H-2A: Temporary Agricultural Employment of Foreign Workers – US Department of Labor

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Section 218 of the Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes the lawful admission into the United States of temporary, nonimmigrant workers (H-2A workers) to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature. Before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can approve an employer’s petition for such workers, the employer must file an application with the Department’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) stating, among other things, that there are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available, and that the employment of aliens will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of workers similarly employed in the U.S.. Any employer using H-2A workers must have initially attempted to find U.S. workers to fill these jobs. H-2A workers and domestic workers in corresponding employment must be paid special rates of pay that vary by locality, must be provided housing and transportation from that housing to the job site if their employment requires them to be away from their residence overnight, and must be guaranteed an offer of employment for a total number of hours equal to at least 75% of the work period specified in the contract.
NOTICE: On September 12, 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), Improving Protections for Workers in Temporary Agricultural Employment in the United States. The proposed rulemaking focuses on strengthening protections for agricultural workers under the H-2A program and enhancing the Department’s capabilities to monitor program compliance and take necessary enforcement actions against program violators.
On October 12, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor (Department) published the final rule, “Temporary Agricultural Employment of H-2A Nonimmigrants in the United States”, effective on November 14, 2022. This final rule amends the Department’s regulations governing the H-2A program to improve program protections for workers and enhance enforcement against fraud and abuse, while modernizing the H-2A application and temporary labor certification process. This final rule strengthens protections for U.S. workers and H-2A workers; enhances program integrity and enforcement capabilities of the Office of Foreign Labor Certification and the Wage and Hour Division; modernizes the prevailing wage determination process; and provides clarity to employers and other stakeholders.
Pursuant to the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 (Pub. L. 117-103), the department is publishing a report on the enforcement of farm labor contractors (FLCs) in the H-2A program.
Learn more by reading fact sheets that cover a variety of H-2A topics, including recruitment, worker rights, records retention, meal obligations, wage requirements, housing standards, labor contractor surety bonds, and retaliation prohibitions under the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program.
Starting in 2016, agencies across the federal government must adjust their penalties for inflation each year. Below is a table that reflects the adjustments that have occurred for penalties under this statute. For more information on the penalty adjustments, go here.
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