H-2A Agricultural

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:

Argentina Fiji Mexico Slovakia
Australia Grenada Moldova Slovenia
Austria Guatemala Montenegro Solomon Islands
Barbados Haiti Nauru South Africa
Belize Honduras The Netherlands South Korea
Brazil Hungary Nicaragua Spain
Bulgaria Iceland New Zealand Switzerland
Canada Ireland Norway Thailand
Chile Israel Panama Tonga
Costa Rica Italy Papua New Guinea Turkey
Croatia Jamaica Peru Tuvalu
Dominican Republic Japan The Philippines Ukraine
Ecuador Kiribati Poland United Kingdom
El Salvador Latvia Romania Uruguay
Estonia Lithuania Samoa Vanuatu
Ethiopia Macedonia Serbia


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.

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