The H-2A Program

The H-2A program is a federal program that permits employers to apply for nonimmigrant alien workers (guest workers) to perform any type of farm work of a seasonal or temporary nature for a maximum of ten months. The H-2A program is authorized by the Immigrant Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986.

The purpose of the H-2A program is to ensure employers a legal and adequate labor force while also protecting the jobs and wages of U.S. workers. International Labor Management Corporation’s (ILMC) clients enjoy the benefit of ready, willing, and able workers when they need them.


Whether you’re a big business or a small one, we’re your program consultant. You don’t need one-size-fits-all support. We’ll work with you to develop a workforce plan tailored to your needs. From start to finish, we will:

  • facilitate a reliable workforce through the H-2A program;
  • provide technical assistance to all clients in the areas of H-2A regulations, Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA), OSHA Migrant Housing and Field Sanitation Regulations, and the Fair Labor Standards Act;
  • act as a liaison between clients and government agencies;
  • provide representation for agricultural labor interest in regulatory affairs; and
  • initiate legislation in support of agricultural labor.

Who May Apply

  • Any agricultural employer or group of employers who need workers to perform seasonal labor.
  • Groups of employers filing together on one application, which are referred to as Joint Employers.
    — Please contact our office for more detail about joint employers.

When To Apply

All Applications for Foreign Labor Certification must be submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor no later than 60 days before the date of need. Please follow the application timeframes listed in our application packet so we can prepare schedules and serve you efficiently.

What To Submit

We require that all of our clients submit a complete ILMC application packet, please call us at (910) 245-4808 or send an email to to receive an application pack.

H-2A 101

Prior to applying for H-2A workers we encourage you to read, understand and be willing to comply with the basic terms listed below. This should not be substituted as a comprehensive list of H-2A federal regulations.

Domestic Recruitment

The employer must engage in independent, positive recruitment of U.S. workers. The USDOL requires that each employer conduct labor market tests through classified advertising and clearance orders at the job service to locate any available, willing and qualified U.S. workers.


The rate of pay must equal the applicable Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR). Please consult with an ILMC staff member to find out what the AEWR is in your state. This rate must be at least the same, or higher, for U.S. workers and your H-2A employees working in the same capacity.

Meals, Tools & Supplies

The employer must provide free and convenient cooking and kitchen facilities for workers to prepare their own meals.  The employer must furnish, at no cost to the worker, all tools and supplies necessary to carry out the work.


H-2A employers are required to provide housing free of charge.  Housing must be inspected by a state housing inspector prior to issuance of a certification from the U.S. Department of Labor.


The employer is responsible for three different types of transportation expenses:

  • Transportation, subsistence and lodging expenses should be reimbursed to each worker within the first week of work.
  • Upon completion of the work contract the employer must pay return transportation and subsistence (for the worker to return home to their home country). The worker must complete the job to be eligible for this return transportation.
  • The employer must provide free transportation to and from the housing location to the daily work site and transportation to the store once per week so workers can purchase food or other items.

Workers Compensation Insurance

The employer must provide Worker’s Compensation Insurance for all workers and must show proof of coverage to the USDOL.

3/4 Guarantee

The employer must guarantee to offer each worker employment for a minimum of 3/4 of the work in the work contract. This guarantee is not figured daily, weekly, or monthly, but it is calculated as a percentage of the entire contract period. Most contracts are written for 40 hours a week. The 3/4 guarantee equals an average of 30 hours a week over the entire contract period.

50 Percent Rule

The employer must hire any available U.S. worker who applies for the job until 50 percent of the contract has elapsed.

Governmental Fees

Each worker pays a visa processing fee of $190.00 and a border crossing fee of $6.00. H-2A employers should reimburse each worker for these expenses within the first week of work.


Foreign agricultural workers temporarily admitted into the United States on H-2A visas are exempt from U.S. Social Security and Medicare taxes on compensation paid to them for services performed in connection with the H-2A visa. This is true whether they are resident aliens or nonresident aliens. In addition, compensation paid to H-2A agricultural workers for services performed in connection with the H-2A visa is not considered to be “wages” for purposes of federal income tax withholding, and thus is not subject to mandatory withholding of U.S. federal income tax unless Backup Withholding applies.