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Monday, July 15, 2024

Guide to H-2A Visa for Temporary Agricultural Workers.

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The H-2A visa program allows companies in the United States to invite foreign individuals to the country for temporary agricultural work. This visa is critical for the agricultural industry because it ensures that farms and related businesses have access to a consistent workforce during peak season. Guide to H-2A Visa.

Eligibility Criteria for the H-2A Visa

To qualify for the H-2A visa, both employers and employees must meet specific requirements:

Employer Requirements

  1. Proof of Temporary Need: Employers must demonstrate that their need for agricultural workers is temporary or seasonal.
  2. Recruitment Efforts: Employers must attempt to recruit U.S. workers before seeking foreign labor.
  3. Compliance with Labor Laws: Employers must offer fair wages and working conditions in line with U.S. labor laws.
  4. Approved Labor Certification: Employers must obtain a labor certification from the Department of Labor (DOL).

Employee Requirements

  • To be eligible for H-2A status, workers must have a job offer from an approved U.S. company.
  • Nonimmigrant Intent: Workers must plan to return to their home country once their work expires.
  • Workers must be from a country eligible for the H-2A program, as determined by the US government.

Application Process for Employers

Step 1: Filling out a Job Order

Employers must file a job order to the State Workforce Agency (SWA) for the desired area of employment. The job order must include the terms and conditions of employment.

Step 2: Apply for Labour Certification

After submitting the job order, employers must file Form ETA-790/790A with the DOL. This form contains details about the employment, recruitment efforts, and housing provisions for workers.

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Step 3: Recruitment of U.S. Workers

Employers must actively recruit U.S. workers by advertising the job in local newspapers and conducting outreach to local workforce agencies.

Step 4: Submit the H-2A Petition.

After the DOL confirms the labour certification, companies can submit Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Step 5: Consular Processing.

Approved workers must apply for the H-2A visa at a United States consulate in their native country. They must attend an interview and provide biometric information.

Application Process for Workers


Step 1: Receiving a job offer.

Workers must have a job offer from a US business participating in the H-2A program.

Step 2: Visa Application

Workers must fill out Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, and pay the applicable fee. They must schedule an interview with the nearest US consulate.

Step 3: Attend the Interview

During the interview, employees must submit their job offer, a valid passport, and any other supporting documents. They will also be fingerprinted.

Step 4: Entry into the United States.

Workers can come to the United States and begin working after their visa has been approved. They must adhere to all terms and conditions mentioned in their job offer.

Rights and Protections for H-2A Workers


H-2A workers are entitled to several protections under U.S. labor laws, including:

  • Fair Wages: Employers must pay the higher of the federal or state minimum wage, the prevailing wage, or the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR).
  • Employers must offer free, safe, and sanitary housing.
  • Employers must reimburse employees for travel expenses to and from their native country.
  • Employers must follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements to maintain a safe workplace.

See More Opportunities

Extensions and Returning Workers


Extension of Stay

Employers can request an extension of stay for H-2A workers by filling out Form I-129.Extensions can be granted in one-year increments, with a maximum stay of three years.

Returning Worker Program

Workers who have had H-2A status in the previous three years may be eligible for the returning worker program, which streamlines the visa application process.

Conclusion

The H-2A visa program is critical to satisfying the labour demands of the US agricultural sector. Employers and employees can successfully navigate the system by understanding the qualifying criteria, application processes, and worker rights. This creates a mutually beneficial agreement that benefits the agriculture sector while also providing great chances for international labour.

Helpful Links:

H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers

H-2A Visa Program

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