Have you heard of the H2A temporary agricultural program? As an agriculturist or even an agricultural employer, you should be familiar with this program.
The essence of this program is to enable agricultural employers to prepare ahead of time for the scarcity of domestic workers who will carry out agricultural labor or services.
They do this by bringing nonimmigrant foreign workers to the United States temporarily especially during the planting or harvest season.
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In this article, we will be discussing who is qualified for the H2A visa, the advantages attached to the visa holder, the requirements for obtaining the visa, and finally the fee you are expected to pay for the H2A visa.
Who is qualified to apply for an H2A visa?
As we stated earlier, the beneficiaries of the H-2A visa are the United States farm employers and foreign employees. That being said, if you need additional workers as a U.S farm owner, you are qualified to initiate the H-2A visa process for foreign workers, however, the following criteria must be met by the employer:
- The job positions you are offering must be temporary and seasonal agricultural work.
- You must prove that U.S workers are unable, unwilling, unfit, or unavailable to fill those positions.
- You must prove that employing foreign workers will in no way influence the wages and work conditions of U.S employees in the same sector negatively.
- You must possess the required documents and petition approvals.
- You must either be an individual owner or a corporation. Also, if the employers are an association of agricultural producers, they have to file as a single employer, agent of its members, or as a joint employer with its members.
- Authorized agents whether an association or individual can file an application on behalf of an employer.
- You must make provisions for free and authorized housing to all workers who are unable to go back to their residences the same day.
- As for feeding, you are expected to either provide three meals daily for each of the workers or buy cooking utensils, furnish the kitchen facilities to enable them to prepare their meals themselves.
- You are expected to refund the workers all the monies spent on transportation from the place of recruitment to the place of work upon completion of 50% of the work contract period.
- You must provide Workers’ Compensation or its equivalent insurance for each of the workers.
- Also, you have to provide all the farm implements and supplies needed to carry out the task to the seasonal agricultural workers.
- You must employ any U.S workers who apply for the job and is qualified until 50% of the contract period has elapsed.
- In addition to this, you must make sure that the job opportunity for which you are requesting H2A certification is not vacant as a result of a lockout or strike.
- You have to pay a certification fee before you will be issued temporary alien agricultural labor certification.
Worthy of mention is the fact that you must have an accurate record of the worker’s earnings and he or she must be given a complete statement of hours worked and related earnings per payday. You also have to pay the worker at least two times a month or even more frequently depending on the prevailing practice.
You may be wondering if the requirements are only for employers, well, employees also have conditions they are required to meet to be able to qualify for an H-2A visa and they are:
- You must secure a job from a U.S employer who is offering temporary agricultural work.
- You must prove that you are willing to go back to your home country upon the expiration of your visa.
- You must come from any of the authorized nationalities because not all farmworkers from all countries are allowed to come to the U.S to work.
Nevertheless, if a U.S employer decides to employ an agricultural worker from a country that is not included on the list, the employer has to go through certain processes, like:
- Send a written request to the Department of Homeland Security.
- Must be able to use the name, date of birth, country of birth, and country of citizenship of the foreign worker to identify the foreign worker.
- Present evidence that shows that the country will benefit from issuing an H-2A visa to the workers
The employer’s request may be considered by the Department of Homeland Security and they might update the list to include that country but this will only happen when they are sure that it is in the interest of the United States.
Furthermore, if you are hiring workers both from countries on the list and off the list, we advise that you submit two petitions because separating them will help to easily process them.
Are there benefits attached to the H2A Visa?
- Although you entered the U.S. for temporary work, you are entitled to all the benefits given to an employee
- Your dependents are permitted to come and stay in the U.S with you.
- You are authorized to travel in and out of the U.S. freely on the H2A visa
- You are allowed to change jobs only if you can are able to present proof of a new job offer
We have other important points that you should take note of and they are;
- Before you are allowed to change the purpose of your visit while you are still in the country on account of an H2A visa, you must, first of all, change your visa status.
- All information you see here is applicable to the new H2A Visa and H2A Extension.
- The visa processing time shouldn’t exceed one week.
What are the fees for the H2A Visa?
Filing Fee – Regular 460CAD
In conclusion, we have succeeded in exhausting all there is to know about the H2A visa ranging from the definition, eligibility requirements both for the employer and employee benefits you can get as an H2A visa holder, and finally, the cost of a filing fee for the visa.