How Long Can You Stay With An H-2A Visa In The Us?

What comes to your mind when you hear the word H-2A visa?

H-2A is a non-immigrant visa to enter seasonal workers by employers in the US to fill some agricultural job positions. With the H-2A classification comes the doubt of how long it will allow the employer to stay in the US and hire temporary workers.

When it comes to the period of stay of an H2-A visa holder, multiple questions bounce on one’s mind. H-2A visa being a non-immigrant visa, doesn’t provide you with full citizenship of the US. It has a temporary period within which an agricultural employer can stay in the US. It allows foreign workers to enter the US for temporary jobs in the agricultural sector.

The H-2A classification or program authorizes US workers that fulfill specific regulatory requirements to apply for an H-2A visa. Once done with the process, they become authorized H2-A holders and can grab benefits.

Here are different classifications on how long you can stay with an H-2A visa for workers in the USA.

Stay period as ordered by USCIS:

The USCIS has ordered that a US agricultural employee can stay in the US for ten months or less than ten months. DHS has published a final rule that extends the provision of US agents regarding seasonal workers. As per the guidelines, the period of stay for an H-2A holder can extend in 1-year increments. This means you can extend the program for qualifying labor employment in increments of up to 1 year each. It allows H-2A holders to extend their stay only if their petitions are accompanied by TLC (Temporary Labor Certification) issued by the US department. These employers can now hire and bring foreign employees to work temporarily with them and fill the open agricultural jobs. They can even change the workers and bring more as per their needs.

What’s the maximum stay one can have?

The maximum period of stay of H-2A holders is three years. After completing an H-2A non-immigrant status for up to 3 years, the employer must exit and live outside the US for a continuous period of 3 months. This 3-month stay outside the US should be uninterrupted. After this stay, you can renew or re-apply for a non-immigrant H-2A visa for workers to work there again. Note that the re-application process for a visa will only start after an uninterrupted 3-month stay outside the US.

Interrupted stay:

If in case your 3-year authorized stay period is interrupted (referring to time spent outside the US), then that will not count within the 3-year stay period of H-2A classification.

Visa for family:

If you want to bring your partner and children with you, you can apply for an H4 Visa. This visa must be applied for before 21 years of age for children. It does not allow the holder to work anywhere. However, you can change their visa status if, in the future, they find employment anywhere.

Conclusion

US Agents or production employers can get H-2A visas to hire workers to complete the work process.

Further, the extension of these flexibilities in H-2A stay petitions will ensure that all agricultural employers or associations have access to legal foreign workers and provide them equal wages. It also aims to protect the integrity of agriculture and the food supply chain. It also aims to protect the rights of foreign and US farmers.

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