Spring is here, and so is the H-2A filing season. The H-2A program allows U.S. farmers and agricultural businesses to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs. A U.S. employer, an agent as described in the regulations, or an association of U.S. agricultural producers named as a joint employer may apply for H-2A workers to assist with planting and harvesting operations.
To qualify for H-2A nonimmigrant classification, farmers and agricultural businesses must prove:
- The positions are temporary or seasonal.
- There are not enough U.S. workers available to hire.
- Hiring non-U.S. employers will not create a loss of job opportunities for existing and potential U.S. workers.
- Non-U.S. laborers will return to their country of origin upon completion of the seasonal/temporary work.
Generally, the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) may grant H-2A classification in order for farmers and/or farm labor contractors to have the opportunity to hire non-U.S. laborers if employers can show there is a temporary or seasonal need, usually in relation to the production and/or harvesting of a crop. The hire period for non-U.S. workers does not exceed one year but H-2A employees may remain in the United States for up to three years before departing the country.
H-2A planting laborers intended for the spring season have already begun to arrive in the U.S., but there is still plenty of time to seek H-2A labor for the fall harvest season.