Jan 24, 2022Vaccine requirement to impact H-2A workers
As of Jan. 22, the Department of Homeland Security is requiring essential and non-essential travelers entering the U.S. to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
H-2A workers arriving on Jan. 22, 2022, or after, will be required to show proof of vaccination. This goes for all essential and non-essential travelers entering the U.S.
• These restrictions are temporary and will remain in effect through April 21, 2022, unless amended or rescinded prior to that date.
For purposes of travel to the U.S., the only vaccines accepted are those authorized for emergency use or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization, including Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Moderna, J&J.
• COVID testing is not required for entry via a land port of entry or ferry terminal.
Non-U.S. individuals traveling to the United States via land ports of entry or ferry terminals, whether for essential or non-essential reasons, must:
• verbally attest to their COVID-19 vaccination status;
• provide proof of a CDC-approved COVID-19 vaccination, as outlined on the CDC website – https://www.cdc.gov/
• present a valid Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document, such as a valid passport, Trusted Traveler Program card, or Enhanced Tribal Card; and,
• be prepared to present any other relevant documents requested by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer during a border inspection.
Additional guidance from DHS – https://www.dhs.gov/news/2021/
International Fresh Produce Association responds
On Jan. 21, the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) provided the following message to its members regarding the Department of Homeland Securities announcement that it will be enforcing a vaccine mandate for non-U.S. essential workers traveling through land ports of entry and ferry terminals.
“Last night during a call with U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials, the International Fresh Produce Association was briefed that, effective January 22, 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Protection would begin enforcing a requirement for entry into the U.S. for essential workers.
“DHS detailed the announcement here. In summary, all non-U.S. individuals crossing at points of entry (land, bridge, and ferry terminals) along the Mexico and Canada borders will have to verbally attest that they are fully vaccinated with one of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-approved vaccines (booster shots not required) and provide proof of vaccination to CBP officers upon request. If an individual cannot provide a proof of vaccination when requested, they will be denied entry into the U.S. A list of the US, CDC accepted vaccines can be found on this website.
“This enforcement will not apply to U.S. citizens, lawful U.S. permanent residents, or U.S. nationals.
“Since early 2020, the administrations of Presidents Trump and Biden have issued a series of Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamations governing the admission of non-citizens to the United States at air, sea and land ports in order to protect against the global spread of COVID. These restrictions were comprehensive by visa category and by country. “Essential” workers, including H2A workers and truck drivers, were previously exempt from these restrictions.
“As the virus evolved and vaccinations became more widely available, President Biden issued a Proclamation in October 2021 indicating travel restrictions would be lifted for all travelers seeking admission at air ports of entry who could provide proof of CDC approved vaccination or who met certain very limited exceptions. This order took effect in November and the Administration indicated an order and guidance for admission at the land borders would follow to take effect Jan. 22, 2022.
“Given the volumes of fresh fruits and vegetables that flow across North American borders, IFPA Chief Public Policy Officer Robert Guenther has already shared the associations concerns to DHS Assistant Secretary Eva A. Millona on the impact this is going to have on the entire food supply chain, not just produce, which is already experiencing extreme challenges.
“The fresh produce industry has been proactively encouraging our employers and employees to comply with federal, state and local requirements regarding COVID-19 testing and vaccinations with significant success. We’ve continued to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to the global food supply chain despite disruptions caused by health and labor challenges. Part of prioritizing public health and safety is ensuring access to a safe, abundant food supply remains uninterrupted,” Guenther noted.
IFPA Vice President of Supply Chain and Sustainability Ed Treacy added, “while we have been proactively supporting the public health guidelines since the first reports of this policy in November, we are concerned that this final declaration is being finalized 24 hours from its required implementation. In turn, this will cause great concerns for those responsible for adhering to this requirement as well as officials at the border who have to implement this new order starting tomorrow.”
“IFPA will continue to analyze and work with allied associations and regulatory stakeholders on this issue, including the availability of acceptable vaccines, the clarity of what is acceptable for travel and work in the U.S., and the continued discussions over exemptions for essential workers and who qualifies.”