Seasonal Agricultural Worker- H2A Visa

US Seasonal Agriculture Worker (H) Visas - H2-A Visas

H2-A 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. 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.

H2-A Eligibility 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 affect on the working conditions, including the wages, of domestic workers employed in similar fields
  • There is not a sufficient number of domestic workers to be employed
  • The company is appropriately certified by the U.S. Department of Labor
  • The countries eligible for H2-A visas is updated yearly by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State.

Who May Qualify for H2-A Classification?

To qualify for H2-A non-immigrant classification, the petitioner must:

  • Offer a job that is of a temporary or seasonal nature.
  • Demonstrate that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work.
  • Show that the employment of H2-A workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

Period of Stay

Generally, USCIS may grant H2-A classification for up to the period of time authorized on the temporary labor certification.  H2-A classification may be extended for qualifying employment in increments of up to 1 year each.  A new, valid temporary labor certification covering the requested time must accompany each extension request.  The maximum period of stay in H2-A classification is 3 years.

A person who has held H2-A non-immigrant status for a total of 3 years must depart and remain outside the United States for an uninterrupted period of 3 months before seeking readmission as an H2-A non-immigrant.   Additionally, previous time spent in other H or L classifications counts toward total H2-A time.  Certain exceptions do apply to this rule.

Family of H2-A Workers

An H2-A worker’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may seek admission in H-4 non-immigrant classification.  Family members are not eligible for employment in the United States while in H-4 status.

H2-A Eligible Countries List

With some minor exceptions, H2-A petitions may only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, as eligible to participate in the H2-A program.