H-2A Visa Program – Temporary Work Visas for Agricultural Workers

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Section 218 of the Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes the lawful admission of temporary, nonimmigrant workers into the United States to perform services or labor that are temporary in nature. The H-2A Visa Program allows U.S.employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the U.S. to fill temporary agricultural jobs.

The H-2A Visa Program is designed to help American farmers fill employment gaps by hiring workers from other countries. The program helps employers who anticipate a lack of available domestic workers bring foreign workers to the U.S. to perform temporary or seasonal agricultural work including, but not limited to, planting, cultivating, or harvesting labor. The program is intended to benefit farmers, plantation owners, ranchers, nursery owners, and other similar owners.

To qualify for H-2A nonimmigrant classification, the petitioner (employer) must demonstrate that there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to provide the temporary services or labor; that the offered job is temporary or seasonal in nature; that H-2A workers will not adversely affect the wages and the working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers; and must submit a single valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) along with the H-2A petition. If the employer has been affected by a strike, work stoppage, or layoff within 60 days of when work will start, the employer may not qualify for the program.

Before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can approve an employer’s petition for such workers, the employer must apply for and receive a temporary labor certification application to the DOL. After receiving a temporary labor certification from the DOL, the petitioner must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with USCIS on the prospective employee’s behalf.

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