The H-2A visa program benefits US farmers who need extra help in temporary or seasonal labor and foreign nationals who want to fill the existing vacancy. Unfortunately, recent reports showed abuse cases involving H-2A workers experiencing legal violations.
In this article, you will discover how to protect your rights as an H-2A visa holder.
H-2A Visa Abuse – An Introduction
Each year, the Department of Homeland Security publishes the list of H-2A eligible countries through a Federal Register notice. As of 2022, the majority of H-2A visa holders are from Mexico.
A recent report from NBC News interviewed several Mexican workers who had come to the United States on H-2A visas. Their stories reveal legal violations involving poor working conditions, harassment, discrimination, and health and safety violations.
Most workers interviewed experienced more than one legal violation while working under H-2A nonimmigrant status. In many cases, most of the victims had little to no recourse against these abuses.
H-2A Visa Abuse – High Living Costs and Poor Working Conditions
For most Mexican immigrants who opt for an H-2A visa, surviving in their home country is difficult. While many workers hope things get better once they obtain an H-2A visa, things might not turn out how they expect them to.
The US Department of Labor’s regulations requires H-2A employers to provide all workers with fair compensation, safe working conditions, and guaranteed transportation, lodging, and meals.
Unfortunately, several cases showed workers being paid less than what they were promised. The report also showed situations in which no breaks for meals were given, and no days off were provided.
Considering many workers desperately need money to pay off that debt, they are more likely to keep working in an abusive environment rather than leaving the country.
H-2A Visa Abuse – Human Trafficking
The report also showed cases involving labor and human trafficking. Some employees reported situations in which their freedom and movement were restricted by the employer. Depending on the severity of the circumstances, some employers even feel that they are not allowed to quit even if they want to.
H-2A Visa Abuse – Issues with Program Invites
The report also showed abuse associated with program invites. In Mexico, many recruiters invite workers less able to speak English in areas with higher poverty levels. This attitude results in agricultural H-2A workers being treated as expendable and easily replaceable.
Is There a Systemic Failure Affecting the H-2A Visa Program?
The report concluded that these incidents are not isolated cases, or rare situations involving careless employers. Instead, the conclusion is that there is a systemic failure in the program that is due to reform. Three main issues must be fixed immediately, which are:
- The fact that temporary agricultural workers have almost no bargaining power
- The lack of close federal oversight
- The lack of supervision to check whether temporary agricultural workers are treated fairly and legally
Protect Yourself Against H-2A Abuse – Seek Professional Guidance
Applying for an H-2A visa requires a careful approach, especially to identify whether a certain job offer is actually what it is promised to be. It is fundamental for prospective and current H-2A workers to consult with an expert immigration attorney.
A diligent legal counselor may provide legal guidance and defend clients against abuse in any circumstance.
Do You Want to Protect Yourself Against H-2A Visa Abuse? – Immediately Contact Jurado & Associates, P.A.
If you want a zealot lawyer to protect you against any type of abuse, get in touch with Jurado & Associates, P.A. today by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing Romy@juradolawfirm.com to schedule a consultation.