Last updated August 2023
The H-2A nonimmigrant visa program allows non-U.S. citizens to work in the U.S. intemporary or seasonal agricultural jobs when no U.S. workers are available and as long as the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers are not adversely affected by the employment of foreign workers. Employers must first apply to the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) for temporary labor certification affirming that the job is temporary or seasonal in nature, and that U.S. workers are not available for the job. Employers then petition the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for permission to hire foreign individuals as H-2A nonimmigrants. After the approved work period ends, the worker must leave the United States. The H-2A visa does not include an option for H-2A workers to become lawful permanent residents or citizens. An H-2A visa only permits temporary agricultural work for a specific employer for a fixed period, less than one year. Common H-2A jobs include tending to tobacco; pruning and picking fruit; planting and harvesting vegetable row crops; working in nurseries, greenhouses, on cattle ranches, and herding sheep. There is no annual limit of H-2A visas available each fiscal year. In 2022, the U.S. Department of State issued 298,336 H-2A visas, quadruple the number issued ten years ago (74,192 in 2013).