February 4, 2022. 
Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

H-2A visa program: What is my role as a U.S. farmer?

If you’re a U.S. farmer who plans to hire foreign agricultural workers, you need to file a petition first. The H-2A visa program isn’t as popular because of its bureaucratic complexity, but you may still be curious about requirements. In the article, you’ll find the information about the H-2A visa as well as the information about the application process.

What is an H-2A visa?

H-2A visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreigners to perform temporary or seasonal agricultural work in the United States. Namely, it is predominantly popular in cases when there’s a shortage of domestic workers. This program is an employer-sponsored, temporary worker program and farmers initiate the process by filing a petition.

As a matter of fact, the H-2A visa doesn’t have an annual cap. This means that there is no limit to how many people can apply. This particular visa’s minimum wage is higher by 57 percent than every state’s minimum wage.

H-2A visa eligibility requirements

To work as a farmer in the U.S. on an H-2A visa, a candidate must:

  • be from an H-2A eligible country (there are 84 eligible countries);
  • keep in mind that the maximum length of stay on this visa is three years.

As a petitioner you must:

  • offer a temporary or seasonal job in the U.S.;
  • prove that there are not enough U.S. workers to fill the positions;
  • prove that employing foreign workers will not affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers;
  • submit a valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor with the H-2A petition.

How to apply?

Step 1Farmer submits the application to the U.S. Department of Labor, requesting an H-2A job approval.
Step 2Farmer submits Form I-129 to USCIS. Workers cannot apply directly which is why farmers file a petition on behalf of their workers.
Step 3Prospective workers outside the United States apply for H-2A visas from State Department
Step 4Customs and Border Protection admits workers at U.S. ports

Once the applicant's application has been processed, they will receive a biometric service notice (if applicable) and a notice of decision.

Although the H-2A agricultural program isn’t as popular because of its complexity and high costs, some people still opt for it. Thus, created in 1986 to allow legal foreign workers to temporarily enter the United States and work for U.S. farmers, this program has attracted many visa applicants. However, during the 1990s, this program was rarely used because illegal immigrant workers began dominating the industry.

We hope that this article helped you understand the H-2A visa program a bit better. Surely, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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