H-2A Temporary Agricultural Worker Visa

1. Temporary visa for agricultural workers.

The H-2A is a nonimmigrant visa that allows a foreign worker in agricultural industry to work in the U.S. for a period of up to one year. It is mainly used by American farmers who cannot find domestic workers for low paid, but essential occupations.

2. The two requirements

  • Work must be temporary or seasonal.
  • This means according to the INS that the work is "tied to a certain time of year by an event or pattern, such as short annual growing cycle or a specific aspect of a longer cycle, and requires labor levels far above those necessary for ongoing operations."

  • Work must be in the field of agriculture.
  • This definition includes almost any activity relating to agriculture as long as the employer produces more than half of the commodity involved and the service is not performed in connection with the commodity after its delivery to a terminal market for distribution for consumption.

    3. Process

    The H-2A application process is divided into three parts in which different government departments are involved: Department of Labor, Department of Justice, and (possibly) Department of State.

  • Labor Certification. The most difficult part of the H-2A process is demonstrating the shortage of U.S. workers and proving that hiring an alien will not result in deterioration of U.S. wages and working conditions.
  • The employer must complete forms ETA-750 part A and ETA-790 with appropriate supplements and submit them to both U.S. Labor Department's Employment Training Administration and the State Employment Security Agency (SESA).

  • Petition to INS. Upon receiving an approved labor certification, the employer submits a petition package to the INS service center of his region.
  • This package includes form I-129 with H supplement. The employer must then submit further documents showing that each alien satisfies the job requirements on the labor certification, such as a statement of the alien's experience from a previous employer.

  • Consular Process or Adjustment of Status.
  • Once the approval notice from the INS service center has arrived, the employer is ready to proceed to the final phase of the application process. At this point the employer submits the appropriate documents to either a U.S. Consulate abroad or the INS service center. See our Consular Process page for details.

    KN 12/99 NZ/KC 8/01

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