Orlando Immigration attorneyHenry Lim discusses changes to the H-2A visa program.
Several visa programs and policies are starting to change under the new administration. H-2A visas are among those being considered for changes. An H-2A visa is a temporary employment visa specific to foreign agricultural workers with specified job offers. The H-2A visa program is open to specific countries the Department of Homeland Security has approved, and visa renewal is annual. Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age may apply for the H-4 visa to join their spouse or parents in the US. Spouses and children are entitled to study in the United States but are not entitled to work.
The H-2A visa program has been established for over thirty years. Thousands of agricultural endeavors across the United States rely on workers on these visas to maintain their business.
Many of President Donald Trump’s business endeavors, from Mar-a-Lago to the Trump Winery, rely on foreign temporary workers. The new administration has not taken any action to curb these visas in the first 100 days. H-2A visas may become deregulated, allowing for more foreign agricultural workers to work in the United States under these visas.
Eighty percent of agricultural laborers are foreign born, with half being undocumented. The persistence of low wages, and harsh working conditions have non-governmental organizations pushing for reform, either to streamline the H-2A visa process or to expand the number of H-2A visas granted. An increase in the number of visas issued would decrease the undocumented workforce and may lead to improved work conditions.
It will be up to the new administration to make these changes over the next several years.
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