Immigration: Agricultural Workers In The US |

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Immigration: Agricultural Workers In The US

Are you a farmer in the US and need seasonal/temporary labor to grow, cultivate, and harvest your farm produce but cannot find domestic workers? Well, you can hire foreign Agricultural workers in the US, with a clause. Meanwhile, the US H-2A temporary agricultural workers program usually allows foreigners to immigrate to the US as agricultural workers.


This is basically to assist US farmers in filling the labor shortages by hiring people from other countries. In this article, we’ll discuss in detail the H-2A temporary agricultural workers program and how you can apply as an agricultural workers in the US. Also, we will take you through the application process. Interested? Let’s get started!

H-2A Temporary Visa for Agricultural Workers In The US

The H-2A temporary agricultural program often helps organizations that foresee a shortage of available domestic employees to bring foreign agricultural workers to the US. This is to carry out temporary or seasonal agricultural work like planting, growing, or harvesting operations. Furthermore, seasonal labor often requires more assistance than usual.

This is because the tasks are carried out at a certain time of the year by an occasion or pattern, such as a brief yearly growth cycle. Therefore, temporary employment is only for one year. Based on this, farmers in the US, agricultural enterprises, or corporations can hire farm workers from other countries.

The main job role of these farm laborers is to assist employers with agricultural-related tasks for a certain amount of time. Additionally, there is no limit on H-2A visas. This implies that everyone who applies for and is granted a visa can relocate to the US to work. In their capacity, there are no constraints on how many individuals can be hired.

America’s Farms Labor Shortage Crisis

Based on the American Farm Bureau Federation, agriculture in the US requires over 1.5 million employees to be hired annually. However, farmers have had difficulty filling these roles in the past. In 2019, 55% of California farmers claimed to be unable to locate all of the required staff in the previous five years.


Meanwhile, this is because, even when salaries and privileges are boosted, there are still not enough American citizens applying. Also, the present agricultural labor is aging and there’s a necessity to recruit new people to replace them. Immigrants have filled these labor shortages for years. Even at that, just a few immigrants have traveled to the US to work in agriculture in recent years.

With the current US immigration policy and growing Mexican earnings, immigration has been a hassle. Because of the workforce shortfall, American agriculture is at a severe disadvantage. The difficulty of American producers to locate reliable sources of labor is a crucial cause for the significant rise in the quantity of fresh fruit and vegetables imported into the US. 

Applying for An H-2A Visa For Agricultural Workers

As an employer, you are not only allowed to hire foreign agricultural workers. To join the program, employers must actively recruit US employees in collaboration with the State Workforce Agency. Additionally, the State Workforce Agency will then make the job posting public to attract US workers. 

Furthermore, employers must accept qualified references from US workers who apply for the position. When a competent US worker comes, employers will need to consider them until half of the work duration indicated in the employment contract has expired. There is no further affirmative requirement to employ after 50%.

If an employer has been impacted by a strike, work stoppage, or layoff within the last 2 months, they may not qualify for the H-2A Temporary visa program. Meanwhile, H-2A visa recipients include both US farm employers and foreign nationals. Any US farmer who needs additional labor is allowed to begin the H-2A visa procedure for foreign workers. 

Criteria For Employers

As an employer, you must meet the following requirements. Scroll down!

  1. Only provide temporary and seasonal agricultural employment.
  2. And also prove that no US employees are willing, eligible, or available to fill those roles.
  3. Demonstrate that recruiting foreign workers will not have a detrimental impact on US employees’ pay and working conditions in the same industry.
  4. Furthermore, have all of the essential documents and petition permissions on hand.

Criteria For Employees

In addition to the criteria for employers, as an employee, there are conditions for you as well. The following standards must be met to qualify for an H-2A visa as an employee.

  1. Secure A valid job offer with a US firm that provides temporary farm employment.
  2. Prove that you plan to return to your home country after your visa expires.
  3. Be from a particular country. Not all agricultural laborers from all countries are permitted to work in the US.

The number of countries in which H-2A workers can be employed has been decided by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). If you wish to know these countries, delve into the USCIS website. Nonetheless, if a US firm wants to hire an agricultural worker from a country that’s not on the list, there are requirements.

These specific requirements include:

  1. Send a written request to the DHS.
  2. List the names of the foreign workers, as well as their birth dates, country of origin, and countries of citizenship.
  3. Submit evidence showing that the US profits from the employees being granted an H-2A visa.

The DHS will consider the request and may amend the list to include that country. However, only if they judge that having that worker in the country is in the best interests of the US.

H-2A Visa Application Paths for Agriculture Workers 

These phases and federal agencies are often involved in the H-2A visa application process and extension process.


The usual filing procedure for employing H-2A employees should take approximately 75 days and contain the phases listed below.

  1. The agriculture worker applies to the local State Workforce Agency for a domestic work order.
  2. The agriculture worker goes to the Department of Labor’s Chicago National Processing Center to apply for a temporary labor certification.
  3. The Department makes the ultimate conclusion of Labor’s Chicago National Processing Center.
  4. The farmer applies for an H-2A visa through US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  5. Employees apply for the H-2A visa through the Department of State and attend consulate interviews.
  6. Approved employees travel to the job location and arrive on time with an arrival/departure record.


If H-2A employees are required in fewer than 75 days, the farmer might pursue the emergency filing process. At the same time as filing an emergency request, the farmer should also register a job order with the State Workforce Agency. As well as apply for a temporary labor certification at the Chicago National Processing Center of the Department of Labor.

Furthermore, the farmer will then proceed in the same manner as any other file.

  1. The Department makes the ultimate conclusion of Labor’s Chicago National Processing Center.
  2. The farmer applies for an H-2A visa through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  3. Employees apply for the H-2A visa through the Department of State’s National Processing Center and attend consulate interviews.
  4. Approved employees travel to the job location and arrive on time with arrival or departure documentation.

Immediate Need

Farmers that require employees in 44 days or fewer should contact the Department of Labor’s Chicago National Processing Center. They can use an email address to verify that all H-2A visa program stages are completed before the start date. The email’s subject line should be “H-2A Program Question: Immediate Need for H-2A Workers.” Farmers will be required to justify their use of the emergency claim process.

Extending Workers

Agriculture workers have two choices for extending employees on a current H-2A visa contract.

  • A short-term visa extension of fewer than two weeks.
  • The agriculture worker files a Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • A long-term visa extension of more than two weeks.
  • The agriculture worker files a Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • The agriculture worker writes a note to the United States Department of Labor’s Chicago National Processing Center explaining his need for an extension.

Immigrating To The US As An Agriculture Worker

Applicant Steps

The employer must fulfill a few processes before the applicant can officially submit for an H-2A visa. However, the candidate must satisfy the following steps below. Scroll down!

  1. Fill out the DS-160 form online.
  2. Make payment for the application fee.
  3. Arrange for and finish a visa interview.
  4. If the application is granted, the applicant must apply for visa stamping.

Employer Steps

An H-2A petitioner simply has to complete three stages to recruit temporary foreign agriculture workers in the US. These stages are listed below.

  1. Apply for a temporary labor certification with the US Department of Labor.
  2. Files Form I-129 with USCIS.
  3. Once Form I-129 is authorized, foreign employees outside the United States apply for a visa.

Benefits Of H2A Visa For Agriculture Workers

  1. You will have the opportunity to enter the US for temporary labor and receive all employee perks.
  2. Your dependents can also accompany you to the US.
  3. The H2A visa allows you to travel freely in and out of the United States
  4. If you get a new work offer, you can move to employment.


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