Questions About H-2A
The H-2A process and regulations can be complex. Our goal is to simplify it. We take care of the regulatory, documentation and logistical details for you, so you can be confident about hiring seasonal workers through H-2A. We’ve answered some of the common questions about the H-2A program below. If you have other questions, or you’re interested in hiring agricultural guest workers to meet labor needs, contact us for more information.
What types of jobs qualify for the H-2A program?
If you work in agriculture and you have a seasonal labor shortage, you may be able to use the H-2A program to hire migrant workers from other countries. There are several requirements for this job. First, the job must be temporary, lasting less than one year. Second, it must be agricultural in nature, such as planting, harvesting, or caring for crops. Third, you must be able to show that you made this job available to domestic workers first. We can help you fulfill and document this step.
Can I hire H-2A seasonal workers?
If you have a labor shortage and available jobs meet the requirements, you may be able to fill these positions with seasonal workers. However, you must be able to fulfill all employer requirements, such as local transportation, housing, and meals or cooking area. Also, if you have had strikes or layoffs recently, you might not be eligible. See our Employer Requirements page for more information on this, or continue to the next section.
Employer Requirements Under H-2A
What are the requirements for the H-2A program?
Employers are responsible for several important activities under the H-2A program. Our team assists with many of these requirements, such as transportation from the workers’ home country, applications, domestic recruitment, and more. Employers must fulfill other requirements, such as adequate housing and meals, local transportation, tools and training, workers’ compensation insurance, and more. Visit our Employer Requirements page to learn more.
Am I responsible for transportation to and from foreign countries?
Under the H-2A program, employers are responsible for foreign workers’ transportation, but the vast majority of employers work with a third party to coordinate transportation. Booking transport and accommodations while also coordinating visas and other legal requirements is a hassle for those without experience. We are the largest H-2A employment agent in Michigan, and we have streamlined recruitment and travel within this program. We not only take care of complex travel bookings and legal requirements, but we also take care of international recruitment to find the right workers. Employers and workers generally arrange outbound transportation on their own, but we are here to help on this portion of travel if you need it.
What local transportation am I responsible for?
Great Lakes Ag Labor Services LLC takes care of inbound international travel and logistics for seasonal workers, while employers are responsible for local travel. This might include travel to and from accommodations and the work site, as well as local transportation to grocery stores or other needs. If you are not sure how to meet these requirements or specifically what this would entail, we can help. We’ll provide strategies for meeting these requirements and explain each in more detail.
Am I responsible for providing housing for seasonal workers?
Under H-2A, employers are responsible for providing housing for seasonal workers. This housing must meet health and safety standards. There are many ways to meet this requirement. Some agricultural employers use nearby rental housing, others use accommodations they own on the property. If you are not sure how to meet this requirement, we can recommend strategies that other farmers and growers have used.
Am I responsible for providing meals for seasonal workers?
If your housing accommodations include a cooking area, you do not have to provide meals. If your accommodations do not include a cooking area, you must provide three meals a day. However, you may charge a reasonable fee for these meals.
Working with H-2A Seasonal Workers
Do I retain control of my workforce?
Yes. Within the regulations set by the Department of Labor and other agencies, you are in charge of work policies and requirements. We strive to give farm and orchard owners and managers the flexibility and autonomy they need to work effectively, while also providing necessary H-2A assistance. This way, you can run your business in the way that works best for you.
How will I communicate with my workforce?
Most H-2A workers come from Spanish-speaking countries, and many do not speak conversational English. Communicating with workers from another country can be a challenge. We strive to give you every tool you need to communicate effectively with your workers, and help them communicate with you. This includes translating important notices for posting, workplace regulatory compliance posters, and documents to assist you, as well as providing bilingual staff for training sessions. We can translate documents and training sessions into Spanish for free, and other languages for a fee.
Application and Processing Timelines
When should I file for H-2A?
The further in advance that you’re able to apply, the better. The minimum lead time needed to secure workers is 120 days. Ideally, 1 year of lead time would allow for the best rate of success.
What is the management review process?
During our management review process, we ensure that you are eligible for the program, and we obtain information about the work you require. We work with the legal experts at Varnum Law to conduct a full review. This protects you from possible penalties and fines that can arise from not following regulations. We also review your operation to ensure you are meeting requirements under worker safety guidelines, or, if you are not, we can provide solutions for meeting these requirements.
What are my responsibilities during the management review?
During management review, employers are responsible for making sure that all staff who will be involved in the H-2A program (Including owners, HR personnel, payroll and managers) are on-site during the review. Employers are also responsible for providing samples of completed employment documents (I-9, W-4 and disclosures).
What will you review?
The H-2A program includes a number of requirements that employers must fill, such as housing, local transportation, worker safety protocols, and requirements for the job itself. It also includes some restrictions on businesses that have recently been involved in worker strikes or layoffs. The management review ensures that your farm or orchard is eligible for the program. This step also ensures that you understand your requirements while you employ seasonal workers, and that you understand how to meet requirements that have not yet been met.