The number of H-2A workers in the U.S. last year was about 125,000, up from 51,000 only six years ago and from 74,000 in 2013. There is no limit on the number of H-2A visas issued each year. H-2A visas are valid for a period of stay generally less than one year, but H-2A status may be extended in increments of up to one year, with a maximum period of stay of up to three years.
There are plenty of hoops to jump through to get H-2A workers. First and foremost, the work must be seasonal in nature, and an employer has to demonstrate there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing and qualified for the jobs. Employers have to advertise the jobs and accept/interview U.S. applicants first to see if they are willing to do the work at the applicable wage.
As for H-2A workers:
- They can only work for your company and cannot be farmed out to another employer. H-2A workers can be shared if farmers belong to an association, and the H-2A application is an association application.
- They can only work in the geographic area outlined on the application.
- They can only do agricultural work.
- They must go back to their country of origin at the expiration of the visa.
Agricultural employers generally cover transportation costs to and from a worker’s home country. Employers must also provide clean and safe housing to H-2A workers at no charge to the employee. Employees are responsible for their food costs, but employers must provide a place for workers to prepare their meals.
For More Information:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: www.uscis.gov
CoBank Study, “Help Wanted” https://www.cobank.com/