H2-A Work Visa Program Pros And Cons
Updated: Nov 8
Competitive Advantages and Compliance Violations
The agriculture industry doesn’t take days off. Crops need to be tended to each day and harvested when they’re ready — whether there are enough workers to accomplish that or not. That’s why resources like the H2-A work visa program were created.
Farmers who are seeking a reliable workforce should consider the H2-A program’s pros and cons before jumping into the application process. It’s equally important to be aware of what the work visa program entails, its benefits, and the potential risks of not complying with its requirements.
WHAT IS THE H2-A WORK VISA PROGRAM?
Farmers can use the H2-A work visa program to hire foreign workers to do seasonal and temporary agricultural work in the U.S.
In order to be granted H2-A work visas, seasonality is one of the main requirements of the job that a farmer must prove. For work to be considered seasonal, it must only occur at a certain time of the year and must require a larger amount of labor compared to ongoing operations that occur year-round. Harvesting corn is one example of seasonal agricultural work. While some agriculture jobs such as dairy or poultry production are unquestionably considered agriculture, they typically cannot be classified as “seasonal” because they occur consistently throughout the year.
If an employer requires a worker for a job that lasts less than one year, that work is defined as temporary.
Once an employer is sure they’ve met this criteria, it’s time to start the application process. This process has multiple steps and requirements to be aware of. But with the help of an H2-A visa work permit specialist, employers can keep focusing on running their business without losing time researching all the guidelines or worrying about penalties for any errors in filing the paperwork.
HOW DOES THE H2-A PROGRAM WORK?
To start the process of hiring H2-A visa workers, the employer’s first step is to work with the U.S. Department of Labor to be sure there are no qualified, willing, and
available U.S. workers to do the required work. Then, the employer needs to submit an I-129 petition to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and notate which country the H2-A worker is from. Once the petition is approved, the worker can apply for an H2-A visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country they are located.
More information about the application process can be found in Todd Miller’s book, Navigating The Farm Labor Shortage - A Comprehensive Guide to Harvesting Success through the H2-A Seasonal Work Visa Process.