Many people travel to the US after receiving a job offer. These people must obtain an H-type visa before entering. This visa is a kind of temporary work permit for professionals and non-professionals and is divided into several general categories, H1B1, H1B, H1C, H2A, H2B, and H3. In this article, we will learn the details of the H2A visa, including how to apply for it, the essential documents that must be provided by the employer and the worker, and other information.
What is the H2A visa?
This visa is defined for workers who work temporarily or seasonally in agricultural jobs. Seasonal workers are those who farm only a certain period of the year. Temporary workers also refer to those whose work lasts less than a year. This visa allows holders of agricultural land or agricultural companies to hire foreign workers to speed up their work in a certain period. Anyone who has some features and can provide the required documents can apply for this visa. Therefore, it can be said there is no H2A visa cap.
What are the H2A visa requirements?
Any employer who needs an additional worker on their farm or company can qualify to start the H-2A visa process for foreign workers. The employer must have the following characteristics:
- The job position offered by the employer must be temporary or seasonal.
- The employer must prove that the current employees in the US are not willing to do that job or are not eligible to do.
- The employer must prove that hiring a foreign worker will not have a negative impact on working conditions in the US.
- The employer must have the necessary documents and petition approvals.
The following conditions are defined for workers:
- The worker applying for this visa must first have a job offer by an employer in the US who needs a temporary worker.
- The employee has to demonstrate that he or she will return to his/her home country after the visa expires.
- Not all workers from all countries are eligible to apply for this visa. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has presented a list of countries whose workers can apply for the H2A visa. You can find that list in the following. If the employer wants to hire a worker from a country that is not on the list, other steps must be taken:
- The employer must first submit a written request to the Department of Homeland Security.
- Then the name, date of birth, country of birth, and country of citizenship of the worker must be specified.
- The employer must also prove the special benefits of hiring the worker.
- The Department of Homeland Security evaluates the request. If they find that hiring a worker from that country is beneficial to the US, they may add the name of that country to the list.
The H2A visa countries:
|Canada||Hungary||The Netherlands||St. Vincent and the Grenadines|
|Czech Republic||Jamaica||Papua New Guinea||Timor-Leste|
|Dominican Republic||Kiribati||The Philippines||Turkey|
How to apply for the H2A visa?
To temporarily hire a foreign worker, the employer must first obtain a certificate from the Department of Labor. The employer must request a petition to the USCIS. He/she must meet the conditions defined by this organization.
After confirming all the steps mentioned for the employer, the employee can start the application procedure for the H2A visa. If the USCIS does not approve the request submitted by the employer, the worker cannot apply for the visa.
Steps to be taken by the employer:
As mentioned, in the first step, the employer must obtain a certificate from the US Department of Labor. For this purpose, the following forms must be completed:
- Form ETA-790: This is a job offer or Agricultural and Food Processing Clearance Order. This form must be sent to the State Workforce Agency, where the work will be performed 60 to 75 days before the employer demands the foreign farming workers.
- Form ETA-9142A: This is Foreign Labor Certification.
These forms must be filed to the Chicago National Processing Center (NPC) approximately 45 days before there is a requirement for the foreign employees.
After filing the petition in the US Department of Labor, they will assess the reason for hiring a foreign worker. They need to make sure that the employer does not find an appropriate worker in the US and that hiring a foreign worker does not harm workers’ wages in this country.
First, the Chicago NPC will process the certificate, and then the employer will be notified of the result, 30 days before the employees are needed. If the Department of Labor approves the temporary work permit, the employer can follow the next steps.
In the second step, the US government must allow the employment of foreign workers. This is done by registering Form I-129 to USCIS. The employer does this step and the application fee is $ 460, which must be paid by the employer. A Form I-129 must be submitted for each worker that the employer intends to hire him/her. The USCIS reviews this request, and the decision is communicated to the employer. If the petition is approved, a new form called Form I-797 will be issued. The issuance of this form means that the work permit has been released to the worker, and he can start the H2A visa application process.
The US Department of Labor has arrangements for employers. If the employer wants to obtain a work permit, he must comply with the conditions set by the US Department of Labor:
- The employer must show that he/she has made the necessary efforts to hire the non-foreign worker. Advertising on radio, television and the media can be part of this effort. The employer must show that he/she has considered all the potential candidates and provided reasons for their rejection.
