If you are an agricultural employer with a temporary or seasonal need for workers, the H-2A visa is what you need. We serve farmers and ranchers located in Montana, North Dakota or Wyoming. But, we have helped employers in other states with special needs. If you want to learn more about the H-2A visa program, please keep reading. If you know you need help now, please contact us. This guide to the H-2A visa is part of our series on US visa types.
The Rancher or Farmer’s Temporary Need
In contrast to the H-2B visa, it is much easier for the agricultural employer to show the Department of Labor (DOL) it has a temporary or seasonal need. While the H-2B nonagricultural employer must submit extensive documentation to prove that it has a need that fits into one of four categories, DOL will generally accept that a farmer or rancher has a seasonal need. All the farmer or rancher need do is request a worker for a period that fits with traditional agricultural needs. For example, if a rancher of farmer specifies the period March 15 through December 31 as the time the employer needs extra help, the DOL often accepts this need without requiring more information.
Meeting DOL requirements For Temporary Need
While the agricultural employer is not challenged on the period of need, to be successful receiving the required temporary labor certification, the employer must meet other DOL requirements. The employer must show that there are not enough US workers were able, willing, qualified and available to do this temporary work. In hiring the temporary workers requires the employer to show that this employment will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of other agricultural workers. Agricultural employers meet these requirements by advertising to DOL specifications where directed at the DOL specified hourly rate. If no workers apply, DOL will approve the required temporary labor certification, ETA-9142.
DOL housing And Travel Requirements
One of the unique aspects of the H-2A visa program is a DOL requirement that an agricultural employer provided housing and transport to the job site. This requirement triggers an inspection of the housing the rancher of farmer proposes to offer the H-2A visa applicant. If the property is located in a classic rural area, this also means checking potable water sources. These inspections help the farmer or rancher meet the housing requirements. Also, the agricultural employer must get the worker from his or her home country to the ranch or farm.
While the worker is traveling, they must provide a daily allowance for meals. These expenses can add up if the worker is from a distant H-2A country like the Philippines or Peru. DOL enforces these requirements through assurances provided by the employer as a condition of receiving the temporary labor certification. Not every country qualifies to supply H-2A temporary workers. But, most of the countries that agricultural employers receive workers from our on the USCIS approved country list.
H-2A Application Process
With an understanding of what DOL requires in for success in applying for the required temporary labor certification, we now cover the bureaucracy of the process. The agricultural employer files form ETA-790 with the state Department of Labor. If the state accepts the application it will certify the ETA-790, Agricultural Clearance Order. Now with this certification, the applicant can apply to the federal DOL for the temporary labor certification. DOL requires use of its electronic system were the applicant mus upload the required documents. Once DOL accepts the application that acceptance triggers the employer to report recruitment. DOL also advises on where the employer must conduct the required recruitment.
Meeting USCIS Requirements
With these requirements met DOL approves the temporary per certification and the farmer or rancher can now apply to the USCIS. The application to USCIS requires the employer to complete some forms and to supply the now signed temporary labor certification. If the employer is requesting consular notification, the USCIS requires the employer file the application in duplicate. USCIS generally processes applications within a week of receipt. The employer can track USCIS progress , receiving emails or text updates.
Applying for the H-2A visa
With an approved H-2A visa petition, the worker can apply for the visa in his or her home country. Many workers are unfamiliar with the visa process. Some workers live in remote areas without access to required computers for the application process. This leads many workers to hire agents to help them receive the required H-2A visa. Some employers work with and pay these agents in advance to get the worker to the United States. If the employer does not have a particular agent, the employer must still reimburse the worker for the cost of the agent. With the visa, the agricultural worker can travel to the United States and start working for the employer.
Agricultural Associations As Petitioners
A review of the process as outlined here shows it to involve some complexity and bureaucracy. Many farmers and ranchers recognize they cannot handle the application process on their own. Agricultural associations often provide the service of filing for H-2A visas. For example, Mountain Plains Agricultural Service located in Casper Wyoming files for many agricultural employers located in Montana and Wyoming. The advantage of using an agricultural Association is it may place one advertisement for all its employer’s temporary agricultural workers. This cuts the employer’s cost as advertising, usually expensive, is shared among many employers. For those agricultural employers who need help in Western Montana or Idaho, the Snake River Farmers Association offers an H-2A service also. From experience, this association is known for delivering irrigators.
How We Can Help, Or Why Hire Us?
We understand all that employers need in the H-2A Visa Process and can help the, farmer or rancher so that his or her temporary agricultural workers arrive on time. We recognize that we charge more for our services than the agricultural associations described above. Under these circumstances, why should you hire us to help you? For a start, we offer personalized service that agricultural associations due to the economies of scale often cannot offer.
More importantly, as we are a full-service immigration law firm, we can fix the difficult problems associated with the H-2A visa process. For example, we have helped employers who through receiving bad advice tried to obtain permanent employees through the H-2A visa program. Lastly, many agricultural employers find that they wish to sponsor loyal and hard-working H-2A visa temporary employees for green cards. We can provide that service and understand how the permanent application and the temporary application interact so as not to cause problems to the agricultural employer.
Having read this guide and understood our services for helping with anything that relates to the H-2A visa, if we can help you, please contact us.