H-2A for seasonal agricultural workers
The H-2A visa is available specifically for foreign nationals to take on seasonal agricultural work. This type of visa is only applicable for temporary and seasonal work and not long-term work. Typically, it can be difficult for employers to fill their vacancies for this type of work, particularly given the short-term nature of it, so it is often in their interests to employ foreign nationals to perform the duties due to higher levels of availability. For temporary workers that are not applying for roles in the agricultural industry, the H-2B for skilled and non-skilled workers is the relevant type of visa to apply for.
Process for H-2A applications
The employer must submit a temporary labor certification and file a Form I-129 on behalf of the worker in order to obtain a visa for them to work. Due to immigration laws, the employer must be able to demonstrate that they are unable to fill the roles that they have with US workers. They must also be able to prove that the wages and working conditions of US workers in similar roles will not be affected.
If the I-129 form is approved, then the next stage is for the worker to apply for the H-2A visa at a US Embassy in their country. The UK has US embassies in London and Belfast. Only applicants from the list of agreed countries are able to participate in the H-2A program, you can see the full list here.
The temporary labor certificate will include the period of time that the work is required for and the visa will be granted to cover that period. The H-2A can be extended in increments for qualifying employment, when a new temporary labor certificate is submitted. A H-2A visa restricts the holder to a total of 3 years in the US after which time, they must leave the country if another relevant visa has not been approved.
The regulations around temporary/seasonal agricultural workers is very strict, so employers must notify authorities within 2 working days if the worker fails to show up at work or if their contract is terminated. If the work is completed earlier than expected then they are also required to inform the USCIS, to comply with immigrations laws.