The application process typically involves the following steps:
A U.S. employer files a Form ETA-9142A, Application for Temporary Employment Certification, with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
If the DOL approves the application, the employer files Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
If USCIS approves the petition, the foreign worker applies for the H-2A visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.
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.
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. Consult with your immigration attorney for guidance.
Yes, H-2A visa holders can change employers in the United States under certain conditions. However, changing employers is not an automatic process, and there are specific steps and requirements that must be followed:
It is crucial that both the current and prospective employers, as well as the H-2A worker, follow the proper procedures and meet all the program requirements when seeking a change of employer. H-2A workers should not change employers without obtaining the necessary approvals from the DOL and USCIS.
H-2A visa holders can apply for U.S. citizenship (naturalization) if they meet the eligibility requirements, including maintaining continuous residence in the U.S. and meeting the physical presence requirements over time.
H-2A visa holders generally cannot apply for U.S. citizenship (naturalization) directly based on their H-2A visa status. To become a U.S. citizen, individuals typically need to meet specific eligibility criteria and follow a process that usually begins with becoming a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). H-2A visas are temporary, non-immigrant visas issued to foreign agricultural workers for seasonal or temporary agricultural employment. Consult with your immigration attorney for guidance.