On Monday, USDA’s Economic Research Service reported data that shows the H-2A seasonal worker program has expanded over time.


U.S. agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of U.S. domestic workers can fill seasonal farm jobs with temporary foreign workers through the H-2A visa program.  The Department of Labor certified around 317,000 temporary jobs in fiscal year 2021 under the H-2A visa program, more than six times the number certified in 2005.  Only about 80% of the certified jobs in 2021 resulted in the issuance of a visa.


The program has grown partly in response to current U.S. domestic workers finding jobs outside of U.S. agriculture and a drop in newly arrived immigrants who seek U.S. farm jobs.  The H-2A program continued to expand in FY 2020 despite the jump in U.S. unemployment caused by lockdowns associated with the Coronavirus pandemic.  Nationally, the average H-2A contract in FY 2020 offered 24 weeks of employment and an average hourly wage of $13.


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