When farmers need to fill the employment void and there are no sufficient US workers, it is possible to apply with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to bring non-US citizens to perform temporary agricultural work.
Keep reading to discover what the H-2A visa is and why agricultural workers may benefit from it.
What Type of Visa is H-2A for Agricultural Workers? – An Overview
As provided by USCIS, the H-2A program permits US employers or authorized agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to recruit foreign nationals to fill temporary agricultural jobs in the United States.
Under H-2A status, a foreign worker must work exclusively in agricultural jobs. The spouse and unmarried children (under 21) of an H-2A worker may also seek admission into the United States.
H-2A family members may obtain the H-4 nonimmigrant classification, after which they are not eligible for employment in the United States while in H-4 status.
Please note that H-2A dependents have the right to work if they personally qualify for a work visa. Hence, consult with an expert immigration attorney to find a feasible solution.
H-2A for Agricultural Workers – Eligibility Requirements
The H-2A visa is not self-petitioned. USCIS provides that a US employer or qualified agent must apply on behalf of their employees. The term “employer” refers to a partnership, corporation, or association of agricultural producers.
If certain requirements are met, the employer can be self-employed, or a US agent as described in the regulations. USCIS requires that the H-2A petitioner must:
- Offer a job that is temporary or seasonal
- Demonstrate that there are not sufficient US workers who are capable, willing, qualified, or available to perform those specific activities
- Show that potential employees are nationals of eligible H-2A countries
- Demonstrate that the employment of the prospective workers will adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed workers in the United States
The petitioner must also submit a valid temporary labor certification from the US Department of Labor. In certain circumstances described as “emergent,” it is possible to waive this requirement.
H-2A for Agricultural Workers – Period of Stay and Renewal Conditions
The period of stay of H-2A agricultural workers depends on the period authorized on the temporary labor certification. USCIS provides that H-2A workers can extend their classification for qualifying employment in increments of up to 1 year each.
The maximum period of stay for H-2A visa holders is 3 years. To renew his or her classification for another year, an H-2A worker must submit an extension request with a new, valid temporary labor certification covering the requested time.
Once the 3-year period is gone, the H-2A worker must depart from the United States and remain out of the country for an uninterrupted period of 3 months before seeking readmission.
There are exceptions to determine whether certain periods spent outside of the United States may interrupt an H-2A worker’s authorized stay and not count toward the 3-year limit.
Do You Want to Apply for an H-2A Agricultural Workers Visa? – Immediately Contact Jurado and Associates, P.A.
A well-versed immigration attorney from Jurado and Associates, P.A. is willing to help you attain your goals. Get in touch with us by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing [email protected] for expert legal guidance.