April 18, 2020
GUATEMALA CITY – The United States Embassy in Guatemala City is pleased to announce that regular processing of H-2 visa applications for seasonal agricultural and non-agricultural employment in the United States will resume on April 18th, 2020. Additionally, as a special provision to comply with necessary health requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person interviews will not be required for most H-2 visa applicants, whether they be workers returning to the United States or first-time visa applicants. The Embassy will prioritize visa processing for H-2A agricultural workers and H-2B non-agricultural workers whose employment will focus on food production.
Though COVID-19 places unique challenges on travel and visa operations, the U.S. Embassy views the H-2 visa program as a top priority, which creates valuable economic opportunities for both Guatemalan workers and U.S. employers, increasing prosperity in both countries. To protect these opportunities, the Embassy will resume regular H-2 visa processing on April 18th, and will waive the in-person interview and the fingerprints requirement for the workers who qualify. Under these provisions, individuals will be able to submit their materials to apply for H-2 visas by courier, and will not need to appear at the Embassy for an interview.
Please note that in order to take advantage of the H-2 visa program, applicants must still show proof of employment with a qualifying U.S. company that has obtained the necessary Foreign Labor Certification from the United States Department of Labor and an approved petition from the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS). Individuals who do not have employment with a qualifying U.S. company or who lack the necessary documentation are not eligible to apply for an H-2 visa.
Only an authorized representative of a qualifying U.S. company can request a Group Appointment and begin the H-2 application process for that company’s workers. Individual applications received without a Group Appointment Request from an authorized representative of a qualifying U.S. company will not be processed.
Under the provisions of a cooperative agreement signed between the U.S. Department of Labor and the government of Guatemala to expand access to H-2 opportunities, the Guatemalan Ministry of Labor is available to connect U.S. companies with Guatemalan workers in a transparent and cost-free manner, and to serve as an authorized representative of those companies throughout the visa process. U.S. employers and Guatemalans interested in taking advantage of this opportunity should contact the Ministry of Labor at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
To apply for an H-2 visa under the expanded interview-waiver guidelines, please follow the following instructions:
- The U.S. company or its authorized representative submits a Group Appointment Request, available through the following link: https://www.ustraveldocs.com/gt_es/gt-svc-groupappointment.asp. Please fill in all data fields and attach the following documentation:
- A list of applicants requested by the U.S. company, including full names, dates of birth and passport number for each applicant.
- A copy of the approved I-797 form, issued to the U.S. company by USCIS.
- The Embassy reviews the Group Appointment Request. If the request is approved, the Embassy will send an approval notice to the U.S. company or its authorized representative. This approval notice will indicate a date on which application materials should be submitted to the Embassy through Cargo Expreso.
- The U.S. company or its authorized representative delivers all necessary documentation to a Cargo Expreso branch office on the date indicated on the approval notice. The following documents should be submitted for each applicant in the group:
- A valid passport, and passports containing any previous U.S. visas.
- A recent photo that complies with the requirements found at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/photos/digital-image-requirements.html Digitally modified photos will not be processed. Duplicates of photos used in previous applications will not be accepted.
- Confirmation sheet of the DS-160.
- Copy of the I-797 (just one copy for the whole group).
- Copy of the labor contract between the employer and the prospective employee.
Please do not include any other documentation; it will not be returned. Failing to provide all requested documents could result in delays in the process.
IMPORTANT: The scheduled date is the only date on which the group coordinator will be allowed to drop off the group´s applications at the Cargo Expreso branch agency they prefer. If the representative/group coordinator fails to bring the documents on the scheduled day, he/she will have to send a new Group Appointment Request.
Please note that there is no need for individual applicants to present themselves at the Embassy or at a Cargo Expreso office. Only the authorized representative of a U.S. company should submit materials to Cargo Expreso on behalf of the group.
- The Embassy returns applicants’ passports to the U.S. company’s authorized representative via Cargo Expreso. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the processing time for these applications will be between 1 and 2 weeks.
The Embassy will coordinate with the Guatemalan Ministry of Labor and other government authorities so that workers with valid H-2 visas and legitimate employment in the United States can obtain the necessary Guatemalan government authorization to travel to the United States, in compliance with the COVID-19-related restrictions on travel and other activities currently in place.
For more information about the group interview waiver process for H-2 visas, please visit our website at http://cdn.ustraveldocs.com/gt/gt-svc-groupappointment.asp.