US H-2A Seasonal or Temporary Agricultural Work Visas
H-2A visas enable foreign workers to enter the United States for seasonal, or temporary, agricultural work, in the case that there is a shortage of domestic workers.
H2-A Seasonal or Temporary Agricultural Work Visas
This type of work visa is obtained by employers for the individuals who will be working in the United States. Before seeking H2-A visas for foreign workers, employers must actively recruit American workers and agree to give preference to American workers over foreign workers.
When an H2-A visa is obtained, it is valid for 364 days. Foreign workers employed under H2-A visas are mandated by law to receive the same workers' rights as American workers, including workers' compensation insurance, fair pay, housing, and transportation.
H-2A Visa Requirements
In order to obtain an H2-A visa, an employer must ensure that:
- The job is temporary or seasonal (usually based on agricultural periods)
- The usage of H2-A employees will not have a negative effect on the working conditions, including the wages, of United States workers employed in similar fields
- He or she can prove they have sought American workers first and that there is not a sufficient number of domestic workers to be employed
- The company is appropriately certified by the U.S. Department of Labor with a temporary Labor Certification
The countries eligible for H2-A visas is updated yearly by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State.
Many countries from Europe, Central America, and Asia are included. The updates for H-2A visas are valid one year from publication.
Applying for an H-2A Visa
There are three steps necessary to obtain an H2-A visa. The first is petitioning for and receiving a temporary labor certification. After the Labor Certification has been received, the Petitioner must submit an I-129 form as well as the application for the visa by the prospective workers.
After USCIS approves form I-129, H-2A employees outside the US must go directly to a Consulate or embassy to seek admission through a Port of Entry (POE) or with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) if the worker does not require a visa. Refer to the links below for detailed information regarding H2-A visas.
Authorized Period of Stay
USCIS will grant H-2A Visas for any period of time authorized with the temporary labor certification up to one year. H-2A Visas may be extended for additional employment one year at a time, with a maximum 3 year period of stay.
Each extension, however, requires a new temporary labor certification. After holding H-2A status for 3 years, the foreign national must leave and remain outside of the United States for 3 months before applying for readmission under H-2A status. Any previous time spent in any H or L Visas also count toward total H-2A authorization time.
Workers in H-2A status are able to bring their spouses and unmarried children under 21 under H-4 non-immigrant dependent visas. Family members in H-4 status are ineligible for employment in the United States.
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