Eligibility and Application Requirements
Qualifying Criteria for Employers
To be eligible to apply for the H2A visa, employers must meet certain criteria. Firstly, they must be engaged in agricultural work, including cultivation of crops, raising of animals, forestry, and related activities. Secondly, they must demonstrate that there are not enough able, willing, and qualified US workers available to perform the work and that hiring foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of US workers similarly employed. Employers must also comply with all labor laws and regulations, including those related to wages, housing, transportation, and working conditions.
Qualifying Criteria for Employees
To qualify for the H2A visa, employees must be able and willing to perform the agricultural work offered by the employer. They must also meet certain eligibility requirements, such as being at least 18 years old, possessing the necessary skills, and being physically able to perform the work. Additionally, they must have a valid passport and meet any other requirements imposed by the US government.
Employers must submit a job order to the State Workforce Agency (SWA) at least 75 days before the date of need. They must also file a petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requesting permission to hire foreign workers. The petition must include a copy of the job order, a labor certification from the Department of Labor (DOL) stating that there are not enough US workers available to perform the work, and any other required documentation.
Employees must provide a valid passport and any other required documents, such as proof of education or work experience, to the employer. They must also undergo a medical examination and obtain any necessary vaccinations.
Employers should begin the application process as early as possible to ensure that they have enough time to complete all required steps. The SWA must receive the job order at least 75 days before the date of need, and the DOL must issue the labor certification at least 30 days before the date of need. Employers must file the petition with the USCIS at least 45 days before the date of need. Employees should also apply for their visa as early as possible to allow time for processing.
Visa Approval and Post-Approval Procedures
Visa Interview and Adjudication
After submitting the H2A visa application, the applicant will be invited to attend an interview at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The interview will determine whether the applicant is eligible for the visa. During the interview, the consular officer will ask questions about the applicant’s qualifications, employment history, and purpose of travel. The applicant should be prepared to provide all relevant documents, including the employment contract, proof of education or training, and proof of ties to their home country.
Visa Issuance and Fees
If the visa is approved, the applicant will be required to pay the visa issuance fee and any other applicable fees. The visa issuance fee for H2A workers is $190.00, but this fee may be subject to change. The applicant will also be required to provide a valid passport and two passport-sized photographs.
Arrival and Employment in the USA
Upon arrival in the United States, the H2A worker must present their visa and other relevant documents to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer. The CBP officer will determine whether the worker is admissible to the United States. Once admitted, the worker must report to their employer and begin work as specified in their employment contract.
Rights and Protections for H2A Workers
H2A workers are entitled to certain rights and protections under U.S. law. These include the right to fair wages, safe working conditions, and freedom from discrimination. H2A workers are also entitled to receive certain benefits, such as workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. If an H2A worker believes that their rights have been violated, they should contact the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.
Overall, the H2A visa process can be complex and time-consuming, but it is an important pathway for foreign agricultural workers to legally work in the United States. By following the proper procedures and regulations, both employers and workers can benefit from this program.
Handy Links for Reference
Seize the opportunity to explore agricultural work in the U.S. through the H2A Visa, and navigate the process with this comprehensive guide.