My belief is that if you asked the average agricultural producer today what their biggest challenge was, the producer would say searching for and retaining employees. The simple truth seems to be that no one wants to work in agriculture any longer The work is laborious The day is long. You are working outside. Combine all these elements plus the possibility of injury, and for many Americans this implies another job is highly preferable than an agricultural one.
The H-2A Temporary Agricultural Worker Program
In such a scenario what is an agricultural producer like me to do? By visiting with others similarly located agricultural producers, it seems the best method to deal with the personnel issue is with short-term help even if our vacancies being for permanent staff In my fact-finding I found out about the federal government’s temporary agricultural employment program, the H-2A visa program. If you are fascinated about learning more about the program yourself, here is an excellent resource that I found simply by exploring the web.
H-2A Program Process
Why does the H-2A program work for farmers It works because it permits us to retain agricultural workers from nations where many people still work in the agricultural farms For example, citizens of Mexico and South Africans qualify for the H-2A program. In both the nations you can find plenty of skilled agricultural workers. By giving details of this program, and the way it works for me, I decide to talk about looking for the workers since that is an issue the federal government will not do for you. The program will provide a visa to give access to your worker to the United States. Nevertheless it won’t find your employee therefore that should be your primary priority. In our state, Texas with its nearness to Mexico this turned out to be a little less challenging than I had considered.
Help for the H-2A Procedure Attorney or Placement Firm
When you have found several employees what next, in what way do you obtain a visa for them and get them into the United States to work for you? During my investigation I found that there exist a variety of placement agencies that do this kind of service But, I found that they billed just as much, if not higher than some attorneys. What reason would you hire a placement agency when you require applications to satisfy lawful standards for the federal government? It’s beyond me. I located an immigration lawyer with excellent reviews who understands the H-2A program.
Beginning: Temporary Labor Certification
The attorney helped me with the initial phase which is getting certified with the Department of Labor. I had to show that my requirement was temporary, but temporary can imply 9 ½ months. That envelops plenty of agricultural production seasons including the one for horses. A section of this labor certification process is proving that you have suitable living quarters for the workers as the program calls for you pay a wage plus provide housing. The state of Texas examined my farm and consented for 3 workers.
Submitting a Nonimmigrant Visa Petition
When the attorney got the first step done, the labor certification, he filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services appealing for visas. I guess I should call it more of an appeal that your workers receive visas. You get a consent notification.
Employees Apply for the Visas
While we are almost at the end, the next step is converting the consent notice into visas in the employee’s passports, the ones that you identified previously A lot of workers struggle with the bureaucracy of requesting a visa. In my case the lawyer had a representative in Mexico that spoke Spanish who is an expert in helping workers to get the visa. Once the workers had the visa, I was responsible for paying their journey to the ranch so that they could start work.
End Result I Obtained the Assistance I Required
All 3 of the workers that I hired worked out fine in their first season. They worked hard, and were very productive. My horse business absolutely benefited. At the end of the season, I was required to offer them transportation back home again as they worked over 75% of the contracted time. I suppose if they only work 50% I wouldn’t have had to use my money to send them back. Nevertheless, I found them to be dependable and was content to keep them for the whole time.
Rinse and Repeat: The H-2A Program Is Annual
This procedure does feel a little like being on a hamster wheel. No sooner have you completed the entire process with the employees going back to Mexico, then you have to begin again The disadvantage with this program is that it is an annual one. If you were impressed with the employees you had the first time you can bring them back again next year. If you got an inefficient worker then you can replace a new worker for the one you no longer wish to file a petition for.
A lasting Solution: To Be Continued
Once you have identified employees who are well grounded and worth bringing back every year, then maybe the H-2A program is not a very logical choice with the associated costs. I’ve been reviewing options for avoiding the H-2A program and will outline those in a different article