What is a H-2A Temporary Agricultural Worker for the US?

The H-2A visa is a non-immigrant visa designed to help temporary or seasonal agricultural workers enter the US in order to work in the agriculture sector. Temporary agricultural workers are those completing work that does not take more than one year to complete. While seasonal agricultural workers are workers completing specific seasonal tasks. There is no cap on the amount of H-2A visas granted.

Who is eligible to apply for a H-2A Visa?

A person is eligible to apply for a H-2A visa if:

  • A job is found from a US employer offering temporary/ seasonal agricultural work.
  • It can be proven that the applicant plans to return home after the completion of the specified work.
  • The applicant is from a Department of Homeland Security approved county.

Learn which countries are approved.

If you are not from an approved country, it is still possible to obtain a H-2A visa. A US employer will need to contact the Department of Homeland Security with your name, date of birth, country of birth and country of citizenship. They will also need to provide evidence that the US will benefit from providing the requested visa. Homeland Security will then evaluate the request and possibly update the approved countries list.

What are the Requirements for Obtaining a H-2A Visa?

Before the applicant files for an H-2A visa, the employer must prove that the position the applicant will be filling meets the requirements laid out for employers. Once this has been completed, the applicant must complete the following steps:

  • Complete the DS-160 form online
  • Pay the application fee
  • Schedule and complete a visa interview
  • If the application is approved, the applicant needs to apply for visa stamping

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the H-2A Visa Processing Time?

The processing time for applications varies due to the nature of the work being completed by the applicant. Typically, employers will file the paperwork at least 60 days and no more than 120 days before they need the worker to start. This type of visa is a priority for the US government and they will expedite the application.

How long is my H-2A Visa Valid for ?

The H-2A visa is valid for one year and the employee is expected to return to their home country at the end of that time period. An extension may be applied for if the work has not been completed or the applicant has found a new employer. The extension is for another year. The employee may only apply for two extensions. Once the maximum length of time in the US (3 years) has been reached, the employee must return to their country of origin but can reapply for a new H-2A visa after being home for 3 uninterrupted months.

Can I change my H-2A Visa into a different visa?

If you find a job that requires a different type of visa you may apply for a new visa. For example, if you found a job in a technical field, you could apply for an H-1B visa. However, this requires that your new employer follow the appropriate steps to secure the new visa. You may also choose to file for a Green Card.

Why would my application be denied for an H-2A Visa?

Your application might be denied if:

  • There are enough US workers who can complete the work
  • The employer did not file the paperwork properly
  • The employer did not attempt to recruit US workers
  • The employer can not meet the requirements for the care of the employee
  • The employer has previously violated the conditions of the H-2A Visa

Can I bring my family with me?

Yes! You will need to have your spouse and children under 21 apply for an H-4 Visa. This type of visa does not allow the holder to work. However, they may apply to change their visa status if they find employment.


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