The H-2A visa program allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs. A U.S. employer, a U.S. agent as described in the federal regulations, or an association of U.S. agricultural producers named as a joint employer must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, on a prospective worker’s behalf. And only persons (nationals) from certain countries are eligible to participate in the H-2A program.
To qualify for H-2A nonimmigrant classification, the petitioner (employer) must:
• Offer a job that is of a temporary or seasonal nature.
• Demonstrate that there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work.
• Show that employing H-2A workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
• Generally, submit a single valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor with the H-2A petition. A limited exception to this requirement exists in certain “emergent circumstances.” (See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(5)(x) for specific details).
Generally, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (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. And previous time spent in other H or L classifications counts toward total H-2A time.