What is the H-2A Program?
The H-2A program started in 1952 and has played an important part in agriculture labor ever since. H-2A provides farmers an opportunity to hire seasonal agriculture workers on a temporary work visa program. American farmers and growers of all sizes and types may take advantage of this program, including those working in row crop, fruit trees, berry bushes, grapevines, vegetables, livestock and more.
Migrant farmworkers can apply to this program from dozens of countries around the world to help farmers and growers with planting, harvest, and other activities throughout the year. Some migrant workers may have previous experience working with your crops and others may not.
Contracting migrant through H-2A program requires a number of applications and certifications, including coordination with the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, among others. Though H-2A is carefully monitored; this is among the few visa programs in the U.S. that are now not capped. This gives farmers and growers the flexibility to expand their workforce as needed, year to year and harvest to harvest, without narrowing the job market for locals.
H-2A Employer Basics
The H-2A program is intended to help farmers and other agricultural business owners fill seasonal labor gaps by hiring workers outside the U.S., but without narrowing the job market for locals. This means employers have responsibilities to fulfill, both to locals and to potential incoming workers. These include recruiting qualified and available domestic labor, paying immigration application and filing fees, providing transportation and accommodations for foreign workers en route to your location, and providing housing for workers who cannot reasonably return home each day while working at your farm or orchard.
Employer requirements for H-2A visas can seem daunting at first. To give you a better understanding of employer requirements, here are some of the basics you should know:
Requirements for the Job
The H-2A program is only available for certain jobs. The job must be agricultural in nature and it must be temporary, generally lasting less than one year. This includes jobs involved in planting, cultivation, and harvest for many types of crops.
Requirements to Request Domestic Labor
Employers seeking seasonal or temporary labor must first make an effort to employ local job-seekers.
Hiring and employing foreign workers requires several applications and associated processing fees. This includes the labor certification application fee, USCIS petition fee, and consulate fee, among others.
In the H-2A program, employers are responsible for securing transportation for workers from their home country to the job site. However, we can take care of this for you.
Housing, Meals and Transportation
Since foreign workers will not have a place to stay during their temporary employment, employers are required to provide this. Employers must treat foreign and domestic workers equally, so employers must also offer this benefit to any domestic worker who is unable to reasonably return home each day. This employer requirement of the H-2A program can be fulfilled in many ways. Workers may stay in off-site rental housing, housing owned by the business, or housing contracted with another business.
The employer is also responsible for either providing three meals a day to workers or providing adequate meal preparation areas. Finally, if housing is off-site, the employer must provide transportation, as well as transportation to grocery stores or other needs.