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Working in the U.S. temporarily: The H-2A program

If you would like to come to the United States to work temporarily, one of the options is to join the H-2A program. This program is designed to allow employers in the United States as well as U.S. agents meeting specific requirements to bring foreign individuals to the U.S. to work in agriculture.

The U.S. producers, employers or agents have to fill out Form I-129, which is a petition for a nonimmigrant worker, to start the process.

Who can qualify to come to the USA on a temporary visa?

A person may qualify to come to the U.S. if they accept a job that:

  • Is a seasonal or temporary role
  • Isn’t able to be filled by U.S. workers
  • Doesn’t negatively impact the wages or working conditions of workers already in the U.S.

To be able to come to the U.S. for an agricultural job of this kind, the petitioner, that’s the employer or agent, must submit a temporary labor certification application to the government’s U.S. Department of Labor. Once they have this in place, they may go ahead and submit the I-129 form on behalf of the temporary workers they’d like to bring to the country.

Following this, prospective employees will need to apply for a visa and admission.

Applying for the H-2A visa

You will need to apply for the H-2A visa after your potential employer completes all required steps and applications. You’ll apply with the U.S. Department of State at a local embassy or consulate in your country.

You will then need to travel to a U.S. port of entry to seek admission.

Not all people are eligible to come to work in the United States

Sometimes, certain countries or people are excluded from the H-2A visas. For example, people in Moldova are unable to participate in the program. If your country is not on the approved list of countries, you may need to send in a written request to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Policy. In some cases, those living in countries not on the list may still enter the country on an H-2A visa if their presence is in the best interests of the United States.