H-2A Visa Program For Temporary Workers – Farmers.gov

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Are you a farmer who needs seasonal or temporary workers for planting, cultivating, and harvesting crops but domestic workers are in short supply?

The H-2A temporary agricultural workers program – often called the H-2A visa program – helps American farmers fill employment gaps by hiring workers from other countries.
Get started here by:
Already started an H-2A visa application? Check the approval status of your cases with the Department of Labor or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. To track the status of your cases over time, sign in or sign up for a farmers.gov H-2A dashboard account through login.gov.
The H-2A temporary agricultural program helps employers who anticipate a lack of available domestic workers to bring foreign workers to the U.S. to perform temporary or seasonal agricultural work including, but not limited to, planting, cultivating, or harvesting labor.
Depending on the type of work you need, temporary or seasonal agricultural work can happen on farms, plantations, ranches, nurseries, ranges, greenhouses, orchards, or other similar locations.
If you have been affected by a strike, work stoppage, or layoff within 60 days of when work will start, you may not qualify for the program.
To participate in the program, you’ll work with your State Workforce Agency to earnestly recruit U.S. workers. The State Workforce Agency will publicly post your job order to recruit U.S. workers. You must accept eligible referrals of U.S. workers who apply for the job, and also contact any former U.S. employees at their last known contact address. When a qualified U.S. worker applies, you must employ them until 50 percent of the work period specified in the work contract has passed.  After 50 percent, there is no continued affirmative obligation to hire.
If you are a worker looking to apply for a job through the H-2A Visa Program, learn more at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Learn about the basic steps for hiring new workers through the H-2A visa program and for extending the employment contract for current H-2A workers.  Then create your personalized H-2A visa checklist through our interactive tool.
The H-2A visa application and extension processes generally involve these steps and federal agencies.
The standard filing process for hiring H-2A workers should take around 75 days and will include the following steps.
The farmer should consider the emergency filing process if H-2A workers are needed in less than 75 days.
During emergency filing, the farmer should submit a job order with the State Workforce Agency and apply for a temporary labor certification with the Department of Labor’s Chicago National Processing Center at the same time. Then the farmer should follow the same steps as a standard filing.
Farmers who need workers in 44 days or less should email the Department of Labor’s Chicago National Processing Center at [email protected] to ensure there’s enough time to complete all H-2A visa program steps before the start date.  The email subject line should say “H-2A Program Question: Immediate Need for H-2A Workers.  Farmers will need to provide justification for using the emergency filing process.
Farmers have two options for extending workers on a current H-2A visa contract.
A short-term extension of less than two weeks
A long-term extension of more than two weeks

Answer a few short questions to create your personalized H-2A visa checklist for hiring temporary agricultural workers from other countries.
Use this table to understand and estimate the costs you’ll be responsible for when hiring and employing foreign workers under the H-2A Visa Program.
IMPORTANT: You must report to the Department of Labor if you’re made aware that workers were charged a fee for employment by recruiters or any other representatives.
As the employer, you can seek or receive payment from workers for anything related to:
Deductions are subject to Fair Labor Standards Act requirements.
As the employer, you can’t seek or receive payment from workers for anything related to obtaining the H-2A labor certification, including:
Under the H-2A Visa Program, employers must guarantee workers employment hours equal to at least 75% of the workdays in the contract period. The employer will pay workers who weren’t offered sufficient hours.
For example, if a contract is for a 10-week period, where a normal workweek is 6 days a week, 8 hours per day, the worker would need to be guaranteed employment for at least 360 hours (10 weeks x 48 hours per week = 480 hours x 75% = 360 hours)
For more information, see the U.S. Department of Labor’s 3/4 Guarantee Fact Sheet.
H-2A workers aren’t required to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on their wages. In addition, the employer is not required to pay these taxes on the worker either.
Workers may owe U.S. federal income tax when they file income tax returns for the year. If both the worker and the employer agree to withhold federal income tax, employers can withhold. In order for the employer to withhold taxes from the worker’s compensation, the worker must complete and return Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, to the employer. Note that some states allow employers to withhold the employee’s portion of workers compensation. Review the workers compensation laws for your state.
For more information, see these resources:
IRS Information for Foreign Agricultural Workers on H-2A Visas
Form 943, Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return of Agricultural Employees
Publication 51 (Circular A), Agricultural Employer’s Tax Guide
Keep these laws and obligations in mind throughout the H-2A application and work contract period.
Employers can’t hold or confiscate workers’ passports or other immigration documents.
There can be no strike or lockout during a labor dispute at the worksite.
Employers can’t discriminate against, or discharge without just cause, any person who:
Has filed a complaint
Consulted with an attorney or an employee of a legal assistance program
Testified, or in any manner, exercised or asserted on behalf of himself/herself or others any right or protection afforded by sec. 218 of the INA or the H-2A regulations
For more information, see the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment Law Guide for Temporary Agricultural Workers.
E-Verify is a federal program that allows enrolled employers to confirm the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States.
E-Verify is a voluntary program. However, these types of employers may be required to use the program:
Those with federal contracts or subcontracts that contain the Federal Acquisition Regulation E-Verify clause
Those in states or locales that have legislation mandating the use of E-Verify
Those required to use E-Verify by a federal ruling
For more information, see https://www.e-verify.gov/.
Contact: [email protected]
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