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H-2A Visa Overview

  • The H-2A visa enables agricultural employers to bring foreign workers to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services that are temporary or seasonal in nature. The H-2A visa program has exploded in popularity over the last 15 years - in 2019 there were over five times as many H-2A job certifications as there were in 2015, an increase of over 200,000 workers per year.
  • “Temporary or seasonal in nature” means employment performed at certain seasons of the year, usually in relation to the production and/or harvesting of a crop. Visas are granted for up to ten months and can be extended in certain circumstances. SESO helps you establish the facts necessary to support the argument that the need is seasonal and temporary.
  • H-2A workers rarely abscond and growers increasingly have recognized the value of a guaranteed workforce during the most critical time of year

    Growers appreciate the productivity of H-2A workers, who tend to be highly motivated. The money H-2A workers earn in the United States goes much further in their home country, and the workers are almost always highly motivated to perform well and participate in the program for multiple years.

Visa Application Process

  • The H-2A Visa application process involves several steps and government agencies, including your local State Workforce Agency, the Department of Labor (DOL) Chicago National Processing Center, and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

    SESO collects all the information we need to file your visa via an intuitive online flow, and then takes care of the rest. You can always check the status of your application in our app, and can chat or get on the phone with one of our H-2A experts whenever you have questions.

  • In general the entire process takes 60-75 days. You must begin the application no earlier than 75 days (and no later than 60 days) before the desired worker start date. You can see all steps involved on the SESO H-2A Timeline, or you can get in touch to begin your application today!

  • Yes - farmers have two options for extending workers on a current H-2A visa contract: a short term extension of less than two weeks, and a long term extension of more than two weeks. SESO can help assess whether you qualify for an extension and file for you.

  • Application costs depend on the number of workers but at a minimum the application (including consulate fees for workers) will cost at least $700 + ~$200/worker.

    SESO uses software automation to streamline some aspects of the visa and is usually at least 20% less expensive than an immigration attorney.

Hiring And Managing H-2A Workers

  • Below is a list of H-2A related expenses to expect. SESO helps you determine the best way to feed, transport, and house your workers given your operation.

    • Wages: The hourly rate must be at least as high as the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR), federal or state minimum wage, or the applicable prevailing hourly wage rate, whichever is highest. The AEWR is established every year by the Department of Labor. The latest rates can be found here.
      • Three Fourths Guarantee: The employer must guarantee to offer each worker employment for at least three-fourths of the workdays in the work period and any extensions. Employers are protected against acts of God under the three-fourths guarantee.
    • Meal Costs: You must offer H-2A workers either free and convenient cooking and kitchen facilities or three meals a day, with a maximum allowable charge of $12.46 per day. (Most farms and contractors provide kitchen facilities).
    • Travel Costs from Country of Origin: H-2A workers qualify for meal reimbursements for the duration of their travel from their country of origin to the worksite and as well as the duration of their trip back home (up to $55.00 a day). Employers also must cover the transportation costs for these trips. SESO helps facilitate all reimbursements and guides you through this process.
    • Daily Transportation Costs: The employer must provide free transportation between employer's housing and the worksite. SESO can help coordinate this.
    • Housing: The employer must provide free housing to all H-2A workers, and the housing must be within a reasonable commuting distance (typically a 75-mile radius from the place of employment). SESO helps you find housing for your workers and manages the timeline of necessary inspections and permits to ensure you are compliant with DOL regulations.
    • Worker's Compensation Insurance: The employer must provide worker's compensation insurance where it is required by law. SESO helps determine the insurance needed and can also help procure the insurance.
    • Tools and Supplies: The employer must furnish at no cost to the worker all tools and supplies necessary to carry out the work
  • The H-2A employer has a duty to notify DOL and DHS. Once the DOL and DHS have been notified, the H-2A employee's visa is cancelled and he/she may be forever barred from the H-2A program. The employer can notify SESO via our app if an employee has left or been terminated, and receive help and guidance notifying the appropriate government agencies.