US H-2A Seasonal or Temporary Agricultural Work Visas

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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.

H-2A Dependents

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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