- US employers must pay the same salary for foreign workers as they would for US workers. The salary must be in accordance with the minimum wage approved by the federal. It is recommended that employers consult with the DOL about what wage rate to use.
- If the distance between the residence of the foreign worker and the workplace is significant and he/she cannot return to the home on the same day, the employer will be responsible for providing housing for him/her. The accommodation provided by the employer must comply with safety and health standards.
- The employer must afford three meals a day to the foreign worker or provide cooking facilities at the workplace so that the worker can prepare his/her meals.
- The employer must also cover the transportation expenditures of the employee in these cases:
- After completing 50% of the contract, the US employer must pay the transportation costs of the worker if they were incurred.
- If the employer provides housing for the worker, the employer is responsible for transporting the worker from the accommodation to the workplace.
- At the end of the contract, if the worker wants to return to her/his place of hiring, the employer must pay the return costs. If the H2A visa holder does not intend to return to the place of hiring due to another job, the employer will not have to pay the fees.
- In cases, the employer provides transportation for foreign workers, the same conditions must be implemented for US workers.
Steps to be taken by the worker:
After the employer has received the necessary approvals from the US Department of Labor and the USCIS, the worker can begin the visa application process. The H2A visa application must be submitted to the US Embassy by a worker. The DS-160 online form must first be completed. The worker must then pay $ 190 as the H2A visa cost. Participating in an interview at the embassy is also part of the pre-visa process. The documents that the worker must provide at the embassy are:
- Forms I-129 and I-797 must be submitted to the embassy
- A valid passport
- A photo of the applicant
- Evidence that the applicant does not intend to reside permanently in the US, such as property, a lease of an apartment, or an employer’s letter indicating that you will be employed upon return.
- Documents about family members if they intend to come to the US with the applicant
If the visa application is approved, you must apply for visa stamping.
How long does it take to evaluate the provided documents and issue the visa?
Document processing time for the visa varies. Employers are advised to submit their application at least 60 days before the need for foreign workers. But this period should not be more than 120 days. The US government rapidly processes the H2A visa applications because agriculture is a seasonal job.
How long can the visa holder stay in the US and how to do the H2A visa extension?
Since agriculture is a seasonal job, it is valid for one year. After one year, the worker must return to his/her home country. If the work is unfinished and the employer needs the worker, or if the worker finds another employer, the visa must be renewed. This visa is extended for one year. The total length of the period that a person can stay in the US with this visa is three years. In other words, this visa can be extended twice. After three years, the worker must return to his/her home country and be there for at least three consecutive months before re-applying for the visa.
Can the visa holder change the H2A visa to Green Card or another visa?
If a person can find a non-seasonal job position that requires another visa, he/she is allowed to change the type of visa. In this case, the new employer must go through the steps of obtaining a new visa. Moreover, if the worker finds a new employer for an H-2A visa, the employer must acquire the DOL certification and request a new Form -129, then the worker is permitted to work for them. It should also be noted that H2A visa holders can apply for various types of Green Cards (Employment or Family-based).
What are the reasons for rejecting the visa application?
Reasons for rejecting the H2A visa application are mostly related to the employer. These reasons are:
- If there are enough workers in the US to do the job, the employer’s application to hire a foreign worker will be rejected.
- If the employers did not register the certifications and petitions in time, so they could not demonstrate the unavailability of US workers.
- If employers do not make enough effort to hire workers in the US, their application for a foreign worker will be rejected.
- If employers fail to provide the necessary provisions for a foreign worker, such as food, housing, and transportation costs, their application will be rejected.
- An employer who has previously violated the terms of the visa cannot re-apply for the employment of a foreign worker.
Can the holder bring family members to the US?
The visa holder’s spouse and child under the age of 21 can come to the US under the H4 visa. People who have an H4 visa are not allowed to work. Only dependents of H-1 visas are authorized to work in certain conditions. If the holder of the visa extends his visa, the dependents can also apply for an extension of their H4 visa. Also, if family members can find a job that requires an H2A visa, they can apply to change their visa status, provided that the employer goes through the necessary steps.
Let’s sum up …
This article provided an overview of the details of an H2A visa. On the Visa Library website, you can learn about other US visas as well as ways to immigrate to other countries. In case you have some experience, please write it down in the comment section. Your comments let the readers choose better and avoid mistakes. Conveying your experiences in comments is a great help for applicants.