2022 SPECIALTY CROP AUTOMATION REPORT
In addition to the upfront recruitment and minimum wage expenses, employers of H-2A workers incur costs that would not be payable if they hired domestic workers. These include application and visa processing fees, transportation to and from the worker’s country of origin, daily transportation (to and from the worksite) and other incidentals. Due to the technical nature of the program, many employers use an agent or an attorney for H-2A application processing and a visa facilitator in the workers’ home country, adding additional cost. There is also a guaranteed payment provision in the H-2A visa program. This requires employers to guarantee workers’ employment hours of at least 75 percent of the workdays in the contract period. Employers must also arrange for H-2A worker housing, which can be challenging.
For example, in rural settings, housing may not be readily available, requiring lodgings to be built near worksites or additional transportation costs. In urban and coastal areas, the high cost of housing makes it prohibitive for many producers. 36 The additional cost of transportation and housing is estimated to be around $12,000 to $21,000 per worker per year. 37 38 The H-2A classification can be extended in increments of up to one year, for a maximum period of three years. A person who has held H-2A non-immigrant status for three years must leave the U.S. and remain outside the country for an uninterrupted period of three months before seeking re-admission as an H-2A non-immigrant. 39
36 H-2A visas for agriculture: the complex process for farmers to hire agricultural guest workers | Cato Institute 37 This is highly dependent on type of crop sector, distance of worker housing from farm location and mode of transport. 38 H-2A visa program | USDA 39 H-2A temporary agricultural workers | USCIS
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