America, The Rules And Regulations Around The H 2a Program

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America, the rules and regulations around the H-2A program, or lack thereof, have profound economic and social impact on the U.S. agricultural labor force as a whole.
The H-2A program is an important non-immigration program. Even though some research suggests there is not a nationwide shortage of domestic farm labor, considerable evidence suggests that this research finding is distorted by the presence of illegal farm workers.3 Seasonal shortage in certain agricultural states pose a serious threat to the state’s economy and the farmers’ livelihood. According to a 2012 California Farm Bureau survey, 71 percent of tree-fruit growers and nearly 80 percent of raisin and berry growers could not find enough workers to prune trees or pick the
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This is called the “adverse effect wage.” Subsequently, employers must file for a labor certification, including various documents that detail the job offer, starting and end date, wages, working condition, transportation, and housing arrangements; and a visa petition approved by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service Agency. The employer can then help arrange interviews for the worker at an U.S. consulate in the workers’ home country so they are allowed to enter by Customs and Border Protection.6 Not only does this complicated process involve three federal agencies - the Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State, an employer applying for an H-2A visa for a foreign worker must start the application process 60 to 75 days before the worker is needed.7 With weather changes from year to year, it is difficult to predict in advance when and how many workers are needed. In addition, many employers experience processing delays. A Government Accountability Office report found that in 2011, 37 percent of employer applications submitted to the DOL were processed after the deadline, including 7 percent that were approved 15 days after the workers were needed.8 All the uncertainty during the application process often leaves farmers scrambling for help during the
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