The H-2A Visa is an American visa offered for foreign nationals coming into the country pursuing seasonal agricultural labor. That is, it allows migrant workers to come into the US and work as temporary farm workers. If you hire migrant laborers in the agricultural field, you will need to secure H-2A visas before they can enter the country to perform the job. If you do rely on migrant labor, it is important for you to know your legal requirements so that you are not breaking United States law by allowing aliens to enter the country illegally.
The visa itself is ostensibly for employers who anticipate a shortage in domestic labor and need to hire foreign nationals on a temporary basis. About 30,000 workers are covered by the program, and according to federal law, they are entitled to the same wage laws, workers’ compensation laws, and minimum wage laws as American citizens working in the United States.
If you anticipate a shortage in domestic labor, you must file for H-2A visas 45 days before you will need those laborers. Additionally, you must conduct an active recruiting drive to secure domestic laborers before the government will allow you to bring in foreign workers. This means you will need radio, television, or newspaper ads in the area. You will also need to show hiring preference to American workers.
Should you be unable to find enough domestic employees, you will have to file a petition with the US Department of Labor saying that you are short of available laborers and that, should you hire foreign employees, it will not affect the working conditions and wages of domestic workers you have also hired. You will then need to file with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services for a petition for foreign workers.
You must pay your foreign laborers the same as your American laborers, and these rates obviously must be at least minimum wage rates. If your foreign workers cannot reasonably return home at the end of the day, you must also provide them with free housing. This housing is subject to inspections by OSHA. The foreign employees must be provided with three meals a day, or adequate cooking facilities to cook their own meals. As an employer, you are also responsible for transportation and providing the necessary tools for the job.