If your farm or agricultural business needs extra labor to help get your product to market, the H2A guest worker program may be a great solution for you. But, how can you make sure that using this process will be as seamless as possible? These four tips may save you many headaches and a great deal of money by getting your workers to you in time for your need!
H2A Visa Program Tips
1. Make sure you are doing everything possible to get your application processed quickly
Perhaps the single most important tip for utilizing the H2A guest worker program efficiently is to learn the timeline and each of its stages well so that you understand it fluidly and can act as early and preparedly as possible for each stage of the process. Know that you can file your job order with your state agency as early as 75 days before work begins (or as late as 60 days) so take advantage of these extra fifteen days.
Also, because the state agency is required to respond to your job order within seven calendar days, if they don’t meet this deadline you can usually proceed with the next step by merely including a copy of the unapproved job orderwith a statement to the effect of their not having met their deadline. This tip could save you a great deal of time in the process because you will be then working on both steps at the same time!
2. Know how and when to begin the hiring process promptly
Another important timeline tip for expediting the worker program’s process is to immediately respond to eithera Notice of Acceptance or Notice of Deficiency in the proper manner. The acceptance should cause you to begin the U.S. recruitment process. On the other hand, a Deficiency Notice will contain instructions you must cure by submitting additional information to the Chicago National Processing Center. Additionally, your immigration attorney should register for email notifications from the Department of Labor – that way he or she will receive any notices as swiftly as possible.
3. Pay for pre-employment worker expenses you are required to cover
This basically comes down to whether a particular cost is primarily for the benefit of the worker or for the benefit of the employer. Things like transportation costs to get to the job site, tools or uniforms required to perform the job, and attorneys’ fees, are almost always chargeable to the employer. Items that would be a normal living expense for the employee, however, are usually expenses that an employer is not required to pay. The U.S. Department of Labor published a comprehensive memorandum on this topic in 2009.
4. Ensure that the newspaper you use to publish the job offer meets the legal requirements of the H2A protocols
Another extremely important tip for properly using the H2A visa program is for you to be sure that the newspaper you select for publishing your job offer is not only used for advertising purposes; it must contain actual news, editorials, features, as well as advertising. The newspaper also must be one of “general circulation” meaning that it is sold to and for the general public and not for a specific audience only, e.g., principally for baseball card collectors, fishing sportsmen, or some other select group. The newspaper also must be one that your potential hires are likely to read and use to find employment opportunities.
Hopefully these tips will be of benefit to your succeeding in utilizing the H2A visa program to increase your firm’s profitability.
None of the advice contained in these materials serves as a substitute for individualized legal representation by a licensed attorney with experience in the practice area.