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H-2A Agricultural Workers

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H-2A Agricultural Workers

H-2A- Agricultural Workers

To qualify for H-2A nonimmigrant classification, the petitioner must:

  • Offer a job that is of a temporary or seasonal nature.
  • Demonstrate that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work.
  • Show that the employment of H-2A workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
  • Generally, submit with the H-2A petition, a single valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor.  (A limited exception to this requirement exists in certain “emergent circumstances.”  See e.g., 8 CFR 214.2(h)(5)(x) for specific details.)

Eligible Countries List

Except as noted below, H-2A petitions may only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, as eligible to participate in the H-2A program.

The Department of Homeland Security publishes the list of H-2A and H-2B eligible countries annually in a Federal Register notice. Designation of eligible countries is valid for one year from publication.

Effective Jan. 18, 2013, nationals from the following countries are eligible to participate in the H-2A program: 

























United Kingdom
















Costa Rica


 The Netherlands

Solomon Islands





South Africa


 Dominican Republic


New Zealand

South Korea







El Salvador


Papua New Guinea



Period of Stay

Generally, USCIS may grant H-2A classification for up to the period of time authorized on the temporary labor certification.  H-2A classification may be extended for qualifying employment in increments of up to 1 year each.  A new, valid temporary labor certification covering the requested time must accompany each extension request.  The maximum period of stay in H-2A classification is 3 years.

A person who has held H-2A nonimmigrant status for a total of 3 years must depart and remain outside the United States for an uninterrupted period of 3 months before seeking readmission as an H-2A nonimmigrant.   Additionally, previous time spent in other H or L classifications counts toward total H-2A time.

Exception: Certain periods of time spent outside of the United States may “interrupt” an H-2A worker’s authorized stay and not count toward the 3-year limit.  See Calculating Interrupted Stay for H-2 Classifications for additional information.

Family of H-2A Workers

An H-2A worker’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may seek admission in H-4 nonimmigrant classification.  Family members are not eligible for employment in the United States while in H-4 status.

Process & Procedures

The H-2A program allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs. A U.S. employer, a U.S. agent as described in the regulations, or an association of U.S. agricultural producers named as a joint employer must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, on a prospective worker’s behalf with all other supporting documents

Q1. Who can file a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) for H-2A “temporary agricultural worker” classification with USCIS?
A1. The following are the only entities that can file Form I-129 with USCIS as H-2A petitioners:

  • The employer listed on the approved Department of Labor (DOL) Temporary Employment Certification (ETA Form 9142)
  • An agent-petitioner who meets the requirements of 8 CFR 214.2(h)(2)(i)(F), as explained in Question 2; or
  • The association of U.S. agricultural producers named as a joint employer on ETA Form 9142

Q2. Who may qualify as an “agent-petitioner" for H-2A classification? 
A2. Only an agent who meets the requirements of 8 CFR 214.2(h)(2)(i)(F), as outlined below, can file Form I-129 as a petitioner. 

  • A U.S. agent may be:
    • the actual employer of the beneficiary
    • the representative of both the employer and the beneficiary (note: the use of the term representative does not mean “legal representative” as defined in Question 3 below); or
    • a person or entity authorized by the employer to act for, or in place of, the employer as his or her agent
  • A U.S. agent can only file an H-2A petition in cases:
    • involving workers who are traditionally self-employed
    • involving workers who use agents to arrange short-term employment on their behalf with numerous employers; or
    • where a foreign employer authorizes the agent to act on his or her behalf.

Q3. Who may assist a petitioner in filling out Form I-129?
 A3. You can always choose to complete Form I-129 on your own behalf or someone else may assist you. However, only certain qualified individuals can give you legal advice or represent you before USCIS. Legal advice may include: how to answer questions on your immigration forms; and your immigration choices and options.

The following individuals may provide legal advice and represent you before USCIS, including assisting in the preparation of Form I-129:

  • Legal representatives. Attorneys and accredited representatives of an organization recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) may assist you in filling out Form I-129. Such assistance may include providing legal advice (e.g., how to answer questions on Form I-129 and what immigration options you may have) as well as representing you before USCIS. However, unless these individuals are in fact the U.S. employer or his or her U.S. agent, they are not considered to be petitioners and you should not list them in Part 1 of Form I-129 or use their address in Part 1 of Form I-129 except in the “C/O: (In Care Of, if any)” field in Part 1, item 3a on Page 1. To be recognized as legal representatives these individuals must submit a “Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative” (Form G-28) in connection with Form I-129. If they assisted in preparing and filing Form I-129, they must also sign and provide information required of preparers in Part 8 of Form I-129. Upon receiving a properly completed Form G-28, USCIS will direct all correspondence related to the petition to the legal representative at the address listed on Form G-28.

For more information about types of legal representatives included on Form G-28, see Form G-28.

  • Preparers. Other individuals who do not qualify as “legal representatives” (as described above and on Form G-28) may help you prepare and fill out Form I-129. Preparers may do this for free or charge no more than a nominal fee for such services. They may not provide legal advice on immigration law or procedure, or hold themselves out as qualified in legal matters or in immigration and naturalization procedures. These individuals must sign and provide information required of preparers in Part 8 of Form I-129.

USCIS will not communicate with or send correspondence to preparers as they are not authorized to represent petitioners before USCIS.



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