The H-2A visa is for temporary agricultural workers. The program allows U.S. employers to bring in foreign workers from countries that have a shortage of qualified domestic workers for up to three years, at which point the worker’s initial period of stay expires unless the employer files a new petition for an extended stay.
However, applicants must fulfill several key eligibility requirements for the H-2A visa before coming to the U.S.
This article will cover everything you need to know about these visas, including how to apply, who can sponsor an H-2A visa applicant and what documentation.
What Is an H-2A Visa?
The H-2A visa is a temporary work visa that allows certain employers to temporarily employ foreign workers to perform agricultural jobs. These jobs include picking fruit and vegetables, caring for animals and crops, and working on farms.
However, note that H 2A visas are only available to employers with a shortage of U.S. workers to perform these jobs. So, before filing the petition for H-2A employment, the employer must first make a good-faith effort to recruit U.S. workers to fill the job.
How to Apply for an H-2A Visa
There are several steps required to apply for an H-2A visa. First, the prospective employer must file a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The employer then submits an application to the Department of Labor (DOL) on behalf of the employee.
The employee must also submit application materials to the state workforce agency responsible for the position and any additional state or local government agencies.
This process must be completed within two months of receiving the petition.
What Documentation Is Required for an H-2A Visa Application?
Prospective employers must submit the H-2A visa application and all required documents to the state workforce agency responsible for the position. These documents include:
- The employer’s petition for H-2A employment
- Evidence that the employer has tried to recruit U.S. workers to fill the job before applying for an H-2A visa
- Evidence that the employer has advertised the job to fill the position of U.S. citizens, noncitizens, and members of other racial and ethnic groups
- The employee’s resume, pay stub, or other documents that show the employee’s experience, education, and qualifications
- Evidence that the position is an “agricultural job”
- Evidence that the position is located in the state the employer is requesting H-2A workers for
- Evidence that the position is for a period of no more than three years
- Evidence that the employer is a “bona fide” business
The Bottom Line
While the H-2A visa program benefits agricultural employers, it is important for prospective H-2A employers to note the program’s eligibility requirements.
For instance, to qualify for this visa, the worker must also prove that there aren’t enough Americans willing and able to do the job.
To meet these requirements, employers must follow certain steps outlined by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Hopefully, the information highlighted in this column has resolved any concerns you might have had about applying for an H-2A visa.