The Department of Homeland Security of the United States has just published a new rule that will change the process of obtaining H-2A and H-2B visas. But what exactly are these visas?
H-2 visas are temporary work visas for foreigners that allow them to work in the United States for a limited time. There are two types:
- H-2A: For seasonal agricultural workers. These are acquired by farms or agricultural companies to fill temporary positions in the fields when there are not enough American workers available.
- H-2B: For seasonal non-agricultural workers. These are obtained by companies or employers to complete their payrolls in temporary occupations such as gardening, hospitality, construction, among others.
The main requirements are that the work is temporary, does not displace American workers, and pays the prevailing wage. The employer must request the visa, not the worker.
Now, the main changes in the new regulations are:
- Increase in maximum length of stay: H-2A workers can remain up to 3 years (previously 1 year) and H-2B up to 2 years (previously 1 year).
- More flexible application process: Some strict requirements to apply for these visas have been eliminated.
- Higher wages: Employers will be required to pay prevailing market wages according to occupation and location.
- More protections for workers: Provisions have been strengthened to ensure workers do not suffer abuse or exploitation.
- Limits on hiring: The rule allows establishing limits on the number of visas when there is a proven shortage of American workers.
In conclusion, these changes modernize the H-2 program for the benefit of employers and workers.