H-2A Temporary Agricultural Visa
- H-2A Temporary Agricultural Visa overview
- H-2A Application Process
- Required documentation
- Labor Certification
- H-2A Eligible Countries
- Duration of Stay
- Family of H-2A Workers
1. H-2A Temporary Agricultural Visa overview
The H-2A program allows foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs for which U.S. workers are not available. H-2A nonimmigrant classification applies to aliens seeking to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature in the United States on a temporary basis. An employer (or a qualified association) must file a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker.
To qualify for H-2A non-immigrant classification:
- The job offered must be of a temporary or seasonal nature
- The employer must demonstrate that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work
- The employer must show that the employment of H-2A workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers
- Generally, a single, valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor must be submitted with the H-2A petition. (A limited exception to this requirement exists in certain “emergent circumstances.” See e.g., 8 CFR 214.2(h)(5)(x) for specific details).
2. H-2A Application Process
Step 1: Employer Submits Temporary Labor Certification Application to the U.S. Department of Labor. Prior to requesting H-2A classification from USCIS, the employer must apply for and receive a temporary labor certification for H-2A workers with the U.S. Department of Labor.
Step 2: Employer Submits a Form I-129 to USCIS. After receiving a temporary labor certification for H-2A employment from the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”), the employer should file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with USCIS requesting H-2A workers. The DOL approved temporary labor certification must be submitted with Form I-129.
Step 3: Prospective Workers outside the United States apply for Visa and/or Admission. After an employer’s Form I-129 is approved by USCIS, prospective H-2A workers who are outside the United States may apply with the U.S. Department of State at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad for an H-2A visa (if a visa is required) and, regardless of whether a visa is required, apply to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for admission to the United States in H-2A classification.
3. Required documentation
Each applicant for a visitor visa must submit these forms and documentation as explained below:
- Online Non-immigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160.
- A passport valid for travel to the U.S. with a validity date of at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the U.S. (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions).
- One (1) 2×2 photograph.
4. Labor Certification
In order to be considered for a nonimmigrant visa to be issued the applicant’s prospective employer to obtain a labor certification or other approval from the Department of Labor for the prospective employee (visa applicant). Once that is received, if required, the prospective employer or agent can file the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with USCIS.
5. H-2A Eligible Countries
The list of H-2A eligible countries is published in a notice in the Federal Register (FR) by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on a rolling basis. Designated countries will be valid for one year from publication.
Effective Jan. 18, 2011, nationals from the following countries are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B programs:
• Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Nauru, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Vanuatu.
Note: A national from a country not on the list may only be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A petition if the Secretary of Homeland Security determines that it is in the U.S. interest for that alien to be the beneficiary of such a petition.
6. Duration of Stay
Generally, an H-2A is authorized for a period of time no longer than one (1) year. H-2A classification may be extended for qualifying employment in increments of up to one (1) year, with the maximum period of stay in H-2A classification being three (3) years.
Note: An individual who has held H-2A nonimmigrant status for a total of three (3) years is required to depart and remain outside the United States for an uninterrupted period of three (3) months before seeking readmission as an H-2A non-immigrant.
7. Family of H-2A Workers
Any spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of an H-2A worker may seek admission in H-4 nonimmigrant classification. Family members in H-4 nonimmigrant classification may not engage in employment in the United States.
8. For More Information on H-2A Visas
- VIBE Program
- TITLE 8 CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS (8 CFR)
- Public Releases by Topic: H-2A and H-2B Visas