H-2A Visas

The H-2A visa is a temporary work visa for foreign nationals who are performing agricultural or labor services of a temporary or seasonal nature. The H-2A visa is a nonimmigrant visa, which means that the foreign national must intend to return to their country of origin at the end of the authorized stay.

There are several requirements that must be met in order to qualify for an H-2A visa. First, the foreign national must have a job offer from a U.S. employer. The job must be in a field that is designated as agriculture by the U.S. Department of Labor. The job must also be seasonal or temporary in nature. The employer must demonstrate that they are unable to find qualified U.S. workers to fill the position and that the foreign national’s employment will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers.

In order to apply for an H-2A visa, the following steps have to be followed:

  • Step 1: Petitioner submits temporary labor certification application to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).  Before requesting H-2A classification from USCIS, the petitioner must apply for and receive a temporary labor certification for H-2A workers from DOL. For further information regarding the temporary labor certification requirements and process, see the Foreign Labor Certification, Department of Labor Web page.

  • Step 2: Petitioner submits Form I-129 to USCIS. After receiving a temporary labor certification for H-2A employment from DOL, the petitioner must file Form I-129 with USCIS. With limited exceptions, the petitioner must submit original temporary labor certification as initial evidence with Form I-129. (See the instructions to Form I-129 for additional filing requirements.)

  • Step 3: Prospective workers outside the United States apply for visa and/or admission. After USCIS approves Form I-129, prospective H-2A workers who are outside the United States must:

    • Apply for an H-2A visa with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad and then seek admission to the United States with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a U.S. port of entry; or

    • Directly seek admission to the United States in H-2A classification with CBP at a U.S. port of entry, if a worker does not require a visa in cases where an H-2A visa is not required.

 

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