Across the country, many US farmers depend on workers to fill temporary or seasonal agricultural jobs. The H-2A program helps farmers to anticipate the lack of available domestic workers and bring foreign workers to perform to fill the employment gap. 

Keep reading to find out how US farmers may benefit from the H-2A visa program. 

Understanding the H-2A Visa Program – The Fundamentals 

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administer the H-2A visa program.  

A US agricultural employer, a US agent (as described in the regulations), or an association of agricultural producers named as a joint employer must apply with USCIS on a prospective worker’s behalf. During the application process, US petitioners must: 

  • Present an offer of agricultural jobs of temporary or seasonal nature 
  • Prove that there are not sufficient US workers able, willing, qualified, and available to fill the employment gap 
  • Demonstrate that employing foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of US workers in similar employment 

How to Bring Agricultural Workers in the US – Temporary Labor Certification 

When submitting Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) with USCIS, US petitioners must submit a valid temporary labor certification issued by the US Department of Labor (DOL). 

The temporary labor certification is necessary to meet USCIS requirements, as the Department of Labor must verify: 

  • Whether there are not enough able, willing, and qualified domestic workers available for the jobs for which prospective H-2A foreign workers are being requested, and 
  • Whether the employment of foreign labor will impact the wages and working conditions of similarly employed US workers 

It is fundamental to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure full legal compliance. 

How to Bring Agricultural Workers in the US – Understanding the Application Process 

The first step is to consult with a well-versed immigration attorney to identify whether the H-2A visa program offers a solution for your case.  

If the H-2A program is a reliable option, the next step is to apply for a temporary labor certification with the US Department of Labor (DOL). This process involves several steps, such as: 

  • Filing a job order with the State Workforce Agency (SWA) 
  • Filing an H-2A Application with the DOL’s National Processing Center (NPC) 
  • Conducting recruitment for US workers 
  • Completing the temporary labor certification process 

With the temporary labor certification in hand, petitioners must file Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) and submit it to USCIS with a copy of the DOL’s certification.  

After the petition is approved by USCIS, prospective foreign workers can apply for an H-2A visa with the US Department of State (DOS) at a US Embassy or Consulate abroad to seek admission to the United States. 

The H-2A visa is restricted to nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Office of the Secretary of State have designated as eligible to participate in the program.  

Every year, the Department of Homeland Security publishes the list of H-2A eligible countries in a Federal Register notice. This list is valid for one year, counting from the publication date. 

Do You Want to Bring Agricultural Workers to the US Through the H-2A Program? – Immediately Contact Attorney Romy B. Jurado 

US farmers need a strategic approach to benefit from the H-2A visa program. Get in touch with an Immigration Attorney Romy B. Jurado today by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing [email protected] for expert legal guidance.