In recent years, it is becoming harder to find US workers to harvest fruits and vegetables and perform other types of agricultural work. This trend resulted in the rise of a major recruiting effort for foreign workers under the H-2A classification.
In this article, you will discover the hurdles of the process to obtain an H-2A visa.
What is the H-2A Visa? – The Essentials
The H-2A Program permits US employers or agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to employ foreign workers to fill temporary agricultural jobs.
The spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years) of an H-2A worker may seek admission to the United States under H-4 nonimmigrant status. As family members are not eligible for US employment while in H-4 status, they must personally qualify for a work visa.
Foreign nationals may not self-petition for an H-2A visa. Instead, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires US employers to apply on behalf of prospective workers.
The petition can be a US employer, a US-based agent as described in the regulations, or an association of US-based agricultural producers named as a joint employer. To meet the H-2A visa requirements, a petitioner must:
- Offer an agricultural job of a temporary or seasonal nature
- Demonstrate that there is not a sufficient number of US workers able, willing, qualified, and available to perform those activities
- Demonstrate that the employment of foreign labor will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed US workers
- Submit a valid temporary labor certification issued by the US Department of Labor (DOL)
It is possible to waive the labor certification requirement in exceptional circumstances. To identify whether it is your case, consult with an expert immigration attorney.
USCIS Eligibility Criteria – Eligible and Non-Eligible H-2A Countries
With a few exceptions, USCIS may only approve H-2A petitions for foreign nationals of eligible countries. The list of eligible countries is designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security, with the concurrence of the Office of the Secretary of State.
The Department of Homeland Security publishes the annual list of H-2A eligible countries in a Federal Register notice. The designation is valid for one year counting from publication. Another hurdle to obtaining an H-2A includes a yearly cap on the available number of visas.
Why is the H-2A Visa Fundamental for the US Economy?
Many US employers have labor requirements that vary throughout the year. The best examples include farms and associations of agricultural producers, which are the backbone of America’s food production.
Agricultural enterprises cannot easily find all the workers that they need to fill all available positions among US workers. Although the reasons vary, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find US workers qualified, willing, or available to perform this type of temporary work.
For example, many employers in the agriculture segment provide wages that may be significantly lower than the amount most people in the local labor market are willing to accept.
Another factor is that the nature of the work itself is such that few people are willing to perform it, which results in an exponential rise in H-2A applications.
Applying for an H-2A Visa Does Not Need to Be Overwhelming – Work with a Well-Versed Attorney from Jurado and Associates, P.A.
Jurado and Associates, P.A. has a team of expert immigration attorneys willing to help you succeed. Get in touch with us by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing Romy@juradolawfirm.com to schedule a consultation.