The H-2A program permits US employers to employ foreign nationals to fill temporary agricultural jobs. Despite its seasonal nature and the several requirements involved, the H-2A visa is relatively flexible when compared to other temporary visa options.
In this article, you will find out how to get approved for an H-2A visa.
How to Get Approved for an H-2A Visa – The Basics
Foreign nationals may not self-petition for an H-2A visa. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires that a US employer, an authorized US agent, or an association of US agricultural producers apply on the beneficiary’s behalf.
To get an H-2A petition approved by USCIS, US employers must:
- Offer agricultural jobs whose nature is temporary or seasonal
- Demonstrate that no sufficient US workers are willing, qualified, available, or able to perform those specific activities
- Ensure that prospective foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed US workers
With the H-2A petition, US employers must also submit a valid labor temporary labor certification issued by the US Department of Labor (DOL).
How to Get Approved for an H-2A Visa – Eligible Countries
The approval of an H-2A petition also depends on whether the beneficiary is a national of an eligible country. The list of eligible countries is designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security, with the concurrence of the Office of the Secretary of State.
Annually, the Department of Homeland Security publishes the list of H-2A eligible countries in a Federal Register notice. The designation is valid for one year counting from the publication date.
How to Get Approved for an H-2A Visa – Understanding the Application Process
Obtaining Temporary Labor Certification
Before applying to sponsor eligible H-2A workers, the US employer must submit a temporary labor certification application to the US Department of Labor (DOL). The certification is fundamental to determine that:
- The request is based on the fact that there are not sufficient able, willing, and qualified US workers available to fill the temporary and seasonal agricultural jobs
- Bringing foreign workers to occupy these temporary jobs will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed domestic workers
Filing Form I-129 with USCIS
Once the petitioner has obtained an H-2A temporary labor certification, it is time to file Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) with USCIS. In most cases, the application must include the original copy of the temporary labor certification as initial evidence.
Please note that under limited circumstances, it is possible to waive the temporary labor certification. Consult with an immigration attorney to find out whether it applies to your case.
Prospective Workers Application
After the approval of Form I-129, prospective foreign workers can apply for the H-2A visa. Applicants outside the United States must file the required forms with the US Department of State (DOS) at a US Embassy or Consulate abroad.
If the applicant is already in the United States under lawful status, it is possible to request a change in nonimmigrant status with USCIS.