The H2A Visa allows foreign workers entry to the U.S. to work in agriculture. The H2A visa is not self-petitioned. Employers must apply on behalf of their employees. The employer can be self-employed, a partnership, corporation or agricultural association. An agent may also apply on behalf of the employer.
Who May Qualify for H-2A Classification?
To qualify for H-2A nonimmigrant 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 H-2A workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
- Generally, submit with the H-2A petition, a single valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor.
H-2A Eligible Countries List
Except as noted below, H-2A 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 H-2A program.
Effective Jan. 18, 2014, nationals from the following countries are eligible to participate in the H-2A program:
|Belize||Honduras||The Netherlands||South Korea|
|Costa Rica||Italy||Papua New Guinea||Turkey|
|Dominican Republic||Japan||The Philippines||Ukraine|
Period of Stay
Generally, USCIS may grant H-2A classification for up to the period of time authorized on the temporary labor certification. H-2A 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 H-2A classification is 3 years.
A person who has held H-2A nonimmigrant 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 H-2A nonimmigrant. Additionally, previous time spent in other H or L classifications counts toward total H-2A time.
Exception: Certain periods of time spent outside of the United States may “interrupt” an H-2A worker’s authorized stay and not count toward the 3-year limit.
Family of H-2A Workers
An H-2A worker’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may seek admission in H-4 nonimmigrant classification. Family members are not eligible for employment in the United States while in H-4 status.