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About H2A Visa
Overview: An H-2A visa(Temporary Agricultural Workers) allows a foreign national entry into the U.S. for temporary or seasonal agricultural work.

H-2A visa is a program for Temporary Agricultural Workers. which is different from H-2B Visa program for non-agricultural temporary worker.

Period of Stay: initial stay of no more than 1 year, could be extended in increments of 1 year. The maximum period of stay is 3 years.

Family: Spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of an H-2A worker may seek admission in H-4 nonimmigrant classification. H-4 Visa holder does not have work authorization in United States.

Green Card Intent: Not permitted. A foreign worker in H-2A nonimmigrant status for 3 years is required to depart and remain outside the United States for an uninterrupted period of 3 months before seeking readmission as an H-2A nonimmigrant.

H-2A Program Process
  1. Employer Submits Temporary Labor Certification Application to the U.S. Department of Labor. Prior to requesting H-2A classification from USCIS, the petitioner must apply for and receive a temporary labor certification for H-2A workers with DOL.
  2. Employer Submits a Form I-129 to USCIS. After receiving a temporary labor certification for H-2A employment from DOL, the employer should file Form I-129 with USCIS.
  3. Prospective Workers Outside the United States Apply for Visa and/or Admission. After USCIS approves Form I-129, prospective H-2A workers who are outside the United States must:
    • Apply for an H-2A visa with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, then seek admission to the United States with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a U.S. port of entry;
    • or Directly seek admission to the United States in H-2A classification with CBP at a U.S. port of entry, if a worker does not require a visa.

Employee Rights

An employer who files an application for temporary foreign labor certification pursuant to H-2A regulations must meet many specific conditions, including those concerning recruitment, wages, housing, meals, transportation, workers’ compensation insurance, tools and supplies, certification fees, labor disputes, and other conditions.

Employers certified under H-2A must keep records of the hours each worker actually works, time "offered" to the worker but which the worker "refused" to work. Each worker must be provided a wage statement showing hours of work, hours refused, pay for each type of crop, the basis of pay. The wage statement must indicate total earnings for the pay period and all deductions from wages (along with an explanation as to why deductions were made).

Employers must also maintain records concerning any worker who was terminated and the reason for such termination. The employer, in order to negate a continuing liability for wages and benefits to workers, must notify the NPC of any abandonment or abscondment. The employer should also indicate if replacement(s) will be sought for such worker(s).

H-2A workers and the U.S. workers hired under the job order may file complaints about non-compliance with H-2A labor standards with a local Wage and Hour Division office. ETA or any State Workforce Agency will forward any complaint received about contractual H-2A labor standards between the employer and the employee to a local Wage and Hour Division office for appropriate action.
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H-2A Qualification
  • The job offered must be of a temporary or seasonal nature.
  • The employer must demonstrate that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work.
  • The employer must show that the employment of H-2A workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers
  • Generally, a single, valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor must be submitted with the H-2A petition.
The work to be performed must be “of a temporary (or seasonal) nature,” meaning employment that is performed at certain seasons of the year, usually in relation to the production and/or harvesting of a crop, or for a limited time period of less than one year when an employer can show that the need for the foreign workers(s) is truly temporary.

H-2A Visa Eligible Countries List
H-2A petitions may only be approved for foreign workers holding the passports of countries approved by the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State. The list of H-2A eligible countries is published in a notice in the Federal Register and will be valid for one year from publication.

Effective Jan. 19, 2019, nationals from the following countries are eligible to participate in the H-2A program:

  • Andorra
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Barbados
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Estonia
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Kiribati
  • Latvia
  • Lichtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Madagascar
  • Malta
  • Moldova
  • Mexico
  • Monaco
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Mozambique
  • Nauru
  • The Netherlands
  • Nicaragua
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Samoa
  • San Marino
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Solomon Islands
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan*
  • Thailand
  • Timor-Leste
  • Tonga
  • Turkey
  • Tuvalu
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom
  • Uruguay

Statistics: The number of H-2A positions requested and approved has increased fivefold in the past 13 years, from just over 48,000 positions certified in fiscal 2005 to nearly 243,000 in fiscal 2018. The average duration of an H-2A certification in fiscal 2018 was 5.3 months, implying that the 243,000 positions certified represented approximately 108,000 full-year equivalents.

For fiscal 2019, this minimum hourly wage ranged from $11.13 (in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina) to $15.03 (in Oregon and Washington).
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