Hiring foreign H-2A migrant workers in America can be a scary process, particularly with reports such as that done by Reutersinvolving illicit brokers coming out every day. However, with the proper support by licensed business and employment immigration attorneys, you will have the peace of mind that you are doing things right and in the proper timeframe.
Moreover, according to a recent article in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution showcased by the American Farm Bureau Federation, some agricultural employers have been harmed by recent delays—something you don’t want to happen in your case. You may want to ask your attorney to research the current goings on for H-2A migrant workers in America relating to your specific job market before proceeding. A competent attorney will have access to a network of contacts as well as the database of legal activity and can provide you with the details necessary to create your timeline for bringing in foreign workers.
Timeline for Bringing in Migrant Workers in America
Let’s say for example that we want our agricultural workers to harvest Valencia juice oranges in Florida, which are typically harvested October through April and we want our workers here on approximately October 15th. Ideally, we will start the process August 1 with the filing of a job order.
75 to 60 Days Before Work Starts
Your attorney will file a “job order” with your state’s department of labor (called a “SWA” or state workforce agency). This job order will contain all of the requirements and commitments of the employer and the H-2A visa worker job. The SWA will then contact the employer within seven days of this application being filed if any changes are needed; it will also begin efforts to recruit U.S. workers for the position.
45 Days Before Work Starts
The formal H-2A worker visa application for labor certification is filed with the U.S. Department of Labor by the employer. This will be prepared and sent by your attorney to the Chicago National Processing Center.
45-30 Days Before Work Starts
You will continue to engage efforts to hire U.S. workers, such as advertising for the position in a local newspaper and calling former U.S. employees who worked the job in the past.
No Less than 30 Days Before Work Starts
The labor certification process will be completed. You may need to submit any additional documents the Department of Labor might have requested, and once approval is obtained, filing the I-129 Petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Approximately 20 Days Before Work Starts
Once you have obtained approval from the immigration authorities, your workers abroad will file the DS-160 application with their local U.S. consulate or embassy and will present themselves for their visas. They will then travel to the U.S. with their visa and be admitted by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
You will have then hired an H-2A worker, a process that former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg has stated is critical to helping the U.S. economy flourish.