H-2A Visa

The H-2A visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows temporary or seasonal agricultural workers to enter the United States and work in the agricultural industry.

What Is H-2A Visa ?

The H-2A visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows temporary or seasonal agricultural workers to enter the United States and work in the agricultural industry. Agricultural workers who work on a temporary basis include individuals who do not need more than one year to complete the work. Agricultural seasonal laborers, on the other hand, are workers who do specific seasonal jobs.

Eligibility for an H-2A visa

The eligibility of the H-2A visa depends on the certain conditions that need to be fulfilled at both petitioner’s and the beneficiary’s end. If you are an applicant, you will be eligible provided –

  • You find a job offering the temporary/seasonal nature of agricultural work in the U.S.
  • You have proof that shows your intention to return home after completing the work.
  • You fall under the approved country.

The petitioner, on the other hand, must –

  • Offer a job that is temporary or seasonal.
  • Demonstrate a shortage of able, willing, and qualified domestic workers in the U.S. to carry out the temporary work.
  • Show that employing an H-2A immigrant worker would not affect the working conditions and wage of U.S. workers employed for a similar reason.
  • Attach a valid temporary labor certification along with the H-2A petition authorized by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). (there is a limited exception to this condition applicable only for certain “emergent circumstances.”).

However, H-2A petitions may only be approved for nationals of countries that the secretary of homeland security has designated, with the concurrence of the Office of the Secretary of State, as eligible to participate in the H-2A program.
You, as an applicant, can get an H-2A visa even if you are not from an approved country. Here, the U.S. employer will have to contact the Department of Homeland Security with your date of birth, name, country of birth, and citizenship. The employer will also need to provide evidence that the United States will benefit from giving the H-2A visa. Homeland Security will then evaluate the request and possibly update the approved countries list for your case. If you need any assistance in getting clarity on the eligibility requirements for an H-2A visa, immigration lawyers at the Law Office Of Prashanthi Reddy, PLLC, can help you out.

H-2A Application Process

The H-2A visa application process can be summarized into three steps –
Step 1: In the first step, the petitioner submits a temporary labor certification application for H-2A to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
Step 2: 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.
Step 3: After USCIS approves Form I-129, the prospective H-2A eligible foreign national 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 country with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a U.S. port of entry; or
Directly seek admission to the U.S. 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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Other Type Of Work Visa

Period of stay

The USCIS may grant H-2A classification for up to the time authorized on the temporary labor certification. However, the 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. However, there is a maximum capping period of stay under the H-2A classification, and it’s 3 years. A person who has held H-2A nonimmigrant status for a total of 3 years must depart and remain outside the U.S. for an uninterrupted period of 3 months before seeking readmission as an H-2A nonimmigrant. Additionally, previous time spent in other H or L classifications counts toward total H-2A time.
Exception: Certain periods of time spent outside of the United States may “interrupt” an H-2A worker’s authorized stay and not count toward the 3-year limit.

Additional Information

An H-2A worker’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may seek admission in the H-4 nonimmigrant classification. However, family members are not eligible for employment in the U.S. while in H-4 status.

The petitioner of H-2A workers need to notify the USCIS if any of the following scenarios occur within two days from the day of occurrence –

  1. The H-2A worker fails to report at work within five working days of (latter of) Employment start date as per the H-2A petition or Start date as decided by the employer.
  2. The worker leaves without prior notification and is absent for five consecutive workdays.
  3. Either the work (for which they were hired) or the worker is terminated before completing the H-2A labor or services.
  4. The service or labor the worker was hired for is completed 30 days before the date specified in the H-2A petition.

There is information like the reason for the notification, name, address, phone number of the H-2A worker, and certain other matters that are to be included in the notification to be sent to USCIS. Failure to send the information on time or failing to demonstrate good cause for untimely notification can result in liquidation damages of $10 for each such instance of non-compliance.You can reach out to our immigration lawyers to know more about the information you, as a petitioner, must include in the notification you need to send to the USCIS for timely filing.

USCIS provides expedited processing of Form I-129 for H-2A petitions. If your petition has been pending for more than 15 days and you have either not received the decision or requested more evidence, you may reach out to USCIS to know about your petition status. Considering the complexities attached in the H-2A status, it is advisable to reach an experienced immigration lawyer to avoid missing timelines mentioned in the law.

At the Law Offices of Prashanthi Reddy, PLLC, New York, we possess years of experience in representing U.S. employers or U.S. agents to

bring nonimmigrant foreign nationals to the United States to perform agricultural jobs for them.
Our immigration lawyers can help you in the timely filing of the H-2A application and ensure that all the requirements in the law have been fulfilled. Reach out to the Law Offices of Prashanthi Reddy, PLLC, at prashanthi@reddyesq.com or call us at 212-354-1010.

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