one hour from the very valuable and esteemed Jamaican workforce. So, we have a common goal to keep a successful programme successful,” Mr. Schimmel said.

Since 1961, Jamaica has been part of a group of countries from which agricultural workers could travel to the US without a visa.

Starting this February, however, the US Government is standardising the process for Jamaica and other Caribbean countries so that agricultural workers will follow the same procedures as workers from all other countries.

This will ensure that these applicants, like other H-2A agricultural workers around the world, are screened properly prior to arrival in the US.

The change aims to reduce entry into the US of persons, who pose security risks to the country.